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ZANU-PF strategy is to keep MDC on the defensive

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front which was increasingly losing support to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change had adopted a strategy of keeping the MDC on the defensive thus forcing it to devote its time and resources to litigation instead of a more proactive agenda.

This was said nine years ago by the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan when the state postponed MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s treason trial.

The State had also applied to amend its indictment, a move Tsvangirai’s lawyers had said they would oppose.

Sullivan said though it appeared that the State did not have enough evidence to support a conviction, the broader political context suggested that it was likely to stretch the trial.

“A lengthy trial would absorb Tsvangirai’s attention, potentially leaving substantive party leadership and involvement in possible inter-party talks increasingly to other MDC principals with whom the ruling party feels more comfortable,” the ambassador said.

“It would further fit in with ZANU-PF’s long-standing strategy of keeping the MDC on the defensive, requiring the opposition’s time and resources to be devoted to harassing litigation instead of a more proactive agenda.”

Ed: It would appear that the MDC has not learnt any lesson. Even today the MDC, though now part of the government, is always on the defensive, spending more time in the courts or lobbying regional leaders, instead of proving that it can govern better than ZANU-PF.


Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1805, Tsvangirai Treason Trial Postponed Until

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1805

2003-09-12 10:26

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001805

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

SENSITIVE

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI ZI MDC

SUBJECT: Tsvangirai Treason Trial Postponed Until

September 22

 

REF: HARARE 1598

 

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for internet posting.

Protect accordingly.

 

1. (SBU) Lawyers for Morgan Tsvangirai advised the

Embassy on September 12 that by mutual agreement of the

parties, resumption of Tsvangirai’s treason trial was

postponed from September 15 to September 22. Presiding

Justice Garwe approached the parties on September 11,

noting that he had scheduling conflicts the following

week and giving the parties the option of postponing,

which the parties took.

 

2. (SBU) When the trial recommences, the first order of

business will be a hearing on the prosecution’s

application seeking amendment of its indictment before

Tsvangirai presents his case. In its application, the

 

SIPDIS

state admitted that the evidence that it had offered thus

far differed from the particulars in the indictment. The

state is seeking to invoke a section of the Criminal

Procedure and Evidence Act that allows a party to amend

an indictment in order to correct discrepancies between

the indictment and the evidence introduced at trial.

During the trial, the prosecution introduced no evidence

to prove that Tsvangirai specifically requested

representatives of Dickens and Madson to arrange for the

assassination of Robert Mugabe at a third meeting. The

state wishes to alter the indictment to show that no

request was made at a third meeting.

 

3. (SBU) Defense attorneys will oppose the application

but have yet to file a response. Garwe is expected to

hear the state’s application on September 22, and will

have the option of reserving judgment while the defense

proceeds, or suspending the trial pending judgment. In

the latter case, a decision would likely be rendered and

the trial resumed within a week, according to defense

attorneys.

 

4. (SBU) COMMENT: The state’s application to amend the

indictment suggests the prosecution’s doubts about the

evidence’s sufficiency to support a conviction. In any

event, the trial’s broader political context suggests it

likely will stretch out until at least the end of the

year, as Tsvangirai suggested to us recently. A

conviction before December’s Commonwealth Heads of

Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Abuja would upset

Zimbabwe’s prospects for having its Commonwealth

suspension lifted and seems unlikely. While an acquittal

before that might be seen to enhance Zimbabwe’s

international image, the government may choose to string

the case out as long as possible. A lengthy trial would

absorb Tsvangirai’s attention, potentially leaving

substantive party leadership and involvement in possible

inter-party talks increasingly to other MDC principals

(e.g., MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube) with whom

the ruling party feels more comfortable. It would

further fit in with ZANU-PF’s long-standing strategy of

keeping the MDC on the defensive, requiring the

opposition’s time and resources to be devoted to

harassing litigation instead of a more proactive agenda.

Sullivan

(3 VIEWS)

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