Lawyer said Masiyiwa has not held valid Zimbabwe passport for years

A lawyer with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Otto Saki said exiled Zimbabwe businessman Strive Masiyiwa had not held a valid Zimbabwean passport for several years.

He did not, however, disclose what type of travel document the businessman used.

Saki was commenting on the impact of a new law which empowered the government to seize travel documents of Zimbabweans who it felt could jeopardise national interests to stop them from leaving the country.

Publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent Trevor Ncube and Movement for Democratic change spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi had their passports seized under the new law when they returned from South Africa in December 2005.

Saki said the law was likely to have little impact because some of the people that were being targeted had passports issued by other countries or had not travelled to Zimbabwe in years.

He said human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba, for example, had a United Nations refugee passport.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE1679, GOZ SEIZES TWO CRITICS, PASSPORTS, EYING MORE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1679

2005-12-13 13:31

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 001679

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2015

TAGS: ASEC PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: GOZ SEIZES TWO CRITICS, PASSPORTS, EYING MORE

 

REF: HARARE 001238

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

-------

Summary

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1. (C) Exercising the power given to it by Constitutional

Amendment 17, the GOZ last week seized the passports of two

regime critics, newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube and deposed

MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi. The seizures comes

amidst the revelation that the GOZ has drafted a list of 64

opposition politicians, civil society leaders, and

journalists whose travel documents should be impounded to

prevent them from leaving the country. End Summary.

 

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

A Rude Welcome Home

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

 

2. (C) Immigration officials at Bulawayo Airport on December

8 seized the passport of Trevor Ncube, the owner and

publisher of independent newspapers the Zimbabwe Independent

and the Standard, and the Mail and Guardian in South Africa.

This marked the first instance of the GOZ using its newly

created constitutional authority to revoke passports of

individuals suspected of intending to undermine &the

national interest8 (ref Harare 1238). Speaking to Post on

December 9, Ncube said that his lawyers were drafting an

urgent application for the release of his passport. Arnold

Tsunga, the director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

 

SIPDIS

(ZLHR), that same day told us that his group had filed a

petition on Ncube,s behalf noting that the government had

yet to enact legislation implementing the constitutional

amendment to seize passports.

 

3. (C) Also on December 9, Paul Themba Nyathi ) who was

recently ousted from his position as MDC spokesman because of

his opposition to the party president ) had his passport

seized upon arriving at Bulawayo Airport after traveling to

South Africa.

 

4. (C) In a possibly related incident earlier in the month,

former chairman of Crisis Coalition Brian Kagoro was denied

additional pages in his passport. However, Kagoro, who now

lives in Nairobi, was allowed to leave Zimbabwe with his

passport.

 

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

Indications of More To Come?

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

 

5. (C) The two passport seizures come amidst widespread

speculation that potentially dozens more regime critics will

be similarly targeted. The ZANU-PF party conference that

ended on Saturday adopted a resolution that called on

authorities to seize the passports of &traitors(who go

around demonizing the country.8 Meanwhile, Ncube told Post

that immigration officials told him that his name was amongst

a list of 64 individuals whose passports were to be revoked.

Meanwhile, local media sources have published a list of 17

individuals that are reportedly on the GOZ,s travel ban.

The published list includes Nyathi and Kagoro, but does not

mention Ncube.

 

6. (C) Many of the individuals on the list of 17, however,

are not impacted by the travel ban because they either have

passports issued by other countries or have not traveled to

Zimbabwe in years, according to ZLHR lawyer Otto Saki. Going

through the list, Saki said that only Kagoro and unionist

Raymond Majongwe ) who is due to return from Nigeria on

December 14 ) were realistic targets. For example, he noted

that human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba had a UN refugee

passport and that businessman Strive Masiyiwa has not held a

valid Zimbabwean passport for several years. In a

conversation with Post on December 13, Human rights lawyer

Beatrice Mtetwa, who is included on the media,s list,

reiterated Saki,s points and said the ban would have no

impact on her since she used a Swazi passport.

 

7. (C) Thus far, the seizures have not been extended to

other likely targets. Outspoken women,s rights activist

Jenni Williams told Post that she used the Plumtree border

crossing from Botswana on December 10 with no incident.

Similarly, a ZLHR delegation headed by Jacob Mafume )

Zimbabwe,s recently named Human Rights Lawyer of the Year )

returned from a meeting of the Africa Commission for Human

Rights in the Gambia last week with passport intact.

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

8. (C) As expected, the GOZ is using the travel ban

provision of the recent constitutional amendment to rein in

perceived critics. We expect that the GOZ will not try to

prevent all critics from traveling so much as to let

selective seizures induce further self-censorship among

Zimbabwe's cautious and tired democratic forces.

DELL

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