INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Mdc Mp Masaiti Arrest

Published: Fri 23 Apr 2004 09:32 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 000693
SIPDIS
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ZI MDC
SUBJECT: MDC MP MASAITI ARREST
REF: A. HARARE 682
B. HARARE 553
1. (U) MDC Member of Parliament for Mutasa Evelyn Masaiti was
arrested in Mabvuku on April 17 on her way back from her
constituency for allegedly looting a shop owned by acting
Harare Mayor Sekesayi Makwavarara. Masaiti told poloff on
April 22 that she was driving from her constituency in
Manicaland back to Harare to attend the April 19 Independence
Day celebration when she was stopped by riot police in
Mabvuku. The police quizzed her about a soccer match the MDC
had organized in Mabvuku and, despite her protestations
arrested her. While she was in custody, Makwavarara's shop
in Mabvukhu was looted. Masaiti said she, her driver, and
another companion were beaten with batons by the riot police
while they were in police custody. The accused were
transfered to Harare Central Prison on April 19.
2. (U) Masaiti understood she was to be charged in the
looting and was scheduled to appear in court on April 20, but
the date was changed to April 21 after the State realized
Masaiti was in police custody during the looting. Masaiti
was subsequently charged with organizing a football match for
MDC supporters as a way of inciting the youth to protest
against the death of an MDC supporter in last month's Zengeza
by-election. She was released on Z$100,000 bail April 21 and
is scheduled to appear in court on April 29.
3. Comment: (U) In its comprehensive campaign to steamroll
the weakened opposition, ZANU-PF appears to be stepping up
its harassment of MDC MPs in the run-up to the 2005
Parliamentary elections. The MDC parliamentary membership
generally has been a heavily persecuted lot--more than half
have been arrested during their tenure, and most have been
physically assaulted and had their property destroyed. In an
apparent quid pro quo for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's
attendance of President Mugabe's opening of Parliament in
July 2003, attacks on opposition MPs ceased during the second
half of last hear. However, during the last four months,
three MPs--Masaiti, Roy Bennet (Ref A), Ben Tumbare-Mutasa
(Ref B)--have been arrested or harassed. End Comment.
SULLIVAN
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