Police arrested four Members of Parliament belonging to the Movement for Democratic Change and 28 other MDC officials in three weeks at the beginning of 2003 as the government intensified its intimidation campaign against the opposition.
The legislators arrested were Trudy Stevenson, Gabriel Chaibva, Tendai Biti and Paul Madzore.
Most of the MPs were arrested for holding rallies or political meetings without police clearance.
Viewing cable 03HARARE322, GOVERNMENT INTENSIFIES ANTI-MDC VIOLENCE AND
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 000322
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2013
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT INTENSIFIES ANTI-MDC VIOLENCE AND
REF: A. HARARE 214
¶B. HARARE 159
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) In the past three weeks police have arrested and
detained four MDC MPs, arrested 28 other MDC officials,
beaten three, tortured at least one and denied permission,
and / or halted at least four planned gatherings. As the
opposition attempts to organize for upcoming parliamentary
by-elections, and to galvanize public frustration with the
GOZ, the Mugabe regime has stepped-up its intimidation of
opposition supporters. End Summary.
MPs Arrested, Detained
¶2. (U) The outspoken MDC MP for Harare North, Trudy
Stevenson, was arrested and detained along with other MDC
activists on February 10, for several hours. The group was
arrested while attempting to submit a petition to the
Namibian High Commission protesting the Namibian team’s
participation in a World Cup Cricket match in Zimbabwe.
Stevenson and the group were released later that day without
charge. One police officer did threaten to charge Stevenson
with murder, accusing her of murdering the Zimbabwean people
by attempting to keep away tourists and cricketers.
¶3. (U) On February 8, Gabriel Chaibva, MDC MP for Harare
South and Shadow Minister for Local Government, seven other
MDC officials, and several MDC supporters were arrested in
Hwange while attending a local government strategy workshop
with local councilors. The workshop was apparently intended
to strengthen the capacity of MDC councilors to deliver
services to their constituents. The group included Ian
Makone, a member of the MDC negotiating team to the aborted
MDC-ZANU PF talks, and Alphinah Ndlovu, MDC Provincial
chairperson for Matabeleland North. The group was detained
for several hours at Hwange Police Station before being
released without charge.
¶4. (U) On February 8, MDC MP for Harare East, and Secretary
for Economic Affairs, Tendai Biti, and MDC MP for Glen View
(Harare) Paul Madzore and 16 other party supporters were
arrested as they prepared to hold a rally in Mabvuku (about
15 kms east of Harare). The group of 18 was held in a small
lice-infested cell in which other detainees defecated on the
floor. The group was released on February 10 after their
lawyers argued, and the AG’s office conceded, that there was
nothing for which to charge them. Biti and Madzore had not
notified police of the planned rally, as required by the
draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
Activists Beaten, Tortured
¶5. (U) On February 3, riot police arrested, detained, denied
food and beat severely for three days MDC activist Emmanuel
Toperesu at the Harare Central Police Station. Police
accused Toperesu of distributing money to MDC youths who
would protest the opening of the Tsvangirai trial. Police
also demanded a list of MDC supporters attending the trial,
and plans for other protests with MDC MP Job Sikhala and the
National Constitutional Assembly. Police released Toperesu
after he signed an admission of guilt statement and paid a
fine of US$2.00 (Z$3,000). When he was arrested Toperesu was
still recovering from having been severely beaten in police
custody in November 2002 (see paragraph 6).
