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Cablegate: May 23 U.N.-Sponsored Dialogue with Finance

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 HARARE 001270

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

AIDAC

STATE FOR AF/S FOR KRAFT AND DELISI

BRUSSELS FOR USEU

USAID/W FOR AFR/SA POE, WILLIAMS AND COPSON; AFR/SD FOR
WHELAN; DCHA/FFP FOR PETERSEN, SKORIC AND BRAUSE; BHR/OFDA
FOR BRYAN, HANDAGLE AND MARX
GENEVA PLEASE PASS TO UNOCHA, IFRC

ROME PLEASE PASS TO FODAG

NAIROBI PLEASE PASS TO USAID/REDSO/FFP AND OFDA/ARO

PRETORIA PLEASE PASS TO USDA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL PGOV ZI
SUBJECT: MAY 23 U.N.-SPONSORED DIALOGUE WITH FINANCE
MINISTER MAKONI ON FOOD POLICY

REF: (A) HARARE 1141, (B) 01 HARARE 3753

THIS MESSAGE IS UNCLASSIFIED BUT SENSITIVE AND NOT SUITABLE
FOR INTERNET DISSEMINIATION.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. ON MAY 23, UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (UNDP)
RESIDENT COORDINATOR (RESREP) J. VICTOR ANGELO HOSTED AN
"INFORMAL" MEETING WITH SENIOR-LEVEL GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE
(GOZ) OFFICIALS, REPRESENTATIVES OF MOST RESIDENT MISSIONS
OF THE ORGANIZATION OF ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT
(OECD), AND SELECTED REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE SOUTHERN
AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY (SADC) AND G-77 COUNTRIES TO
DISCUSS POLICY CONSTRAINTS PREVENTING AN EFFECTIVE RESPONSE
TO ZIMBABWE'S SERIOUS FOOD CRISIS. ALTHOUGH THREE GOZ
MINISTERS WERE INVITED TO THE MEETING, ONLY FINANCE AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (MOF) MINISTER SIMBA MAKONI SHOWED UP.


2. FOLLOWING A BRIEF INTRODUCTION BY RESREP ANGELO, MINISTER
MAKONI PROCEEDED TO PROVIDE A SUMMARY REPORT OF THE CURRENT
COUNTRY SITUATION AND THE PLANNED GOZ RESPONSE. A
"DIALOGUE" ON POLICY ISSUES RELATED TO THE CRISIS AND
RESPONSE FOLLOWED. WHILE MINISTER MAKONI MADE A VALIANT
STAB AT DEFENDING OFTEN INDEFENSIBLE GOZ POLICIES, THE
MEETING UNDERSCORED PAST AND PRESENT GOVERNMENT PROBLEMS IN
WORKING WITH DONOR COUNTRIES. MAKONI'S GOOD INTENTIONS
ASIDE, THE MEETING PROVIDED LITTLE REASSURANCE THAT THERE IS
SUFFICIENT GOZ POLITICAL WILL TO ADDRESS THE SERIOUS ISSUES
SURROUNDING FOOD SECURITY IN A TIMELY AND EFFECTIVE MANNER.
SEPARATE, FOLLOWING CONVERSTIONS WITH RESREP ANGELO PROVIDED
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON HOW THE UN HOPES TO KEEP THE
INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE ON TRACK. END SUMMARY.

-------------
INTRODUCTION
-------------

3. OF THE THREE MINISTERES INIVTED BY UNDP RESREP J. VICTOR
ANGELO TO THE "INFORMAL" MAY 23 MEETING ON FOOD IDSSUES ONLY
MOF MINISTER SIMBA MAKONI SHOWED UP. PERMANENT SECRETARY
(PMS) MUSEKA OF THE MINISTRY OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOR AND
SOCIAL WELFARE (M/SW) REPRESENTED MINSITER JULY MOYO; AND
MINISTER OF STATE SECURITY, NICHOLAS GOCHE, INVITED IN HIS
CAPACITY AS CHAIRMAN OF THE MAIZE IMPORT TASK FORCE, FAILED
TO SHOW UP DESPITE ANGELO'S EXPECTATION THAT HE WOULD BE
THERE. GOCHE'S ASSISTANT DID ARRIVE MID-MEETING TO SILENTLY
REPRESENT HIS MINISTER'S INTERESTS, IN THE LATTER'S ABSENCE.
END NOTE.

