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MDC holds meeting in NO-Go area

About 200 Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front youths are reported to have attacked Movement for Democratic Change leaders attending a provincial assembly meeting in Mvurwi.

The leaders included party president Morgan Tsvangirai and secretary-general Welshman Ncube.

Commenting on the incident, the United States embassy said it represented a potentially morale-boosting victory of sorts for the MDC in the battle for hearts and minds in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for March, 2005.

“The clash in ZANU-PF’s heartland will raise a question in even the most uncritical readers of the official press’s stilted accounts: how could the MDC have been holding a provincial assembly meeting in a zone regarded by most Zimbabweans as a ruling party-enforced ‘no-go’ area -one in which the opposition lacked any meaningful presence? “

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE1112, ATTACK ON MDC PROVINCIAL MEETING

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1112

2004-07-06 14:33

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001112

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR LAROIAN, MRAYNOR

AF/PD FOR D. FOLEY, C. DALTON

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI MDC ZANU PF

SUBJECT: ATTACK ON MDC PROVINCIAL MEETING

 

REF: HARARE 1067

 

Classified By: Political Officer Bianca Menendez for reason 1.5 d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. ZANU-PF youths on July 2 attacked an MDC

provincial assembly attended by several MDC leaders,

including Morgan Tsvangirai, in Mashonaland Central. The

youths destroyed property and injured MDC supporters. Police

blamed the incident on MDC members, while MDC leaders believe

the CIO masterminded the attack. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) The attack occurred in Mvurwi, at the end of an MDC

provincial assembly meeting, according to MDC Secretary

General Welshman Ncube. Ncube said at the meeting were party

leaders from Harare, some MPs, and party members from around

the province. According to MDC spokesman Nkanyiso Maqeda,

party members included district and ward representatives and

supporters from around the province who came by bus to

attend.

 

3. (C) According to MDC Secretary of Mashonaland Central,

Shepherd Mushonga, who was at the meeting, two two-ton trucks

and two smaller trucks of ZANU-PF youths arrived at the

meeting, being held at the property of Biggie Chigonera, MDC

Vice Chairman in Mashonaland Central. Mushonga said the

youths, who numbered about 150-200, threw stones and attacked

people with iron bars then burned down buildings and

automobiles on Chigonera,s complex, including his residence

and a garage.

 

4. (C) Mushonga said that the MDC applied for and received

permission from the police to hold the meeting but that the

police did not provide guards, as they should have. He said

this was an indication that the police knew the attack would

happen. He said members of the CIO were visible in the

vicinity and that he believed they had probably masterminded

the attack.

 

5. (C) According to William Bango, personal assistant to

Morgan Tsvangirai, local ZANU-PF elements are trying to

locate citizens who were at the meeting. Maqeda said he heard

that two trucks of youths were driving around the province

Sunday looking for meeting attendees and threatening them.

Mushonga said that ZANU-PF youths were also threatening

Chigonera, who was still at his property where the youths

were demonstrating and chanting outside his home. Mushonga

said the police have done nothing to investigate the attack.

 

6. (U) According to the government-controlled Herald

newspaper, police spokesman Mandipaka said MDC youths

provoked ZANU-PF youths by throwing tear gas at them as a

ZANU-PF youth convoy approached the meeting, characterized by

the Herald as an MDC rally. According to the Herald, police

denied anyone was injured.

 

7. (C) Ncube said that all the Harare party leaders,

including Morgan Tsvangirai, were unharmed and returned

safely to Harare. Maqeda said that there were five confirmed

injured, including Samuel Mapingure, the driver of

Chitungwiza MP Fidelis Mhashu. Maqeda said the MDC believed

many others had been injured but that they were among those

who had come by bus from the countryside and that they had

all fled after the attack.

 

8. (C) COMMENT: This incident is another example of a

long-standing pattern of the GOZ preventing the MDC from

holding meetings and rallies, particularly in rural areas

regarded by the ruling party as its base. (Mvurwi is a small

town in the midst of a former commercial farming area.)

Government officials allowed the meeting to be planned and

held, perhaps in an attempt to identify supporters, then

sponsored or at a minimum allowed an attack on the event.

Continued GOZ suppression of opposition campaign efforts and

freedom of assembly offers context for ongoing ruling party

efforts to initiate electoral reforms (reftel): such efforts

will revolve around changes in the letter of the law, but do

little if anything to address deep imbalances in Zimbabwe’s

election environment.

 

9. (C) COMMENT (CONT’D): The incident nonetheless represents

a potentially morale-boosting victory of sorts for the MDC in

the battle for hearts and minds in the run-up to national

parliamentary elections scheduled for March.   The clash in

ZANU-PF’s heartland will raise a question in even the most

uncritical readers of the official press’s stilted accounts:

how could the MDC have been holding a provincial assembly

meeting in a zone regarded by most Zimbabweans as a ruling

party-enforced “no-go” area — one in which the opposition

lacked any meaningful presence?

SULLIVAN

 

(25 VIEWS)

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