Judge squealed on his colleagues

High Court Judge Yunus Omerjee told United States embassy officials that President Robert Mugabe and his advisors had shaped the judiciary in their own image with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as the mastermind.

He said Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku was a “rabid party man through and through” and owed everything he had and had become to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

Three other judges appointed to the Supreme Court- Misheck Cheda, Luke Malaba and Vernanda Ziyambi- were considered sympathetic to ZANU-PF or were pliant.

When told that Cheda had been critical of Chidyausiku, Omerjee said he had recently been allocated land under the fast track resettlement programme and his brother had recently been appointed to the High Court so he might feel some pressure to hew to the government line.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 01HARARE2548, ZIMBABWEAN GOVERNMENT REMAKING JUDICIARY IN ITS OWN IMAGE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE2548

2001-08-29 12:49

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.

 

291249Z Aug 01

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2524

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 02548 01 OF 02 291300Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   AMAD-00 ACQ-00   CIAE-00 INL-00

DINT-00 DODE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00

FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00

LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01   DCP-01   NSAE-00 OIC-02

OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00

SP-00   STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01

DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00   SWCI-00   /011W

------------------1842C4 291300Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9580

INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002548

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL. 08/28/11

TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL PINR ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEAN GOVERNMENT REMAKING JUDICIARY IN ITS OWN IMAGE

 

REF: A) HARARE 2345 B) HARARE 1679

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 02548 01 OF 02 291300Z

 

CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF MATT HARRINGTON. REASONS:

1.5 (B) AND (D).

 

SUMMARY

-------

 

1. (C) ZANU-PF IS PROCEEDING IN ITS CAMPAIGN TO FORCE

INDEPENDENT-MINDED JUDGES OFF THE BENCH AND REPLACE THEM WITH

SYMPATHETIC OR PLIANT JURISTS, ACCORDING TO A CURRENT MEMBER OF

THE HIGH COURT BENCH. THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION (CIO)

IS REPORTEDLY WATCHING CERTAIN JUDGES VERY CLOSELY, INCLUDING

CONDUCTING PHYSICAL SURVEILLANCE, TAPPING THEIR PHONES, AND

OPENING THEIR MAIL. THREE HIGH COURT JUDGES HAVE RESIGNED

SUDDENLY OVER THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS, FED UP WITH THE ONGOING

INTIMIDATION, AND A FOURTH IS LIKELY TO FOLLOW SOON. OUR

INTERLOCUTOR ECHOED CONVENTIONAL LOCAL WISDOM IN INSISTING THAT

PRESIDENT MUGABE WOULD DO "WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO REMAIN IN

POWER" BEYOND THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, AND HE URGED THE

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO BEGIN THINKING ABOUT HOW IT WILL

RESPOND TO AN ILLEGITIMATE ELECTION OUTCOME. END SUMMARY.

 

REMAKING THE JUDICIARY

----------------------

 

2. (C) HIGH COURT JUDGE YUNUS OMERJEE (STRICTLY PROTECT

THROUGHOUT) TOLD POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF ON AUGUST 27 THAT

PRESIDENT MUGABE AND HIS ADVISORS HAVE SUCCEEDED IN "SHAPING THE

JUDICIARY IN THEIR OWN IMAGE," AND SAID THE MASTERMIND BEHIND THIS

EFFORT IS JUSTICE MINISTER PATRICK CHINAMASA. THE GOZ NOW HAS IN

PLACE A RELIABLY LOYAL CHIEF JUSTICE, GODFREY CHIDYAUSIKU, WHO WAS

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 02548 01 OF 02 291300Z

SWORN IN ON AUGUST 20. OMERJEE DESCRIBED HIM AS A "RABID PARTY

MAN THROUGH AND THROUGH" WHO OWES EVERYTHING HE HAS AND HAS BECOME

TO ZANU-PF. ACCORDING TO THE HIGH COURT JUDGE, CHIDYAUSIKU IS NOW

ASSEMBLING AN "A-TEAM" TO HEAR CASES OF PARTICULAR IMPORTANCE TO

THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH.   OMERJEE SAID THAT, IN ADDITION TO

CHIDYAUSIKU, THE THREE RECENT APPOINTEES TO THE SUPREME COURT --

MISHECK CHEDA, LUKE MALABA, AND VERNANDA ZIYAMBI (REF A) -- AND

JUSTICE IBRAHIM WOULD LIKELY COMPRISE THE A-TEAM EITHER BECAUSE

THEY ARE CONSIDERED SYMPATHETIC TO ZANU-PF, OR ARE PLIANT.