--------------------
GOZ SITUATION UPDATE
--------------------

4. FOLLOWING AN INTRODUCTION BY RESREP ANGELO, WHO STRESSED
THE CLOSED NATURE OF THE MEETING TO PROMOTE "FRANK"
DISCUSSION, MINISTER MAKONI THANKED THE DONOR COUNTRIES
PRESENT FOR ASSISTANCE PROVIDED TO DATE IN RESPONSE TO
ZIMBABWE'S HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. NOTING THAT THIS WAS THE
THIRD SUCH MEETING ON THIS SUBJECT SINCE THE LAUNCH OF THE
U.N.'S HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE RELIEF PROGRAMME (HARP) FOR
ZIMBABWE IN DECMEBER 2001 (REFTEL B) THE MINISTER PROCEEDED
TO PROVIDE A SUMMARY REPORT OF THE CURRENT COUNTRY SITUATION
AND THE GOZ RESPONSE. HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED:

A. TO DATE, THE GOZ HAS APPROVED A TOTAL OF 400,000 METRIC
TONS (MT) OF MAIZE IMPORTS, OF WHICH APPRXIMATELY 240,000 MT
HAS BEEN PURCHASED, WITH SOME 200,000 MT PROCURED FROM SOUTH
AFRICA. FOREIGN EXCHANGE SHORTAGES HAVE IMPEDED THE
COMPLETION OF THESE PROCUREMENTS, WITH MINISTER MAKONI
NOTING THAT "WE ARE STILL TRYING TO FIND THE FUNDS" FOR THE
REMAINDER OF THESE COMMERCIAL PURCHASES.

B. APPROXIMATELY 140,000 MT (OF 240,000 MT) OF MAIZE
PROCUREMENTS HAVE ARRIVED IN COUNTRY TO DATE, WITH
DELIVERIES SUFFERING SERIOUS DELAYS DUE TO "BOTTLENECKS"
THROUGHOUT THE FOOD IMPORT AND DISTRIBUTION TRANSPORT CHAIN,
E.G., INSUFFICIENT RAIL CAPACITY, AND INSUFFICIENT DOMESTIC
TRUCK TRANSPORT RESOURCES, BOTH FROM THE BORDER TO GRAIN
MARKETING BOARD (GMB) DEPOTS AND FROM THE DEPOTS TO THE
FINAL DISTRIBUTION SITES. MAKONI SAID THAT THERE WAS "TALK
ABOUT" MOBILIZING ADDITIONAL PRIVATE TRANSPORT CAPCITY TO
OVERCOME THESE CONSTRAINTS.

C. THE NATIONAL CROP FORECASTING COMMITTEE ESTIMATED 600,000
MT OF MAIZE PRODUCTION THIS YEAR, LEAVING A 1.2 MILLION MT
DEFICIT (FOR PROJECTED HUMAN CONSUMPTION). HE NOTED,
HOWEVER, GOVERNMENT CONCERNS ABOUT THE RELIABILITY OF THIS
ESTIMATE, SINCE "THE SYSTEM" HAD NOT YET ADJUSTED TO ACCOUNT
FOR THE CHANGED AGRICULTURAL SITUATION, ESPECIALLY MAIZE
PRODUCTION ON THE NEWLY RESETTLED "FAST-TRACK" LANDS. HE
ALSO NOTED THAT FINAL FIGURES WERE EXPECTED BY END-MONTH.
NOTE: FEWSNET HAS ALREADY PROVIDED A FINAL FIGURE FOR TOTAL
MAIZE PRODUCTION OF 500,000 MT -- 100,000 MT LESS THAN
MINISTER MAKONI'S ESTIMATE, WHICH WAS BASED ON THE CROP
ASSESSMENT CONDUCTED TWO MONTHS AGO. THE JOINT FOOD AND
AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATION AND WORLD FOOD PROGRAM FOOD AND
CROP ASSESSMENT MISSION (REFTEL A) CONCLUDED EARLIER THIS
MONTH SUPPORTES THE FEWSNET FIGURE. END NOTE.

D. THE MINISTER PROCEEDED TO OUTLINE CURRENT GOZ PLANS FOR
ADDRESSING THIS SITUATION THROUGH AN AMBITIOUS PROGRAM
TARGETING 7.8 MILLION ZIMBABWEANS FOR FOOD ASSISTANCE OVER
18 MONTHS. THE MAJOR PROGRAM COMPONENTS WOULD INCLUDE CASH-
FOR-WORK (Z$1,500/HOUSEHOLD/MONTH) FOR THE ABLE-BODIED,
TARGETED FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS FOR THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED,
AND SUPPLEMENTARY FEEDING PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN UNDER FIVE
YEARS OF AGE (TWO KILOGRAMS (KG.) OF "NUTRIMEAL" FOR EACH
CHILD PER MONTH) AND THREE KG/CHILD/MONTH FOR SOME OF THE
MOST NEEDY CHILDREN UNDER NINE YEARS OF AGE.

