People more interested in economic issues than constitutional reform


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The United States embassy said protests centred on the government’s economic mismanagement and general misrule resonated with the general public than constitutional reform and other pet rocks of the opposition’s leadership.

It said this after the success of the marches organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of trade unions in which it called for wages to be raised to the poverty datum line and tax cuts.

The protests came at a time when the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change was in turmoil following squabbles on whether to participate in the recreated Senate elections or not.

The government had also just released all the labour and civic leaders, including National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku, that had been arrested during the demonstrations.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 05HARARE1560, PROTESTERS RELEASED, PLANNING MORE ACTION

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

05HARARE1560

2005-11-14 15:01

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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 001560

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

AFR/SA FOR E. LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PHUM ELAB ASEC SOCI ZI ZCTU

SUBJECT: PROTESTERS RELEASED, PLANNING MORE ACTION

 

REF: (A) HARARE 1534 (B) HARARE 1527 (C) HARARE 1512

(D) HARARE 1503

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Eric T. Schultz under Section 1

.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) On November 10 and 11, the police released the

arrestees involved in the recent Zimbabwe Congress of Trade

Unions (ZCTU) and National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)

sponsored protests. The police also released student

activists and other civil society members who had been

arrested last week in connection with separate events. On

the heels of these arrests, contacts in the democratic

opposition told us they are planning to go forward with

additional protests. End summary.

 

————————-

Activists, Mayor Released

————————-

 

2. (C) Following his arrest associated with last week,s NCA

protest (ref B), NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku was released

November 10; no NCA protesters remain in jail. NCA

spokesperson Columbus Madzunga told Poloff on November 14

that Madhuku had been unharmed and intimated that police and

prison guards had been sympathetic to Madhuku and other

arrested protestors. Madzunga said that the GOZ had dropped

charges initially filed against Madhuku under the Criminal

Evidence Act but advised Madhuku that they may serve him with

a summons to reappear within a few days.

 

3. (C) Following their arrests in connection with ZCTU

protests on November 8 (ref A), ZCTU General Secretary

Wellington Chibebe and ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo were

released November 11. ZCTU Information Officer Mlamleli

Sibanda said the organization,s activists had appeared tired

but otherwise healthy. All of those arrested had been held

in police custody without being formally charged within 48

hours as required by law. Irene Petras of the Zimbabwe

Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) noted that ZCTU activists

were held 30 to a cell in cells designed to hold six people.

Petras added that the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO)

interrogated each individual protester.

 

4. (C) ZLHR lawyer Otto Saki confirmed to the Embassy on

November 14 that police had also released six University of

Zimbabwe student leaders on November 11 following their

arrest earlier in the week by campus police. Four of the

six, including the Student Executive Council,s Secretary

General Garikai Kajauro, Vice-President Colleen Chibango,

Information and Publicity Secretary Mfundo Mlilo, and Legal

Secretary Wellington Mahohoma, had been suspended from the

 

SIPDIS

university after staging a protest on October 19 in

connection with new university charges for toilet repairs.

They obtained a court order requiring their reinstatement but

were again arrested on attempting to re-enter the university

grounds. They were released following payment of a small

fine for breach of the Miscellaneous Offenses Act – “conduct

likely to breach the peace.” Saki advised that the students

were seeking an additional court order to assure their return

to the campus.

 

5. (C) Saki also reported that Chitungwiza Mayor Mishek

Shoko had been released on November 11. Following long

running tension with the GOZ (ref D), the controversial mayor

had been arrested on November 8 (ref B) and charged with

violation of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) in

connection with a meeting he had held with constituents on

November 7. Saki reported that the state had dropped the

charges but could yet proceed against Shoko by means of a

separate summons.

 

6. (C) Police also released Netsai Mushonga of the Women,s

Coalition on November 10, following 50 hours of

incarceration. Mushonga had been arrested on November 8

after convening a peace and nonviolence training workshop on

November 5 and 6 without prior police approval. She told

Embassy contacts that the police and prison guards had shown

a lack of enthusiasm – at times even sympathy – in their

arrest and processing, and that POSA charges against her had

been dismissed.

 

———————

More Protests Planned

———————

 

7. (C) ZCTU’s Sibanda told PolOff on November 14 that the

ZCTU planned further actions in conjunction with others in

civil society but could not provide any details as to the

nature or timing of such future actions. NCA’s Madzunga

informed PolOff that the NCA was meeting on the afternoon of

November 14 to plan its next protest – again, likely to

proceed in multiple locations – and would keep the Embassy

advised.

 

8. (C) Movement for Democratic Change Secretary for

Presidential Affairs Gandhi Mudzingwa reiterated to the

Embassy on November 14 that the party planned to renew its

own efforts at civic action (ref C). He said party President

Morgan Tsvangirai was likely to announce dates for

unspecified civic action by the end of this week.

Separately, AFP reported that Tsvangirai’s rally in Bulawayo

November 13 attracted 8-10,000 people and other sources

indicated that a rally he held in Gweru the same day also

drew several thousand people.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

9. (C) Last week,s protests marked a renewal of the

democratic opposition,s willingness to peacefully yet

forcefully confront the GOZ. More promising from our point

of view was the protest,s focus on the regime,s economic

mismanagement and general misrule, issues we believe are far

more likely to resonate with the general public than

constitutional reform and other pet rocks of the

opposition,s leadership. Buoyed by attendance at their

public events as well as by the relatively muted response of

the police, and despite continuing intra-party turmoil over

the Senate elections, the MDC and its civil society allies

seem set to go forward with more protests.

SCHULTZ

 

(2 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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