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.
Viewing cable 07PRETORIA3069, MDC ACTIVIST TELLS OF DETENTION AT LUSAKA SADC
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
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L PRETORIA 003069
DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/30/2017
SUBJECT: MDC ACTIVIST TELLS OF DETENTION AT LUSAKA SADC
REF: LUSAKA 945
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(b) and
¶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
¶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
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
believes the Zambian officials were worried the MDC would
“cause a fuss.”