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MP haunted by ngozi after election violence

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Member of Parliament for Mazowe North, Cairo Mhandu, is reported to have “gone mad” as a result of his involvement in the violence in the run-up to the presidential elections run-off of 2008.

Movement for Democratic Change MP for Mazowe Central Shepherd Mushonga and MDC local councillor Martin Musemwa told United States embassy officials that Mhandu had gone mad because of the ngozi that was haunting him.

Mushonga said Mhandu wanted to give a cow to the family of one of the victims of the 2008 violence in Chaona where six people died from their extensive injuries through one of the traditional leaders Chief Makope.

Chief Makope had, however, refused to serve as an intermediary, telling Mhandu to do it himself.

Mhandu never did.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE734, PEACE (BUT NOT PROSPERITY) RETURNS TO MAZOWE CENTRAL

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09HARARE734

2009-09-16 10:55

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6850

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0734/01 2591055

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 161055Z SEP 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4898

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3025

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3140

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1569

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2403

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2772

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3188

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5633

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2316

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000734

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR M. GAVIN

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAID PHUM ASEC PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: PEACE (BUT NOT PROSPERITY) RETURNS TO MAZOWE CENTRAL

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (SBU) During election violence that stretched across Zimbabwe in

2008, few areas were hit harder than the Mazowe Central constituency

in the heartland of Mashonaland Central province. We recently went

to the rural area to visit a site for a proposed project for the

Ambassador’s Self Help fund. We were impressed with the resilience

of the population and the peace that has returned to this area where

Ambassador McGee was briefly detained at a rural hospital in May

2008 while visiting violence victims. Before the March 2008

elections, all eight of the constituency’s councilors and were from

ZANU-PF. Now MDC has seven councilors and the MP, while ZANU-PF has

only one councilor. Although the new MP is optimistic about his

constituency’s future, he remains deeply concerned that ZANU-PF’s

intimidation structures remain intact and that he needs to deliver

improvements to ensure continued MDC support. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————————— —–

2008: Mazowe Central Turned Its Back on ZANU-PF…

——————————————— —–

 

2. (U) In the March 2008 harmonized elections, Mazowe Central, a

rural constituency of about 26,000 registered voters located an

hour’s drive north of Harare, turned dramatically away from ZANU-PF

and voted for the MDC. Before the election, the local NGO Zimbabwe

Election Support Network (ZESN) summarized the characteristics of

the constituency, which was created in 2008 from portions of the

Mazowe East and West constituencies. According to the ZESN report,

most of the youth in Mazowe Central were unemployed and relied on

subsistence farming. ZANU-PF had always been favored in this area,

and that support was strengthened with the initiation of the

so-called “fast-track” land reform program in 2000.

 

3. (U) Despite a tradition of supporting ZANU-PF, in the March 2008

elections Mazowe Central voted out seven of eight ZANU-PF councilors

and elected MDC-T’s Shepherd Mushonga as MP. Mushonga, a lawyer,

had run for office as an MDC-T candidate several times since the

party was formed in 2000. He won his seat by just 145 votes,

defeating the ZANU-PF candidate, Chenhamo Chimutengwende, who was

also the Minister of State for Public and Interactive Affairs and

had been an MP since 1985. With 59.7 percent of the vote, Morgan

Tsvangirai dramatically beat Robert Mugabe among Mazowe Central

voters.

 

———————————

… And Faced Violent Retribution

———————————

 

4. (SBU) After the March 2008 elections, violence struck hard in

Mazowe Central. In May 2008, Ambassador McGee led a caravan of

ambassadors and journalists to visit one of Mazowe Central’s rural

public hospitals, Rosa Clinic. Zimbabwean security forces attempted

to block the ambassadors from leaving the clinic. As a result of

the visit, images of the victims of rural election violence were

Qthe visit, images of the victims of rural election violence were

broadcast to the world. Mushonga was in hiding for several weeks

during the electoral period, fearing he might become a victim as

well. In a recent conversation, he praised Ambassador McGee’s

bravery in visiting the clinic and standing up to the security

forces, saying “we need more like him.”

 

 

5. (SBU) During a recent visit to Mazowe Central, we met one of the

newly-elected MDC councilors, Martin Musemwa. He told us that in

2008 ZANU-PF supporters stole property from his home including two

solar pnels, five goats, and 51 of his 54 chickens – the goats and

chickens were eaten by ZANU-PF youths or war vets at nearby bases.

Although he reported the stolen property to the police, no action

 

HARARE 00000734 002 OF 004

 

 

was ever taken. He felt somewhat vindicated, however, that the

ZANU-PF supporter who led the thuggery in his area had fled to South

Africa.

 

——————————

Is Spiritual Vengeance Enough?

——————————

 

6. (U) When we asked about retribution or justice for victims of

violence or theft during the 2008 election period, Musemwa and

Mushonga told us that Mazowe North MP Cairo Mhandu (ZANU-PF) had

“gone mad” (i.e. insane) as a result of his involvement in violence

in his constituency. On May 4, 2008 over 70 villagers were brutally

beaten and tortured during a ZANU-PF re-education session in Chaona,

in Mazowe North; six men died from their extensive injuries.

Mushonga told us that Mhandu later wanted to give a cow to the

family of one victim through one of the local traditional leaders,

Chief Makope. The chief reportedly refused to serve as an

intermediary, telling Mhandu to do it himself. Mhandu, however,

never did. Musemwa and Mushonga both seemed resigned that the

police would not investigate crimes from 2008, but also placated

that some perpetrators may face spiritual vengeance. (NOTE:

According to local traditional beliefs, vengeful spirits known as

“ngozi” come from people who were mistreated while alive or killed

without just cause. Many perpetrators of violence report they have

been haunted by the “ngozi,” who come back to exact revenge.

