Ben Menashe’s assistant paid $10 000 for bike injuries


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Canadian Ari Ben Menashe’s personal assistant Tara Thomas was paid $10 000 for injuries she sustained in a bicycle accident after Menashe attributed this to the work of the Movement for Democratic Change.

This was disclosed by the Central Intelligence Organisation boss Happyton Bonyongwe during the treason trial of MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai.

Bonyongwe confirmed that the government had paid Menashe a large sum of money three weeks before he came to testify in Tsvangirai’s trial but said the money was for Menashe to boost the image of Zimbabwe and to solicit for investment.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1256, TSVANGIRAI FREE ON BAIL; TREASON TRIAL CONTINUES

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1256

2003-06-20 10:23

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 001256

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIRBOI FOR T. PFLAUMER

DS/OP/AF

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/2008

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI MDC

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI FREE ON BAIL; TREASON TRIAL CONTINUES

WEEKS TWELVE AND THIRTEEN

 

Classified By: Political Officer Peggy Blackford for reasons 1.5b/d

 

Summary

——–

 

1. (C) After two weeks in prison, MDC President Morgan

Tsvangirai was today granted bail on fresh treason charges.

 

SIPDIS

Bail conditions are high for Zimbabwe but should be doable.

Tsvangirai’s trial on old treason charges resumed this week

 

SIPDIS

as well. Under cross examination Central Intelligence head

Happyton Bonyongwe confirmed that the GOZ had made

substantial payments and extended a contract to principal

government witness, Ari Ben Menashe. The Justice presiding

over the trial appeared to come under renewed pressure from

the GOZ.

 

Bail Granted

————

 

2. (SBU) At the bail hearing held at nine this morning, the

court granted bail to Tsvangirai on the fresh charges of

treason which led to his arrest on June 7. Bail was set at

Z$10 million (about US$4250), a substantial sum given the

weakness of the State’s case and the fact that no reasonable

person would believe that someone who did not flee the

court’s jurisdiction while undergoing one trial from treason

is likely to flee from a new trial. He will also be required

to surrender title deeds to at least Z$100 million in

property as a surety and to refrain from advocating (or

encouraging other to pursue) the overthrow of the State

President or the government by violent means. Tsvangirai’s

attorney told PolOff that the party was furiously running

around to raise the bail which must be paid in cash, a

commodity that has been in short supply in Zimbabwe for some

weeks now. Assuming the bail is raised, and we are quite

sure it will be, Tsvangirai should spend the weekend at home.

 

 

Treason trial

————-

 

3. (SBU) After last week during which proceedings were

suspended, Tsvangirai’s original treason case resumed this

week with the defense’s continued cross-examination of CIO

chief Bonyongwe. Bonyongwe revealed that the government

renewed its contract with political consultant, Ari Ben

Menashe, one of the principal witnesses against Tsvangirai

about three weeks before Menashe flew to Harare to testify

against Tsvangirai. Ostensibly the purpose of the contract

was to boost the image of Zimbabwe internationally and to try

and solicit investment. The GOZ was allegedly worried about

Tsvangirai’s travels, especially to West Africa, where the

 

SIPDIS

government believed that Tsvangirai was sending out the wrong

message on the land reform program. Pressed by Tsvangirai’s

lead attorney, George Bizos, Bonyongwe admitted that there

was nothing subversive about Tsvangirai’s travel.

 

4. (U) Bonyongwe also confirmed that the GOZ had paid

US$10,000 to Ben Menashe’s personal assistant, Tara Thomas,

for injuries received as the result of a bicycle accident in

Canada which Ben Menashe attributed to the work of

opposition Zimbabweans. This testimony contradicts Thomas’s

own evidence in which she claimed she had not been paid any

money by the GOZ. Bizos also attacked the reputation of Ben

Menashe who is wanted for fraud in Zambia and reputed to have

been involved in numerous shady deals, but Bonyongwe insisted

that Ben Menashe had done good work for the GOZ.

 

5. (C) The court room was not full this week. Tsvangirai was

guarded by prison officials while in the witness box and

rushed away after each session. Justice Paddington Garwe who

is presiding over the trial, appeared to be getting impatient

with advocate Bizos and kept prompting him to move on and not

repeat questions. This is a change from previous weeks when

Garwe, if not overly sympathetic to the defense, did seem to

be impartial and may reflect additional pressure being

brought on him by the GOZ.

 

Comment

——-

 

6. (C) Any dispassionate observer would have to conclude that

the State’s original treason case has collapsed. The payment

of large amounts to the principal government witness just

weeks before the trial surely raises serious suspicions of

conflict of interest or outright bribery while the new

charges are so insubstantial as to be nothing more than a

pretext for locking up and humiliating Zimbabwe’s leading

political opponent. Unfortunately, the GOZ is anything but

dispassionate. Nevertheless, granting bail does suggest that

the government knows that it must ultimately deal with

Tsvangirai across a bargaining table.

 

SIPDIS

SULLIVAN

 

(35 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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