The leaders included party president Morgan Tsvangirai and secretary-general Welshman Ncube.
Commenting on the incident, the United States embassy said it represented a potentially morale-boosting victory of sorts for the MDC in the battle for hearts and minds in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for March, 2005.
“The clash in ZANU-PF's heartland will raise a question in even the most uncritical readers of the official press's stilted accounts: how could the MDC have been holding a provincial assembly meeting in a zone regarded by most Zimbabweans as a ruling party-enforced ‘no-go’ area -one in which the opposition lacked any meaningful presence? “
Viewing cable 04HARARE1112, ATTACK ON MDC PROVINCIAL MEETING
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 001112
AF/S FOR LAROIAN, MRAYNOR
AF/PD FOR D. FOLEY, C. DALTON
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009
SUBJECT: ATTACK ON MDC PROVINCIAL MEETING
REF: HARARE 1067
Classified By: Political Officer Bianca Menendez for reason 1.5 d
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. ZANU-PF youths on July 2 attacked an MDC
provincial assembly attended by several MDC leaders,
including Morgan Tsvangirai, in Mashonaland Central. The
youths destroyed property and injured MDC supporters. Police
blamed the incident on MDC members, while MDC leaders believe
the CIO masterminded the attack. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (U) The attack occurred in Mvurwi, at the end of an MDC
provincial assembly meeting, according to MDC Secretary
General Welshman Ncube. Ncube said at the meeting were party
leaders from Harare, some MPs, and party members from around
the province. According to MDC spokesman Nkanyiso Maqeda,
party members included district and ward representatives and
supporters from around the province who came by bus to
¶3. (C) According to MDC Secretary of Mashonaland Central,
Shepherd Mushonga, who was at the meeting, two two-ton trucks
and two smaller trucks of ZANU-PF youths arrived at the
meeting, being held at the property of Biggie Chigonera, MDC
Vice Chairman in Mashonaland Central. Mushonga said the
youths, who numbered about 150-200, threw stones and attacked
people with iron bars then burned down buildings and
automobiles on Chigonera,s complex, including his residence
and a garage.
¶4. (C) Mushonga said that the MDC applied for and received
permission from the police to hold the meeting but that the
police did not provide guards, as they should have. He said
this was an indication that the police knew the attack would
happen. He said members of the CIO were visible in the
vicinity and that he believed they had probably masterminded
¶5. (C) According to William Bango, personal assistant to
Morgan Tsvangirai, local ZANU-PF elements are trying to
locate citizens who were at the meeting. Maqeda said he heard
that two trucks of youths were driving around the province
Sunday looking for meeting attendees and threatening them.
Mushonga said that ZANU-PF youths were also threatening
Chigonera, who was still at his property where the youths
were demonstrating and chanting outside his home. Mushonga
said the police have done nothing to investigate the attack.
¶6. (U) According to the government-controlled Herald
newspaper, police spokesman Mandipaka said MDC youths
provoked ZANU-PF youths by throwing tear gas at them as a
ZANU-PF youth convoy approached the meeting, characterized by
the Herald as an MDC rally. According to the Herald, police
denied anyone was injured.
¶7. (C) Ncube said that all the Harare party leaders,
including Morgan Tsvangirai, were unharmed and returned
safely to Harare. Maqeda said that there were five confirmed
injured, including Samuel Mapingure, the driver of
Chitungwiza MP Fidelis Mhashu. Maqeda said the MDC believed
many others had been injured but that they were among those
who had come by bus from the countryside and that they had
all fled after the attack.
¶8. (C) COMMENT: This incident is another example of a
long-standing pattern of the GOZ preventing the MDC from
holding meetings and rallies, particularly in rural areas
regarded by the ruling party as its base. (Mvurwi is a small
town in the midst of a former commercial farming area.)
Government officials allowed the meeting to be planned and
held, perhaps in an attempt to identify supporters, then
sponsored or at a minimum allowed an attack on the event.
Continued GOZ suppression of opposition campaign efforts and
freedom of assembly offers context for ongoing ruling party
efforts to initiate electoral reforms (reftel): such efforts
will revolve around changes in the letter of the law, but do
little if anything to address deep imbalances in Zimbabwe's
¶9. (C) COMMENT (CONT'D): The incident nonetheless represents
a potentially morale-boosting victory of sorts for the MDC in
the battle for hearts and minds in the run-up to national
parliamentary elections scheduled for March. The clash in
ZANU-PF's heartland will raise a question in even the most
uncritical readers of the official press's stilted accounts:
how could the MDC have been holding a provincial assembly
meeting in a zone regarded by most Zimbabweans as a ruling
party-enforced "no-go" area -- one in which the opposition
lacked any meaningful presence?