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Tsvangirai planned to launch Murambatsvina and Gukurahundi funds

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said an MDC government was going to launch a fund for victims of Operation Murambatsvina and another for those of Gukurahundi in July 2008.

He said this on his return from South Africa after launching another fund, the President’s Fund for Victims of Violence.

The fund was intended to assist Zimbabweans displaced or orphaned during the surge in government-sponsored attacks in the countryside in the run-up to the presidential elections run-off.

The fund already had about $300 000 and was going to be administered by a board chaired by Eleanor Sisulu, daughter-in-law of African National Congress icon Walter Sisulu and coordinator of the South African office of Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai said that two additional funds would be “launched by the MDC Government in July” once the runoff was completed.

The first was to be for victims of Operation Murambatsvina, a 2005 government campaign to destroy opposition strongholds that left some 700 000 displaced.

The second would be for victims of Operation Gukurahundi, massacres in the early 1980s in Matabeleland directed against the minority Ndebele population that left an estimated 20000 dead.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE470, WITH TSVANGIRAI HOME, OPPOSITION RETURNS TO

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE470

2008-05-28 14:48

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5084

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0470/01 1491448

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 281448Z MAY 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2956

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2006

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2127

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0669

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1404

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1762

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2183

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4614

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1267

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000470

 

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: DECL: 05/28/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: WITH TSVANGIRAI HOME, OPPOSITION RETURNS TO

CAMPAIGN MODE

 

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Glenn Warren for reason 1.4 (d)

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. On May 27, Movement for Democratic Change

(MDC) presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, who recently

returned from a lengthy trip to South Africa focused on

regional diplomacy, held a press conference to share his

perspective on the current situation in Zimbabwe and outline

his party’s response. Tsvangirai stated that over 50 people

have been killed and at least 25,000 displaced (some 500 of

whom sought shelter in MDC headquarters) since the March 29

elections. In response, Tsvangirai announced the launch of

the President’s Fund for Victims of Violence, intended to

assist Zimbabweans impacted by the recent surge in

government-sponsored attacks. Tsvangirai repeatedly drove

home what appears to be the MDC’s mantra for the campaigning

days ahead: “The rebuilding of Zimbabwe begins now.” Finally

back in campaign mode, Tsvangirai’s rhetoric suggests he is

working hard to reconnect with voters nationwide and plan for

transition to MDC rule. Nonetheless, the MDC has a lot of

work to do in advance of the June 27 run-off if they hope for

a victory. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) On May 27, Tsvangirai held a press conference at his

party’s headquarters, Harvest House, to share his perspective

on the current situation in Zimbabwe and outline his party’s

response. Tsvangirai condemned the government’s violent

attacks on civilians and noted over 50 people have been

killed and at least 25,000 displaced during the six week

period following the March 29 elections. Tsvangirai, who

repeatedly referred to himself as the “President” of

Zimbabwe, noted in prepared remarks that he had met with

victims and their families, including attending the

high-profile funeral of a slain MDC activist on Sunday, since

returning to Zimbabwe on Saturday.

 

3. (U) In response to the violence, Tsvangirai announced the

launch of the President’s Fund for Victims of Violence. The

fund, which is intended to assist Zimbabweans displaced or

orphaned during the recent surge in government-sponsored

attacks in the countryside, currently holds $150 trillion

Zimbabwean dollars (approximately US$300,000). Tsvangirai

called on the Zimbabwean Diaspora and the international

community to contribute. The fund will be administered by a

board made up of civil society and church leaders, chaired by

Eleanor Sisulu, daughter-in-law of ANC icon Walter Sisulu and

coordinator of the South African office of Crisis Coalition

of Zimbabwe, an NGO umbrella group.

 

4. (U) Tsvangirai also revealed that two additional funds

will be “launched by the MDC Government in July” once the

runoff is completed. The first will be for victims of

Operation Murambatsvina, a 2005 government campaign to

destroy opposition strongholds that left some 700,000

displaced. The second will be for victims of Operation

Gukurahundi, massacres in the early 1980s in Matabeleland

directed against the minority Ndebele population, also

ordered by Mugabe to curb resistance to his government, that

left an estimated 20,000 dead. Tsvangirai repeatedly drove

home what appears to be the MDC’s mantra for the campaigning

days ahead: “The rebuilding of Zimbabwe begins now.”

 

5. (SBU) Separately, poloff was told by MDC communications

staff that over 500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) were

still living on the first floor of Harvest House, many of

whom have been there for over a month. (NOTE: Mission is

currently exploring way to assist displaced victims of

politically-motivated violence. END NOTE.) Poloff observed

many of the displaced and noted that there were large numbers

of women and children among them. The MDC staffer stated that

while two meals a day were being provided by civil society

organizations, the need for sanitation facilities remained

 

HARARE 00000470 002 OF 002

 

 

acute. The staffer lamented that the IDPs were still in MDC

offices and stated that the party was searching for a better

location to house them. A number of the displaced were

allowed to sit in on the press conference and afterwards

photographers were given access to the main room where they

were being held.

 

6. (SBU) When asked if the MDC remained concerned that

security forces would again raid Harvest House following

increased publicity about the IDPs, the staffer demurred,

noting that ZANU-PF discovered in the last raid that most of

the IDPs were ordinary citizens and not opposition activists.

Most were released after being held for several days by

Harare police, after which the MDC staffer reported that most

returned to Harvest House seeking shelter. The staffer did

not expect the Mugabe regime to waste time and resources on a

second raid. (NOTE: Security forces raided Harvest House and

arrested over 200 individuals seeking sanctuary from violence

on April 25. END NOTE)

 

7. (C) COMMENT. Now that he has returned to Zimbabwe,

Tsvangirai appears to be looking ahead and working hard to

demonstrate his leadership qualities, reconnect with

traumatized rural voters, plan for transition to MDC rule,

and regain the trust of skeptical Zimbabweans (and

traditional opposition supporters) in civil society and the

media who questioned his lengthy absence. With a national

address reportedly planned for later this week and the

expected launch of a three-week bus tour of Zimbabwe, the MDC

is finally back in campaign mode and providing counter-points

to ZANU-PF’s widespread campaign strategy. Whether the MDC

will be able to turn out the opposition vote, effectively

monitor polling stations on election day, and penetrate areas

currently locked down by Mugabe’s security forces in time for

the June 27 run-off is yet to be seen. END COMMENT.

Warren

 

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