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Cablegate: Zvobgo Death Leaves Void in Ruling Party

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

UNCLAS HARARE 001429

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D Copy - Missing lines

AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICAN DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C.GURNEY
PARIS FOR C.NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER


E.O. 12958 : N/A
TAGS: PGOV ZI ZANU PF
SUBJECT: ZVOBGO DEATH LEAVES VOID IN RULING PARTY

1.(U) Veteran nationalist and ZANU-PF Member of Parliament for
Masvingo South, Dr Eddison Jonas Mudadirwa Zvobgo died on August
22 at the age of 69 after a lengthy illness. The GOZ has declared
him a national hero; his funeral is scheduled for August 29 at
Heroes' Acre in Harare. Zvobgo, whose wife passed away earlier this
year, is survived by his seven children. Zvobgo was one of the
first beneficiaries of the African-American Institute scholarships
for Southern Africans in the early 1960's and studied at Tufts and
Harvard Universities.

2.(U) In recent years Zvobgo had fallen out of favor with President
Mugabe, a former friend with whom he worked closely through years of
civil war and early independence. He was awaiting investigation over
his outspoken criticism of the ZANU-PF. In March 2003, he shocked
members of parliament when he called for the establishment of an
anti-corruption commission. Zvobgo accused fellow ZANU-PF members of
seizing farms and state institutions of poisoning the nation with
corrupt practices.

3.(U) Zvobgo also played a crucial role on the Parliamentary Legal
Committee, which passes on the constitutionality of pending
legislation. Under Zvobgo's direction, the committee frequently issued
adverse reports on draconian legislation such as the 2002 Public Order
and Security Act, which was nonetheless passed and has since served as
the pretext for the routine arrests of Zimbabweans demonstrating agains
the GOZ.

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

4.(SBU) The country has lost an outspoken and intellectually powerfull
voice with Zvobgo's passing. A personal friend of the Ambassador datin
back to their student days together, he was trusted by the opposition
party and highly regraded by Zimbabweans as a whole. Like late
Vice-President Muzenda, Zvobgo was an especially popular figure in his
politically important Masvingo home province. Zvobgo's controversial
criticism of ZANU-PF insiders fueled intra-party divisions. The party
lacks anyone with the stature, integrity, and courage to assume his
mantle and his passing may present ZANU-PF with an opportunity to
fortify its unity in the run-up to the 2005 parliamentary elections.

SULLIVAN

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