E. STATING THAT FOOD IMPORT REQUIREMENTS FOR THIS PROGRAM
WOULD COST Z$31 BILLION OVER 12 MONTHS FROM THE BEGINNING OF
THIS CALENDAR YEAR (DECEMBER 2001), MAKONI NOTED THAT ONLY
Z$20.7 BILLION WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS
CALENDAR YEAR (TO DECEMBER 2002), ALLOWING FOR THE
FUNDS/TIME WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN ACCOUNTED FOR SINCE
JANUARY. NOTE: THESE FIGURES ARE MUCH LOWER THAN THOSE
FROM AN APRIL GOZ DRAFT STRATEGY PAPER, WHICH PROJECTED
Z$102 BILLION FOR FOOD REQUIREMENTS OVER 18 MONTHS. END
NOTE. THE MINISTER ADDED THAT THE GOZ WAS REVIEWING HOW TO
FIT THESE REQUIREMENTS INTO THE CURRENT YEAR'S BUDGET.
ACKNOWLEDGING THAT INTERNATIONAL DONOR SUPPORT WOULD BE
REQUIRED, HE GAVE THE DISTINCT IMPRESSION THAT THE MAJORITY
COULD BE MET FROM THE GOVERNMENT BUDGET, IN COMBINATION WITH
THIS YEAR'S HARVEST. HE CONCLUDED THAT NEXT YEAR'S FOOD
REQUIREMENTS WOULD BE INCLUDED IN NEXT YEAR'S BUDGET
(OCTOBER/NOVEMBER, AND WOULD DEPEND ON THE FINAL CROP
PRODUCTION ESTIMATE, NEXT YEAR'S RAINFALL, AND OTHER SALIENT
FACTORS.

5. PMS MUSEKA FOLLOWED MINISTER MAKONI, BRIEFLY ELABORATING
ON THE CURRENT SERIOUS CONSTRAINTS THE PROGRAM WAS FACING,
SUCH AS THE "ACUTE TRANSPORT PROBLEM" (INSUFFICIENT CAPACITY
AND/OR FUNDS TO HIRE TRUCKS), STAFFING CONSTRAINTS (BOTH FOR
FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS AND CASH-FOR-WORK PROGRAMS), FUNDING
CONSTRAINTS (LIMITING THE "POPULAR" CASH-FOR-WORK PROGRAM,
AND NOTING SEVERAL INSTANCES WHERE PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS HAD
NOT BEEN PAID FOR COMPLETED WORK). MUSEKA ALSO NOTED THE
INADEQUACY OF OLD AND UNRELIABLE CENSUS DATA, WHICH MADE
PROGRAM DESIGN AND TARGETING DIFFICULT. THE PERMSEC ALSO
NOTED THE GROWING PROBLEM OF DISPLACED FARM WORKERS BECAUSE
OF THE ON-GOING FAST-TRACK LAND REDISTRIBUTION EXERCISE.

------------------
"POLICY DIALOGUE"
------------------
6. RESREP ANGELO OPENED THE FLOOR FOR QUESTIONS. THE
FOLLOWING ISSUES WERE RAISED: FOOD DISTRIBUTION "PROBLEMS";
PARTISAN DISTRIBUTION OF RELIEF ASSISTANCE; THE
COMMICATIONS/DIALOGUE "GAP" BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND DONOR
COUNTRIES; PRIVATE SECTOR AND NGO PARTICIPATION IN THE
CRISIS; THE IMPACT OF PRICE CONTROLS AND THE EXCHANGE RATE
ON THE PROVISION OF FOOD RELIEF; THE IMPACT OF THE FAST-
TRACK EXERCISE ON THE CURRENT FOOD/AGRICULTURAL SITUATION;
CLARIFICATION OF THE COUNTRY FOOD SITUATION; FOOD
TRADE/SALES/MARKETING RESTRICTIONS; (COMMERCIAL) FARMING
ASSURANCES/SECURITY; PRICE CONTROLS; THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE
REGIME; AND RESTRICTIONS ON THE IMPORT AND DISTRIBUTION OF
FOOD COMMODITIES CONTAINING GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS
(GMO). THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR NOTED THAT 10,00 MT OF
AMERICAN MAIZE WERE DIVERTED TO OTHER SOUTH AFRICAN
COUNTRIES BECAUSE OF ZIMBABWE'S FAILURE TO WAIVE GMO
RESTRICTIONS. HE STATED THAT CONTINUATION OF GMO
RESTRICTIONS WOULD SEVERLY LIMIT USG ABILITY TO HELP.

