USAID funded MDC officials’ trip to SADC summit in Lusaka


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The United States Agency for International Development funded the trip of Movement for Democratic Change officials based in Johannesburg to attend the Southern African Development Community summit in Lusaka in August 2007.

The money was channelled through the National Democratic Institute.

This was disclosed after one of the MDC officials Nqobizitha Mlilo was arrested in Lusaka and was questioned about the activities of the MDC offices in Johannesburg and its source of funding.

He did not disclose the source of funding. This was disclosed in a cable dispatched by the United States embassy in Pretoria.

Mlilo worked with Roy Bennett at the Johannesburg office.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07PRETORIA3069, MDC ACTIVIST TELLS OF DETENTION AT LUSAKA SADC

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

07PRETORIA3069

2007-08-31 12:55

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXYZ0004

RR RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHSA #3069 2431255

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 311255Z AUG 07

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1485

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1277

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L PRETORIA 003069

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/30/2017

TAGS: PREL PHUM ZI SF

SUBJECT: MDC ACTIVIST TELLS OF DETENTION AT LUSAKA SADC

SUMMIT

 

REF: LUSAKA 945

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(b) and

(d).

 

1. (C) Zambian security officials arrested and questioned

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Political Liaison

Officer Nqobizitha Mlilo at the recent August 16-17 SADC

Summit. Mlilo described to PolOff on August 30 his

detention. Mlilo, a recent University of Cape Town graduate,

works for Roy Bennett at the MDC office in Johannesburg.

 

2. (C) Mlilo said that Zambian security officials stopped his

rental car at approximately 11 a.m. on Friday, August 17, as

he attempted to leave the convention center where the Summit

was being held. Mlilo was en route to meet with aides to

former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda and hoped to set up a

press conference with Kaunda and MDC officials later that

day. The Zambian security officials initially detained Mlilo

at the convention center for four hours before moving him to

the central police station. The Zambian officials claimed

that Mlilo had a false passport and fake visa, although they

never charged him with any crime. They also alleged that

Mlilo had obtained press credentials for the SADC Summit even

though he was not a journalist.

 

3. (C) Mlilo believes three Zimbabwean security officials,

who spoke Ndebele, participated in the interrogation. They

focused their questioning on the activities of the MDC

regional office in Johannesburg and its sources of funding.

They asked specifically about who funded the MDC advocacy

trip to Lusaka. (NOTE: USAID, through NDI, funded the

travel. END NOTE.) Mlilo said he feigned ignorance,

although admitted that he was probably not entitled to press

credentials.

 

4. (C) The officials allowed Mlilo to contact his MDC

colleagues, who in turn called Arnold Tsunga of the

Zimbabwean Lawyers for Human Rights, who was also in Lusaka.

Tsunga reached out to Zambian civil society colleagues, who

 

SIPDIS

called their Zambian government contacts. The officials

released Mlilo at approximately 11 p.m., although they kept

his passport, wallet, and computer. (NOTE: Mlilo confirmed

that there was nothing on the computer that would link him to

his funders. END NOTE) Mlilo returned the next day with

Tsunga, and the officials returned Mlilo’s belongings. Mlilo

 

SIPDIS

believes the Zambian officials were worried the MDC would

“cause a fuss.”

Teitelbaum

 

(14 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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