National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku, who organised a two-day stay-away under the Broad Alliance, called it a success on the first day claiming that more than half of the workers had stayed at home.
Madhuku said people needed heroes to set a good example and his goal was to get 2 000 people in the streets.
He said that organising the stay-away was consuming a great deal of resources, primarily for fuel, as organizers moved around to get the word out and monitor the situation.
As part of the stay-away, Movement for Democratic Change Members of Parliament did not attend the opening session of Parliament.
Viewing cable 05HARARE803, DAY ONE OF STAY-AWAY
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 000803
AF FOR DAS T. WOODS
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
OVP FOR NULAND
NSC FOR DNSA ABRAMS, SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
DEPT FOR DS/IP/AF, DS/IP/ITA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010
SUBJECT: DAY ONE OF STAY-AWAY
REF: HARARE 788
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i, Eric T. Schultz under Section 1.
¶1. (C) June 9, day one of the Broad Alliance-led two-day
stay-away, appeared to be a partial success. The greatest
impact was in Harare where Embassy staff observed slightly
reduced vehicular traffic and significantly reduced
pedestrian traffic. Some businesses reported that the
majority of their staff reported for work while others had
nearly no staff. Police presence was visible but not
intrusive throughout the day in major cities. Civil society
and the MDC reported that based on today,s response, they
were going forward with follow up demonstrations for next
week. End Summary.
The Stay Away in Harare
¶2. (C) By mid-day June 9, it appeared that many individuals
in Harare had heeded the call to stay home, although most
businesses stayed open. In the morning, Embassy staff
observed only slightly less vehicular traffic than normal but
noticed that there were fewer commercial mini-buses and fewer
people in each vehicle than usual. Pedestrian traffic was
significantly reduced. There were also far fewer individuals
hailing rides or gathering at bus stops. Noticeably absent
were students who are normally seen in groups walking to
school. Schools were open, but Embassy locally employed
staff said many teachers yesterday invited students to stay
¶3. (C) Many businesses that we contacted were fully staffed
while others had nearly no staff, reflecting the initial
mixed success of the stay away. The Managing Director of
Dimension Data in Harare reported that only one of his staff
showed up for work. He predicted that many businesses would
close early. Tham Mapofu of 3M Corporation said only 50% of
his staff came in, mostly factory workers.
¶4. (C) Police presence in Harare was heightened throughout
the morning but, with few exceptions, generally not
obtrusive. Embassy staff reported sightings of a cannon and
a tank being transported through the city, but there was
otherwise there was no heightened military presence. Embassy
staff reported increased activity at roadblocks from the
high-density suburb of Chitungwiza into Harare. The police
were requiring individuals to disembark from buses and
individually questioning them about their business in town
and sometimes asking for receipts for any goods in the
Response in Other Major Cities
¶5. (C) Businessmen whom we contacted in Mutare and Bulawayo
reported that workers were going to work and there were no
disturbances. They said there was heightened police presence
and police, and in Bulawayo the police were breaking up
groups of people in public.
Civil Society and MDC Assessments
¶6. (C) NCA Chairperson Lovemore Madhuku, who led the Broad
Alliance effort in organizing the stay-away, by mid-afternoon
called the first day a success. He told poloff that more
than half of workers had stayed home. He said that the
stay-away would probably roll over the weekend into next
week, depending on what happened on Friday. Broad Alliance
leaders were planning more active protests for next week. He
said that the people needed heroes to set a good example and
his goal was to get 2,000 people in the streets. He added
that organizing even today,s stay-away was consuming a great
deal of resources, primarily for fuel, as organizers moved
around to get the word out and monitor the situation.
¶7. (C) As part of the stay-away, MDC MPs did not attend the
opening session of Parliament (septel). The MDC conducted no
public activities. However, the MDC had supported the stay
away and our MDC contacts reported that the stay-away was
very successful in the high-density suburbs, in large part
because MP Job Sikhala was active in spreading the word.
This success was in spite of a heavy police presence. In
Chitungwiza, for instance, MDC contacts reported that police
were present in much greater numbers than usual and moving
around and that the military were also visible. However,
neither was reported going into homes or questioning people.
¶8. (C) Raymond Majongwe of Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe said the stay-away had been successful but said
further action was needed and that there would be no impact
if some of the MDC,s and civil society,s leadership were
not arrested to call attention to the situation and show that
Zimbabweans were not being passive.
¶9. (C) As of mid-afternoon June 9, the stay-away appeared to
be at least a partial success. A lack of transportation
appeared to be an important factor, probably reflecting the
fact that private commuter buses were among the first targets
of Operation Restore Order. The GOZ response has been
relatively moderate, which may encourage greater
participation on June 10. So too might the fact that June 10
is a Friday. It remains to be seen if the Broad Alliance can
muster enough support for more active demonstrations next
week given the public,s fear and apathy. The last few NCA
demonstrations had relatively low turnout and quickly
¶10. (C) For its part, the MDC, which reluctantly supported
the stay away, continues to be criticized for not being
aggressive enough. The independent media are increasingly
taking the MDC leadership to task for failing to lead. A
cartoon in today,s Financial Gazette, depicting the MDC as
an empty suit, is indicative. Efforts to organize action
next week may fail to reach critical mass or be crushed, but
failure to act at all, especially by the MDC, may pose more
significant long-term risks for Zimbabwe’s challenged
opposition and civil society.