Politically motivated prosecutions futile


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The prosecution of legislators from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, which the party claimed was aimed at overturning its majority in the House of Assembly, was a futile exercise because eight of the 10 Members of Parliament from the smaller faction of the MDC were solidly behind the MDC-T.

This opinion was contained in a July 2009 diplomatic cable that was looking at the spate of arrests and convictions of several legislators from MDC-T. The party argued that the prosecutions were politically motivated and were aimed at reducing its strength in Parliament.

United States embassy officials, however, felt this was a futile exercise arguing that to achieve this goal, ZANU-PF would have to continue prosecuting MDC members because though the MDC-T had a one-seat majority over ZANU-PF, it enjoyed the support of 8 members from the MDC-M.

Three MDC-T legislators had been convicted of various crimes while other high profile MDC-T officials were still to face charges.

They included deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate Roy Bennett, and director general Toendepi Shonhe. The State lost a High Court ruling dismissing terrorism and banditry charges against Bennett, but refused to drop the case.

Shonhe was charged with perjury after he stated that three MDC activists had been re-abducted by State agents.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE585, POLITICALLY-MOTIVATED PROSECUTIONS OF MDC-T

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

09HARARE585

2009-07-14 15:19

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6981

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0585/01 1951519

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 141519Z JUL 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4719

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2947

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3064

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1493

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2327

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2694

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3112

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5555

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2242

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000585

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: POLITICALLY-MOTIVATED PROSECUTIONS OF MDC-T

OFFICIALS CONTINUE

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (SBU) Three MDC parliamentarians have recently been

convicted of criminal charges and sentenced, while two others

await trial. The MDC believes this is an orchestrated effort

by ZANU-PF to disrupt the MDC party and reduce its strength

in Parliament. END SUMMARY.

 

—————————————-

ZANU-PF Targeting MDC-T Parliamentarians

—————————————-

 

2. (SBU) Zimbabwean courts recently convicted three MDC MPs

who won election in March 2008 in Manicaland Province in

Eastern Zimbabwe. Historically, Manicaland had been

dominated by ZANU-PF, but in the 2008 elections only 7 of 26

total seats in the province went to ZANU-PF. Shua Mudiwa

(Mutare West) was convicted in June on kidnapping charges and

was sentenced to seven years. Mudiwa had defeated the

incumbent MP Chris Mushohwe who was subsequently appointed as

governor in Manicaland. Mathias Mlambo (Chipinge East) was

convicted in May of public violence charges and received a

ten month sentence, and Meki Makuyana (Chipinge South) was

sentenced in July to 12 months on kidnapping charges. Both

Makuyana and Mlambo were sentenced by the same magistrate,

Samuel Zuze. Two other MPs in the party are facing charges

in which a life sentence is applicable: Blessing Chebundo

(Kwekwe in Midlands Province) is charged with rape and Trevor

Saruwaka (Mutasa Central in Manicaland Province) is charged

with rape and political violence.

 

3. (SBU) The MDC-T is suspicious that these prosecutions are

part of a plot to reverse its slim lead in Zimbabwe’s House

of Assembly through arrests and convictions. However,

parliamentary advisor Israel Chilimanzi explained that MPs

retain all their official authorities and functions

–including the capacity to vote– while a conviction is

under appeal. These MPs would only have to vacate their

seats if they received sentences of greater than six months

and subsequently lost their appeals.

 

4. (SBU) The three convicted MPs are all appealing their

sentences.   According to the Global Political Agreement

signed last September, in the event of a by-election to fill

a vacant seat within one year of the GPA signing (i.e. before

September 15 2009), candidates from the other two political

parties that are signatory to the agreement (ZANU-PF and

MDC-M) would not contest. After September 15, any party can

field a candidate for a vacated seat. Therefore, if the

convicted MPs win their appeals, they will retain their

seats, but if they lose the appeals ZANU-PF will be able to

field candidates in by-elections.

 

————————————

Other MDC-T Officials Facing Charges

———————————

 

5. (SBU) Other high profile MDC-T officials who still face

charges include Deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate Roy

Bennett, and Director General Toendepi Shonhe. The State

lost a High Court ruling dismissing terrorism and banditry

Qlost a High Court ruling dismissing terrorism and banditry

charges against Bennett, but has refused to drop the case.

Shonhe was charged with perjury after he stated that three

MDC activists had been re-abducted by State agents. Also,

there are inactive cases against Minister of Finance Tendai

Biti and Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs

Eric Matinenga. Numerous other senior MDC-T officials have

 

HARARE 00000585 002 OF 002

 

 

been acquitted of spurious charges in the past several years.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (SBU) The MDC believes the prosecution and conviction of

its MPs is part of an orchestrated ZANU-PF campaign to

overturn the combined (MDC-T and MDC-M) majority in the House

of Assembly. To achieve this goal, however, ZANU-PF will

have to continue prosecuting MDC members. After the March

elections, MDC-T had 100 parliamentarians, MDC-M had 10, and

ZANU-PF had 99. (There is one independent). Three ZANU-PF

parliamentarians have died. Even with the loss of the three

convicted parliamentarians, the MDC would still have a

majority since 8 of the 10 MDC-M parliamentarians are solidly

with MDC-T.

 

DHANANI

 

(7 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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