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Cablegate: Violence Increasingly Focused On Mdc Targets;

VZCZCXRO4594
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0606/01 1930848
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 110848Z JUL 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3167
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2139
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2259
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0795
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1536
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1894
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2315
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4746
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1405
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000606

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/S FOR S. HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI
SUBJECT: VIOLENCE INCREASINGLY FOCUSED ON MDC TARGETS;
POPULACE REMAINS INTIMIDATED

REF: HARARE 598

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) While violence appears to have subsided since the
June 27 election, particulary in Harare and Matabeleland,
there are pockets of violence throughout the rest of the
country, supported by the continuing presence of ZANU-PF
bases used for torture, beatings, and reeducation. In
addition to these pockets, post-election violence has been
targeted at individuals, particularly MDC officials and their
families. The result of this is an intimidated populace and
an exacerbated humanitarian problem as many IDPs are afraid
to return home. End Summary.

-------------------------------
Assessment of Violence Difficult
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) Assessing whether or not violence has decreased
since the June 27 Presidential election is a tricky task in
the current environment of repression and intimidation. With
the MDC's grassroots and leadership framework fractured
through the murder, hospitalization, hiding and displacement
of MPs, Senators, Councilors and party organizers, along with
activists and journalists, the ability of opposition and
civil society to compile and disseminate real-time
information regarding rural violence has been impeded.
Without the usual reporting networks, it is difficult to
definitively say if violence has truly declined in some areas
or just altered its form.

-------------------------------
A look at numbers and incidents
-------------------------------

3. (SBU) An analysis of NGO reporting of
politically-motivated deaths, injuries, and intimidation
indicates that the prevalence of incidents involving large
numbers of victims has fallen. Before the June 27 runoff,
entire communities in many areas of Zimbabwe were forced to
attend ZANU-PF rallies. At many of these rallies people were
beaten, tortured, and even killed. In addition,
"re-education camps" were used to hold dozens of MDC
activists who were tortured and indoctrinated. There are far
fewer reports of this kind of mass activity since June 27.
However, incidents of violence have not stopped. The most
recent detailed data of incidents runs through July 1, the
weekend of the election. Comparing election weekend data
(Friday-Sunday) with the weekend before reveals that there
were 18 incidents requiring medical attention confirmed on
election weekend, versus 25 over the previous weekend. Also,
the reports from election weekend are almost exclusively
limited to the Harare area, likely because of reporting and
travel constraints rather than an absence of incidents in
rural areas. The targets of the election-weekend violence
were almost exclusively those holding positions in the MDC
rather than just perceived MDC supporters, who were also a
prime target of the pre-June 27 violence. Because of
reporting difficulties, it is almost impossible to conduct an
accurate comparative analysis of violence before and after
the June 27 election at this early date.

4. (SBU) That said, post-election reports indicate that
violence has subsided considerably in Harare and ZANU-PF
bases used for beatings, torture, and reeducation have been
dismantled. Bulawayo and the two Matabeleland provinces
experienced relatively little pre-election violence and

HARARE 00000606 002 OF 003


remain mostly calm; there has been some sporadic violence.
Anecdotal reports from rural areas in the rest of the country
indicate pockets of violence and the continued presence of
ZANU-PF bases. In Midlands province, there are reports of
six murders on July 3, where relatives have reportedly been
denied access to bodies in the mortuary. In Gokwe, Midlands
province, on July 6, ZANU-PF youths and war veterans
reportedly attacked homeless MDC supporters who had gathered
together. There are reports of at least one death in the
incident, and many of the survivors fled into the forest.
Police impounded an ambulance that was en route to the scene
to help the victims. In Nyanga in Manicaland province on June
30, 34 people who had sought refuge at the local MDC
chairperson's farm were taken to the police station while
police "looked for arms" at the farm. In Masvingo province
on the same day, villagers were beaten by ZANU-PF youths and
war veterans who were looking for the six people who had
voted for MDC at the local polling station. We have also
received reports of violence directed against groups of MDC
supporters in the Mashonaland East communities of Mudzi and
Mutoko.

---------------------------------------
Intimidation having the intended effect
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) If the large-scale pre-election violence has
subsided, targeted violence and intimidation continues, much
of it directed against MDC officials and their families.
Fleeing death threats or trumped up charges, several MDC MP
candidates remain on the run, even with parliament scheduled
to convene next week. A Manicaland MP was abducted at
gunpoint on June 30 outside of the High Court where he had
gone for a hearing on an electoral challenge by the losing
candidate in the March 29 election. His wherabouts are still
unknown. One particularly violent murder was widely
publicized on Zimbabwean blogs on July 7. MDC driver for
Mashonaland West, Joshua Bakacheza, was abducted on June 25
in Harare along with another activist. The two were tortured
and questioned about their MDC activities, shot, and left for
dead. Bakacheza was shot three times and died, while the
other activist was shot once and survived. He dragged
himself to a nearby road and a good Samaritan drove him back
to town where he remained in a coma for one week. He was
then able to direct colleagues to Bakacheza's badly
decomposing, tortured body that remained in a field. Photos
of his body have been widely publicized online. While this
is just one of over one hundred murdered MDC activists and
supporters, the images have the intended effect of instilling
fear and intimidation in those who would dare to work for
change.

6. (SBU) In some areas, such as the Harare high-density
suburbs of Chitungwiza and Hatcliff, police have arrested
some of the ZANU-PF youth who perpetrated the violence
leading up to the June 27 runoff. However, perpetrators
generally remain free and have not faced any legal
consequences. This is one of the main reasons, in addition
to the loss of their homes and livelihoods, that thousands of
internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Harare refuse to go
home. They know who beat them or burned their homes down,
and they are terrified of facing them again in person.
Furthermore, the recent militia attack on the
government-sponsored IDP camp (reftel), only served to
confirm their fear and mistrust of government actors.

-------
COMMENT
-------


HARARE 00000606 003 OF 003


7. (SBU) In light of the ongoing political negotiations, it
is uncertain if the apparent lull in generalized violence
will continue or if, as some media outlets have suggested,
ZANU-PF will unleash its full force again on the general
population. The violence and intimidation directed against
major and minor actors in the MDC and civil society continues
to cripple their ability to organize or resist, and continues
to have a chilling effect on the mood in Zimbabwe. It also
impedes a resolution to the humanitarian crisis, as IDPs
remain afraid to return home. While we continue to monitor
the levels and types of violence across Zimbabwe, we remain
conscious that even if some categories of violence subside,
the intimidation factor remains utterly pervasive. END
COMMENT.
Dhanani

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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