Cablegate: Zim Notes 7-3-2008
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0601/01 1900824
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080824Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3155
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2007
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2128
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2248
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0786
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1525
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1883
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2304
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4735
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1394
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000601
AF/S FOR S.HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN
TREASURY FOR J.RALYEA AND T.RAND
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN
COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI
SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 7-3-2008
Topics of the week:
- Mugabe won...
- State of Negotiations...
- African Media Experts Slam Media Environment...
- Lead Complainants in SADC Tribunal Farm Case Abducted, Beaten...
- USAP Students Earn Over US$5 Million in Scholarships...
- Inflation Soars...
- Supply of Bank Note Paper Halted...
- Expanding Asset Bubble...
- Bread-A Luxury...
- People's Shops-No Panacea for the Multifarious Poor...
- Newspaper Price Decontrolled...
- IMF Advice to Zimbabwe...
2. Price Movements-Exchange Rate
and Selected products
Parallel rate for cash climbed to Z$26 billion:US$1 against
inter-bank average of Z$14.3 billion:US$1
Bank transfer rate is Z$70 billion:US$1; official rate:
Bread on the parallel market more than doubled to Z$20 billion vs.
controlled price of Z$400 million
Sugar doubled to Z$50 billion/2kg vs. controlled price of Z$8
Cooking oil trebled to Z$50 billion/750ml vs. controlled price of
Petrol and diesel doubled to Z$35 billion/liter vs. controlled price
On the Political/Social Front
3. Mugabe won... Reacting to Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's
claimed victory in the June 27 runoff election both the Pan African
Parliament (PAP) observer group and the SADC observer group issued
statements that the pre-electoral environment precluded free and
fair elections (PAP) and that the election did not reflect the will
of the Zimbabwean people (SADC). The African Union (AU) group said
that the election did not meet AU standards. See Harare 573.
4. State of Negotiations... See Harare 582, 583 and 585 for the
two MDC factions' take on negotiations with ZANU-PF.
5. African Media Experts Slam Media Environment... African media
experts found freedom of expression severely constrained in Zimbabwe
during their June 8-13 visit here. The experts, drawn from renowned
freedom of expression groups from across Sub-Saharan Africa, noted
that the media operated under tremendous pressure and harassment
from the state and security agents, as well as from youth militia,
ZANU PF supporters, and war veterans. They confirmed state-owned
media bias and the wide use of hate language. They also noted that
many journalists exercised self-censorship, depriving the public of
crucial voter information. Full report at
HARARE 00000601 002 OF 003
6. Lead Complainants in SADC Tribunal Farm Case Abducted, Beaten...
On June 27, thugs abducted and beat Mike Campbell, his spouse, and
son-in-law, until 66-year old Mrs. Campbell agreed that the family
would withdraw its land case from the SADC Tribunal. The Campbells
and several dozen other white commercial farmers are seeking to halt
compulsory land acquisition in Zimbabwe. Responding to the
brutality, which was widely reported in the international press,
Police chief spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the perpetrators
were "not political," but rather common criminals taking advantage
of the presidential run-off.
7. USAP Students Earn Over US$5 Million in Scholarships...
Nineteen highly talented, economically-disadvantaged local students
in the Embassy's United States Student Achievers Program
(www.usapglobal.org) have earned over US$5 million in financial aid
offers to attend top colleges in the US on full scholarship,
including Amherst, Brown, Connecticut College, Harvard, Mount
Holyoke, Penn, Reed, St Lawrence, Vassar, Williams and Yale.
On the Economic and Business Front
8. Inflation Soars... Zimbabwe's year-on-year rate of inflation
reached dizzying heights in June, underpinned by the continued
increase in the rate of growth in money supply as well as shortages
of basic commodities. Figures leaked from the Central Statistical
Office put the year-on-year rate of inflation for the period to June
20, 2008 at over 9 million percent, while the month-on-month rate
was 862 percent. However, reliable private sector estimates put
inflation in June at just above 50 million percent for high- and
middle-income earners. In response, the RBZ raised its overnight
accommodation rates this week from 6,500% and 7,500% to 8,500% and
9,500% for secured and unsecured borrowings respectively. The
measure is unlikely to yield the desired effect, as few companies
will borrow at such rates. Government borrowing--the main driver of
the explosion in money supply--is likely to continue in the absence
of a credible reform program.
9. Supply of Bank Note Paper Halted... In a related development,
the German bank note printer Giesecke & Devrient stopped supplying
Zimbabwe with bank note paper this week. In a press statement on
July 1, the company said the move, effective immediately, was in
response to an official request from the German government and to
calls for sanctions on Zimbabwe by the EU. We expect this
development to result in a decline in the rate of increase in
currency in circulation, which is likely to lead to cash shortages.
Not coincidentally, the cash and bank transfer exchange rates
diverged sharply this week, and long bank queues reappeared even
after the RBZ increased the daily cash withdrawal limit from Z$25
million (roughly US$1) to Z$100 billion. True to form, RBZ Governor
Gono blithely announced that "appropriate measures and strategies"
were in place to protect business from any adverse affects of the
10. Expanding Asset Bubble... The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)
broke all records again this week. The benchmark industrial index
rose by over 75 percent while the mining index rose by about 90
percent in a bubble fuelled by the continued rapid depreciation of
the currency on the street and very unfavorable yields on the money
11. Bread-A Luxury... Zimbabwe's bread shortage grew dire this
week as bakers began giving up their struggle to remain profitable
under price controls, depleted wheat stocks, and rising input
prices. Lobels, the country's second largest bread manufacturer,
shut down production this week, and the largest baker's ovens have
HARARE 00000601 003 OF 003
been cold for the past two days.
12. People's Shops-No Panacea for the Multifarious Poor... In the
past two weeks the GOZ opened numerous "People's Shops," allegedly
to provide ordinary Zimbabweans access to staples at sub-economic
controlled prices. The goods are otherwise only available at
exorbitant prices on the parallel market. In Harare's high-density
satellite of Chitungwiza, the People's Shops are reportedly bumping
civil servants and war veterans to the head of the line and allowing
them to buy in bulk, while all other sales are capped at Z$5
billion. Some of the items have found their way onto the parallel
market. Operating at irregular hours, long lines of expectant
shoppers wrap around the shops. In some cases this week, customers
have had to show red ink on their finger-proof that they voted-to
13. Newspaper Price Decontrolled... In a move to save the
newspaper industry from collapse, the GOZ scrapped newspaper price
controls. The price of the Financial Gazette jumped from Z$800
million to Z$20 billion; The Herald shot to Z$8 billion from Z$200
14. IMF Advice to Zimbabwe... In its June 30, paper "The Balance
of Payments Impact of the Food and Fuel Price Shocks on Low-Income
African Countries: A Country-by-Country Assessment," the one-page
assessment of Zimbabwe stated that price controls on food items lead
to shortages and to higher rather than lower inflation, and the
current practice of distributing government imported fuel
practically for free leads to rent-seeking and corruption. Full
report available at
15. Erratum... Flummoxed by the proliferating zeros, regrettably
we misreported the bank transfer rate of exchange in the last two
editions of ZimNotes: it was Z$19 billion:US$1 on June 20 and Z$39
billion:US$1 on June 27.