Government bans MDC march

The government banned a march that was planned by the Movement for Democratic Change to protest against the government’s refusal to implement a new constitution before the 2008 elections and to postpone the election date from March.

MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said the party would go ahead with the march.

Police had initially approved the march but rescinded their decision saying opposition leaders had violated a pledge to ensure that the march would be peaceful.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE42, GOZ BANS MDC MARCH; MDC PLANS TO GO AHEAD

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE42

2008-01-22 14:09

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO7823

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0042 0221409

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 221409Z JAN 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2406

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1727

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1853

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0451

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1130

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1487

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1909

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4337

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0980

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS HARARE 000042

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

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: N/A

TAGS: ASEC CASC PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: GOZ BANS MDC MARCH; MDC PLANS TO GO AHEAD

 

 

1. (U) After granting written permission on January 18 for

an MDC march on Wendesday, planned to protest the GOZ's

refusal to implement a new constitution before elections and

to postpone the electiond date, police yesterday rescinded

approval. Police justified their action by claiming

opposition leaders had violated a pledge to ensure the march

remained peaceful. In a press conference later in the day,

MDC (Tsvangirai faction) secretary general Tendai Biti vowed

the march would proceed despite the order banning it.

 

2. (U) Comment. The planned demonstration is part of series

of rallies the MDC hopes to hold over the coming weeks. On

Sunday, a rally in the high-density suburb of Highfield drew

over 10,000 people and the MDC was hoping for much greater

numbers on Wednesday. The government ban and past government

action in violently suppressing MDC rallies is likely to

deter people from participating on Wednesday. Additionally,

police will undoubtedly stop people from traveling from high

density suburbs to the city center where the march is

supposed to begin.

 

3. (SBU) Comment continued. The GOZ's action defies the

spirit of the SADC negotiations by closing rather than

opening democratic space. If the government uses violence

against marchers, this will be a clear signal it intends to

perpetuate ZANU-PF rule at all costs, and that it considers

SADC irrelevant. On the other side, the number of MDC

members who participate will be a test of MDC organization

and whether the MDC is prepared to defy government

repression. End Comment

MCGEE

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