Movement for Democratic Change legislator for Kuwadzana Nelson Chamisa was arrested for holding a constituency feedback meeting at his house without police approval in what appeared to be continued harassment of the MDC.
National Constitutional Assembly president Lovemore Madhuku was also arrested for organising a demonstration without police approval.
Viewing cable 04HARARE1526, OPPOSITION FIGURES ARRESTED, OFFICES RAIDED
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
091619Z Sep 04
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001526
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/09/2009
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION FIGURES ARRESTED, OFFICES RAIDED
REF: (A) HARARE 1497 (B) HARARE 693 (C) HARARE 220
Classified By: AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER W. DELL UNDER SECTION 1.5 B/D
¶1. (SBU) Zimbabwean police on the evening of September 8
arrested MDC MP and Shadow Minister for Youth Affairs Nelson
Chamisa and 13 of his constituents at his home in Kuwadzana,
a high-density suburb of Harare. Chamisa,s lawyer told us
that he expected Chamisa to be charged under the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA) for holding a constituency feedback
meeting at his house without police approval. Still in
custody as of the afternoon of September 9, Chamisa retained
his cell phone and was in touch with the party and his
lawyer, who said he would likely be released that day or the
¶2. (C ) Separately, MDC MP and Shadow Minister of Justice
David Coltart confirmed to Poloff that police had raided the
MDC,s Bulawayo offices on September 7. They initially
arrived without a warrant, were denied entry, and returned
with a warrant to search for “subversive materials.” None
were found. Coltart also reported that authorities had
informed him September 8 that they planned to resuscitate a
two-year old case, suspended last year, against him on a
charge of discharging a firearm near a public road. A date
had yet to be set for the case, in which he faced a fine of
ZD2000 (about USD 0.40).
¶3. (SBU) In a third recent incident of harassment,
Zimbabwean police released National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) President Lovemore Madhuku at 5:00 p.m. September 8
after arresting him twelve hours earlier at his home.
According to NCA sources, he had been charged under POSA for
organizing a public demonstration without police approval
(ref A). Police also searched NCA offices and had wanted to
seize the organization,s membership lists but were dissuaded
by NCA lawyers.
¶4. (C) COMMENT: The MDC,s publicized election boycott
(albeit conditional) does not appear to have altered the
ruling party,s campaign tactics for the March parliamentary
elections. The Chamisa and Madhuku arrests are consistent
with historical patterns of declining GOZ tolerance for
critics in the run-up to elections and likely presage even
tougher times for ruling party opponents. That said, POSA
may be a useful tool for harassment but it is not a decisive
weapon in the ruling party,s arsenal. The state has
arrested thousands under this colonial vestige but has never
secured a conviction. The temporary loss of liberty and
associated legal costs nonetheless deter civil disobedience
for many prospective activists and smear opposition MPs with
adverse publicity in the government media.