Zimbabwe ambassador told not to intimidate activists


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Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Botswana Phelekezela Mphoko was told by a Botswana businessman not to intimidate Zimbabwean activists attending a human rights seminar there after he told the audience not to listen to their lies.

The seminar had been organised by the Botswana Centre for Human Rights, also known as Ditshwanelo, and was attended by several Zimbabwean activists including human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa; Bishop Trevor Manhanga; and Jenni Williams of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA.

They described the Mugabe regime’s disregard for the rule of law, the catastrophic impact of Operation Restore Order upon Zimbabwe’s urban poor, and the systematic persecution of those who demand the right to assemble and speak freely.

After Mphoko implored the audience not to believe the panellists’ alleged “lies”, Gobe Matenge, a wealthy supporter of the Botswana Congress Party, censured the ambassador for attempting to “intimidate” the panel and expressed fear for what would happen to them when they returned to Zimbabwe.

Joyce Anderson, director of Emang Basadi, the leading women’s rights body in Botswana, demanded thrice that the ambassador apologise to the assembly and also wondered aloud whether the panellists would return to their homes safely.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05GABORONE1092, BOTSWANA CSOs CONDEMN MUGABE’S ABUSES

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05GABORONE1092

2005-08-05 08:55

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Gaborone

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

 

050855Z Aug 05

 

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FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE

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UNCLAS GABORONE 001092

 

SIPDIS

 

 

AF/S FOR MUNCY

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PHUM PREL ZI BC SADC

SUBJECT: BOTSWANA CSOs CONDEMN MUGABE’S ABUSES

 

 

1. SUMMARY: Civil society organizations in Botswana are

looking for ways to support the struggle against despotism

in Zimbabwe. At a half-day workshop on human rights abuses

in Zimbabwe, representatives of churches, political parties

and NGOs condemned the Mugabe regime’s atrocities and asked

a panel of human rights activists from Zimbabwe how they

could assist in that struggle. Mission will encourage both

the GOB and Botswana civil society to use the platform

provided by the August 17-18 SADC Summit to address the

crisis of governance in Zimbabwe. END SUMMARY

 

2. The Botswana Center for Human Rights, also known as

Ditshwanelo, hosted a half-day workshop on human rights

abuses in Zimbabwe on August 4. A panel of Zimbabweans

including human rights lawyer Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa; Bishop

Trevor Manhanga; and Mrs. Jennifer Williams of Women of

Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) addressed the audience. They

described the Mugabe regime’s disregard for the rule of law,

the catastrophic impact of Operation Restore Order upon

Zimbabwe’s urban poor, and the systematic persecution of

those who demand the right to assemble and speak freely.

 

3. Following the panel’s presentation, Zimbabwe’s

Ambassador to Botswana rose to implore the attendees not to

believe the panelists alleged “lies.” Mr. Gobe Matenge, a

wealthy supporter of the Botswana Congress Party, censured

the Ambassador for attempting to “intimidate” the panel and

expressed fear for what would happen to them when they

returned to Zimbabwe. Joyce Anderson, Director of Emang

Basadi, the leading women’s rights NGO in Botswana, demanded

thrice that the Ambassador apologize to the assembly and

also wondered aloud whether the panelists would return to

their homes safely.

 

4. Aside from denouncing the Ambassador’s flimsy defense of

the GOZ’s policies and practices, several participants asked

the panelists what they could do to support demands

fundamental change in Zimbabwe. Mr. Modise Maphanyane,

Director of the Botswana chapter of the Media Institute of

Southern Africa, insisted that the seminar not end in talk

but lead to some kind of constructive action.

Representatives of two different religious organizations

echoed this desire to assist those demanding that the GOZ

respect their human rights.

 

5. Noting that Gaborone would host the SADC Summit later

this month, they again asked what could be done to help.

Prince Dibeela, a priest at the Botswana synod of the United

Congregational Church of Southern Africa, noted that

President Mogae and President Mbeki had “failed us” by

consistently refusing to acknowledge abuses in Zimbabwe and

by pursuing “silent diplomacy.” He opined that civil

society needed to bring pressure upon them to insist upon

respect for democracy and human rights. Ditshwanelo plans

to prepare a report based on the workshop for distribution

at the SADC Summit and as contribution to deliberations by

regional NGOs who will meet in Gaborone shortly before the

Summit.

 

6. COMMENT: Post will continue to advocate a more

constructive approach to the crisis in Zimbabwe by

encouraging the GOB and civil society to use the August 17-

18 SADC Summit in Gaborone as a platform to demand that the

GOZ respect for the principles of democracy and human

rights.

AROIAN

 

 

NNNN

(5 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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