Judge says Hitschmann’s evidence is inadmissible


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High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu said the statements made by Michael Peter Hitschmann implicating Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Ropy Bennett were inadmissible as hearsay.

Hitschmann was expected to testify in Bennett trial on banditry, sabotage and terrorism charges but he had submitted an affidavit that statements he made to police that he was involved with Bennett in anti-State actions were a result of torture.

He and Bennett did not conspire to overthrow the government.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE911, ZIM NOTES 11-23-2009

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09HARARE911

2009-11-24 10:53

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6878

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0911/01 3281053

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 241053Z NOV 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5151

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3175

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3287

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1714

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2548

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2917

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3335

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5783

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2467

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000911

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND J. HARMON

COMMERCE FOR ROBERT TELCHIN

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O.12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI

SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 11-23-2009

 

———–

1. SUMMARY

———–

 

Topics of the week:

 

Talks Expected This Weekend…

ZANU-PF Fills Out Top Posts…

Bennett’s Trial Begins…

State Continues to Block Release of MDC Official…

Striking Lawyers Protest…

German Priest Assaulted by Soldiers…

Old Cases Against Activists Revived…

Reserve Bank Bill Passes Parliament with Major Concession…

Exorcism for Ghost Workers…

Who’s Afraid of the Zim dollar?

 

———————————

On the Political and Social Front

———————————-

 

2. Despite a SADC directive laid out in Maputo on November 6,

principal negotiators from MDC-T, MDC-M, and ZANU-PF have not yet

met to resolve outstanding issues, mostly because the negotiators

have not been in Harare at the same time. We expect meetings over

the weekend will begin the political dialogue ahead of a visit by

South African President Jacob Zuma in the next couple of weeks.

 

3. The State-owned press announced this week that ZANU-PF filled

both vice president positions and the position of national party

chairman in advance of the five-year ZANU-PF Congress which was

pushed back by a week until December 16 to 20. Vice President Joyce

Mujuru retained her seat despite a challenge from Defense Minister

Emmerson Mnangagwa, who threw his support behind Oppah Muchinguri.

The seat vacated on the death of Joseph Msika in August will be

filled by current party chairman John Nkomo. The ambassador to South

Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo, will then rotate into the vacant

chairmanship. While the Mujuru and Nkomo moves were anticipated,

Moyo’s appointment was less predictable because there were other

more senior candidates contesting for the position. His appointment

also put to rest speculation that the party would terminate the

precedent of splitting the top four party positions between ZANU-PF

and former PF-ZAPU officials. Moyo is viewed as allied with the

Mujuru camp, and his election is seen as a blow to Mnangagwa.

 

4. The prosecution’s case against MDC-T’s deputy agriculture

minister-designate Roy Bennett began this week. The judge ruled

police accounts of statements by alleged co-conspirator Peter

Hitschmann implicating Bennett were inadmissible as hearsay.

Hitschmann, who was previously acquitted, is expected to testify

next week. He has submitted an affidavit to the Court that

statements he made to police that he was involved with Bennett in

anti-State actions were a result of torture, and that he and Bennett

did not conspire to overthrow the government.

 

5. MDC Transport manager Pascal Gwezere, who was abducted on

October 27 and discovered in a Harare jail on October 31, continues

to languish in prison as prosecutors fight bail and prison officials

refuse to allow access to a private physician. He is reportedly

suffering from sepsis in his leg caused by a wound inflicted by

security agents. High Court Judge Hungwe is set to rule on Gwezere’s

Qsecurity agents. High Court Judge Hungwe is set to rule on Gwezere’s

bail application on November 20. However, Gwezere’s lawyer, Alec

Muchadehama, told us that the prosecution is likely to appeal

against bail to keep him in prison.

 

6. On November 16, more than 70 members of the Law Society went on

strike and marched through the first downpour of the rainy season in

Harare to present a petition of protest to Minister of Justice

Patrick Chinamasa (ZANU-PF) over the harassment, arrest and

detention of lawyers, for what the lawyers say is simply carrying

 

HARARE 00000911 002 OF 003

 

 

out their professional duties. Chinamasa was not available. The

petition cites the arrest of four lawyers so far this year.

 

7. On November 15 in Banket, four soldiers violently assaulted a

well-known Catholic priest and German citizen, Father Wolfgang

Thamm, after they stopped his car. One soldier took his glasses and

hit him in the face. The soldiers then forced him to kneel in a

puddle of water. When he hesitated, they pushed him into the water

and kicked him in his stomach. The German embassy protested the

incident to the government.

 

8. 32 activists from civil society in Gweru have been summoned to

appear in court on November 20 over a peaceful demonstration they

held in December last year. The activists were arrested on December

3, 2008 and charged with contravening the Public Order and Security

Act, but were later released on bail and informed that the court

would proceed by way of summons. Now, however, activists are being

summoned to appear in court for destruction of property and chanting

insults against the person of the president. NGOs and trade unions

have reported similar revivals of old cases in recent weeks.

 

 

 

———————————–

On the Economic and Business Front

———————————-

 

9. Parliament passed a bill amending the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

Act. The new law will curtail the powers of the central bank

governor by setting up of an independent board and confining the

bank to dealing with interest rates, currency management, and

banking supervision. In exchange for passing the bill, ZANU-PF

legislators forced Finance Minister Biti to absolve employees of the

bank of any wrongdoing for anything they did “in good faith” and

without negligence. In comments to the press, Biti downplayed the

immunity deal, saying it did not cover acts of theft or fraud.

 

10. According to the Director of the Labor and Economic Development

Institute of Zimbabwe, the long awaited civil service audit will be

conducted between November 30 and December 18 at an estimated cost

of US$4 million. The audit, which will cover all civil servants

regulated by the Public Service Act and the Health Services Act but

exclude the uniformed forces, is designed to flush out ghost workers

and ZANU-PF supporters who have been receiving salaries without

providing any actual service to the state. The audit will require

the production of birth certificates, national identity documents,

pay slips, letters of appointment, and academic or professional

certificates.

 

11. Nearly everyone, it seems. Nine months after the withdrawal of

the worthless local currency, many worry that the Reserve Bank of

Zimbabwe will suddenly revive it. In just the past few days we have

had questions about this from bankers, school children, and

housewives. During the MDC’s recent disengagement from ZANU-PF,

there were persistent rumors in Harare that the RBZ had already

printed a large quantity of new banknotes (in Mauritius, of all

Qprinted a large quantity of new banknotes (in Mauritius, of all

place, in one version of the tale) and had them delivered by

airfreight. While the story is hard to swallow, the persistence of

such rumors in Harare is good evidence of how fragile the

transitional government seems to many people.

 

 

 

 

—————–

Quote of the Week

—————–

 

12. “We face very hostile interventions by these states which have

imposed unilateral sanctions on us…. this has had a negative

 

HARARE 00000911 003 OF 003

 

 

impact on our farmers who, according to our neo-colonialist enemies,

must fail so as to damn the land reforms we have undertaken.”

–President Robert Mugabe, speaking at the UN Food Summit in Italy

on November 17. Mugabe attended the summit with a delegation of 60

Zimbabweans.

 

RAY

 

(12 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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