Chamisa’s 78-year-old grandmother assaulted in run-up to presidential elections

Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa’s 78-year-old grandmother, his mother and brother were assaulted by armed soldiers when they raided their home in Gutu South during the run-up to the presidential elections of 27 June 2008.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who won the first round in March pulled out of the run-off because of the violence.

A diplomatic cable dispatched by United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee said Major General Englebert Rugeje was reportedly responsible for ordering the attack.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE512, ZIM VIOLENCE AND ARRESTS, IN DETAIL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE512

2008-06-16 04:39

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO9932

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0512/01 1680439

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 160439Z JUN 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3025

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2047

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2168

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0710

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1445

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1803

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2224

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4655

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1314

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 HARARE 000512

 

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: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: ZIM VIOLENCE AND ARRESTS, IN DETAIL

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Mugabe regime's political crackdown

ahead of the June 27 presidential run-off is increasingly

targeting opposition leadership. On June 12, presidential

candidate Morgan Tsvangirai was twice detained by police

while attempting to campaign, bringing the total to four

detentions in eight days. Tsvangirai was released late that

evening. Also on June 12, MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti

was arrested upon his return to Zimbabwe from South Africa

and charged with treason in addition to outstanding charges

of communicating statements prejudicial to the State; he

continues to be held incommunicado. On June 9, Tsvangirai

held a press conference denouncing the violence and

harassment in which he reported that 66 MDC supporters have

been killed, 200 remain missing, 3,000 have sought medical

treatment for injuries and at least 25 thousand have been

displaced during the ZANU-PF campaign. At least eight MDC

MPs have been arrested or detained in the aftermath of the

March 29 national elections in which the combined opposition

won a majority of seats in parliament. Women, children and

the elderly relatives of MDC officials have also been singled

out for beatings and even death in an ongoing attempt to

intimidate would-be MDC voters and shake the foundations of

the party's infrastructure. Without a major shift in the

current environment brought about by mass domestic and

international monitoring delegations, chances for a free and

fair June contest are minute. END SUMMARY.

 

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Top tier targeted

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

 

2. (SBU) On June 12, Morgan Tsvangirai and his election

staff were twice detained by police while attempting to

campaign in central Zimbabwe as part of a three week campaign

blitz through the countryside. Tsvangirai was first stopped

in Kwekwe at a police road block ahead of a planned rally; he

was held for several hours and then released. Tsvangirai and

staff were again stopped that evening in Gweru, where they

were taken to a police station. Police searched the two MDC

campaign buses before releasing the opposition members at

10:30pm on orders to return in the morning with paperwork for

the vehicles. On June 13, police reportedly found

"irregularities" with the paperwork for the campaign buses

(which were registered in South Africa) and impounded them.

MDC lawyers are currently working to secure the release of

the buses. These detentions mark the fourth time in eight

days that Tsvangirai has been stopped and held by police,

typically for the duration of what was intended to be an MDC

rally.

 

3. (SBU) Also on June 12, MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti

was arrested upon his return to Zimbabwe from nearly two

months of self-imposed exile in South Africa. Biti reported

from Johannesburg that he expected to be arrested upon

arrival on an outstanding warrant charging he communicated

statements prejudicial to the State by announcing that

Tsvangirai had won the March 29 contest ahead of the Zimbabwe

Electoral Commission, as prohibited by the Electoral Act.

Biti was reportedly taken from the Harare International

Airport airplane ramp-way by plain-clothed security officers

to an unknown location. Biti has been charged with treason,

which carries the death penalty, in addition to the previous

charge; he is currently being held incommunicado. His

lawyers report they suspect he is in Harare and plan to file

an urgent High Court petition demanding access on June 13.

 

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Terror unleashed

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

 

4. (U) At a June 9 press conference that followed the

 

HARARE 00000512 002 OF 005

 

 

convening of the MDC's national executive meeting, Morgan

Tsvangirai stated that the MDC "as a party" condemned the

government's ongoing campaign of violence against opposition

supporters, noting that "the country has experienced a de

facto coup d'etat and is now effectively run by a military

junta." Citing a "terror unleashed on the people,"

Tsvangirai stated that 66 MDC supporters have been killed by

government agents since the March 29 national elections and

that 200 remain missing, with some 3,000 having sought

medical treatment and at least 25 thousand displaced. Party

leadership, candidates and polling agents were particularly

targeted for attacks.

 

5. (U) Tsvangirai denied rumors of secret talks between the

MDC and ZANU-PF on a possible government of national unity

and insisted that the MDC was focused solely on the run-off.

