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Cablegate: Business As Usual: Police Tear Gas Protesters,

VZCZCXRO5736
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0966/01 3011553
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271553Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3620
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2382
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2502
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1006
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1778
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2133
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2558
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4986
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1651
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000966

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/S FOR B. WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
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: BUSINESS AS USUAL: POLICE TEAR GAS PROTESTERS,
WOZA LEADERS DENIED BAIL

REF: A. HARARE 934
B. HARARE 592
C. HARARE 479

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) In the face of ongoing SADC-sponsored negotiations,
the GOZ continues to use violence to stifle free expression.
At 9:00 am this morning, several civil society groups led two
different protests of hundreds of people to the area outside
Rainbow Towers, the hotel where the negotiations were to
begin later in the morning, only to be greeted by police who
arrested and beat women and students and used tear gas to
break up their protests. Simultaneously in Bulawayo, leaders
of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were denied bail following
their arrest during a protest there on October 16. END
SUMMARY.

-----------------------------------------
Women Arrested While Praying for Zimbabwe
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On the morning of October 27, about 100 women --
wearing black and white to represent suffering and peace --
began to gather outside Rainbow Towers, the downtown Harare
hotel that has been home to the negotiations. Approximately
800 women from a dozen civil society organizations including
WOZA, Women's Alliance, the Combined Harare Residents'
Association (CHRA), the Progressive Teachers' Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ), the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), and the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers of
Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) planned to present a petition to the SADC
Troika at Rainbow Towers. Their message was "Finish the
talks, we are dying of hunger". When the first group of
women arrived, police denied them access to the Rainbow
Towers compound, and they retreated to a nearby field facing
the building where they began to pray while waiting for the
rest of the women to arrive. Shortly after they moved to the
nearby field, police dispersed the group with tear gas and
beat them with batons. They arrested at least 42 women.
Witnesses reported police beat passersby who were
coincidentally Qaring black or white. Counseling Services
Unit, a local NGO that treats victims of political violence,
estimates that about 20 women have sought medical attention
for their injuries. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
dispatched five lawyers to Harare Central police station,
where, seven hours later, police continue to deny them access
to the arrested women.

-------------------------------
Student March Met With Tear Gas
-------------------------------

3. (SBU) Simultaneously, Youth Agenda Trust led a
demonstration of about 200 students from Youth Forum, Student
Christian Movement of Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe National
Students Union (ZINASU) down one of Harare's main streets
towards Rainbow Towers. The students planned to present the
SADC Troika with a petition calling for a logical and
balanced power-sharing agreement and highlight the need for
SADC and the AU to pressure Mugabe to share power equitably
with Morgan Tsvangirai. The students handed out a half-page
flyer detailing their demands for a political solution.
While police initially let the students march peacefully,
riot police then fired tear gas grenades and beat up some of
the protesters as well as others who happened to be in the
busy downtown area. Riot police also had a water canon truck

HARARE 00000966 002 OF 003


on standby. ZLHR is looking for three students who were
reportedly arrested, but has not yet been able to locate them.

--------------------------------------------- --
After 12 Days in Jail, WOZA Leaders Denied Bail
--------------------------------------------- --

4. (SBU) Also on the morning of October 27, Bulawayo
magistrate Charity Maphosa denied bail to Jenni Williams and
Magodonga Mahlangu, leaders of Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA), in connection with their arrest on October 16. The
two were arrested when they led a protest of about 200 women
to the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo to demand
food aid and declaration of a national emergency. Williams
and Mahlangu appeared in court on October 17, facing charges
of disturbing the peace. Immediately before the initial
hearing, the state prosecutor and defense lawyer, Kossam
Ncube, set conditions and the amount of bail; the state
prosecutor said he would not oppose bail. However, when the
hearing started, a new prosecutor appeared and took over the
case.

5. (SBU) The state prosecutor proceeded to claim that the
two should be denied bail because of an outstanding case
pending against them, referring to a case that was removed
from remand in a Harare magistrate's court on October 15. In
that case, the magistrate told the state to come to court on
October 15 prepared to try 14 WOZA members in connection with
their May 28 arrest (reftels). When the prosecutor appeared
unprepared, the magistrate removed the case from remand.
(NOTE: Removing a case from remand means it is no longer
pending, although the state has not officially dropped the
charges. END NOTE.) In the October 17 hearing, the state
argued that Williams and Mahlangu should be denied bail
because their May 28 case was still pending. The magistrate
allowed the state prosecutor until October 21 to verify the
status of the May 28 case.

6. (SBU) In court on October 21, the state argued that the
two should be denied bail because of four different cases
against them dating back to 2004. The state called a police
detective, Sergeant Ncube, who testified that, in one of the
long-pending cases, he could not present Williams and
Mahlangu with a summons because he could never find them at
their stated addresses. The state went on to argue that the
two had committed similar offenses and were likely to do so
again. The prosecutor argued that the magistrate should
ignore the fact that their arrests had been for crimes that
were not serious. He also said that in a 2007 arrest,
Williams and Mahlangu had lied when asked if they had any
cases pending against them. (NOTE: The "pending" cases had
been removed from remand, which legally means they are no
longer pending. END NOTE.) The magistrate decided to
reserve judgment until October 24. On October 24, however,
the magistrate was unavailable and reported she was "forced"
to attend a workshop and could not deliver the verdict.

7. (SBU) After spending 11 days in jail, the magistrate
denied the two women bail on October 27, claiming the two had
two cases pending against them, making it likely they would
commit similar offenses again. She also noted that the
political climate in Zimbabwe means that "people are easily
excitable" and could be moved to violence if they saw a
demonstration. The defense will lodge an appeal to the High
Court.

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

HARARE 00000966 003 OF 003

8. (SBU) While the SADC Troika and Zimbabwe's politicians
meet, the Zimbabwean people are growing increasingly
impatient with the continued impasse. The beatings, arrests,
and denial of bail in clear contravention of the principles
set out in the September 15 agreement indicate business as
usual and lack of good faith on the part of ZANU-PF/GOZ.
Rule of law and respect for human rights and the provisions
of the September 15 agreement remain elusive in Zimbabwe.
END COMMENT.

MCGEE

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