Police harass MDC MPs


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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.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE322, GOVERNMENT INTENSIFIES ANTI-MDC VIOLENCE AND

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE322

2003-02-14 08:59

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 SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000322

 

SIPDIS

 

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

TAGS: PGOV PHUM ASEC ZI MDC ZANU PF

SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT INTENSIFIES ANTI-MDC VIOLENCE AND

INTIMIDATION

 

REF: A. HARARE 214

B. HARARE 159

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

Summary:

——–

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

brutalities.

 

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.

 

Rallies Halted

————–

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

deny permission.

 

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.

 

Comment:

——–

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

Comment.

SULLIVAN

(50 VIEWS)

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The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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