"No one can change the process for the run-off," he stated,

"unless Mugabe steps down or collapses." Despite ZANU-PF

infiltration of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with loyal

security forces and attempts to abuse the postal voting

system by forcing the army and police to vote for Mugabe,

Tsvangirai called the ruling party's campaign a "doomsday

strategy," and remained confident that the MDC would win:

"Even if I stay home from now until the election, Mugabe will

still lose. The people have spoken."

 

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

Eight MDC MPs arrested/detained

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

 

6. (SBU) Despite securing a majority of seats in the House

of Assembly, numerous MDC MPs and one senator have been

arrested, detained or gone into hiding since the announcement

of presidential election results on May 2. These accounts

illustrate a pattern of charging MDC officials with inciting

violence, the State automatically appealing bail when it is

granted, and police who do not follow court orders when bail

is granted. Cumulatively, these eight MPs from seven

provinces have spent more than 45 nights in jail.

 

Eric Matinenga, MP-elect from Buhera West

Arrested: May 31, 2008

Charges: Inciting public violence. In his court hearing on

June 4, 2008, the magistrate refused to put him on remand,

saying the State had failed to provide any evidence against

him. She dropped the charges against him.

Released: June 5, 2008

Re-arrested: June 7, 2008

Charges: The same public violence charges that the magistrate

dropped days earlier.

Ordered released: Monday June 9, 2008.   However, as of June

11, Matinenga remains in jail as police refuse to comply with

the court order.

 

Norman Mpofu, MP-elect from Bulilima East and

Lutho Tapela, Senator-elect from Bulilima-Mangwe

Detained: May 24, 2008 in Plumtree with two local activists.

Accused of holding an illegal meeting.

Charges: None filed

Released: May 27, 2008

 

Amos Chibaya, MP-elect from Gweru

Detained and Released May 21, 2008

Charges: "Undermining public confidence in the police force"

for comments he made at a rally about police officers having

voted for MDC.

 

Iain Kay, MP-elect from Marondera Central

Arrested: May 20, 2008

Charges: Inciting violence. Kay is accused of masterminding

violence in Mashonaland East. He was held for more than 48

 

HARARE 00000512 003 OF 005

 

 

hours before being formally charged. When he did appear in

court, the State appealed bail, which was eventually granted.

Released on bail: June 2, 2008

 

Heya Shoko, MP-elect from Bikita West

Detained and Released May 12, 2008 after being held for four

hours.

Charges: Public violence. He was accused of involvement in

violence and arson.

 

Misheck Shoko, MP-elect from Chitungwiza South

Detained and Released May 12, 2008

Charges: Inciting violence. Accused of planning to raid a

ZANU-PF youth militia base in Seke.

 

Trevor Saruwaka, MP-elect from Mutasa Central

Arrested: May 11, 2008 at Penhalonga Police Station.

Saruwaka had gone to the station to look for an MDC youth

abducted by war veterans. He was ordered arrested at the

police station.

Charges: Inciting violence

Awarded bail: May 14, 2008

Released from jail: May 20, 2008

 

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Lower- and mid-level activists murdered

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

 

7. (SBU) In addition to targeting of high-profile MDC

officials and MPs, there are reports of a plethora of

attacks, including torture and murder, on lower-level

candidates and activists as part of the Mugabe regime's

systematic attempt to collapse the opposition's grassroots

network. The following are just some examples:

 

On May 22, Shepherd Jani, the MDC treasurer in Mashonaland

East, was abducted from the sidewalk in Murehwa and pushed

into a truck by four men suspected of being intelligence

officers. Jani's mutilated body was found two days later,

Tsvangirai attended his funeral in Murehwa on May 28.

 

Beta Chokururama, a member of the MDC national youth, was

found dead in Chikwaka village, Mashonaland East on May 14.

He and two other MDC activists, Cain Nyevhe and Godfrey

Kauzani, had been abducted on May 13 by two full Toyota

trucks with no license plates. Nyevhe and Kauzani's bodies

were found on May 18 in Goromonzi; at their funerals in

Harare on May 21, ZANU-PF supporters attacked some of the MDC

mourners.

 

On May 14, Tonderai Ndira, MDC Secretary for Security in the

Youth Assembly, was abducted from his home in a high density

suburb of Harare. His mutilated body was found on May 21 in

Goromonzi. Ndira was a well-known MDC activist who had been

arrested more than 30 times. Tsvangirai attended his funeral

in Harare on May 25.