¶6. (U) Edison Mukwasi, an MDC activist and former MDC youth
chair for Harare died on February 2 of punctured lung and
liver injuries sustained during two encounters with police
torture in January 2001 and November 2002. In January 2001,
police arrested Mukwasi in Bikita West with 12 other MDC
members, tortured them for four days, and dumped them
overnight in the Gonarezhou National Park–full of wild
game–in southeastern Zimbabwe. In November 2002 police
arrested, beat severely, and released without charge Mukwasi,
Toperesu (see paragraph 5) and other MDC activists for
distributing, at a cricket match, documentation of GOZ
¶7. (U) On January 24, Police arrested, detained and tortured,
MDC chairperson for Ward 44 Resias Masunda at the Goromonzi
Police Station. During the assault police demanded
information on the January 13 burning of a commuter bus owned
by a parastatal, the names of people who attacked the house
of a ZANU-PF activist in March 2002, and details of the MDC
campaign strategy for the Kuwadzana by-election scheduled for
March 29-30. Police attached electrodes and wet cloths to
Masunda’s mouth and genitals while subjecting him to electric
shocks. Police released Masunda on January 29 without charge.
¶8. (U) On January 21, police arrested, detained and severely
beat MDC Organizing Secretary for Kuwadzana district Derek
Madharani at the Goromonzi Police Station. During the
assault, police demanded to know who petrol-bombed the
ZANU-PF offices at the Kuwadzana 5 Shopping Center on January
20 (see paragraph 10) where several MDC members had recently
been beaten, and what the MDC,s campaign strategy was for
the Kuwadzana by-election. Madharani suffered a punctured
eardrum before being released without charge on January 24.
Councilor Arrested, Detained
¶9. (U) On January 29 Police arrested and detained overnight
MDC Harare City Councilor Michael Laban as he tried to
convince police officers to admit Harare residents to Town
House for a meeting with MDC Mayor Elias Mudzuri, (Ref A).
After spending a night in a lice-infested, overcrowded Harare
Central Police station cell, Laban was charged under POSA and
released on bail of US$1.30 (Z$2,000).
ZANU-PF Offices Petrol-Bombed
¶10. (U) On January 20, suspected MDC youths petrol-bombed
ZANU-PF offices in the Kuwadzana 5 Shopping Center in
Kuwadzana. The MDC had criticized the ruling party for using
the offices as a base for its youth militia, who have
conducted violent interrogations and beatings of opposition
supporters. Police arrested and beat, some severely, several
opposition supporters in connection with the bombing, (see
paragraph 8) however no one has been charged.
¶11. (SBU) On February 12 police in Bulawayo denied the
organization Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) permission to
hold a Valentine’s Day “Walk for Love” from the City Hall to
the High Court in Bulawayo. Although police have threatened
to arrest her, activist and WOZA head Sheba Dube, said they
have publicized the walk widely in the independent press and
plan to hold it regardless.
¶12. (SBU) On February 7 High Court judge Susan Mavangira
upheld police denial of a request by MDC MPs Job Sikhala and
Ben Tumbare-Mutasa to hold a political rally at the Chibuku
Stadium in Chitungwiza. According to Sikhala the rally was
intended to help publicize his recent torture, and strengthen
opposition support in the two constituencies. The MP’s
lawyer argued in court that POSA requires event organizers to
notify police, but has no provision for police to grant or
¶13. (U) During January and February police have, on at least
two other occasions, stopped meetings between MDC politicians
and their constituents already in progress, (Ref A, B), in
one event which turned violent at Harare’s Town House, police
permission had been “granted” in advance.
Judge Decries Violence
¶14. (U) In his remarks at the opening of the High Court in
Masvingo on February 13 Justice Moses Chinhengo criticized
police for harassing, detaining, beating and torturing
suspects without any evidence of crimes having been
committed. Chinhengo said that police brutalization of
suspects was bringing the whole justice system into disrepute.
¶15. (C) Committed to regaining a two-thirds parliamentary
majority, the GOZ appears worried that the upcoming
by-elections in Kuwadzana and Highfield are not a sure bet,
and is relying on its tried-and-true tactics of intimidation.
Zimbabweans naturally blame the GOZ for the country’s
economic woes. But caged in by increasing public discontent,
a plummeting economy and a determination to survive, the GOZ
has stepped-up (again) its violent campaign of intimidation
in order to thwart opposition planning and influence. End