Most people in rural Zimbabwe remained nervous about the potential for renewed violence more than a year after the 2008 presidential elections run-off which left more than 200 people dead.
The fear was largely because of the complete lack of effort by the police and courts to investigate and hold accountable perpetrators of the 2008 violence.
Zimbabwe African national Union –Patriotic Front youths, war veterans, and soldiers known to be responsible for the violence still circulated in rural communities, pushing the ZANU-PF agenda on issues such as the Kariba Draft and intimidating known Movement for Democratic Change supporters.
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Classified By: CDA Donald K. Petterson for reason 1.4 (b) and (d).
¶1. (SBU) A series of Embassy visits across five Zimbabwean
provinces between mid-September and mid-October 2009
confirmed that levels of political violence are currently
quite low, with the exception of invasions of several
contested white-owned commercial farms. Nevertheless, the
potential for renewed violence remains high as core ZANU-PF
structures )- youth militia, war veterans, and the military
— that directed last year’s election-related violence are
still active in rural communities, and in some instances
appear to be stepping-up recruiting and intimidation efforts.
Uneasy Calm in Zimbabwe’s Rural Areas
¶2. (SBU) From mid-September to mid-October, emboffs visited
Mashonaland East, Masvingo, Manicaland, Midlands, and
Matabeleland North provinces and had discussions with local
MPs, civil society leaders, school officials, and individuals
implementing Embassy-sponsored Self Help Projects. With the
exception of Matabeleland North, all these provinces suffered
from extensive political violence and intimidation during
last year’s elections.
¶3. (SBU) Our contacts in Shurugwi (Midlands province);
Bikita, Buhera, Gutu (Masvingo province); Chinhoyi
(Mashonaland East province); Nyanyadzi (Manicaland province);
and Binga, Hwange, and Victoria Falls (Matabeleland North
province) consistently told us that there were no current
ZANU-PF orchestrated campaigns of political violence. While
tensions remain and ZANU-PF supporters periodically
intimidate MDC supporters, widespread beatings, abductions,
and deaths have abated.
¶4. (C) However, our visits revealed some notable violent
exceptions — a handful of fiercely-contested farm invasions.
These appear to be individually-motivated instances, as
distinguished from the ZANU-PF-organized violence in 2008.
One example is Friedawil farm near Chinhoyi where MDC-T MP
Stewart Garadhi informed us that South African farmer Louis
Fick was forced off his farm in mid-September by supporters
of the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
Edward Mashiringwani. Another example, contained in a report
by Justice for Agriculture (JAG), an organization that
defends the legal rights of commercial farmers, is that of
the Charles Lock farm in Mashonaland East. Brigadier General
Justin Mujaji employed approximately 18 army soldiers in
taking over the farm. Soldiers beat numerous farm employees,
shot at least one, raped one woman, and attempted to rape at
least two others during their three-week stay on the Lock
farm. (NOTE: Lock’s farm is co-owned by a German citizen
and should be protected by a signed Bilateral Investment
Promotion and Protection Agreement between Germany and
Zimbabwe END NOTE).
QZimbabwe END NOTE).
¶5. (SBU) Across Zimbabwe, citizens have attempted to regain
property )- often chickens, cows, and farm implements )-
from the ZANU-PF community members who stole them in 2008.
In several instances, these attempts have led to violence
against the claimants. In others, the claimants have been
thrown in jail on charges of extortion for attempting to
regain stolen property.
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ZANU-PF Structures Still in Place
¶6. (C) Despite the current absence of broad-based violence,
numerous contacts cited concerns about the continued
existence of ZANU-PF structures, and in some cases even
increased ZANU-PF presence and activity. Jestina Mukoko, the
director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, which monitors
violence, confirmed to poloff that reports of violence had
declined, but warned that ZANU-PF youth were mobilizing to
support the Mugabe-favored Kariba Draft constitution by
threatening communities with violence if they failed to
support it. In an October 19 meeting with emboffs, leaders
of seven prominent NGOs concurred that people in some rural
areas faced intimidation over the Kariba Draft. They told us
ZANU-PF could manipulate votes in a constitutional referendum
or election through intimidation alone. Wounds from last
year’s violence remained fresh and the mere presence of
ZANU-PF youth and war veterans in rural communities continued
to be a significant deterrent to open affiliation with the
¶7. (C) Counseling Services Unit (CSU), a local NGO that
provides treatment and counseling to victims of violence,
informed us of increases in ZANU-PF youth activity in
Mashonaland East province. In the Mudzi constituencies,
ZANU-PF officials have been rounding up young men and taking
them away for “training.” The nature of the training is
unknown, but parents are terrified as the “trainers” were
involved in last year’s violence. Newton Kachepa, Mudzi
North’s ZANU-PF MP, has allegedly been directing these
efforts, according to CSU.
¶8. (SBU) Contacts in the Murehwa district of Mashonaland
East told us villagers were promised seed and fertilizer in
exchange for attending a meeting, but were then forced to
chant ZANU-PF slogans and denigrate MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai. They were also told to support the Kariba Draft.
At the meeting’s conclusion, the villagers were threatened
with beheading if they failed to back the Kariba Draft.
¶9. (C) MDC-T MP Stewart Garadhi told us that ZANU-PF youth
continued to infiltrate schools and pressure teachers in
Mashonaland West province. He said that in a nearby district
youths forced a headmaster to allow them the use of a
classroom for “national services.” These services centered
on training and indoctrinating new members and intimidating
MDC supporters. Garadhi and Mukoko also confirmed that bases
used by war veterans, military and youth to torture MDC
supporters during the 2008 election period remained in
existence in some areas.
¶10. (SBU) Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s statement to the press
on October 16 announcing the MDC’s disengagement from ZANU-PF
made clear that the MDC takes these reports seriously; he
cited “extensive militarization of the countryside through
massive deployment of the military and setting up bases of
Qmassive deployment of the military and setting up bases of
violence.” Tsvangirai also mentioned that there are 16,000
ZANU-PF youth on government payrolls.
¶11. (SBU) Despite the relative calm thus far in 2009, most
rural people remain nervous about the potential for renewed
violence in Zimbabwe. This stems in large part from the
complete lack of effort by the police and courts to
investigate and hold accountable last year’s perpetrators.
Consequently, ZANU-PF youth, war veterans, and soldiers known
to be responsible for violence still circulate in rural
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communities, pushing the ZANU-PF agenda on issues such as the
Kariba Draft and intimidating known MDC supporters. END