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Tsvangirai arrested ahead of protest

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested on the first day of the proposed week-long protest aimed at forcing President Robert Mugabe to step down.

The High Court said the protest was illegally but Tsvangirai’s special advisor Gandi Mudzingwa said the MDC did not recognise the ruling and would go ahead with its planned activities.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1097, TSVANGIRAI DETAINED AS WEEK OF MDC PLANNED MASS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1097

2003-06-02 09:13

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 HARARE 001097

 

SIPDIS

 

OPS CENTER PLEASE PASS TO EVIAN

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

NAIROBI FOR T. PLAUMER

BANGKOK FOR WIN DAYTON

DS/OP/AF

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/02/2008

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI DETAINED AS WEEK OF MDC PLANNED MASS

ACTION BEGINS

 

REF: HARARE 1081

 

Classified By: Political Officer Peggy Blackford for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) Summary. MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested

this morning as his party prepared to kick off a week of mass

action including demonstrations and stayaways against the

government of Robert Mugabe. Though charges have not yet

been brought against Tsvangirai, it may be that the

government plans to accuse him of violating a court order

handed down Saturday declaring the mass action illegal. Over

the weekend the Government of Zimbabwe set up road blocks

within Harare to limit the movement of large groups of

people. Today Harare is virtually closed for business with

most people being unable to obtain transport even if they do

wish to go to work. It is unclear, however, whether the MDC

will have equal success in organizing demonstrations.   End

Summary.

 

2. (C) Welshman Ncube, MDC spokesman, told the BBC in an

interview this morning that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the

opposition MDC party, has been detained by the GOZ. This

information was confirmed by several additional MDC sources

who said that Tsvangirai had been picked up about 8:20 and is

being held at Harare Central by the Law and Order section of

the police. No charges have yet been made. Tsvangirai was

also due in court this morning at 10 to face the treason

charges previously brought against him. Other MDC leaders

say that they are expecting to be arrested as well. Several

MDC officials say that their homes were attacked on Sunday

evening.

 

3. (C) Over the weekend the GOZ obtained a ruling from the

High Court declaring this week’s announced mass action

(reftel) illegal. Gandi Mudzingwa, Tsvangirai’s special

advisor, told PolOff that the MDC did not recognize this

ruling as valid and planned to go ahead with its activities.

There were reports of a handful of arrests and some

incidents of violence over the weekend in the high density

areas but no major clashes. GOZ police and military were out

in large numbers beginning on Saturday morning. Roadblocks

were established on all roads leading into town though most

private cars were waved through.

 

4. (SBU) As of Monday morning there was little traffic on

the roads and virtually no transport available from the high

density areas. The Embassy is open for business but between

half and a third of the Embassy’s locally hired employees

failed to show up for work. Factory owners in the light

industrial area report that almost all their employees are

absent. PolOffs driving around the city report that center

city has a fair number of people on the street and there is

speculation that they may be planning to gather in protest at

a later time. Many police, in groups of 4 or 5 are also on

the street. Nearly all shops are closed. Several EmbOffs on

their way to work noticed a several hundred people gathered

near the University of Zimbabwe. Since then they were

apparently dispersed by police using tear gas. The ground

remains littered with rocks and tree branches and police are

heavily deployed. Scattered reports are coming in from FSNs

and others of groups gathering in the high density areas

particularly the suburb of Kuwadzana.

 

SULLIVAN

 

(4 VIEWS)

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