“Ngozi” are believed to be capable of causing disease and hardship

and may haunt the perpetrators to death if they are not appeased.

By presenting the family of the victim with a significant gift, such

as a cow, the perpetrator could hope to appease the “ngozi” who

haunt him. END NOTE.)

 

7. (U) According to Musemwa and Mushonga, calm has returned to the

area. Although there are reports that in other rural areas ZANU-PF

youths and war veterans have re-established bases or are holding

meetings and intimidating members of the opposition, none of these

things have happened in Mazowe Central. Zimbabwe Peace Project, a

local NGO that tracks human rights violations through a network of

local monitors, confirmed that Mazowe is “quiet” and that very few

cases of violence or intimidation have been reported in recent

months.

 

8. (SBU) Nonetheless, Musemwa and Mushonga told us that ZANU-PF

maintains its presence through 14,000 Ministry of Youth “Ward

Officers” deployed nationwide who were previously within the ranks

of the ZANU-PF youths. These “Ward Officers” are supposed to work

with local councilors to help distribute seed and other handouts

from the government. Most in the MDC and civil society view these

“Ward Officers” as a blatant effort by ZANU-PF to maintain a

conspicuous and threatening presence in rural areas that could

rapidly re-initiate intimidation and violence in the event of an

election or constitutional referendum. In his constituency,

Qelection or constitutional referendum. In his constituency,

Mushonga has identified MDC youths to work with the “Ward Officers”

to keep tabs on their activities. Although the MDC youths are not

paid and they are demoralized that the ZANU-PF youths are receiving

government salaries for essentially nothing, Mushonga believes his

efforts have stemmed ZANU-PF’s ability to use these youths

effectively. (NOTE: We have previously heard that many ZANU-PF

youths were absorbed into the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of

Gender and Women’s Affairs. The Ministry of Public Service is

seeking to undertake a survey of all government employees, but it is

unclear if that survey will identify these individuals who are not

“ghost” workers, but rather government workers without a legitimate

job. END NOTE.)

 

————————————-

“Green Valley” Still Hungers for Help

————————————-

 

 

HARARE 00000734 003 OF 004

 

 

9. (SBU) Mushonga and Musemwa both lamented that the Mazowe area has

been labeled a “green valley” and was therefore not eligible for

food assistance. Although they admit the landscape was once covered

with fertile farms, now rural farmers struggle to scratch an

existence on subsistence plots. Many areas lack irrigation and most

of the rich commercial farms produce crops such as oranges and wheat

that are sold in Harare or exported. Musemwa told us that rural

shops lack adequate seed and fertilizer, and that if such goods were

available rural citizens would find a way to buy it.

 

10. (U) As we toured the prospective Self Help project — a new

borehole pump to supply the Bell Rock Primary School and surrounding

community with water — Musemwa estimated that 75 percent of the

school’s 600 students were orphans. School officials showed us the

school’s impressive garden where students and teachers grow

vegetables to help support the students’ participation in sports

competitions with nearby schools. The borehole pump, which was

installed in 1974 during the liberation war, functioned until 2007

when it finally broke after several years of neglect by the

parastatal Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), which took

over the borehole in 1999. For the last two years, students and

teachers have carried water from a river one kilometer away to water

the garden. The headmaster told us that many students were affected

by cholera during the nationwide epidemic last year.

 

11. (SBU) Although Mushonga believed Musemwa overestimated the

proportion of orphaned children at the school, he concurred that

many children in his area have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and live in

child-headed households or with their grandmothers. He regretted

that food assessments had labeled his area a “green valley,”

particularly in light of the large populaton of vulnerable

children. He told us that when he asked why his area was deemed

unworthy of food assistance, government officials told him that they

“had to say something was green” so as not to embarrass the

government.

 

12. (U) Mushonga and Musemwa lamented that the rural councils have

not been able to tax or levy households or businesses to improve

services. In many of these small communities, residents refuse to

give up their precious dollars to the council to improve services,

demanding instead that services be improved first before they will

pay.

 

13. (SBU) Although we explained to Mushonga that our ability to

provide assistance to additional projects in his constituency was

limited, he eagerly presented us with two more proposals:

construction and sanitation for a primary school and a clinic. With

the government struggling to pay bills, Mushonga has few options

other than to seek help from potential donors.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

14. (SBU) In 2008, the Self Help Coordinator could not visit Bell

Q14. (SBU) In 2008, the Self Help Coordinator could not visit Bell

Rock Primary due to widespread violence and the risk of travel in

the area. In a marked contrast from the Ambassador’s visit to Rosa

Clinic in May 2008, our visit in August 2009 attracted relatively

little attention, and the few police manning roadblocks lazily waved

us past without any questions. Our ability to travel freely is in

itself a testament to the dramatic change in the political climate.

The MDC officials in rural areas, such as Mazowe, feel pressure to

deliver on improved services in substantive ways. Although donors

continue to support the Zimbabwean people through humanitarian

assistance, some areas believe they are neglected by national-level

efforts. If Mushonga and his MDC colleagues can’t deliver better

services, will the rural population be more easily convinced to vote

for ZANU-PF again? END COMMENT.

 

 

HARARE 00000734 004 OF 004

 

 

PETTERSON

(58 VIEWS)

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