One dies after clashes in Kuwadzana


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Political clashes continued in Kuwadzana in the run-up to a by-election to replace Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Learnmore Jongwe with one person believed to have died from severe burns.

Sixteen other suspects had been arrested, all of them MDC youths.

The MDC, however, blamed the violence on the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front which had established youth militias in Kuwadzana in an attempt to wrestle back the seat from the opposition.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE151, ZANU-PF, MDC YOUTHS CLASH IN HARARE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE151

2003-01-22 12:08

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 000151

 

SIPDIS

 

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR CNEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: ZANU-PF, MDC YOUTHS CLASH IN HARARE

 

 

1. Youths from the ruling ZANU-PF clashed with counterparts

from the opposition MDC late on January 20 in Harare’s

high-density suburb of Kuwadzana. Although precise details

of what occurred remain sketchy, police spokesman Wayne

Bvudzijena told journalists that one person died from severe

burns and seven others were seriously injured in a petrol

bomb attack on a ZANU-PF base. Sixteen suspects have been

arrested, all of them MDC youth activists.

 

2. MDC spokesman Paul Themba-Nyathi told us that he has

heard many different accounts of what transpired. The most

reliable account, according to Themba-Nyathi, is that an MDC

supporter was abducted by ZANU-PF militia members on January

20 and taken to one of five militia base camps recently

established in the constitutency. (Note: The camps were

established in anticipation of an upcoming parliamentary

election to fill the seat left vacant by the late party

spokesman Learnmore Jongwe. No dates have been set. End

Note.) A group of youths — whom Themba-Nyathi presumed were

MDC supporters — attempted to rescue their colleague, and

skirmishes ensued. The MDC spokesman expressed strong

skepticism that MDC youths had thrown petrol bombs, but he

acknowledged that residents might have decided finally to

defend themselves against depredations by the militia, since

they can no longer rely on the police to protect them.

Themba-Nyathi said he had issued a statement the morning of

January 22 condemning violence from any quarter, and told us

the party has everything to lose if it follows the path of

violence. The instruments of force and violence are

overwhelmingly controlled by one side, he said, and it is

crucial for the MDC to avoid being painted with the same

brush as ZANU-PF.

 

3. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) — an

umbrella organization dedicated to strengthening transparency

of elections — issued a strong condemnation of the clashes

in Kuwadzana. In a January 21 press statement, ZESN

“unreservedly” denounced “all acts of political violence,”

urged “all major political parties campaigning in Kuwadzana

to strongly condemn any form of violence and desist from

assaulting people,” and urged the government-appointed

Electoral Supervisory Commission “to ensure that there is a

violence-free…election.”

 

Comment

——-

 

4. During the past several weeks, the political environment

in Kuwadzana has worsened considerably, as ZANU-PF pulls out

all the stops to win the upcoming parliamentary by-election

in this constituency. Winning this election is a top

priority for ZANU-PF, which is determined to regain the

two-thirds parliamentary majority necessary for amending the

constitution and is now only five seats away from

accomplishing that objective. The ruling party is well aware

that it has little support in a constituency won

overwhelmingly by the late Learnmore Jongwe with more than 75

percent of the votes in 2000, so is falling back on its

tried-and-true tactics of intimidation and control of food

distribution. As urban residents, however, the people of

Kuwadzana are much less vulnerable to intimidation than their

rural counterparts, and many of them despise a ruling party

they believe played a role in the death of Jongwe, who was a

very popular figure in this high-density suburb. The MDC’s

selection of candidate Nelson Chamisa, national youth leader

and a hardliner who does not shrink from a fight, only adds

to the potential volatility of the Kuwadzana campaign.

 

5. As we indicated earlier, the details of the January 20

clashes remain unclear. We would not be surprised, however,

if MDC supporters had had enough of the militia’s

intimidation and decided to retaliate or to teach them a

lesson. Similar incidents are likely in the run-up to the

election, and we expect political violence from both sides

will intensify once election dates are announced.   The MDC’s

issuance of a statement condemning violence committed by any

source is positive, and the Department might want to be

prepared to make a similar declaration.

SULLIVAN

(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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