Nothing will change


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Iden Wetherell, who had then become group projects editor of the Standard, said nothing would change until the government put an end to the poisonous atmosphere of violence and fear that it perpetuated.

He said this six years ago and was commenting on the government’s continued repression of labour and pro-democracy groups.

Security agents had just intimidated workers and arrested labour leaders and organisers to quash a general strike organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

Police had also arrested 55 mourners and assaulted at least two of them at funeral services for Memory Jenaguru, a woman made homeless during the 2005 government-sponsored Operation Murambatsvina.

Police released all those arrested the same day after forcing them to pay admission of guilt fines for “participating in a demonstration without prior warning to police”.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07HARARE870, PRO-DEMOCRCAY GROUPS STILL UNDER ATTACK

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

07HARARE870

2007-09-21 10:36

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4118

PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0870/01 2641036

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 211036Z SEP 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1924

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1715

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1589

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1719

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0356

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0985

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1348

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1776

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4194

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1547

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2209

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0840

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1936

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000870

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E. LOKEN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2017

TAGS: PHUM PGOV ELAB ZI

SUBJECT: PRO-DEMOCRCAY GROUPS STILL UNDER ATTACK

 

REF: A. HARARE 00858

¶B. HARARE 00869

¶C. HARARE 00671

 

Classified By: Poloff Scott Higgins, reason: 1.4 d

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

¶1. (C) Zimbabwe security forces have intensified repression

against labor and pro-democracy groups despite recent reports

that the government has agreed to positive concessions in

ongoing SADC mediation talks. Within the last week, security

forces arrested labor leaders and intimidated workers,

disrupted funeral services and arrested 55 mourners, and

arrested and assaulted two student leaders. These actions

raise legitimate questions as to whether positive change will

emerge from the SADC talks. Additionally, a pro-democracy

activist severely assaulted by police in July died as a

result of complications related to her injuries. As one

political observer noted, nothing will change until the

government puts an end to the poisonous atmosphere of

violence and fear. End Summary.

 

——————————-

Actions Speak Louder than Words

——————————-

 

¶2. (U) In surprise news last week from the SADC mediation

talks between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition MDC

factions, negotiators reportedly agreed, among other things,

that the government would amend the notorious Public Order

and Security Act (POSA) to remove sections that prohibit

public gatherings without prior police notification (reftel

A). The law has long been used to prevent political and

civic groups considered critical of the government from

holding meetings or public gatherings. However, in stark

contrast to this seemingly conciliatory move, security forces

have intensified repression against labor and pro-democracy

groups.

 

¶3. (U) During the past week, security agents intimidated

workers and arrested and assaulted labor leaders and

organizers to quash a general strike organized by Zimbabwe

Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) for September 19 and 20

(reftel B).

 

¶4. (C) On September 15, police in Harare arrested 55 mourners

and assaulted at least two of them at funeral services for

Memory Jenaguru, a woman rendered homeless during the 2005

government-sponsored Operation Murambatsvina (“drive out the

filth”) campaign. A USAID officer was on a tour of the

high-density suburb of Mbare with Combined Harare Residents

Association (CHRA), a local victim’s assistance group, when

Jenaguru’s body was discovered. Jenaguru had died two days

before; however, relatives could not afford the burial and

had not reported the case to police for fear of

victimization. CHRA stepped-in to arrange a Murambatsvina

solidarity service for Jenaguru.

 

¶5. (U) Police released all arrestees the same day after

forcing them to pay admission of guilt fines for

“participating in a demonstration without prior warning to

police.” The government reportedly confiscated and buried

Jenaguru’s body.

 

HARARE 00000870 002 OF 002

 

 

 

¶6. (U) On September 18, university security arrested and

assaulted two University of Zimbabwe (UZ) student leaders,

Lovemore Chinoputsa and Fortune Chamba, after they delivered

speeches at a student gathering called to address high

tuition fees and concerns over the ongoing accommodation

crisis at campus. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

lawyers told us that the two were beaten with sticks and

interrogated by university security and intelligence officers

before being taken to the Avondale Police Station where they

were made to pay an admission of guilt fine and released.

 

¶7. (U) More than 4,000 students were evicted from campus

housing in July following protests. Zimbabwe National

Students’ Union (ZINASU) reported that an estimated

two-thirds of UZ students did not resume their studies when

the semester began on September 10 due to the lack of housing

and high fees.

 

¶8. (C) In another death related to government abuse, National

Constitutional Assembly (NCA) officials reported that

Bronislawa Kwinjo died on September 14 as a result of

complications related to injuries sustained during an assault

by police in July. Kwinjo was one of the more than 200

activists arrested and severely beaten for participating in

an NCA demonstration in Harare on July 25 (reftel C).

Frances Lovemore, director of Counselling Services Unit

(CSU), a local NGO that provides medical assistance to

victims of state violence, confirmed to us that Kwinjo’s

injuries contributed to her death.

 

————————————–

Comment — The Proof is in the Pudding

————————————–

 

¶9. (C) The government’s continued repression of labor and

pro-democracy groups can only fuel doubts among skeptics that

the SADC mediation talks will lead to positive change. Iden

Wetherell, group projects editor of the weekly newspaper The

Standard, said it best yesterday when he told poloff that

“they can amend all the laws they want, but nothing will

change until the government puts an end to the poisonous

atmosphere of violence and fear it perpetuates”. End Comment.

RAYNOR

 

(9 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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