Movement for Democratic Change legislator for Mutare north Giles Mutsekwa was arrested with eight other MDC supporters for allegedly helping to organise a stay-away ordered by the party.
Mutsekwa’s arrest and those of hundreds of other MDC activists was said to be part of a nationwide campaign to crackdown on the opposition party which was pressing for reform and fresh elections because the Zimbabwe African national union-patriotic front had stolen the 2002 presidential elections.
Mutsekwa was also the MDC Shadow Minister for Defence.
Viewing cable 03HARARE591, MILITARY, POLICE AND CIO LAUNCH NATIONWIDE
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 000591
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2013
SUBJECT: MILITARY, POLICE AND CIO LAUNCH NATIONWIDE
CRACKDOWN ON STAYAWAY PLANNERS
REF: A. HARARE 570
¶B. HARARE 557
¶C. HARARE 546
¶D. HARARE 515
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d.
¶1. (C) There are credible reports that the GOZ has undertaken
a campaign of retribution against MDC activists and
supporters across the country since the first day of the
MDC-organized stayaway on March 18. Police have arrested
over a hundred MDC supporters, and the Zimbabwean Defense
Forces (ZDF), ZRP, and ZANU-PF youths have beaten dozens of
perceived MDC supporters. We anticipate that the GOZ may
continue to use the stayaway as an excuse to arrest
ever-higher MDC officials in the coming weeks. End Summary.
¶2. (U) By March 21, according to the MDC and independent
press, police in Harare had arrested over 100 suspected MDC
activists and supporters. The government-owned The Herald
reported that only 53 people were arrested in Harare for
incidents relating to the mass action. The MDC also reported
on March 21 that 83 supporters had sought medical help from
the MDC social welfare division, and had received vouchers
for medical services at a Harare hospital. Other observers
reported seeing dozens of people seeking medical attention
for beating wounds at local clinics. Military helicopters
were still patrolling the skies over Harare on March 21.
¶3. (U) On March 19, according to the official press and MDC
sources police in Kadoma arrested the MDC MP for Kadoma
Austin Mupandawana and about 33 MDC youths who were marching
in Kadoma with anti-Mugabe banners and placards. The MDC
made efforts to contact Mupandawana and the youths; however,
they were apparently transferred to undisclosed police
stations and their whereabouts were still unknown as of March
¶4. (U) On March 18 police arrested and released on the same
day the MDC MP for Masvingo Central Silas Mangono with other
MDC youths in Masvingo. Mangono was arrested and released
again on March 19.
¶5. (U) By March 21 the independent press and the MDC reported
that ZDF soldiers beat about 10 people in Masvingo in
incidents related to the stayaway. On March 19 ZANU-PF
youths stoned and destroyed the house of the MDC provincial
chairman for Masvingo, Ms. Masekesa.
¶6. (U) On March 19 according to the independent and official
press, and MDC sources, police arrested the MDC MP for Mutare
North and MDC Shadow Minister of Defense Giles Mutsekwa and
eight other MDC supporters. Police accused Mutsekwa of
helping to organize the stayaway, at that point in its second
day, and questioned him about its planning. He was still in
police custody on March 21.
¶7. (U) On March 18, suspected CIO officers abducted Steven
Tonera and two other workers from MDC MP for Chimanimani Roy
Bennett’s commercial farm near Epworth (a suburb of Harare)
accusing them of burning a parastatal Zimbabwe United
Passenger Company (ZUPCO) bus earlier that day in Epworth.
All three were beaten severely, Tonera died during the
beating. On March 19, 50-60 ZDF soldiers arrived at the farm
and beat 30 other workers, some severely, including a 55-year
old woman, with batons and batons covered with barbed wire.
¶8. (U) By March 21 the independent and official press, and
the MDC, reported that police had arrested 18 people in
Gweru, and 13 in Bulawayo in incidents related to the
¶9. (U) By March 21, the MDC reported that police, ZANU-PF
youth, and ZDF soldiers had arrested, beaten, and destroyed
the homes of dozens of MDC provincial chairman, MDC
officials, lawyers, supporters and activists in the past
2-days, accusing them of helping to plan and carry out the
March 18-19 mass stayaway.
¶10. (C) The GOZ appeared taken aback by the success of the
March 18 – 19 stayaway and now seems determined to exact
retribution from those responsible for organizing it. The
Herald reported that police were moving in on the MDC
leadership who organized it, and we would anticipate that the
GOZ will continue to use the stayaway as an excuse to crack
down on ever higher MDC officials in the coming weeks, most
likely accusing them under the draconian Public Order and
Security Act, (POSA) of instigating public violence. End