Matinenga says MDC is safe despite arrests


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Parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said the Movement for Democratic Change was still safe despite the arrests and convictions of its legislators.

He was commenting after one of the MDC legislators Matthias Mlambo of Chipinge East had been jailed for seven months for obstructing the course of justice.

Another MDC legislator Meki Makuyana, of Chipinge South also faced possible imprisonment if convicted on separate charges of kidnapping.

Matinenga himself and other MDC legislators were facing charges as well.

Matinenga said though the arrests and conviction were worrisome they would not have an immediate impact on the MDC’s majority in Parliament.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE394, MDC MP CONVICTED FOR OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE; OTHERS STILL FACE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE394

2009-05-13 16:00

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO3460

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0394/01 1331600

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 131600Z MAY 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4468

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2281

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2814

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2934

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1377

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2197

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2562

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2982

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5423

RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2106

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000394

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR M. GAVIN

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ASEC KDEM PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: MDC MP CONVICTED FOR OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE; OTHERS STILL FACE

CHARGES

 

1. (U) SUMMARY: The advent of the transitional government has failed

to stem political prosecutions of abductees as well as MPs. This

week Matthias Mlambo, MDC-T MP for Chipinge East, was jailed for an

effective seven months while his colleague Meki Makuyana, MDC-T MP

for Chipinge South, also faces possible imprisonment if convicted on

separate charges of kidnapping. Mlambo’s lawyers are filing an

appeal, but he may lose his seat in the House of Assembly if he

misses more than 21 consecutive sessions of Parliament and

Parliament approves a resolution to declare the seat vacant. These

cases are two of several cases still pending against MDC MPs. END

SUMMARY.

 

———————————————

MP Mlambo Convicted of Obstruction of Justice

———————————————

 

2. (U) On May 11, MDC-T MP for Chipinge East, Matthias Mlambo was

convicted of obstructing justice and was sentenced to 10 months

imprisonment with hard labor; three months were suspended on

condition of good behavior.

 

3. (SBU) The charges stem from an incident on April 10 when Mlambo

was attending the funeral of an MDC member in Chipinge, in

southeastern Zimbabwe. According to Mlambo’s lawyer, a ZANU-PF

member arrived at the funeral wearing ZANU-PF regalia, a dispute

ensued, and MDC members beat him up. A police officer then arrived

and fired one shot, resulting in further pandemonium. After the

burial Mlambo went to the police and reported the police officer

whom he considered to have acted recklessly. Realizing that his

conduct had been reported to his superiors, the police officer who

had discharged his firearm filed a complaint against Mlambo on April

12. The officer alleged that Mlambo had prevented him from

arresting the MDC youths who had beaten up the ZANU-PF youth by

refusing to identify the youths in question. Mlambo maintained that

he had not seen the persons who had beaten up the ZANU-PF youth.

 

4. (U) Mlambo was arrested and released on bail on May 2. At the

completion of his trial on May 11 in the Chipinge Magistrate’s

court, he was convicted and sentenced to 10 months imprisonment with

three months suspended for good behavior. His lawyers have filed an

appeal and applied for bail pending appeal. The application for

bail will be heard on May 15. The state is not opposing bail.

 

5. (U) To date, Mlambo’s criminal report against the police officer

has not been investigated by the police.

 

———————————–

MP Makuyana Charged with Kidnapping

———————————–

 

6. (U) Separately, Chipinge South MP Makuyana faces charges of

kidnapping. On May 11, the state closed its case in his trial in

the same court in Chipinge. The defense indicated that it will

Qthe same court in Chipinge. The defense indicated that it will

apply for discharge at the close of the state case. The magistrate

directed both lawyers to file written arguments by May 15 and said

he will hand down his ruling by May 27. Pending judgment, Makuyana

was released on bail. The state did not oppose the bail

application.

 

 

7. (U) Makuyana’s troubles started on December 3, 2008. According

to his lawyer Langton Mhungu, he had been addressing a development

meeting when ZANU-PF members started their own meeting about a

hundred meters away. ZANU-PF members became violent and stabbed one

 

HARARE 00000394 002 OF 002

 

 

of the MDC members. The MDC then effected a citizen’s arrest of the

perpetrator and filed the report with the police. In turn, local

ZANU-PF members reported Makuyana to the police on January 10, 2009

for kidnapping.

 

—————————————–

MDC’s Parliamentary Majority Safe for Now

—————————————–

 

8. (SBU) We spoke with Eric Matinenga, a respected lawyer and

Minister for Parliamentary and Constitutional Affairs (MDC-T), who

indicated that, although the convictions are worrisome, they won’t

have an immediate impact on the MDC’s majority in parliament. A

conviction could cause an MP to lose his seat through one of two

possibilities. First, if Mlambo misses more than 21 consecutive

sessions while he is in jail, and Parliament resolves to declare the

seat vacant, he could lose his seat. Alternatively, if an MP is

sentenced to more than six months in prison without the option of a

fine, he could lose his seat. While the sentence is under appeal,

as in Mlambo’s case, the MP maintains his seat. Under the Global

Political Agreement (GPA), any parliamentary seat that is lost will

be replaced by an MP of the same party, unless the seat is contested

by a party or independent candidate not bound by the GPA.

 

9. (SBU) Notably, when we called Matinenga on May 11 to ask him

about the cases in Chipinge, he was not yet aware of them,

particularly Mlambo’s conviction. He further asked us for the name

and contact information for the MPs’ lawyer. When we talked to him

again on May 12, Matinenga said the MDC did not yet have an official

response to the two court cases. Matinenga himself is awaiting

judgment (expected May 26 in Mutare) on charges of inciting violence

during the inter-election period in 2008.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (SBU) As the transitional government lurches along, the courts

continue to be the preferred venue for targeting MDC members and

sympathizers through trumped up charges By removing battles to the

legal system, ZANU-PF can cleverly claim that “justice is taking its

course.” These two cases, like many others, arose after MPs

attempted to engage local police to report crimes or other behavior

and found themselves incarcerated and accused of the very acts they

sought to report. As with other cases, these two arose because of

actors within ZANU-PF controlled entities: the police, the Ministry

of Justice, and the Attorney General’s office. While the MDC’s

parliamentary majority appears safe, such cases continue to

undermine the spirit of and support for the transitional “inclusive”

government. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

 

 

(13 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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