OMERJEE NOTED THAT CASES INVOLVING CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS MUST

BE HEARD BY FIVE JUSTICES, AND THAT MAJORITY OPINIONS REQUIRE THE

VOTES OF ONLY THREE. POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF POINTED OUT THAT

CHEDA HAS BEEN CRITICAL OF CHIDYAUSIKU IN THE PAST AND ASKED WHY

THE GOZ MIGHT CONSIDER HIM SYMPATHETIC. CHEDA, OMERJEE REPORTED,

HAD RECENTLY BEEN ALLOCATED LAND UNDER THE FAST TRACK RESETTLEMENT

PROGRAM, AND HIS BROTHER HAD RECENTLY BEEN APPOINTED TO THE HIGH

COURT. THE NEW SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, THEREFORE, MIGHT FEEL SOME

PRESSURE TO HEW TO THE GOZ LINE.

 

3. (C) POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF ASKED FOR OMERJEE'S ASSESSMENT OF

THE THREE JUDGES NAMED TO THE HIGH COURT ON AUGUST 20.   HE

CONFERRED HIGH PRAISE ON NICHOLAS NDOU, AN NDEBELE WHO HAS WORKED

AS A MAGISTRATE, PROSECUTOR, AND LAW PROFESSOR, WHOM HE DESCRIBED

AS "ABOVE REPROACH." HE WAS LESS ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE OTHER

TWO, HOWEVER. MAPHIOS CHEDA, THE BROTHER OF THE NEW SUPREME COURT

JUSTICE, COMES FROM PRIVATE PRACTICE. HE IS "VERY MEDIOCRE, GIVEN

TO EXCITABILITY, AND POMPOUS," AND IS CLEARLY SYMPATHETIC TO ZANU-

PF. ACCORDING TO OMERJEE, BENJAMIN PARADZA IS "OKAY" BUT "COMES

WITH A LOT OF BAGGAGE." HE IS A WAR VETERAN AND HAS BEEN A "VERY

AVERAGE PERFORMER" DURING HIS YEARS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE.

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 02548 01 OF 02 291300Z

PERSONAL SECURITY

-----------------

 

4. (C) ASKED WHETHER HE PERSONALLY FELT UNDER THREAT, OMERJEE

SAID HE HAS BEEN INFORMED BY RELIABLE SOURCES THAT HIS PHONES ARE

TAPPED AND THAT HE AND OTHER JUDGES ARE UNDER CONSTANT PHYSICAL

SURVEILLANCE. HE HAS INTENTIONALLY AVOIDED HIRING A SECURITY

GUARD FOR HIS RESIDENCE BECAUSE HE ASSUMES THE PERSON WOULD BE

ASKED TO KEEP TABS ON HIM, HIS FAMILY, AND THEIR VISITORS.

CONVINCED THAT THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION WAS OPENING

HIS MAIL, HE NOW HAS HIS MAIL SENT TO A FRIEND'S HOUSE. OMERJEE

SAID THAT THREE OF HIS COLLEAGUES ON THE HIGH COURT -- JAMES

DEVITTIE (REF B), MICHAEL GILLESPIE, AND ISMAEL CHATIKOBA -- HAD

RESIGNED SUDDENLY DURING THE LAST SEVERAL MONTHS BECAUSE THEY WERE

FED UP WITH THE ONGOING HARASSMENT AND INTIMIDATION. A FOURTH,

MOSES CHINHENGO, IS TRYING DESPERATELY TO GET OUT, BUT WON'T

RESIGN UNTIL HE IS ABLE TO ASSEMBLE A FINANCIAL PACKAGE FOR

STUDIES IN AUSTRALIA. OMERJEE SAID HE HAS NO INTEREST IN BECOMING

A MARTYR AND IS MAKING CONTINGENCY PLANS TO TAKE HIS FAMILY -- A

WIFE AND THREE YOUNG CHILDREN BELOW THE AGE OF NINE -- TO ZAMBIA

AND ON TO EUROPE IF THE SITUATION DETERIORATES FURTHER.

 

ZANU-PF'S ELECTION STRATEGY

---------------------------

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2525

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 02548 02 OF 02 291300Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   AMAD-00 ACQ-00   CIAE-00 INL-00

DINT-00 DODE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00

FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00

LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01   DCP-01   NSAE-00 OIC-02

OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00

SP-00   STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01

DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00   SWCI-00   /011W

------------------1842D7 291301Z /38

P 291249Z AUG 01

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9581

INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 002548

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL. 08/28/11

TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL PINR ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEAN GOVERNMENT REMAKING JUDICIARY IN ITS OWN IMAGE

 

5. (C) OMERJEE DESCRIBED THE RULING PARTY'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 02548 02 OF 02 291300Z

STRATEGY AS "TOTAL WARFARE" AND SAID "ANYONE WHO STICKS HIS HEAD

UP WILL BE STRUCK DOWN." ZANU-PF IS PLAYING A "BRILLIANT" NUMBERS

GAME, OMERJEE DECLARED. THE PARTY HAS DECLARED THE RURAL AREAS

NO-GO AREAS FOR MDC CAMPAIGNERS AND IS USING ALL AVAILABLE TACTICS

TO ENSURE THAT THEIR RURAL SUPPORTERS VOTE ON ELECTION DAY. IN

URBAN AREAS, THE PARTY IS TRYING TO DECREASE THE MDC'S SUPPORT

THROUGH A COMBINATION OF INTIMIDATION AND BUYING PEOPLE OFF. THE

RECENT INAUGURATION OF A COMMUTER TRAIN AND LAUNCHING OF A LOW-

COST HOUSING SCHEME IN A HIGH-DENSITY HARARE SUBURB ARE KEY

ELEMENTS OF THE URBAN CAMPAIGN, ACCORDING TO OMERJEE. THE

OVERARCHING STRATEGY IS TO SECURE THE PARTY'S STRONGHOLD (RURAL

AREAS) AND TO CREATE CONFUSION IN THE MDC'S STRONGHOLD (URBAN

AREAS).

