Cablegate: Zimbabwe Input for 2008 President's Report On Agoa

DE RUEHSB #0203/01 0741058
R 141058Z MAR 08




E.O.12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Zimbabwe input for 2008 President's report on AGOA

RE: STATE 20082

1. Status: Not eligible, largely for reasons related to political
pluralism, economic reform, corruption, rule of law, and human

2. Market Economy/Economic Reform/Elimination of Trade Barriers:
The government pays lip service to Marxist economic principles but
has increasingly used ideology to mask growing official corruption.
Zimbabwe is an unattractive investment destination for most
foreigners and Zimbabweans alike. The IMF estimates the
government's budget deficit at more than 60 percent of GDP
(including quasi-fiscal activities), and predicted that inflation
would end 2007 at 150,000 percent, which it indeed reached according
to reliable private sector estimates. The Reserve Bank's decision
to fix the exchange rate despite the country's hyperinflation has
undermined what is left of the country's export sector and caused
foreign exchange scarcity, fueling a parallel foreign exchange
market. Zimbabwe's IMF voting rights remain suspended and the
government has shown no political will to implement the
comprehensive package of macroeconomic and structural reforms
required for their restoration and to regain eligibility for IMF
technical assistance and lending. The country is not servicing its
large external debt and is falling further into arrears.

3. Political Pluralism/Rule of Law/Anti-Corruption: The
government, dominated by President Robert Mugabe and the ruling
ZANU-PF party since independence, continued to resort to brute force
to perpetuate its rule. The opposition and civil society operated
in an environment of state-sponsored intimidation and violence.
Unlawful killings and politically motivated abductions occurred.
Security forces used arbitrary arrest and detention, excessive
force, and torture to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
Elections in 2002 and 2005 were neither free nor fair as the
government and the ruling ZANU-PF party, which controls the
electoral machinery, used violence, intimidation and vote rigging to
affect the outcomes. The government's assault on human rights and
democracy increased significantly during the year despite a regional
initiative to improve Zimbabwe's political environment for
presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008. Security forces
and ruling party supporters targeted political opposition party
leaders in a brutal and systematic campaign to dismantle opposition
structures. Government voter registration and education efforts
were woefully inadequate. The opposition's access to the media and
rights to freedom of association and free speech were curtailed.
Government efforts to influence and intimidate the judiciary have
seriously eroded independence and undermined the rule of law.
Senior government officials and police have willfully defied court
orders that are not politically acceptable to the ruling party. The
government and ruling party have closed independent news media in
recent years. Corruption in government is endemic. The government
has redistributed expropriated commercial farms to the ruling party
elite and granted them privileged access to foreign exchange and
fuel. The government-appointed Anti-Corruption Commission,
established in 2005, has yet to register any notable
accomplishments. The government prosecutes individuals selectively,
focusing on those who have fallen out of favor with the ruling party
and ignoring transgressions by favored elite. Lengthy pretrial
detention is also a problem.

4. Poverty Reduction: The government maintains several programs
that ostensibly provide food or basic services to the poor.
However, the programs are grossly under-funded and their
implementation is often influenced by politics, with areas
represented by the opposition disadvantaged. Moreover, the
government's economic policies have caused most Zimbabweans to grow
progressively poorer. Human development indicators that were once
among the best in sub-Saharan Africa have deteriorated sharply.
Zimbabweans will face acute food shortages again this year.

5. Labor/Child Labor/Human Rights: The government lacks the
commitment and resources necessary to enforce labor standards
effectively. It frequently uses repressive laws and intimidation to
limit workers' right to organize and hold labor union meetings. The
government continued to harass the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), the country's largest trade union, and its leadership. In
September 2006, police arrested and severely beat several senior
leaders of ZCTU for their role in planning a peaceful demonstration.
In September 2007, police arrested three ZCTU members for
distributing flyers about a labor action and reportedly beat them.
On February 19, 2008, ZANU-PF supporters abducted nine members of
the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), a ZCTU
affiliate, during a peaceful demonstration in Harare. The group was
taken into the ZANU-PF Harare province headquarters and severely
assaulted for more than an hour with clenched fists, booted feet,
and iron rods. Their assailants accused them of supporting main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Police later
picked up the PTUZ members from the ZANU-PF offices and took them to
the Harare Central Police station before eventually taking them to
the hospital for medical attention. Police charged several PTUZ
members with "criminal nuisance." The government has taken steps to
marginalize the traditional unions and the formal labor dispute
resolution mechanism. There have been attempts to supplant

HARARE 00000203 002 OF 002

legitimate labor leaders with hand-picked supporters. Zimbabwe has
ratified all eight core ILO Conventions. In October 2007, the
Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare signed a
Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO to collaborate on a
multi-phased program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child
Labor, which was expected to address child labor issues and the
implementation of ILO Convention 182, including activities
pertaining to the prevention of child labor and the protection of
working children. However, the government's commitment to
children's rights and welfare remains weak. Children work in
agriculture, street vending, and as domestic servants. There are
reports that an increasing number of girls are involved in
prostitution, especially in border towns. Primary education is not
compulsory, free, or universal for any children, and an increasing
number of Zimbabwean children have fallen out of the education
system. The government continues to evict citizens forcibly and to
demolish homes; and it uses repressive laws to suppress freedom of
speech, press, assembly, movement, and association. Security forces
arbitrarily arrested and detained journalists, demonstrators, and
religious leaders and reportedly tortured members of the opposition,
union leaders, and civil society activists. There were also reports
of unlawful killings and politically motivated kidnappings.


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