7. MAKONI RESPONDED BY DENYING KNOWLEDGE OF A COMMUNICATION
GAP, CITING PAST INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP MEETINGS ON THIS
SUBJECT, AND ASSURING DONORS OF HIS CONTINUING WILLINGNESS
TO MEET AT ANY TIME TO DISCUSS THE ISSUES NOTED ABOVE WITH
DONOR COUNTRY REPRESENTATIVES.

8. ON THE ISSUE OF POLITICAL DISCRIMINATION IN FOOD/RELIEF
PROGRAMS, THE MINISTER STATED THAT HE HAD HEARD ALLEGATIONS
BUT WAS UNAWARE OF ANY ACTUAL INCIDENTS OF SUCH ABUSE. HE
SAID THAT SPECIFIC INFORMATION (NAMES, NUMBERS, LOCATIONS,
ETC.) WOULB BE NEEDED TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM; GENERAL
ALLEGATIONS WERE NOT USEFUL. HE STRESSED THAT LOCAL NGOS,
TRADITIONAL LEADERS, AND OTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROGRAM
IMPLEMENTATION HAD NOT REPORTED SUCH INCIDENTS IN RESPONSE
TO HIS OWN HOME-DISTRICT QUERIES ON THE ALLEGATIONS. THIS
INFORMATION LED HIM TO QUESTION THE EXTENT OF THIS PROBLEM -
- HE UNDERSCORED THAT THIS TYPE OF ABUSE IS NOT SOMETHING
THAT HAPPENS IN ZIMBABWEAN SOCIETY, IN THAT IT IS CULTURALLY
UNACCEPTABLE (A SINGULARLY CURIOUS STATEMENT, FROM OUR POINT
OF VIEW). HOWEVER, HE WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT ANY PROBLEM SO
THAT IT COULD BE PROMPTLY. PMS MUSEKA SECONDED MAKONI'S
STATEMENTS, REITERATING THAT IT WAS THE COMMUNITIES
THEMSELVES THAT MADE BENEFICIARY DECISIONS AND IMPLEMENTED
THE PROGRAM. HE ADDED THAT HIS MINISTRY HAD RECEIVED NO
REPORTS OF SUCH ABUSE TO DATE AND, THEREFORE, HE WAS
CONFIDENT THAT "THE SYSTEM IS WORKING WELL."

9. THE MINISTER SUGGESTED THAT THE CONSTRAINTS ON PRIVATE
SECTOR ACCESS AND INVOLVEMENT WERE MORE ARTIFICIAL THAN
ACTUAL, CITING SEVERAL POSITIVE STEPS IN THIS AREA. THESE
INCLUDED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PRIVATE SECTOR TRUST FUND BY
LOCAL BUSINESSES TO ASSIST THE RELIEF EFFORT, AND THE
REMOVAL OF ANY DUTY ON GRAIN IMPORTS (INCLUDING 25 PERCENT
DUTY FOR NON-SADC IMPORTS). HE ADDED THAT THE STATUTORY
INSTRUMENT BANNING PRIVATE SECTOR IMPORTS/SALES OF BASIC
CEREALS WAS, IN REALITY, BEING IGNORED, CITING NUMEROUS
INDIVIDUAL INSTANCES WHERE IMPORT PERMITS HAD BEEN GRANTED
TO PRIVATE SECTOR SUPPLIERS. HE STATED HIS WILLINGNESS TO
CONTINUE TO DEAL FAVORABLY WITH SUCH PRIVATE SECTOR REQUESTS
"PRACTICALLY", ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS, AS OPPOSED TO
GETTING BOGGED DOWN IN POLITICS BY ATTEMPTING TO CHANGE
FORMAL LEGISLATION OR POLICY ON THIS SUBJECT (WHICH IS
CLEARLY BEYOND HIS POWER TO DO). PRESSED, MAKONI
ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THIS PRIVATE SECTOR RELIEF APPLIED ONLY TO
PRIVATE SECTOR IMPORTS FOR DONATIONS TO THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES
AND HAD NO RELEVANCE TO PRIVATE SECTOR IMPORTS FOR MARKET
SALES, WHICH WERE IMPRACTICAL, GIVEN THE LOW FIXED PRICE FOR
MAIZE MEAL.

