Elias Mudzuri, who was mayor of Harare at the time, was released after two nights in jail when his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa obtained a High Court order instructing police to produce him in court and make clear the charges against him.
Mudzuri had been arrested together with several other city councillors during a meeting with residents of Mabvuku.
No charges were filed but police said Mudzuri had violated the Public Order and Security Act by not seeking advance permission to hold the meeting.
Mudzuri was released by High Court judge Benjamin Paradza who said he appeared to have no case to answer.
Paradza refused a police request to have Mudzuri kept in detention while investigations continued.
Viewing cable 03HARARE77, MDC MAYOR OF HARARE SPENDS TWO DAYS IN JAIL
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 HARARE 000077
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
PARIS FOR CNEARY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2013
SUBJECT: MDC MAYOR OF HARARE SPENDS TWO DAYS IN JAIL
REF: A) 1/11/03 BELLAMY-HARRINGTON TELCON B) HARARE 42
Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington. Reasons: 1.5 (
B) and (D).
Â¶1. (U) Action request — see para 5.
Â¶2. (C) Mayor of Harare Elias Mudzuri was released from
detention on January 13 after spending two nights in jail.
He was arrested on January 11 along with his deputy mayor and
several city councillors during a meeting with constituents
in the Harare high density suburb of Mabvuku. Although no
formal charges were filed, a police spokesman told
journalists that Mudzuri had violated the draconian Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) by not seeking advance
permission to hold the meeting. After Mudzuri’s attorney —
Beatrice Mtetwa — was denied access to her client most of
January 12, she was able to obtain a High Court order late
that day instructing police to produce Mudzuri in court and
make clear the charges against him. In the morning of
January 13, Mudzuri appeared before High Court Judge Benjamin
Paradza, who ordered Mudzuri’s immediate release, saying he
appeared to have no case to answer. A police request that
Mudzuri be kept under detention while investigations
continued apparently fell on deaf ears.
Â¶3. (U) As reported ref B, Mudzuri is one of five mayors
representing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). After he began making noticeable improvements to
Harare’s roads and other infrastructure shortly after his
election in March 2002 by an overwhelming majority, the
Government of Zimbabwe launched a smear campaign to discredit
him with unsubstantiated accusations of corruption and
incompetence. In addition, the Government appointed a
special commission to “help” Mudzuri devise a revitalization
plan for Harare and — in a move widely seen as an effort to
hinder the ability of MDC office-holders to govern —
recently announced its intention to create governorships for
Harare and Bulawayo, both of which are controlled by the MDC.
Â¶4. (C) Comment: Arresting an elected official for meeting
with his constituents is absurd, but it constitutes only the
latest move in a comprehensive Government campaign to harass
and discredit one of the opposition’s most visible
officeholders. Mudzuri had held a series of recent meetings
with Harare taxpayers to discuss the range of challenges
facing the city, including water shortages, and the GOZ
appears to have grown nervous about allowing him a forum for
addressing large groups of disgruntled Zimbabweans or for
correcting GOZ-disseminated attacks on the Mayor in the state
media. This latest move suggests that the GOZ is
increasingly willing to abandon even the pretence of respect
for genuine democratic norms.
Â¶5. (U) Action requested: Per ref A, we believe that
Mudzuri’s arrest warrants strong criticism from the
Department, perhaps in a statement expressing outrage at the
Government of Zimbabwe’s jettisoning of even the appearance
of democratic governance.