A kinder gentler ZANU-PF- not likely!


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Speculation that an overwhelming ZANU-PF win in the parliamentary elections, would lead ZANU-PF to moderate its stance toward the opposition were dashed off soon after the 2005 elections which the party won by a two-thirds majority.

According to the United States embassy President Robert Mugabe’s public portrayal of the MDC quickly “returned to a more vitriolic tone and the government-controlled press…stepped up articles highlighting purported MDC violence and Morgan Tsvangirai’s ineffectiveness”.

“ZANU-PF’s tough posture in the wake of its landslide ‘victory’ reflects the party leadership’s confidence in regional acquiescence to the electoral results, its insecurity toward its domestic public, and its traditional methods, as well as Mugabe’s oft-declared disdain for and determination to eliminate all forms of democratic dissent,” United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell said in a cable released by Wikileaks.

“We expect the ruling party to press ahead quickly with constitutional amendments but to avoid any political or economic reforms that might signal a kinder, gentler face to its domestic critics, even if it tries to sell a softer image to the international community in an effort to secure desperately needed economic support.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 05HARARE562, A KINDER, GENTLER ZANU-PF? NOT LIKELY

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE562

2005-04-11 14:00

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.

 

111400Z Apr 05

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000562

 

SIPDIS

 

AF FOR DAS T. WOODS

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

OVP FOR NULAND

NSC FOR DNSA ABRAMS, SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

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

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: A KINDER, GENTLER ZANU-PF? NOT LIKELY

 

REF: A. HARARE 83 AND PREVIOUS

 

B. 04 HARARE 2035

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Speculation that an overwhelming ZANU-PF win

in the Parliamentary elections, coupled with the recent party

purges (ref A), would lead ZANU-PF to moderate its stance

toward the opposition so far appears unfounded. Mugabe’s

public portrayal of the MDC has returned to a more vitriolic

tone and the government-controlled press has stepped up

articles highlighting purported MDC violence and Morgan

Tsvangirai’s ineffectiveness. Mugabe has stated publicly

 

SIPDIS

that repressive legislation will remain in place. The GOZ

appears to be moving to take over or close down the Zimbabwe

Congress of Trade Unions, which has been critical of the

government. Violence against MDC supporters appears to be on

the upswing, and a GOZ-appointed committee of auditors just

released a report recommending that the MDC-led city council

of Mutare be dissolved. END SUMMARY.

 

————————————–

Rhetoric Heating Up Against Opposition

————————————–

 

2. (U) In contrast with the immediate pre-election period,

when Mugabe moderated his rhetoric, he is reverting to

portraying the MDC as a party of violence. At a press

conference on April 2, Mugabe stated that the MDC must accept

defeat in the parliamentary elections. Although in his

post-election press conference he complimented the MDC for

refraining from violence on the day of the election, saying

that MDC,s peaceful conduct should form the &basis8 for

future interactions between the two parties, Mugabe

nonetheless reacted intemperately to a question on how the

GOZ would respond to MDC plans to put pressure on the

Government for a reversal of the elections. Mugabe said

&mass action is not the prerogative of one side,8 and would

be met with a massive response. He said &peaceful

demonstrations are welcome8 but &history has shown us that

they (MDC) are a very violent people.8

 

3. (U) Emphasizing Mugabe,s remarks about MDC,s violence,

the government-controlled Herald newspaper has run several

articles about MDC supporters allegedly going on a &violent

rampage8 on April 4 following an &illegal demonstration8

in Harare during which MDC supporters were reportedly handing

out &Reject Fraud8 flyers. The Public Affairs Section,

located in the area where the demonstrations were held,

reports that they were peaceful demonstrations. The latest

Herald article, on April 7, accused the MDC of using the

flyers to create a panic over fuel and food shortages that

did not exist. (COMMENT: the shortages do exist.) On April

6, the Herald ran a front-page headline &Tsvangirai Must Go:

UK,8 quoting an article in the UK Independent newspaper

stating that Tsvangirai had proved himself an ineffectual

leader. (The article in the Independent actually stated only

that Tsvangirai &is expected to face calls to step down.8)

The Herald has subsequently run cartoons depicting Tony Blair

telling Tsvangirai &Your time,s up! Get out!!8

 

——————————-

Repressive Legislation Remains in Place

——————————-

 

4. (U) In an interview with the South African Broadcasting

Corporation, Mugabe said that the much criticized Access to

Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) would not

be repealed. To date, the GOZ has closed four newspapers and

arrested several journalists under AIPPA. Two British

journalists are currently facing charges under AIPPA for

practicing journalism without accreditation after being

arrested while one was taking a photograph near a polling

station during the March 31 elections. The journalists face

two years in prison if convicted.

