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Tsvangirai’s second treason charges withdrawn

The second treason charges under which Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was charged with inciting mass demonstrations to overthrow President Robert Mugabe were withdrawn.

Tsvangirai’s lawyer Eric Matinenga said that the state could still proceed against Tsvangirai by way of a separate summons but this was highly unlikely because the case was very weak.

Matinenga said that a gag order in place since 2003 preventing Tsvangirai from saying certain things that could be perceived as undermining the government’s legitimacy expired with the case.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE1105, TSVANGIRAI,S SECOND TREASON TRIAL CHARGES WITHDRAWN

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1105

2005-08-03 15:07

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 001105

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR L. MUNCEY

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI MDC

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI,S SECOND TREASON TRIAL CHARGES WITHDRAWN

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Eric T. Schultz under Section 1.4 b/d

 

1. (U) The GOZ on August 2 dropped the remaining treason

charge against MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai. The latest

charge stemmed from Tsvangirai’s role in mass demonstrations

against the ruling party in June 2003. (Note: Prosecution on

a first treason charge ended with Tsvangirai’s acquittal in

October. End note.)

 

2. (C) Tsvangirai’s attorney, Eric Matinenga, told us on

August 3 that the state could still proceed against

Tsvangirai by way of a separate summons. Noting that the

 

SIPDIS

state’s case was even weaker than the previous one, however,

Mantinenga asserted that such an approach was highly

unlikely. He added that a gag order in place since 2003

preventing Tsvangirai from saying certain things that could

be perceived as undermining the GOZ’s legitimacy expires with

the case.

 

3. (C) Comment: The dropping of the case may say more about

the GOZ’s shifting priorities than it does about the weakness

of the case. Whether the state was going to win these

treason cases or not, the charges had long served the state’s

purposes by distracting and muzzling the opposition leader

and depleting opposition coffers in legal costs. With the

March election “won”, the next national election not

scheduled until 2008, and the opposition in apparent

disarray, national economic implosion is replacing political

control as the ruling party’s most immediate concern. The

regime seems increasingly aware that it will need

international assistance to stem the country’s myriad crises

and is becoming more image-conscious as it wrestles with how

to secure that assistance. In this regard, the dropped

charge may be part of the regime’s nascent efforts to improve

its image, particularly with an eye to ongoing loan

negotiations with South Africa, discussions with the UN on

food and displaced persons assistance, and the upcoming IMF

expulsion vote.

 

 

 

 

SCHULTZ

 

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