Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, party secretary Tendai Biti and shadow Foreign Minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro were barred from leaving Zimbabwe to attend the Southern African Development Community summit by immigration officials at Harare airport.
No reasons were given but they were allowed to leave the airport.
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front negotiator Nicholas Goche phoned Tsvangirai to apologise for the “mistake” and he was working to undo it.
Viewing cable 08HARARE684, TSVANGIRAI PREVENTED FROM TRAVELING TO SADC SUMMIT
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2018
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI PREVENTED FROM TRAVELING TO SADC SUMMIT
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) Embassy has confirmed press reports that MDC
president Morgan Tsvangirai, secretary-general Tendai Biti,
and MP elect and shadow foreign minister Eliphas
Mukoneweshuro were detained at Harare International Airport
this afternoon and prevented from traveling to South Africa
for the SADC Summit. According to Mukoneweshuro, the three
checked in and were proceeding through immigration when they
were told they could not travel. Tsvangirai’s travel
document was seized (his passport had been seized a couple of
months ago) as well as the passports of Mukoneweshuro and
Biti. All three were then allowed to leave the airport.
¶2. (C) The Ambassador called Tsvangirai who noted he was
traveling at the invitation of SADC. He said he strongly
supported a condemnation of the GOZ by SADC. The Ambassador
said we would encourage SADC to do so.
¶3. (C) Tsvangirai also told the Ambassador he had received a
phone call from ZANU-PF negotiator Nicholas Goche who
apologized for the “mistake” and said he was working to undo
it. The Ambassador then called Goche who, in a brief
conversation, confirmed his conversation with Tsvangirai.
¶4. (C) COMMENT: The airport incident may well have been a
mistake, perhaps initiated by the CIO rather than ZANU-PF
structures. ZANU-PF has been spinning the breakdown in
negotiations as the result of Tsvangirai’s unreasonableness
and refusing to let Tsvangirai travel can only create
sympathy for Tsvangira and antipathy toward ZANU-PF.
Nevertheless, the action of authorities, regardless of who
initiated it, is outrageous and should be condemned,
particularly by SADC. We suggest consideration of contacting
SADC capitals to make this point. END COMMENT.