 

————————–

Police Actions Against MDC

————————–

 

5. (SBU) Reportedly sought for arrest in connection with

demonstrations by MDC youth in downtown Harare earlier in the

week, MDC Youth Chairman Nelson Chamisa turned himself in to

police on April 7. He has been charged with inciting public

violence. He was released on bail on April 9. The official

media has reported the arrests of 18 MDC supporters in

connection with the demonstrations.

 

————————-

Siege of Cities Continues

————————-

 

6. (U) Continuing a pattern of harassment against MDC-led

mayors and city councils (ref B), the Herald reported on

April 6 the release of a report by a committee of auditors

appointed by the GOZ to investigate allegations of

mismanagement and corruption by the MDC-dominated Mutare city

council. According to the Herald, the committee recommended

suspension of the full council and further investigation into

the allegations.

 

——————–

Unions Under Attack?

——————–

 

 

7. (C) Four unions that form part of the Zimbabwe Congress of

Trade Unions (ZCTU) on April 6 called for a change of

leadership based on allegations of financial misappropriation

and objections to ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo and 1st

Vice President Lucia Matibenga not holding active jobs.

Raymond Majongwe, Chairperson of Progressive Teachers Union

of Zimbabwe and a member of the ZCTU General Council, told us

April 8 that he believes that the complaints are driven by

ZANU-PF aligned members of the four unions and that this is a

government plot to cripple the organization. By law, the

Labor Minister can investigate claims of financial

impropriety. The AFL-CIO,s Solidarity Center representative

told us he believes that the government will use the internal

conflict as a pretext to force ZCTU to hold new elections and

potentially bar particular individuals from holding office.

 

———————————-

Violence Reportedly on the Upswing

———————————-

 

 

8. (C) In contrast with the period of relatively less

violence before the elections, there are a growing number of

reports in the independent media and by the MDC of violence

by ZANU-PF supporters against MDC supporters. Most commonly

the reports are of actions against relatively isolated

supporters in rural areas where ZANU-PF is in the majority.

(Morgan Tsvangirai told us last week that ZANU-PF is still

afraid to use force in areas where it knows it is in a

minority.) Zim Online reported on April 7 that 45 MDC

supporters in Gwanda were beaten and told they would no

longer be allowed to buy grain from the Grain Marketing

Board. The MDC reported that, in one incident in Insiza

April 3, a police officer arrested supporters of the ZANU-PF

candidate for attacking MDC supporters; however, when they

arrived at the police station, the member in charge released

them. On April 10, the Zimbabwe Standard reported that

ZANU-PF supporters burned down the house of the MDC campaign

manager for Lupane. The MDC has reported several other

attacks and of property being burned. Human Rights NGOs told

us that they are still trying to confirm and to quantify the

reported escalation in violence. The British Embassy told us

that one of their election-related contacts from a rural area

was forced to flee to Harare and is in hiding after being

accused of being a British &spy8 for talking to the Embassy.

 

9. (C) COMMENT: ZANU-PF’s tough posture in the wake of its

landslide “victory” reflects the party leadership’s

confidence in regional acquiescence to the electoral results,

its insecurity toward its domestic public, and its

traditional methods, as well as Mugabe,s oft-declared

disdain for and determination to eliminate all forms of

democratic dissent. We expect the ruling party to press

ahead quickly with constitutional amendments but to avoid any

political or economic reforms that might signal a kinder,

gentler face to its domestic critics, even if it tries to

sell a softer image to the international community in an

effort to secure desperately needed economic support.

Dell

(18 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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