Two members of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, the coordinator for Harare province Broderick Takawira and a driver Pascal Gonzo, were abducted from their Harare offices on 8 December 2008.
ZPP chairman Alois Chaumba said a group of six men driving an unmarked car took them without disclosing their destination or whether they were facing charges.
ZPP director Jestina Mukoko was abducted on 3 December. Her whereabouts were still unknown.
Police said they were not holding Mukoko and were treating her disappearance as a kidnapping.
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SUBJECT: RASH OF ABDUCTIONS TARGET HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS AND
Classified By: CDA Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (SBU) Since December 3, five individuals with ties to
human rights groups or the MDC have been abducted by armed
men wearing plain clothes and driving unmarked vehicles.
Additionally, the 14 MDC members (and a baby) seized over a
month ago are still missing, as are two MDC members abducted
at the end of November. Human rights groups and lawyers have
been unsuccessful at locating these individuals at police
stations, and speculation abounds that they may have been
seized by the CIO, military intelligence, or police
intelligence. END SUMMARY.
Human Rights Leaders Disappearing
¶2. (SBU) Otto Saki of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
(ZLHR) confirmed that Broderick Takawira and Pascal Gonzo,
both members of the human rights organization Zimbabwe Peace
Project (ZPP), were abducted from ZPP’s Harare offices the
morning of December 8. According to ZPP chairman Alois
Chaumba, a group of about six men driving an unmarked car
took them without disclosing their destination or whether
they were facing charges. Takawira is the ZPP coordinator
for Harare province and Gonzo is a driver.
¶3. (SBU) Meanwhile, the whereabouts of the national director
of the ZPP, Jestina Mukoko, are still unknown. Mukoko was
abducted from her home by plain-clothes armed men driving
unmarked vehicles at five AM on December 3. Persistent
inquiries by ZLHR at area police stations yielded a letter
from chief police superintendent Nzombe stating that the
police were not in custody of Mukoko and were treating her
disappearance as a kidnapping.
¶4. (U) On the evening of December 5, Zacharia Nkomo was
seized by four plain clothes men from his home in a Masvingo
township. Nkomo is the brother of a leading human rights
lawyer, Harrison Nkomo.
Seized MDC Official Raises MDC Total to 18
¶5. (SBU) Gandhi Mudzingwa, an aide to MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai, was seized by a group of armed men while driving
in Harare on December 8, according to MDC spokesperson George
Sibotshiwe. The group of 14 MDC members (and a baby)
abducted in Banket in Mashonaland West in late October is
still missing. Additionally, according to MDC officials, on
November 25, the MDC’s director of security, Chris Diamini as
well as another MDC member were abducted. The whereabouts of
all the MDC members are unknown.
Lots of Speculation, No Answers
¶6. (SBU) According to ZLHR, the Central Intelligence
Organization, the Central Investigations Department of the
police, and military intelligence all conduct operations
using plain clothes officers and unmarked vehicles. It is
possible the police are unaware of the whereabouts of some or
all of these individuals in which case petitions of habeas
corpus and court orders directed at the police will have no
HARARE 00001100 002 OF 002
effect. (NOTE: A court order was issued to the police to
produce the Banket MDC members; there has been no compliance.
A habeas corpus petition regarding Jestina Mukoko was to be
heard by the High Court today. END NOTE.)
¶7. (C) The recent surge of abductions appears to be part of
an orchestrated and politically-motivated campaign. We see
two motives for the seizures:
i) ZANU-PF has decided a political resolution with the MDC is
unlikely to happen and has chosen to unleash a new wave of
violence and intimidation to consolidate their position and
weaken the MDC; or
ii) Elements within the military, police, or CIO are trying
to sabotage the possibility of a deal that could weaken their
interests or expose them to reprisal.
¶8. (C) Whatever the motive, the GOZ–which has been arguing
to SADC that MDC has had insurgent training bases in
Botswana–may try to allege that the recently abducted
individuals are involved in the concocted Botswana
conspiracy. We have received reports that the GOZ is
alleging that the Banket MDC members were involved in
training camps in Botswana, and Jestina Mukoko was reportedly
involved in a human rights training program in Botswana
within the last couple of weeks. END COMMENT.