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Mudzuri gaining support at the expense of Tsvangirai

The mayor of Harare Elias Mudzuri was gaining support at the expense of Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai as people were beginning to question the effectiveness of Tsvangirai’s approach to the Zimbabwean problem.

Mudzuri had managed to organise demonstrators to town house and had defied an order by police that he accompanies them to the central police station.

Although this was reported to be part of a plan by the MDC to mobilise large numbers of people to the town centre, the United States embassy felt Mudzuri was benefitting more.

“Mayor Mudzuri is beginning to gain quite a following from those pleased with his in-your-face stance toward the government and its tactics of intimidation, as more Zimbabweans — including some in the MDC — begin to question the effectiveness of Morgan Tsvangirai’s quieter approach,” the embassy said.

It was, however, disappointed by the speed at which people dispersed when confronted by the riot police.

“Although the turnout of residents was impressive, the crowd’s rapid dispersal at the first sign of danger could not have been an encouraging sign for those in the MDC advocating mass action as the principal means of confronting the (government),” the embassy said.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE214, HARARE RESIDENTS CLASH WITH RIOT POLICE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE214

2003-01-29 15:00

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 HARARE 000214

 

SIPDIS

 

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR CNEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2013

TAGS: PGOV PHUM ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: HARARE RESIDENTS CLASH WITH RIOT POLICE

 

REF: A) HARARE 77 B) HARARE 42

 

Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington. Reasons: 1.5 (

B) and (D).

 

1. (U) Riot police on January 29 clashed with several

hundred Harare residents gathered in the city center for a

meeting with Mayor of Harare Elias Mudzuri, who represents

the opposition MDC. The meeting had been planned — and

well-publicized — more than a week in advance, and was to

discuss the variety of challenges facing the city, including

water shortages. The DATT and poloffs were prevented from

entering Town House by a senior police officer, who advised

them that the meeting had been cancelled and they should

summon their driver to collect them. Others who arrived for

the same meeting were told the same thing. A walk around the

block revealed a heavy deployment of approximately 75 riot

police — many of them equipped with helmets, AK-47’s, tear

gas canisters, and batons.   A crowd comprising hundreds of

mostly young men gathered outside the gate which encircled

Town House. A confrontation soon ensued inside the gates

between an individual apparently angry that people were not

being admitted and the senior police officer. The crowd

quickly became agitated at the police’s manhandling of this

individual, jeering at the officers involved and throwing

bottles, stones, and bricks. The police responded

immediately by firing tear gas into the crowd, which

dispersed quickly.

 

2. (U) The Mayor subsequently told us that police had

authorized him to hold the meeting so long as it occurred

inside, not on the front steps as planned. The police,

however, cancelled it at the last minute, citing concerns

about the Mayor’s safety. After the situation calmed down,

police asked the Mayor to accompany them to the Harare

Central police station, but he declined to do so, instead

returning to his office. As of 4:00 p.m. on January 29,

police were still milling around outside his office, and

Mudzuri was bracing himself for his second arrest in two

weeks (ref A), although it is unclear what the police would

charge him with.

 

3. (C) Comment: MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s special

advisor told us that the MDC had devised this meeting as a

legitimate reason to convene large numbers of disgruntled

residents in the city center. The police clearly considered

it a provocation and demonstrated their determination to

quash any protests by deploying in large numbers and with

overwhelming force. Although the turnout of residents was

impressive, the crowd’s rapid dispersal at the first sign of

danger could not have been an encouraging sign for those in

the MDC advocating mass action as the principal means of

confronting the GOZ. Mayor Mudzuri is beginning to gain

quite a following from those pleased with his in-your-face

stance toward the Government and its tactics of intimidation,

as more Zimbabweans — including some in the MDC — begin to

question the effectiveness of Morgan Tsvangirai’s quieter

approach.

SULLIVAN

 

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