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Murehwa mourned MDC leader in silence

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had to hold a low key funeral for the party treasurer for Mashonaland East Shepherd Jani after he was brutally murdered in the run-up to the presidential elections run-off of 2008.

Jani owned a general store at Murehwa Centre and was abducted from the sidewalk near his family’s store and pushed into a truck on 22 May.

He had called a United States embassy contact that morning to request assistance, as he had had an argument with a local military official the day before. Help did not arrive in time, however.

Jani’s body was found two days later.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE474, VIOLENCE BEATING DOWN VOTER OPTIMISM

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE474

2008-06-02 12:28

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO8783

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0474/01 1541228

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 021228Z JUN 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2962

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2010

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2131

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0673

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1408

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1766

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2187

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4618

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1271

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000474

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

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

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/02/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: VIOLENCE BEATING DOWN VOTER OPTIMISM

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Glenn Warren for reasons 1.4 (b,

d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: During a visit to Mashonaland East, scene

of post-election violence, Embassy officers interviewed

religious leaders, doctors, and one victim of the

post-election violence. While reluctant to speak freely,

these Zimbabweans expressed dismay and frustration at the

growing violence in the area, which they said was being

instigated by the ZANU-PF chairman who was voted out of

office on March 29. In this area, violence is largely being

carried out by youths who are known in the community. MDC

candidate Morgan Tsvangirai visited the area capital, Murewa,

on May 28 for the funeral of the murdered regional MDC

treasurer for Mashonaland East, Shepherd Jani. Nuns in

Murewa intimated that turnout at the funeral and Tsvangirai’s

rally was low, as people now fear open association with the

MDC. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————————–

Violence and ZANU-PF meetings in Murewa West

——————————————–

 

2. (SBU) On May 29, eight Embassy staff, one local NGO

worker, and a member of the Movement for Democratic Change

(MDC) visited the city of Murewa and the rural village of

Musami in Mashonaland East, approximately 60 miles east of

Harare, to survey the recent violence in the area. While the

region was previously a ZANU-PF stronghold, the MDC won by a

wide margin in the March 29 presidential and parliamentary

elections.

 

3. (C) At St. Paul’s Mission, a Jesuit institution in the

village of Musami that includes schools and a hospital,

priest Felix Majichi expressed concern with the escalating

violence since the announcement of the election results on

May 2. Father Majichi related stories of several incidents

of violence, all involving attacks against people at their

homes during the night. In one incident, a village chief’s

home was attacked by brick-throwing youths. One of the

bricks injured his 13-year-old son. The chief fought back;

he met his attackers with a spear, injuring one in the leg.

The attackers left his home and did not return.

 

4. (C) In addition to known incidents of violence, residents

have been forced or coerced to attend pro-ZANU-PF rallies.

On approximately May 15, the local ZANU-PF chairman held a

meeting, against the objections of the local and national

church structures and the governor, on St. Paul’s grounds.

At the meeting, the chairman, who had lost the March 29

election for Counselor to his ex-wife, threatened that if “it

happened again” they would be beaten up. Hospital staff at

St. Paul’s and clergy in Murewa concurred that those who had

not attended such meetings had been threatened that if they

did not come, they “will be dealt with later.”

 

5. (C) Father Majichi also reported that nearby residents

had approached St. Paul’s Mission seeking food. Harvest has

just ended, and there is still not enough food. Driving

through the region, we noted many fields that were not

planted to their full capacity and observed few livestock.

 

——————————————-

Hospital ill-equipped if violence escalates

——————————————-

 

6. (C) Doctors at the Mission hospital at St. Paul’s

reported seeing 10 victims of political violence, all since

the May 2 announcement of election results. They opined that

most wounds they have seen were ‘not serious’ and mostly

intended to intimidate and frighten. The doctors believed

those with the more serious injuries travel to Harare

 

HARARE 00000474 002 OF 003

 

 

directly for care. The worst case at St. Paul’s involved a

man who was beaten with a hot iron rod on his back. The

doctors concurred with Father Majichi and estimated that

about 30 local youths, who are known in the community – and

who can usually be found near Murewa Town Hall – were

primarily responsible for the attacks. They told us that the

hospital, serving a population of about 30,000 residents in

the surrounding area, was struggling to maintain medical

supplies and equipment.

 

7. (C) At the hospital, we met with 37-year-old Sarah who

was beaten, along with her husband, by a group of about 20

people who came to their home late at night on May 23. Both

are known MDC supporters. She was visibly in pain as she

tried to walk, and she had not received pain medication due

to a shortage at the hospital. Her husband, whose leg may be

broken, could not be properly diagnosed because the

hospital’s x-ray machine is broken and needs imported parts

to function. She and her neighbors knew about half of her

attackers. MDC and local NGOs plan to bring the couple to

Harare for additional treatment.

 

———————————–

Murewa mourns MDC leader in silence

———————————–

 

8. (U) The day before our arrival, MDC Presidential

candidate Morgan Tsvangirai visited the town of Murewa and

presided over the funeral of Shepherd Jani. Jani was

well-known in the community. His family owns a general store

in the heart of town, and he was Treasurer for the MDC in

Mashonaland East. According to press reports and Embassy

contacts, at about noon on Thursday May 22, Jani was abducted

from the sidewalk near his family’s store and pushed into a

truck. He had called an Embassy contact that morning to

request assistance, as he had had an argument with a local

military official the day before. Help did not arrive in

time, however. Jani’s body was found two days later,

brutally murdered. The Jani funeral was the second

Tsvangirai has attended since his return to Zimbabwe on May

18.

 

—————————-

Nuns and Priests Intimidated

—————————-

 

9. (C) In Murewa, Embassy staff visited the Murewa Catholic

Mission and met briefly with the Assistant Priest and four

nuns. They appeared anxious throughout the brief visit,

glancing across the street to the adjacent field where

ZANU-PF holds meetings. They described the atmosphere in

town as “unhealthy” and said they had been asked why they

weren’t attending ZANU-PF meetings. The nuns also reported

that turnout at Morgan Tsvangirai’s rally and at Shepherd

Jani’s funeral the day before had been very poor, in contrast

with Tsvangirai’s well-attended rally before the March 29

election.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (C) Mashonaland East, and Murewa in particular, is one of

many traditional ZANU-PF areas that dramatically voted out

ZANU-PF in the March 29 elections in favor of the MDC. While

the voters have spoken, ZANU-PF leadership remains unwilling

to graciously – or ungraciously – accept defeat. ZANU-PF

leaders in Murewa retain significant control and ability to

instill fear in local residents. The tense atmosphere on the

streets and the nuns’ hesitance to meet with American

officials demonstrate the degree to which this fear has

permeated local society. As MDC leaders themselves are

 

HARARE 00000474 003 OF 003

 

 

targeted by the violence, it is unclear how the MDC

leadership will protect themselves and their voters from

these attacks. The larger question is whether the people of

Murewa and towns like it will come out and vote again for

Morgan Tsvangirai on June 27, or if the campaign of

intimidation will work at the ballot box. Regardless of the

election outcome, these instances of community-based violence

will have chilling effects for years to come and may spark

additional violence as victims seek retribution. END COMMENT.

 

Warren

 

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