Madhuku said 80 percent of NCA marchers had left the country


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National Constitutional Assembly President Lovemore Madhuku told United States embassy officials that it was increasingly becoming difficult to organise protest marches because about 80 percent of those “in the front row” of the NCA marches in the run up to the constitutional conference in 2000 had left the country.

“Those remaining were demoralized and recruiting new energy was a challenge,” he said.

The NCA inflicted the first defeat for the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front when people rejected the proposed national constitution.

Madhuku was speaking about organising protest marches after successful prayer meetings by churches.

At one of the prayer meetings Archbishop Pius Ncube castigated as “liars” those who pretended Zimbabwe’s situation was “normal”.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE539, PRAYER DAY GOES SMOOTHLY; NCA MARCH PLANNED NEXT

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE539

2004-03-29 13:47

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

291347Z Mar 04

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000539

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. DELISI, L. AROIAN, M. RAYNOR

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/27/2009

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: PRAYER DAY GOES SMOOTHLY; NCA MARCH PLANNED NEXT

MONTH

 

REF: HARARE 495

 

Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5 b/d

 

1. (U) Public prayer events (reftel) addressing a host of

political and economic issues were conducted relatively

smoothly on March 27 in Harare and Bulawayo. At Bulawayo’s

Catholic Cathedral, a host of clerics, including Archbishop

Pius Ncube, a few South Africans, a Zambian, and a number of

Zimbabweans spoke to a crowd of 3-400 (including poloff)

about the need for national reconciliation. Speakers

generally projected a moderate tone, with South Africans

emphasizing the solidarity of their congregations with

suffering Zimbabweans. A Zimbabwean urged all Zimbabwean

congregations to set aside a time during the work week on a

regular basis to pray for resolution of the national crisis.

Ncube’s intervention was the most provocative of the group;

the speaker who introduced him quoted from the American

Declaration of Independence on the need to throw off the

shackles of tyranny and Ncube castigated as “liars” those who

pretended Zimbabwe’s situation was “normal.” The Harare

gathering of about 500, which was dominated by evangelical

church groups, was similarly measured in its tenor. Speakers

included one Zambian and one Botswanan, the latter of whom

quoted from Martin Luther King on the imminence of

long-awaited change.

 

2. (C) National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) President

Lovemore Madhuku told poloff March 27 that the NCA was

planning its next public march the weekend of April 17-18.

He advised that a centralized single march that weekend would

be followed up the following week with a host of dispersed

marches in an effort to raise the profile of public ire and

to challenge an increasingly complacent regime. He

acknowledged that intimidation, apathy and emigration were

severely handicapping the organization’s ability to turn

people out. Illustrating emigration’s devastating effect on

Zimbabwean civil society, he noted that about 80 percent of

those “in the front row” of NCA marches in the run-up to the

constitutional referendum of 2000 had left the country.

Those remaining were demoralized, and recruiting new energy

was a challenge. He noted the chilling effect posed to mass

action of new laws permitting a month’s detention without

bail. He asserted, however, that GOZ detention of a large

number of demonstrators for more than a couple of days would

pose logistical and morale challenges for an unenthusiastic

police force and a public relations problem for the

government.

 

3. (C) COMMENT: The prayer events represented the largest

unobstructed gatherings of regime critics in recent memory.

In February 2003, several clerics were arrested and some

beaten when they demonstrated publicly against the GOZ. GOZ

indulgence of these events now may reflect a calculation that

civil society will have difficulty developing meaningful

momentum. Indeed, the prayer events, which were planned for

months, could have been better engineered. The churches’

extensive network and an advertisement in a weekly newspaper

did not result in wide public knowledge of plans; in the week

before they were held, other diplomats and even the mayor of

Bulawayo — certainly most of the public — were unaware of

their existence. Should the churches (or any other

organization) show capacity to sustain a perceptible level of

publicly displayed criticism, we would expect the GOZ to act

more forcibly against them. It likely will show less

restraint if the NCA proceeds with its planned marches next

month.

 

4. (C) COMMENT (CONT’D): Absorbed by election preparations

and internal organizational issues, the opposition MDC has

maintained a relatively low profile on the streets amidst

these periodic low level public demonstrations by civil

society. The party leadership nonetheless continues to

communicate and to coordinate with churches, the NCA,

organized labor and other regime critics, all of whom

coordinate loosely among themselves. The looseness of these

relationships allows the players to finesse differences among

themselves. In addition, the relative independence of each’s

anti-regime activities avoids putting all their eggs into one

basket, reducing the risk to each and permitting each to wait

for the approach of another to gain purchase with the public

before all join in.

SULLIVAN

(10 VIEWS)

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