 

6. (C) ASKED WHETHER THE FARM INVASIONS DID NOT CONSTITUTE

ECONOMIC SUICIDE, OMERJEE AGREED, BUT INSISTED THAT PRESIDENT

MUGABE WILL DO "ANYTHING, EVERYTHING," TO STAY IN POWER. MUGABE

SIMPLY WILL NOT TOLERATE ANYONE WRESTING POWER FROM HIM, AND THAT

IS THE BOTTOM LINE, OMERJEE ASSERTED. MUGABE AND ZANU-PF, OMERJEE

CONTINUED, WON POWER THROUGH VIOLENT MEANS, AND THEY ARE PREPARED

TO REVISIT THOSE MEANS IF NECESSARY. ONE UNDERESTIMATED THEIR

DETERMINATION TO DO SO AT ONE'S "GRAVE PERIL," OMERJEE WARNED.

THAT SAID, MUGABE IS NOT LIKELY TO DECLARE A STATE OF EMERGENCY,

BECAUSE SUCH A STEP WOULD CONSTITUTE AN ADMISSION OF GUILT OR

WRONGDOING. HOWEVER, HE WILL FIND A WAY TO STAY IN POWER BEYOND

THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. OMERJEE URGED THE INTERNATIONAL

COMMUNITY TO BEGIN PLANNING NOW HOW IT WILL RESPOND IN THE

AFTERMATH OF AN ELECTION THAT HE BELIEVES WILL INEVITABLY BE

STOLEN. IN THE MEANTIME, OMERJEE INSISTED THAT THE ONLY ACTION

LIKELY TO FORCE MUGABE TO PULL ZIMBABWE BACK FROM THE PRECIPICE IS

A SUSTAINED CURTAILING OF FUEL AND ELECTRICITY SUPPLIES. SOUTH

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 02548 02 OF 02 291300Z

AFRICA IS CLEARLY KEY IN THIS REGARD, BUT OMERJEE ACKNOWLEDGED

THAT PRETORIA IS UNLIKELY TO TAKE SUCH A DRASTIC STEP. OMERJEE

REMARKED THAT HE HAS BEGUN TO LOSE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF

ZIMBABWE.

 

COMMENT

-------

 

7. (C) OMERJEE HAS BEEN A RELIABLE AND FRANK INTERLOCUTOR WITH

EMBASSY OFFICERS. HE IS BRIGHT, FUNNY, AND OPTIMISTIC BY NATURE,

BUT WE WERE STRUCK IN THIS MEETING BY HIS UNCHARACTERISTIC SENSE

OF FOREBODING ABOUT THE DIRECTION IN WHICH ZIMBABWE IS HEADING. A

FORMER PERMANENT SECRETARY UNDER EMMERSON MNANGAGWA AT THE

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, OMERJEE KNOWS MNANGAGWA AND OTHER SENIOR

ZANU-PF FIGURES WELL, SO WE VALUE HIS ASSESSMENTS OF RULING PARTY

STRATEGIES AND TACTICS.

 

8. (C) IT IS TROUBLING, BUT NOT SURPRISING, TO HEAR CONFIRMATION

THAT THE GOZ IS CONTINUING ITS CAMPAIGN AGAINST INDEPENDENT-MINDED

JURISTS -- ALBEIT MORE QUIETLY THAN IN THE PAST -- AND IS

SUCCEEDING IN FORCING A NUMBER OF WELL-RESPECTED JUDGES TO LEAVE

THE BENCH. ALTHOUGH WE MUST CONTINUE OUR EFFORTS TO LEVEL THE

PLAYING FIELD FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, WE SHARE OMERJEE'S

VIEW THAT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD START PLANNING NOW

FOR THE DAY AFTER WHAT COULD POSSIBLY EMERGE AS AN ILLEGITIMATE

MUGABE VICTORY. MUGABE IS CLEARLY COUNTING THAT, ONCE HE "WINS"

ANOTHER SIX-YEAR MANDATE, THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY WILL HAVE NO

CHOICE BUT TO DEAL WITH HIM. NEVERTHELESS, WE SHOULD CONTINUE ALL

OF OUR EFFORTS TO MAKE IT AS DIFFICULT AS POSSIBLE FOR MUGABE AND

ZANU-PF TO STEAL THE ELECTION.

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 02548 02 OF 02 291300Z

ROTH

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

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