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Sikhala not liked by MDC leadership but popular with the people

Former Movement for Democratic Change legislator for St Marys Job Sikhala was not liked by the party leadership because of his confrontational style but he was liked by the people for that.  

Sikhala openly challenged party leader Morgan Tsvangirai over the MDC’s election strategy and was rumoured to be planning to start his own party if he was sidelined during the 2005 elections.

He has since formed his own party called MDC99.

According to the United States embassy, Sikhala was widely despised within the leadership structures of the MDC for his confrontational, maverick, agitator style and for publicly refusing to support party initiatives with which he did not agree.

He was arrested 15 times within two years, a tactic described by Blessing-Miles Tendi as one of those often used by civil society and opposition leaders to get money from donors.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE716, CONTROVERSIAL MDC MP JOB SIKHALA ARRESTED AFTER

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE716

2004-04-28 12:52

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 000716

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

DS/OP/AF

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ASEC ZI MDC

SUBJECT: CONTROVERSIAL MDC MP JOB SIKHALA ARRESTED AFTER

INTRA-MDC CLASHES

 

REF: HARARE 693

 

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

 

1. (U) On April 25, police arrested Job Sikhala, MDC MP for

St. Mary’s (a high-density suburb of Harare) and five of his

supporters. Three were released without charge on April 27,

but Sikhala and two others were still in custody on April 28.

Sikhala was arrested at his house in St. Mary’s after his

supporters attacked MDC supporters loyal to Tendekayi Mswata,

MDC Provincial Youth Chair for Chitungwiza (a large

high-density area encompassing St. Mary’s), at a funeral in

Zengeza (near St. Mary’s). In the skirmish MDC youths loyal

to Mswata, Enoch Tawonezvi and Chirimudondo Mabviegudo, were

both stabbed, not fatally, and shots were fired. Mswata

loyalists had attacked Sikhala loyalists with knives and

batons at Sikhala’s home on April 23. During that incident

Sikhala supporter Marata was stabbed and was still in the

hospital on April 28. Mswata said he intends to seek the

MDC’s nomination to contest the St. Mary’s parliamentary seat

in the March 2005 elections and is reportedly supported by

the MDC National Chairman and other high-level MDC officials.

 

2. (C) A controversial figure by any standards, Sikhala has

been in the news recently for publicly attacking MDC

President Morgan Tsvangirai over MDC elections strategy. He

is widely despised within the leadership structures of the

MDC for his confrontational, maverick, agitator style and for

publicly refusing to support party initiatives with which he

does not agree. An MDC official said recently, however, that

he is popular among the people for his confrontational public

statements. There are rumors circulating that he plans to

form his own political party and run for the St. Mary’s seat

on a separate ticket, should he lose the MDC’s nomination to

Mswata. (Comment: The MDC selects candidates via a

nominating process within its party structures. Mswata has a

good chance of obtaining the party’s nomination. End

Comment.)

 

3. (C) COMMENT: That prospective MDC MP candidates have

pitted MDC supporters against one another speaks to a host of

problems facing an opposition under stress: growing

internecine rifts, unraveling discipline, and the dearth of

qualified people in the mid-level leadership. Sikhala has

been arrested at least fifteen times in the past two years

and was tortured by GOZ authorities in January 2003. That he

was arrested and detained again now is another signal from

the GOZ that being an MDC MP is hazardous business (Ref),

whether struggling against the ruling party or within the

opposition.

SULLIVAN

 

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