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.
Viewing cable 05GABORONE1092, BOTSWANA CSOs CONDEMN MUGABE’S ABUSES
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
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UNCLAS GABORONE 001092
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E.O. 12958: N/A
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
¶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