Cablegate: Harare: Police Discontinue Coverage of U.S. Embassy Due To
P 141509Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3689
UNCLAS HARARE 001019
DEPARTMENT FOR DS/IP/AF, DS/IP/ITA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC AMGT ZI
SUBJECT: HARARE: POLICE DISCONTINUE COVERAGE OF U.S. EMBASSY DUE TO
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Zimbabwean Republic Police (ZRP) have suspended
police coverage of the U.S. Embassy due to complaints of working
conditions by the assigned officers. Two (2) police posts have been
vacated. ZRP coverage continues at USAID and the Public Affairs
Annex. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) In late October, RSO Harare communicated to ZRP
Headquarters that the two (2) assigned police officers to the U.S.
Embassy (Support Unit/Police Protection Unit) were periodically
late, disappearing for 1-2 hours, and on one occasion left a loaded,
automatic weapon unattended at their post.
3. (SBU) Approximately one (1) week later, ZRP mid-level supervisory
officers requested a meeting with the RSO to discuss the complaint.
In defense of their officers, the ZRP raised the issue of respect
and unacceptable working conditions at the US Embassy. The specific
complaint was that the assigned officers were forced to request
permission to enter the compound via the Embassy's contract guard
force and be escorted to/from the restroom. They also mentioned
that the officers were not permitted to carry their weapons (AK-47
type) while entering the Embassy. RSO Harare addressed these
various issues and in general terms explained our access control
policies to all of our properties. RSO highlighted the security
risks of having a weapon brought onto our compound, the rotating
staffing of ZRP officers every 3-4 days, and the location of the
bathroom being adjoning to the CAA building. RSO also mentioned
that the ZRP officers raise these issues approxiately every six
months, and compare the acces rules to the other Embassies in
Harare that thy cover. (RSO Note: Some Embassies allow unescorte
access with weapons, other provide stipends or free meals.) The
meeting concluded amicably, with the agreement that the ZRP would go
back to headquarters and draft a request for a reasonable solution.
4. (SBU) Two weeks ago, RSO was advised by a low-ranking police
sergeant that the ZRP Commissioner would be recalling police
coverage. He claimed he could offer no more information and that we
could call for specifics. The next morning, our FSNI was enroute to
Police Headquarters and noted that both police posts were vacated
(RSO NOTE: the ZRP only work day-shift at the Embassy).
5. (SBU) MGT Officer and RSO contacted and met with the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs soon afterwards, and were advised that the ZRP
Commissioner had passed the same complaints to the MFA and asked
that the MFA address the issues with the US Embassy. The MFA
officer responded very positively and agreed that some of the ZRP
allegations were unreasonable. He stated he would contact the ZRP
leadership and discuss the situation and present our positions on
access and security. He completely understood our rationale on
bringing weapons into the Embassy, and the justification of having
exterior postings for the only two (2) entrances to the Embassy.
6. (SBU) Today, two weeks later, the ZRP have not returned to the
Embassy, although they continue to cover USAID and PAS without
issue. This lack of support may be political in nature, or an
attempt to obtain food or money by the ZRP.
7. (SBU) The Embassy has delivered a Diplomatic Note of protest and
will continue to pursue this issue with the MFA.