Police are reported to have raided York Lodge where staffers of the National Democratic Institute that had assisted the Zimbabwe Election Support Network with its parallel vote counting in the 2008 elections were staying.
They are reported to have taken down visitors’ passport numbers and rental car plate numbers.
One of the NDI staff members changed hotels; the other moved his departure forward but was detained at the airport and sent colleagues a text message indicating he had been taken to Harare Central police station.
Reports also indicated that three journalists who were most likely not accredited were picked up.
Beatrice Mtetwa was reported to be representing the detained NDI official.
Viewing cable 08HARARE275, SITUATION REPORT: PENDULUM SWINGS FROM RUNOFF TO
OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0275 0941706
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 031706Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2696
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1878
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2001
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0574
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1278
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1635
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2057
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4488
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1128
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000275
AF/S FOR S. HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2018
SUBJECT: SITUATION REPORT: PENDULUM SWINGS FROM RUNOFF TO
DEAL, AMCITS DETAINED
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
Â¶1. (C) Harare has remained quiet throughout the day April 3,
but the rumor mill has continued to churn. Late in the
morning Post contacts reported that ZANU-PF was preparing to
pull out all the stops to assure itself victory in a runoff.
Shortly after, usually well-informed contacts told us that
they were confident Mugabe had decided to strike a deal to
exit gracefully. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was
expected to announce Senatorial results today, which would
have been the last step before a presidential announcement,
but has been silent. It appears plausible that Mugabe is
contemplating a deal while some of his allies take the
initial steps that would be required to succeed in a runoff.
Meanwhile, ZEC stalls.
Â¶2. (C) The existence of independent vote counts has limited
ZANU-PF’s options and elimination of these would be part of
any optimal runoff strategy. The National Democratic
Institute (NDI) assisted the Zimbabwe Electoral Support
Network (ZESN) with ZESN’s Parallel Vote Tabulation. Around
midday, two officials in plain clothes appeared at the York
Lodge where NDI staff were staying. They took down the
visitors’ passport numbers and rental car plate numbers. One
of the NDI staff members changed hotels; the other moved his
departure up from tomorrow (April 4) to this evening. The
latter, an American citizen, was detained at the airport and
sent colleagues a text message indicating he was being taken
to Harare Central police station. Also this evening, the
Embassy learned that police were searching rooms and
questioning guests at York Lodge. Reports now indicate that
three journalists, a UK citizen, an American reporting for
the New York Times, and a third unidentified person described
as an American were picked up at the York. We believe they
lacked accreditation as journalists, and may have been picked
up for this reason, although the operation may have initially
sought the NDI employees. Prominent local attorney Beatrice
Mtetwa and Conoff are both on their way to Harare Central to
inquire about the NDI employee; Conoff will also seek
information on the reportedly detained journalists.
Experience suggests there is a fair chance all will be
questioned overnight and then deported.
Â¶3. (C) COMMENT: The conflicting reports we keep receiving
indicate that there are still several possible directions in
which the electoral drama could turn. We remain alert to any
change in the currently calm situation. END COMMENT.