Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Masvingo provincial supremo Eddison Zvobgo said the treason case against Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was going to be dismissed because of the inadmissibility of the implicating videotape.
Zvobgo claimed that the tape had been heavily edited to show only the most harmful statements. And it was also often inaudible.
He said the questionable tape and the lack of credibility of the state’s chief witness, Ari Ben-Menashe, would compel the judge to dismiss the case before it really started based on the absence of a reasonable suspicion of guilt.
He was, however, concerned that if the case landed with one of the new inexperienced judges it could drag on for six to eight months before a final ruling to dismiss the case was issued.
A protracted case would ruin Tsvangirai’s reputation and might damage the MDC.
He also said ZANU-PF was going to win the Insiza by-election, which was previously held by the MDC because of its shenanigans.
Viewing cable 02HARARE2256, MEETING WITH EDDISON ZVOBGO
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 002256
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER
PARIS FOR NEARY
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/08/2012
SUBJECT: MEETING WITH EDDISON ZVOBGO
REF: A. A) HARARE 2193
¶B. B) HARARE 1992
Classified By: Political Officer Kimberly Jemison. Reasons 1.5 (b) and
¶1. (C) Summary: In an October 7 meeting, Eddison Zvobgo,
provided insight into the upcoming Insiza by-election and the
treason case against Morgan Tsvangirai. He also had many
interesting things to say about the food situation and its
likely affect on rural support for ZANU-PF. Zvobgo said
ZANU-PF would win the Insiza by-election and that the treason
case against Morgan Tsvangirai would be dismissed. Zvobgo
also said the deteriorating food situation, particularly in
the rural areas, would erode ZANU-PF support as deaths
increase. End Summary.
Food Crisis Dominates
¶2. (C) On October 7, Amb and Poloff met with Dr. Eddison
Zvobgo, an elder statesman in the ruling party who has been
estranged from President Mugabe since 2000, and his daughter
Karina. Zvobgo lamented the fact that there was no food in
his province of Masvingo and that there were increasing signs
of malnutrition among the population–confirming similar
assessments of the food situation we made in Matabeleland
North and South and Manicaland during our pre-rural council
election tours (reftel A). Zvobgo said he thought there
would be starvation deaths by the end of October.
¶3. (C) Zvobgo said that increasing levels of starvation and
deaths in the rural areas would eventually weaken the ZANU-PF
base. He also expressed concerns about urban riots because,
unlike the rural population, the urban population will not
suffer silently. Zvobgo did reiterate his claim during a
previous conversation with Polchief and Poloff (See reftel B)
that ZANU-PF supporters are bearing the brunt of food
shortages, since they are concentrated in rural districts.
Both he and his daughter seemed to think MDC supporters who
are concentrated in urban areas are in much better shape.
¶4. (C) The Ambassador asked whether food was being used as a
weapon as it had been in Matabeleland during the early 1980s.
Zvobgo replied that food has been and still is being used as
a weapon, particularly in Masvingo, southern Manicaland, and
Matabeleland–all areas that did not fully support ZANU-PF in
the presidential elections. Zvobgo said Mashonaland Central
is getting the most food because the province voted most
strongly for ZANU-PF in the presidential election. NOTE: The
Zimbabwe Election Support Network reported that Mugabe
received 84 percent of all votes cast in Mashonaland Central
while in Masvingo and Midlands provinces he received 70 and
63 percent, respectively. END NOTE.
¶5. (C) The Ambassador also pointed out the length of time it
took to get the Memorandum of Understanding with WFP on food
imports signed and he wondered if certain elements within the
Cabinet did not want international food assistance. Zvobgo
did not appear surprised at the length of time it took to get
the MOU signed. He did say that the party elite did not have
a problem with international aid per se but with the lack of
control ZANU-PF would have over distribution.
¶6. (C) Zvobgo and Karina gave anecdotal evidence about the
depth of the food crisis. Karina said she would bring corn
meal to Harare from Masvingo occasionally to the nurses she
works with because they cannot find any corn meal. They have
the money for purchase but there is little or no corn meal
available in Harare. Zvobgo said that a 50-kg bag of corn
was selling for a minimum of 1300 Zimbabwe dollars, 1.5 times
the official controlled price, and some businessmen were
selling it for 1700.
¶7. (C) Asked about the upcoming October 26-27 by-election to
replace a recently deceased MDC MP from Insiza constituency,
Zvobgo thought that ZANU-PF would win because of shenanigans.
Zvobgo said the vote would be evenly split even though the
Matabeleland South constituency is heavily pro-MDC and the
MDC ought to win in a free and fair process.
¶8. (C) The Ambassador brought to Zvobgo,s attention that
there were probably some within ZANU-PF who were trying to
regain the party’s two-thirds majority (100 votes) in
Parliament before the 2005 elections in order to have enough
votes to change the constitution. Zvobgo did not seem to
think this possible because ZANU-PF would have to get rid of
seven MDC MPs and then win all seven Parliamentary
TSVANGIRAI TREASON CASE LIKELY TO BE DISMISSED
¶9. (C) Zvobgo thought the treason case against MDC President
Morgan Tsvangirai, scheduled for November 11, would be
dismissed because of the inadmissibility of the implicating
videotape. According to Zvobgo, MDC attorneys finally
received the state,s evidence against Tsvangirai last week.
Among the papers was the tape, which Zvobgo claimed had been
heavily edited to show only the most harmful statements.
Even then it was often inaudible. Zvobgo thought the
questionable tape and the lack of credibility of the state’s
chief witness, Ari Ben-Menashe, would compel the judge to
dismiss the case before it really starts based on the absence
of a reasonable suspicion of guilt. NOTE: Zimbabwe law
dictates that (oral) testimony be incontrovertible and in its
totality. END NOTE.
¶10. (C) Zvobgo reiterated his view that even Zimbabwe’s
altered judicial system could not convict an innocent person
of a serious crime. However, he was concerned that the case
might not be dismissed immediately if one of the new,
inexperienced judges hears the case and it could drag on for
6-8 months before a final ruling to dismiss the case is
issued. Zvobgo said he thought a protracted case would ruin
Tsvangirai,s reputation and might damage the MDC.
¶11. (C) COMMENT: While there is not much new in Zvobgo’s
views, he is always interesting as one of the few major
figures who talks to both sides of the political divide. END