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Weapons found at MDC activist’s house

Police founds weapons at the house of a Movement for Democratic Change activist’s house at the height of the week-long stay-away that had been called for by the party but they did not claim that the weapons were intended for use during the demonstrations.

The legislator for the area Job Sikhala confirmed that weapons were found in his constituency but said police had planted them before the seizure.

The stay-away was organised during the treason trial of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was charged together with Welshman Ncube and Renson Gasela with plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe.

The state asked the judge to change Tsvangirai’s bail conditions to bar him from making inflammatory statements after he had urged people to participate in the stay-away.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1149, POSSIBLE MARCHES JUNE 6, BUSINESS ALMOST AS USUAL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1149

2003-06-05 13:53

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 001149

 

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 PHUM PINR ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: POSSIBLE MARCHES JUNE 6, BUSINESS ALMOST AS USUAL

– MASS ACTION DAY FOUR

 

REF: A. HARARE 1136

B. HARARE 1122

C. HARARE 1101

D. HARARE 1097

E. HARARE 1081

 

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

 

Summary:

——–

 

1. (C) Reports continued on June 5 that security forces beat

MDC activists in high-density suburbs around Harare on the

previous night; there were numerous unconfirmed reports that

riot police even beat patients, and bystanders at the Avenues

Clinic in central Harare on June 4. The MDC called for

nationwide marches on June 6, but it is unclear whether the

MDC expects its membership to show up in force, or whether

their strategy is simply to cause people to be cautious on

Friday and stay home. Police seized weapons at the house of

an MDC activist on June 4; the MDC MP for the area said they

were planted. Most businesses appeared to be open as normal

on June 5. End Summary.

 

Reports of Beatings

——————-

 

2. (U) There were reports from several sources that riot

police beat patients and bystanders at the Avenues Clinic in

downtown Harare on June 4. Elisabeth Sibotshiwe, the

Principle Matron on duty at the time, acknowledges that

police did visit Avenues on that day, but denies that they

assaulted anyone inside the building. There were unconfirmed

reports that riot police questioned, beat, and arrested two

people outside the clinic. The police then allegedly entered

the waiting area shouting, and assaulted patients,

journalists and bystanders with fists and batons.

 

3. (C) MDC Presidential Advisor, Gandi Mudzingwa, and MDC MP

for St. Mary’s Job Sikhala reported that security forces beat

MDC activists for the second night in a row in the

high-density suburbs of Highfield, Budiriro, Glen Norah and

Chitungwiza near Harare on the night of June 4 – 5. They

both acknowledged that fewer people were beaten on that night

than on the previous one. Sibotshiwe said that Avenues was

“quiet”; she was not seeing an above average number of

beating victims in the Avenues Clinic casualty ward on June 5.

 

Marches?

——–

 

4. (C) The MDC ran a full-page ad in the independent Daily

News on June 5 calling for marches into centers of town on

June 6. According to Mudzingwa, the marches were to start at

10 am, and were likely to be small-scale events with the

leadership and primary activists participating. Sikhala said

that most activists who had been arrested earlier in the week

had been released, and were organizing for the marches.

Mudzingwa said that even with the earlier arrests, there was

still considerable enthusiasm within the party faithful to

march. When confronted with the possibility that security

forces might prevent a march before it even started, Sikhala

suggested that the strategy was to promote the march and at

the very least people might be afraid to leave their homes –

helping to log the stayaway as a full week’s exercise.

 

Weapons Seized

————–

 

5. (C) On June 5, the government-owned The Herald reported

that a cache of weapons was found at the house of an MDC

activist in St. Mary’s (a high-density suburb of Harare).

The GOZ did not claim that these weapons were intended for

use in this week’s demonstrations, but state media used the

seizure as part of its propaganda effort to paint the MDC as

a violent party. Sikhala confirmed that the weapons were

found, but he said that police planted them previous to the

seizure. The Herald reported that police seized 22 sticks of

dynamite, 5 kilograms of fertilizer, one nine mm round of

ammunition, 22 electric detonators, electric wires, and other

less dangerous items. Sikhala did not confirm what weapons

were actually seized.

 

Treason Trial

————-

 

6. (U) On June 4 in the treason trial of MDC President Morgan

Tsvangirai, the state asked the judge to change Tsvangirai’s

 

SIPDIS

bail conditions to bar him from making inflammatory

statements that might cause public disorder. The State was

referring to Tsvangirai’s comments, reported in the press,

urging Zimbabweans to participate in the June 2 – 6 mass

action. The Defense argued that the law under which the

State argued its case, Section 24 of the draconian Public

Order and Security Act (POSA), was too vague, and therefore

unconstitutional. Justice Paddington Garwe said he would

deliver his judgment on the issue on June 6.

 

Business Almost as Usual

————————

 

7. (U) Driving around Harare on June 5, Poloff observed that

only about 15 percent of shops in downtown Harare, and 50

percent of businesses in the light industrial areas of Harare

were closed. Pedestrian and vehicle traffic in downtown

Harare seemed normal. Activity in the high-density suburb of

Mbare seemed normal.

 

8. (SBU) One or two groups of 3 police officers were visible

in downtown Harare on June 4; they assumed very relaxed

postures.

 

9. (C) According to Richard Pope, a furniture manufacturer in

Bulawayo, about 30 percent of his workers did not show up on

June 5. His factory was open, but running at reduced

capacity. He said many other factories nearby were open and

operating, most with an average of 75 percent of their normal

workforces. He said activity around Bulawayo seemed almost

normal with most banks and businesses open.

 

Comment:

——–

 

10. (C) There are various factors influencing whether the

June 6 marches come off. MDC activists are shell-shocked

from arrests and beatings earlier this week, but still

enthusiastic, and even angrier now because they could not get

earlier marches off the ground. Security forces are now

practiced in methods to quell marches before they happen.

With failed marches earlier this week, MDC leaders are not

confident a march can be pulled off on June 6. But it

appears they are going ahead with the plan, under the notion

that at least preparation efforts on both sides will cause

ordinary Zimbabweans to stay at home and thus make the

stayaway a week long exercise. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

 

(22 VIEWS)

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