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Cablegate: Former President Canaan Banana Sentenced To

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


UNCLASSIFIED PTO3308

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UNCLASSIFIED

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TAGS: PHUM PGOV ZI
SUBJECT: FORMER PRESIDENT CANAAN BANANA SENTENCED TO
ONE-YEAR IMPRISONMENT FOR SODOMY

1. ON MAY 29, THE ZIMBABWE SUPREME COURT UPHELD A HIGH
COURT CONVICTION OF ZIMBABWE'S FORMER NON-EXECUTIVE
PRESIDENT CANAAN BANANA (1980-1987), SENTENCING HIM TO
ONE-YEAR IMPRISONMENT FOR 11 COUNTS OF SEXUAL OFFENSES.
BANANA WAS CONVICTED IN THE HIGH COURT IN JANUARY 1999 FOR
11 COUNTS OF SODOMY, ARISING OUT OF CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST
HIM IN 1997 BY HIS FORMER AIDE-DE- CAMP, JEFTA DUBE. THE
SODOMY CHARGES AGAINST BANANA FIRST SURFACE IN DURING
DURING DUBE'S TRAIL FOR MURDERING A POLICEMAN IN 1997 WHO
HAD CALLED HIM BANANA'S "WIFE." DUBE PLEADED MENTAL
INCAPACITY DUE TO THE YEARS OF SEXUAL ABUSE BY BANANA AND
WAS SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS IMPRISONMENT. FOLLOWING BANANA'S
HIGH COURT CONVICTION, DUBE APPLIED FOR A PRESIDENTIAL
PARDON.

2. THE SUPREME COURT RULED THAT ALTHOUGH THE ZIMBABWE
CONSTITUTION DID NOT MAKE SODOMY A CRIME, THE PRACTICE WAS
ILLEGAL UNDER THE COMMON LAW. THE COURT, HOWEVER, REDUCED
THE HIGH COURT SENTENCES IMPOSED ON EACH OF THE 11 COUNTS,
SUSPENDING THE JAIL SENTENCES ON SEVERAL CHARGES OF SODOMY
AND INDECENT ASSAULT, ON THE CONDITION THAT BANANA NOT
COMMIT THE SAME CRIME IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS. BANANA WAS,
HOWEVER, SENTENCED TO FIVE YEARS FOR THE NUMEROUS
"UNNATURAL OFFENSES" AGAINST DUBE, WITH TWO YEARS SUSPENDED
FOR THREE YEARS ON THE CONDITION THAT HE PAID APPROXIMATELY
USD 89 RESTITUTION TO DUBE BY AUGUST 31. THE SUPREME COURT
EFFECTIVELY ONLY ORDERED THAT THE FORMER PRESIDENT SERVE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HARARE 02906 011337Z
ONE-YEAR INCARCERATED.

3: BANANA'S CONVICTION IS THE FIRST TIME A SENIOR
GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL HAS BEEN PROSECUTED FOR A CRIME
INVOLVING HOMOSEXUALITY. BANANA CONTINUES TO MAINTAIN THAT
HIS CONVICTION WAS "POLITICALLY MOTIVATED" AND HE HAS
DECLINED TO REVEAL WHETHER HE WOULD APPLY FOR A
PRESIDENTIAL PARDON. DURING BANANA'S APPEAL PERIOD,
HOWEVER, WE HAVE SEEN NO EVIDENCE OF ANY HARASSMENT
DIRECTED AT THE FORMER PRESIDENT. SINCE JANUARY 1997
BANANA HAS BEEN FREE TO TRAVEL ABROAD FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT
AND HAS NOT BEEN SUBJECTED TO ANY EXTREME BAIL RESTRICTIONS
OR OTHER HARDSHIPS. NEVERTHELESS, PRESIDENT MUGABE HAS
CONSISTENTLY ATTACKED HOMOSEXUALS AS "PIGS AND DOGS" AND
HAS DESCRIBED SUCH SEXUAL ORIENTATION AS AGAINST AFRICAN
CULTURE. THIS VEHEMENT ANTI-GAY STANCE WILL MAKE IT
DIFFICULT FOR HIM TO NOW PARDON HIS CLOSE ALLY. ZIMBABWEAN
SOCIETY REMAINS GENERALLY HOSTILE TOWARDS GAY PEOPLE,
ALTHOUGH NOT VIOLENT, AS EVIDENCED IN THE PUBLIC'S
RELUCTANCE TO ADDRESS HOMOSEXUAL CONCERNS DURING THE
NATIONAL DEBATES DURING LAST YEAR'S CONSTITUTIONAL
REFERENDUM OUTREACH MEETINGS. FOLLOWING THE HIGH COURT
CONVICTION, MANY PEOPLE INDICATED THAT BANANA'S SENTENCE
WAS TOO LENIENT, BUT EXPRESSED SATISFACTION THAT AT LEAST
HE DID NOT TOTALLY ESCAPE PUNISHMENT FOR HIS CRIMES.

MCDONALD

UNCLASSIFIED

>

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