 

In Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central, a group of 70 villagers was

beaten and tortured on May 5; six were killed,   One of the

men killed, Joseph Madzuramhende, was allegedly told that his

crime was having a radio where villagers came to listen to

Studio 7 (the popular Voice of America radio program). He

was severely beaten and tortured for several hours by six

ZANU-PF youths before he died.

 

MDC activist Tabitha Marume was shot and killed on April 25

in Manicaland when a group of war veterans opened fire on a

group of MDC supporters. Marume and 21 other MDC supporters

had gone to a torture camp to seek the release of 12 MDC

members who had been abducted by war veterans on April 23.

When they attempted to release their colleagues, they were

 

HARARE 00000512 004 OF 005

 

 

confronted by 50 war vets and ZANU-PF youths, 12 with AK-47s.

As they attempted to flee, three, including Marume, were

shot. According to eye witnesses, retired Colonel Daniel

Romeo Mutsvunguma, the former Zimbabwean Defense Attache in

Washington, fired the fatal shot that killed Marume.

 

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

Families targeted

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

 

8. (SBU) The targeting of family members and others close

to MDC leaders appears to be increasingly employed as a

tactic of intimidation and coercion. In both rural and urban

areas, women, children and the elderly have not been exempted

from ZANU-PF's campaign of murder, beatings, and displacement

in an attempt to further weaken the opposition's structural

framework ahead of the run-off. The following are confirmed

recent attacks carried out on those in the MDC orbit:

 

On June 10, the home of MP Blessing Chebundo in Hurungwe,

Karoi was set on fire by ZANU-PF supporters. Chebundo's

family members were injured in the blaze and his younger

brother is missing.

 

On June 7, a ZANU-PF mob murdered the wife of Patson Chipiro,

Chairman for Mhondoro Ngezi, by cutting off her hands and

legs, dragging her body into the kitchen and setting it on

fire. The attack was reportedly ordered by Deputy

Information Minister Bright Matonga, the ZANU-PF MP for

Mhondoro Ngezi.

 

On June 6, the home of Brian Mamhova, the District Councilor

for Ward 1 in Harare South, was set on fire by ZANU-PF

supporters who arrived in four packed vehicles. The mob was

reportedly promised Z$25 trillion (approximately US$12,500)

to kill Mamhova, who escaped unharmed with his brother and

nephew. However, Mamhova's pregnant wife and six-year-old

son perished in the fire and his neighbors were beaten.

Police were uncooperative when asked to investigate and

Mamhova remains in hiding.

 

On June 1, the family of Piniel Denga, the MP Elect for Mbare

in Harare was attacked by a group of ZANU-PF supporters.

Denga's brother, nephews and nieces were force-marched from

the family homestead in Chivu to a torture camp in Chipisa,

where they were told to denounce the MDC. They were then

beaten with logs; Denga's brother suffered a broken leg, his

niece a broken hand and others received lacerations to their

bodies.

 

On May 30, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa's 78-year-old

grandmother, mother and brother were assaulted by armed

soldiers who raided their home in Gutu South. The attackers

then beat other family members living in the area. Major

General Englebert Rugejo was reportedly responsible for

ordering the attack.

 

On May 26, Mabel Penisara, the wife of MP Iain Kay's campaign

manager, was abducted and tortured by 20 ZANU-PF thugs. She

was left naked by a roadside, where she was found alive on

May 28.

 

On May 13, war veterans abducted the parents of exiled MDC

official Elliot Pfebve in Nyakatondo village in Mt.Darwin.

Pfebve's 79-year-old father and 76-year-old mother were tied

up with wire and taken, along with several other family

members, to a reported torture camp at Nyakatondo Primary

School. Amnesty International stated it would help

investigate the case; however, there is no further

information available at this time. The Pfebve's have been

the target of politically-motivated violence before: In 2000,

 

HARARE 00000512 005 OF 005

 

 

during one of Elliot's campaigns, his brother Matthew was

abducted from the family's home and killed, and Pfevbe's

father was injured, both allegedly by armed ZANU-PF

supporters.

 

9. (SBU) COMMENT: The confirmed cases above, though just a

few of the myriad incidents reported since the March 29

elections, demonstrate the breadth and depth of the

government's effort to eliminate political space for the

opposition. ZANU-PF supporters act with total impunity to

carry out the orders of, in many cases, senior level

officials. Free and fair elections are impossible under

current conditions and we have no sign that in the coming

days things will improve. The arrival and active engagement

of a full contingent of domestic and international observers

remains imperative if Zimbabwe is to have any chance at a

credible run-off. END COMMENT.

 

McGee

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