Demonstrators arrested ahead of planned march


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Several demonstrators including leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions were arrested ahead of a planned march to demonstrate against high taxation and the deteriorating economic situation.

Among those arrested were: ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe, ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo, ZCTU deputy secretary general Collen Gwiyo, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe Raymond Majongwe, director of Transparency International Zimbabwe John Makumbe, director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Brian Raftopolous, director of the National Constitutional Assembly Lovemore Madhuku, director of the Women in Parliament Support Unit Janah Ncube, and chairman of the Combined Harare Residents Association Mike Davies.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE2257, ZCTU LEADERS, DEMONSTRATORS ARRESTED IN ADVANCE OF

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE2257

2003-11-18 15:12

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 002257

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

DS/OP/AF

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013

TAGS: ELAB PGOV PHUM PINR ECON ASEC ZI ZCTU

SUBJECT: ZCTU LEADERS, DEMONSTRATORS ARRESTED IN ADVANCE OF

PLANNED MARCH

 

REF: HARARE 2246

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On November 18, police arrested 9 members of

the ZCTU governing body, and about forty-five civil society

leaders and ZCTU members nationwide in advance of a ZCTU

planned demonstration. There were credible reports that WOZA

Director Jenni Williams was severely beaten during arrest,

but police presence on the streets of Harare was lighter than

usual for such an event. The GOZ appears, as in the past,

determined to quash any public expression of opposition. END

SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) On November 18, at about 10:30 a.m. riot police

stormed a demonstration (Ref) planning meeting at the Quality

International Hotel in Harare of the Zimbabwe Congress of

Trade Unions (ZCTU) general council. Of the

thirty-five-member body, nine were arrested including

Secretary General Wellington Chibebe, President Lovemore

 

SIPDIS

Matongo, Deputy Secretary General Collen Gwiyo, and Secretary

General of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)

Raymond Majongwe. According to Mlamleli Sibanda, ZCTU

Information Officer, police did not mistreat any of the

arrestees.

 

3. (U) On the same day at about 1:00 p.m. police in Harare

arrested about thirty people who were gathered to participate

in a ZCTU march against high taxation and deteriorating

economic conditions. Among those arrested were John Makumbe,

Director of Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), Brian

Raftopolous, Director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,

Lovemore Madhuku, Director of the National Constitutional

Assembly (NCA), Janah Ncube, Director of the Women in

Parliament Support Unit (WIPSU), and Mike Davies, Chairman of

the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA). The

remaining arrestees were mostly ZCTU members. Speaking on

his cell phone from custody at Harare Central Police Station,

Raftopolous said they had gathered near Town House to begin

the planned march to the Ministry of Finance. Immediately as

they began to march, police arrested them. Raftopolous said

police had not mistreated them.

 

4. (C) The sister of Jenni Williams, Director of Women of

Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), told the DCM that police arrested

Williams in Bulawayo and beat her severely. Williams,

distraught but able to get a cell phone call out to her

sister, said several other WOZA members were arrested with

her as they gathered to march on November 18; some of the

others were also beaten. (Note: Attempts to contact Williams

directly have been futile. End Note).

 

5. (C) Sibanda said that as workers gathered to march in

Bulawayo, a police truck arrived and riot police jumped out

and started beating would-be demonstrators. The workers

fled, one person ran into the street, was hit by a passing

vehicle, and was severely injured.

 

6. (C) Sibanda said that on the morning of November 18,

police also arrested seven ZCTU members in Gweru, and one

each in Victoria Falls, Gwanda, and Bulawayo. Gebre

Gebremariam, Zimbabwe Representative of the Solidarity Center

said that the goal was to force police to arrest them as a

sign of protest, and that now their intention was to get out

of jail and do the same thing next week.

 

7. (U) On November 17, SAPA carried a statement by COSATU

supporting the planned ZCTU demonstration and calling on the

GOZ not to interfere with the ZCTU’s bona fide trade union

activities and to let the workers of Zimbabwe express their

feelings over economic hardships. Sibanda said that CTUC and

ICFTU had also issued statements in solidarity with the

planned march.

 

8. (C) Emboffs toured around downtown Harare during the time

when the demonstration was supposed to start and spoke

directly with several gathered who were later arrested.

Emboffs observed not more than forty people gathered near

Town House for the planned march. Police presence was less

than for previous similar events. Groups of three to four

officers could be seen patrolling near the planned gathering

area, and in Africa Unity Square, some with batons. MDC

Secretary for Economic Affairs Tendayi Biti said that he

 

SIPDIS

expected the turnout to be low due to lapses in planning and

communication.

COMMENT:

——–

 

9. (C) Although the ZCTU had hoped the general populace would

respond to its call to march, the turnout in Harare at least

appeared to be largely symbolic. As usual, police were not

afraid to preemptively arrest leaders and break-up a very

modest march in its earliest stage – demonstrating that the

GOZ has no intention of allowing any public expression of

opposition.

SULLIVAN

(81 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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