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War vets called Americans white animals

War veterans who stormed the five-star Meikles Hotel during the two-day stay-away organised by the Movement for Democratic Change yelled at an American citizen and his six colleagues: “White animals, don’t you look at us; get out of Zimbabwe; we don’t want you here.”

According to a cable released by Wikileaks, security guards and a concierge who had come to assist, “froze in their tracks,” when they realised that the assailants were war veterans.

The stay-away was largely successful with between 80 to 95 percent of businesses in the capital closed.

The MDC claimed that three people were shot in Highfield but retreated later. The government insisted that there were no casualties.

The United States embassies said about 275 people, mostly MDC supporters, were arrested.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1122, STAYAWAY HOLDING TENUOUSLY, NO DEMONSTRATIONS –

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1122

2003-06-03 15:11

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 SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001122

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

BANGKOK FOR WIN DAYTON

DS/OP/AF

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013

TAGS: PGOV CASC PHUM PINR ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: STAYAWAY HOLDING TENUOUSLY, NO DEMONSTRATIONS –

MDC MASS ACTION DAY TWO

 

REF: A. HARARE 1101

B. HARARE 1097

C. HARARE 1081

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

Summary:

——–

 

1. (C) In television and radio broadcasts, as well as by

telephoning and visiting business owners directly, GOZ

officials exhorted businesses to open on June 3. In the face

of this pressure between 50 – 90 percent of businesses

remained closed on June 3 nationwide. The police, though

present, were less visible on the street in downtown Harare

on June 3. It appears that ordinary Zimbabweans have not

heeded the call to take to the streets in the numbers and

with the defiance the MDC was hoping for. End Summary.

 

GOZ Exhorts Businesses to Open

——————————

 

2. (U) In a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation television

broadcast on June 2, Minister of Industry and International

Trade S. Mumbengegwi exhorted workers to show up for work,

and businesses to open on risk losing their licenses and

permits. According to MDC Presidential Advisor, Gandi

Mudzingwa, GOZ officials were calling the directors of large

companies in Harare and threatening them with license

revocation if they did not open.

 

3. (C) According to PAO a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation

reporter personally exhorted a Time Bank office in downtown

Harare to open. Virginia Pinto, an independent Mutare city

councilwoman, said police went door to door to small

businesses and shops in downtown Mutare on June 2 – 3

demanding that they open or risk license revocation. For the

past several workdays in Mutare police visited banks and took

down the names and addresses of managers and workers,

threatening to force them to work if the bank did not open.

Mudzingwa said that there were no planned demonstrations or

marches on June 3, and that the MDC leadership was instead

focused on maintaining the stayaway in the face of mounting

GOZ pressure on businesses to open.

 

MDC Officials Arrested

———————-

 

4. (U) On June 2, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai was

arrested for non-compliance with a May 31 court order

prohibiting the MDC planned mass action. He was released on

the same day after signing a warned and cautioned statement.

According to the MDC, Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Tendai

Biti; Job Sikhala, the MDC MP for St. Mary’s (in the Harare

area); Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, the MDC Mayor of Bulawayo;

Milton Gwetu, an MDC MP in Bulawayo; Silas Mangono, an MDC MP

from Masvingo; Jobert Mudzumwe a member of the MDC National

Executive; Charlton Hwende, a member of the MDC National

Youth wing; and several MDC officials in other parts of the

country were arrested on June 2 and still in custody on June

3.

 

Total Numbers Arrested

———————-

 

5. (U) Reports of the total number of people arrested

nationwide in connection with the mass action varied; the

total number was likely about 275 by June 3. This includes

121 arrested in Harare, 56 in Chitungwiza (a high density

suburb of Harare), 21 in Bulawayo, 25 in Masvingo, 3 in

Victoria Falls, and unconfirmed numbers in Mutare, Gweru, and

Kwekwe. Most of those arrested on June 2, were released by

June 3. By June 3 police had not allowed MDC officials

access to the arrestees in Masvingo, nor had they allowed

food to be brought in.

 

6. (SBU) An American citizen reported that he and his party

of 6 were sitting in the lobby of Harare’s five star Meikles

hotel yesterday when a group of half a dozen war vets came

into the hotel shouting and pushing security guards. When

they spotted the Americans, they stood about 3 feet away and

started yelling, “White animals, don’t you look at us; get

out of Zimbabwe; we don’t want you here.” The guards and

concierge came to assist , but when they realized that the

assailants were war vets, they “froze in their tracks,”

according to the American. The war vets left shortly

thereafter. The Americans were frightened by their ordeal

and plan to leave Zimbabwe today, as previously scheduled.

7. (SBU) Embassy has been unable to confirm any reports of

casualties. The MDC, which yesterday reported that 3 people

were shot in Highfield (near Harare), today retreated from

that position. The GOZ has said there were no casualties,

except for an unidentified person, which the government-owned

Herald reported was stoned to death by MDC supporters.

 

Stayaway Successful – But Losing Ground

—————————————

 

8. (U) Driving around Harare on June 3, Poloff observed that

about 80 percent of shops in downtown Harare remained closed,

and 90 percent of businesses in the light industrial areas of

Harare were closed.

 

9. (SBU) Police were visible in groups of 2 – 4 in downtown

areas, some were armed with automatic rifles, but for the

most part they assumed very relaxed postures.

 

10. (C) According to Sheba Dube, head of the Bulawayo chapter

of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) about 75 percent of

businesses in downtown Bulawayo were closed on June 3.

According to Pinto, about 50 percent of businesses in Mutare

remained closed on June 3.

 

Comment:

——–

 

11. (C) Having quelled prospective demonstrations on June 2,

and arrested a few hundred MDC officials and activists,

police and security forces were less visible on the street on

June 3. The GOZ strategy to counter the mass action on June

3 focused instead on exhorting businesses to ignore the

stayaway, though most of them remained closed anyway. The

momentum has clearly shifted in the GOZ’s favor and it is

possible the MDC bit off more than it could chew by calling

for street demonstrations and a “final push”. It appears

that ordinary Zimbabweans have not heeded the call in the

numbers and with the defiance the MDC was hoping for. End

Comment.

SULLIVAN

(8 VIEWS)

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