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Cablegate: Zimbabwe - Goz Suspends Care Activities

VZCZCXRO8820
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0475/01 1541310
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021310Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2965
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1274

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000475

AIDAC
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DCHA/AA FOR MIKE HESS
AFR/AA FOR KATE ALMQUIST AND FRANKLIN MOORE
AFR/SA FOR ELOKEN, LDOBBINS, JKOLE
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, ACONVERY, TDENYSENKO, LTHOMAS
DCHA/FFP FOR JBORNS, JDWORKEN, LPETERSON, ASINK
PRETORIA FOR JWESSEL, GJUSTE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PGOV KHIV PGOV PREL ZI
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE - GOZ SUSPENDS CARE ACTIVITIES

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SUMMARY
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1. (U) After months of harassment of the non-governmental
organization (NGO) CARE's staff by "war veterans," military and
other officials, Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) Minister Nicholas
Goche informed CARE on May 28 to immediately suspend its operations.
Goche accused CARE staff of meddling in political activities
favoring the opposition, and said CARE would be suspended until
investigations were completed. CARE is pursuing further
clarification regarding terms of the suspension and the
investigation process, but it seems clear the suspension will last
at least until the Presidential run-off election scheduled for June
27. CARE believes, based on the Minister's comments that he intends
to suspend other NGOs as well. This comes at a time when CARE and
other NGOs have been trying to meet acute humanitarian needs of
thousands of people displaced by political violence and
intimidation.

----------
BACKGROUND
----------

2. (U) CARE has been providing assistance to Zimbabwe for many
years, and has been one of the major players in responding to the
humanitarian crisis that has existed since 2002. CARE receives
funding from several donors, including support from USAID's Office
of Food for Peace`}T-poxn for Democratic Change (MDC) won the majority of seats in
the March 29 parliamentary elections. Not surprisingly, these areas
in Masvingo where MDC candidates won have been particularly hard hit
by the post-election wave of violence.

3. (U) Shortly after the March 29 elections, in several separate
incidents, CARE offices in various districts and at the provincial
level in Masvingo received demands to stop operations and threats to
staff by persons identifying themselves as "war veterans" and
out-of-uniform military officers. These people repeatedly made
claims (unspecified and unsubstantiated) that CARE staff was
engaging in political activities in support of the MDC, essentially
scapegoating CARE for ZANU-PF's political defeats.

4. (U) To try to resolve the problem, CARE had several
communications, through meetings and letters, with various GOZ
officials over the past two months, including Masvingo Governor
Chiwewe. While Governor Chiwewe repeated the same vague allegations
that CARE staff was engaging in political activities in support of
the MDC, as recently as May 19, he sent CARE a letter stating that
the GOZ had NOT stopped CARE's activities and would continue to
support its programs. However, two days later CARE was informed by
a Department head within the Ministry of Public Service, Labor and
Social Welfare (MPSLSW) that the issue had been taken up to Cabinet
level and that CARE would need to meet with the MPSLSW Minister,
Nicholas Goche.

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MEETING WITH MINISTER GOCHE
---------------------------

5. (U) On May 28, CARE met with Minister Goche. Goche made several
allegations against CARE: (1) that CARE had stopped activities
before the elections (for political reasons); (2) that one of the
GOZ vice presidents had shown him election campaign pamphlets that
CARE was distributing; (3) that CARE told people that voting for
ZANU-PF was "suicide"; and (4) that CARE had violated their MOU with
the MPSLSW. Goche then concluded that while these allegations were
being looked into, all CARE operations would be suspended. The
Minister also told CARE that he planned to call other NGOs to a
meeting to suspend their activities.

--------------------------
FOLLOW-UP AND IMPLICATIONS
--------------------------

6. (SBU) CARE FOLLOW-UP: CARE intends to write a letter to
Minister Goche seeking to clarify: (1) the terms of the suspension
(e.g., permissible levels of field presence and staff movement), and
(2) the investigation process (e.g., timeframes and what CARE can do
to expedite the process). CARE also plans to raise the issue
through the UN channel to seek support. At this point CARE is not

HARARE 00000475 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) UNHC FOLLOW-UP: The CARE issue was raised by the UN
Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) at a UN/Donors Group Meeting on May
29. The HC also reported that the Minister planned to call a few
other NGOs to a meeting on June 2 and suspend their activities as
well. The HC listed specific NGOs that would be targeted, although
this was based on speculation and not on information provided by
Goche. These NGOs included SCF/UK, Concern, Plan International,
Oxfam and World Vision. (NOTE: To date, we have no reports of other
NGOs being summoned. END NOTE.) Finally, the HC assured donors that
he would take the issue up with the GOZ at the highest level
necessary.

8. (U) FIELD IMPACTS: The USAID-supported CARE activities affected
include school feeding, institutional feeding, and food-for-assets
projects. Other donor-funded activities put on hold include
agricultural support programs, home-based care, OVC activities,
water/sanitation, and micro-credit. CARE was also part of a joint
response to address recent acute needs of people displaced by
political violence and intimidation. CARE did not have plans to do
large-scale food distribution (Vulnerable Group Feeding) until
August so this area is not impacted for the moment by the GOZ's
actions.

WARREN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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