WOZA tales of displacement


Women of Zimbabwe Arise director Jenni Williams told United States embassy officials that Operation Restore Order had placed her group under additional stress because she no longer had contact with many of her members since they had been displaced.

Williams and other activists met the embassy officials in a private home in an attempt to elude Central Intelligence Organisation officers who tracked their activities.

One of the members Shingirai Mupani, who said she had been a trader since 1987, said police had destroyed her market stall and confiscated her vegetables and had then forced her to dismantle her own home.

She said police had told her to go back to her rural home, which was in Buhera. But the United States embassy said like many Ndebele her homestead had been destroyed during Gukurahundi.

Gukurahundi only affected Matebeleland and parts of the Midlands.

Buhera is in Manicaland, though it was part of Masvingo at independence.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2005-07-20 14:04

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


201404Z Jul 05

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000991








E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010






Classified By: Charge d’Affaires a.i., Eric T. Schultz under Section 1.

4 b/d






1. (SBU) Operation Restore Order has had a profound effect on

Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,s second largest city, much as it has in

other cities around the country. During a visit to Bulawayo

with Staffdel Simpkins on July 3-4, embassy staff viewed

scenes of devastation and relief efforts at sites for

displaced families. Activists from Women of Zimbabwe Arise!

(WOZA) offered compelling first person accounts of the

destruction and individual coping efforts. MDC MP for

Bulawayo David Coltart further described efforts to care for

victims, elaborated on possible GOZ objectives, and conceded

that internal strife had prevented the MDC from responding

effectively to Restore Order. End Summary.


——————————————— ————

The Destruction in Bulawayo and Assistance to the Victims

——————————————— ————


2. (SBU) On July 4, the staffdel visited Kilarney, one of the

destroyed settlements. There was little remaining of the

settlement to indicate that it had ever been more than a

large, grassy field. There was a piece of clothing in the

mud and the occasional brick remains of a house. The rest,

including rubble from most of the destroyed dwellings, had

been cleared away. Only a handful of elderly men lingered in

the area. World Vision field officer Kilton Moyo said that

Kilarney had been created as a settlement by the Rhodesian

government to move blacks out of the city when Bulawayo was

much smaller. Some people had returned to the rural areas

after independence, but the settlement had remained and

received many new inhabitants in the 1980s, during the

Gukurahundi, when the GOZ destroyed Ndebele villages and

killed thousands of the ethnic minority.


3. (C) At an Anglican church providing assistance to the

people of Kilarney and other such settlements, families were

crowded on the small church grounds, most in makeshift

shelters, with only one small tent sheltering a family.

Father Barnabas Nauende said the church was providing the

space, water, transportation for children to school (one

truck that several churches chipped in to fuel), and baskets

of foodstuffs. Parishioners had been collecting blankets and

other items for distribution. The church was working with

World Vision and other churches providing similar support.

Doctors and nurses volunteered their time for a weekly

clinic, and the church provided medicines. The church had

held the weekly clinic before Operation Restore Order had

begun but was experiencing such an increase in demand, that

the last weekly clinic had completely wiped out the church,s

small store of medicines, which would normally last a few

weeks. Doctors without Borders also had volunteer staff in

the area and had visited the church.


4. (C) Nauende said the government had been trying to move

all the displaced into a large transit camp but that various

religious leaders had been resisting the removal, due to the

fact that the government had no facilities of any kind of

planned for the camp. So far, the churches had succeeded at

keeping the displaced on their grounds. Nauende said he was

very worried about water rationing by the city and that food

had been diverted from other programs to feed the newly

displaced but, thus far, the churches had been a powerful

force in protecting the people. World Vision,s Moyo echoed

concerns about diversion of food aid. He said that, if

famine struck as was probable, aid organizations would be in

a poor position to assist.



WOZA Tales of Displacement



5. (C) WOZA activists, including leader Jenni Williams, met

with the staffdel in a private home in an attempt to elude

CIO officers who track their activities. Members told their

stories of displacement and discussed the challenges the

group now faces. WOZA member Shingiria Mupani, a single

mother of six school-age children, said she had been a

trader, licensed by the City Council, since 1987 and had

lived in the high-density suburb of Old Pumula since 1996.

Police had descended on the market where she had had a stall

and confiscated her bags of vegetables as she was unloading

them. Later, police had forced her to dismantle her own home

and told her to go back to her rural home. Mupani was from

Buhera, but like many Ndebele her homestead had been

destroyed during the Gukurahundi. Subsequent to the

destructions of her home and business, she had been arrested

after a June 29 WOZA demonstration and her fingerprints taken

at the police station. She had been told that, even if she

were acquitted of the charges, the fingerprints on record

would prevent her from receiving one of the new housing plots

or vending stalls the government had promised. The other

women told similar stories.


6. (C) Mupani said that few Zimbabweans were demonstrating

against the operation because Zimbabweans had never had any

education in human rights and democracy and had a culture of

obeying leaders who held the responsibility for society,s

future. Although people rose up in the liberation struggle,

afterwards they thought the work had been done and they could

now trust their leaders. In addition, Zimbabweans beyond

those directly affected did not know what was going on.

Williams said WOZA needed a way to get pictures of what was

going on to others around the country in order to raise

awareness because no Zimbabwean media dared run them.


7. (C) Williams said Operation Restore Order was placing the

group under additional stress. She had not had contact with

many members since their displacements. Several of the women

were facing trial for one of their demonstrations and were

without legal representation because a human rights legal

fund had turned down their request for support, saying it did

not meet the definition of emergency aid. The women said

that they felt abandoned by others in civil society and by

the international community.



David Coltart on Operation, MDC Reaction



8. (C) MDC MP David Coltart arrived late for a meeting at his

offices on July 4. He said he had been at a meeting with

constituents for whose self-help projects he was trying to

find funding, and the meeting had run longer than expected

because there were so many new projects presented aimed at

relieving the effects of Restore Order.


9. (C) Coltart acknowledged that the MDC’s internal divisions

had prevented it from effectively opposing Restore Order. He

said there were many possible explanations for the operation.

He had heard a rumor that Solomon Mujuru was the driving

force behind Restore Order as a way of exerting Zezuru power

within the party. A second possibility was retribution

against constituencies that the MDC believed it had actually

won but had gone to ZANU-PF through fraud. Yet another was a

preemptive strike against simmering anger by the populace

concerning the deteriorating economic situation; the

operations would distract them and render them unable to

protest. Still another was that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

Governor Gideon Gono was the driving force in a move to

gather more foreign exchange. Finally, the operation was an

opportunity for the GOZ to extend its patronage to the cities

by getting rid of existing tenants and traders and giving out

plots of land and trading stalls only to the favored and

loyal. Coltart said that, whatever the motivations, the

government,s behavior during Restore Order was not an

accident or an aberration; it was calculated.






10. (C) The Bulawayo visit once more underscored the depth of

suffering Operation Restore Order has caused. Virtually no

part of the country has been untouched, but the operation has

had a particularly devastating effect on the Ndeble people

who predominate in and around Bulawayo. It brought back

memories of the horrors of the Gukurahundi and reminders of

just how brutal a regime Robert Mugabe created.




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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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