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Cablegate: National Constitutional Assembly Peace Rally

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

151615Z May 00


UNCLASSIFIED PTO3169

PAGE 01 HARARE 02609 151611Z
ACTION AF-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-01 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 SMEC-00
INL-01 DODE-00 DOEE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EB-00 EUR-01
UTED-00 VC-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01
L-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01
PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00 STR-00
TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-01 DRL-02
G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /014W
------------------570AC2 151616Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6049
INFO AMEMBASSY LILONGWE
AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY PARIS

UNCLAS HARARE 002609

SIPDIS

LONDON FOR PFLAUMER
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KDEM ZI
SUBJECT: NATIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY PEACE RALLY
UNCLASSIFIED


PAGE 02 HARARE 02609 151611Z
VIOLENTLY DISRUPTED BY THE POLICE AND WAR VETERANS

1. ON MAY 13, THE CIVIL SOCIETY UMBRELLA ORGANIZATION, THE
NATIONAL CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY'S (NCA), "PEACE RALLY,"
WHICH WAS TO BE HELD IN HARARE'S SPORTS STADIUM, WAS
DISRUPTED AFTER THE POLICE AND ABOUT 50 WAR VETERANS
VIOLENTLY DISPERSED PEOPLE ATTEMPTING TO ENTER THE VENUE.
EYEWITNESSES TOLD EMBOFFS THAT THE VETERANS BEGAN BEATING
THOSE ATTENDING THE RALLY WITH STICKS, IRON BARS, AND
STONES. ATTENDEES AT THE ABORTED RALLY, INCLUDING AN FSN
AND MISSION EMPLOYEE, REPORT THAT THE POLICE, WORKING IN
CONJUNCTION WITH THE WAR VETERANS, TOLD THE GATHERING CROWD
THAT THE MEETING WAS CANCELED. THE GOVERNMENT-INFLUENCED
"THE HERALD" NEWSPAPER, AND THE ZIMBABWE BROADCASTING
CORPORATION (ZBC) REPORTED THAT THE NCA RALLY HAD "FLOPPED"
BECAUSE OF POOR ATTENDANCE AND MADE LITTLE MENTION OF THE
REPORTS OF POLICE AND WAR VETERANS THREATENING AND
DISPERSING THE NCA CROWD EVEN BEFORE THE RALLY BEGAN. THE
INDEPENDENTLY OWNED "THE SUNDAY STANDARD", HOWEVER, CARRIED
A TOTALLY CONTRADICTORY HEADLINE ACCUSING THE POLICE AND
WAR VETS OF ATTACKING THE NCA.

2. SEVERAL CONTACTS REPORTED THAT THE WAR VETERANS ARRIVED
IN TWO "ZANU-PF TRUCKS" AT THE STADIUM, TWO HOURS BEFORE
THE RALLY AND BEGAN TO BEAT UP AND HARASS THE NCA ADVANCE
SECURITY TEAM AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC WHO HAD BEGUN
TO ASSEMBLE AS EARLY AS 8 AM. THE NCA NATIONAL
COORDINATOR, ISAAC MAPHOSA, TOLD EMBOFFS THAT TWO
SYMPATHETIC CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS (CIO) HAD COME TO
THE NCA OFFICE AT 9:00 AM ON THE DAY OF THE RALLY TO INFORM
HIM OF "ZANU-PF'S PLAN" TO DISRUPT THE RALLY. MAPHOSA
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HARARE 02609 151611Z
IMMEDIATELY RUSHED TO THE STADIUM TO CHECK ON THE SITUATION
AND FOUND PANDEMONIUM, AS PEOPLE WERE FLEEING FROM THE WAR
VETERANS WHO WERE ATTACKING THEM. MAPHOSA SAID THAT SOME
NCA MEMBERS QUICKLY FLED THE SCENE WITH HIM IN HIS VEHICLE,
AT WHICH POINT THE WAR VETERANS IMMEDIATELY CHASED THE NCA
COORDINATOR'S CAR. THE VETS PURSUED THE NCA MEMBERS IN
THEIR OWN VEHICLE FOR MORE THAN 20 MINUTES THROUGH THE CITY
CENTER UNTIL THE NCA GROUP MANAGED TO ESCAPE FROM THEM.

3. MEANWHILE, AT THE STADIUM, THE POLICE CONTINUED TURNING
AWAY THE NCA SUPPORTERS, INCLUDING A LARGE NUMBER OF
UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE STUDENTS WHO HAD COME INTO TOWN,
INFORMING THEM THAT THE RALLY HAD BEEN CANCELED. THE NCA
LEADERS ALSO TOLD EMBOFFS THAT THERE WERE TWO BUSES FULL OF
ZANU-PF SUPPORTERS AT THE RULING PARTY'S HEADQUARTERS
WAITING TO BE TRANSPORTED TO THE NCA RALLY TO DISRUPT THE
PROCEEDINGS. IN LIGHT OF THIS INFORMATION, THE NCA
LEADERSHIP CONCLUDED THAT IT WAS NO LONGER SAFE TO CONTINUE
WITH THE RALLY AND THEN CANCELED IT.

4. COMMENT: THE NCA'S MAY 13 RALLY WAS THE FIRST MASS
ACTION THE ORGANIZATION HAS ATTEMPTED SINCE WAR VETERANS
AND ZANU-PF YOUTH ATTACKED A PEACEFUL NCA MARCH THROUGH
DOWNTOWN HARARE ON APRIL 1, SERIOUSLY INJURING SEVERAL
PEOPLE. THIS LATEST ATTACK LENDS MORE SUBSTANCE TO
ACCUSATIONS THAT ZANU-PF IS CONTINUING TO ENGAGE IN VICIOUS
PHYSICAL ASSAULTS ON OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS, AS WELL AS
ESCALATING ITS VITRIOLIC CAMPAIGN AGAINST ANYONE DEEMED TO
BE OPPOSED TO THE GOVERNMENT. CONSEQUENTLY, THE RULING
PARTY IS MOVING TO THWART ANY DISSENT OR PUBLIC PROTEST OF
ANY KIND. THE NCA, HOWEVER, HAS VOWED NOT TO BE SILENCED
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HARARE 02609 151611Z
BY THE WAR VETERANS AND SAYS IT WILL FIND OTHER WAYS OF
PROTESTING THE POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND LACK OF DEMOCRACY IN
ZIMBABWE IN THE RUN-UP TO THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION.

MCDONALD

UNCLASSIFIED

>

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