10. ON THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE RATE, MAKONI LARGELY REITERATED
WHAT WE ALL ALREADY KNEW - WHILE HE WAS ATTEMPTING TO
ADDRESS IT, THIS WAS A DIFFICULT POLITICAL ISSUE WHICH WAS
BEYOND HIS POWER ALONE TO CORRECT. WHILE HE REMAINED
OPTIMISTIC, NO RESOLUTION HAD YET BEEN CONCLUDED ON THIS
ISSUE. THE MINISTER ALSO NOTED HIS CONCERNS REGARDING THE
MEDIA'S TREATMENT OF THESE ISSUES AS ONLY SERVING TO
EXACERBATE PROBLEMS AND MAKE HIS ATTEMPTS TO ADDRESS THEM
MORE DIFFICULT.

11. ON THE ISSUE OF PRICE CONTROLS, THE MINISTER REITERATED
THE SAME GENERAL LINE. CITING SEVERAL RECENT INSTANCES
WHERE PRICES ON BASIC GOODS AND SERVICES HAD BEEN ADJUSTED,
HE ENCOURAGED REPORTING/PRESENTATION OF COMMODITY-SPECIFIC
INSTANCES OF PROBLEMS THAT COULD BE DEALT WITH ON A CASE-BY-
CASE BASIS (AS OPPOSED TO FORMALLY CHANGING THE RELEVANT
LAWS OR POLICIES ON THIS SUBJECT). HE EXPRESSED HIS
WILLINGNESS TO ATTMEPT TO DEAL WITH ANY SUCH SPECIFIC
INSTANCES AS EXPEDITIOUSLY AS POSSIBLE.

12. MAIKONI ACKNOWLEDGED A "DOWNSIDE TO MAJOR AGRARIAN
REFORM" - THE FAST TRACK PROGRAM -- IN ZIMBABWE OVER THE
PAST SEVERAL YEARS. HE CONCEDED THAT DISTURBANCES ON FARMS
RESULTING FROM FAST TRACK WERE AT LEAST PARTLY RESPONSIBLE
FOR THE CURRENT FOOD CRISIS. NOTING THAT THE LAND
REDISTRIBUTION PROGRAM WAS NOW ALMOST COMPLETE, HE URGED
ASSISTANCE TO ALL FARMERS -- INCLUDING FAST-TRACK RESETTLERS
-- TO STIMULATE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION. HE FURTHER URGED
THE DONORS TO "FORGET ABOUT HOW/WHY WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE",
THAT "WE MUST WORK WITHIN THE CURRENT REALITY," THAT THERE
WAS NO BENEFIT TO BE DERIVED FROM "RE-HASHING OLD ISSUES",
AND THAT WE SHOULD, THEREFORE, "GET ON WITH WHAT'S LEFT."

13. ON FARMER SECURITY/ASSURANCES, THE MINISTER NOTED THAT
THE GOVERNMENT WAS ENCOURAGING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN
RESPONSE TO THE GROWING FOOD CRISIS. HE CHARACTERIZED THE
CURRENT FARMING SITUATION AS "IN TRANSITION", WITH
GOVERNMENT NOW TRYING TO "REGULARIZE" FAST TRACK AND THUS
ENSURE FARM/ER SECURITY. HE STATED HIS BELIEF THAT THE
SECURITY SITUATION ON COMMERCIAL FARMS HAD IMPROVED OVER THE
PAST FIVE WEEKS; BUT ALSO THAT FOR A PROGRAM OF THIS
MAGNITUDE, SUCH ACTIONS TAKE TIME.

14. HE ACKNOWLEDGED HAVING HEARD OF THE GMO ISSUE BUT
EXPRESSED IGNORANCE ABOUT THE TECHNICAL SPECIFICS. HE
PLANNED TO CONVENE A MEETING WITH THE BIO-SAFETY BOARD (THE
ENTITY RESPONSIBLE FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON GMOS) IN AN
ATTEMPT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE ISSUE. HE SUGGESTED THAT
ONE POSSIBLE CONCERN WAS THE POTENTIAL IMPACT ON BEEF
EXPORTS TO CERTAIN TRADING PARTNERS (THE EUROPEAN UNION)
FROM GMO-FED LIVESTOCK. NOTE: MISSION/WFP HAS INFORMATION
THAT STRONGLY SUGGESTS THAT GMO-FED LIVESTOCK IS NOT A
SIGNIFICANT ISSUE FOR THE EU/EC. END NOTE. THE MINISTER
EXPRESSED THE NEED FOR ALL STAKEHOLDERS INVOLVED IN THIS
ISSUE TO COORDINATE. WHILE ADMITTING THE GOZ'S ATTENTION TO
THIS ISSUE CAME LATE, HE CONCLUDED WITH "BETTER LATE THAN
NEVER."

15. AMBASSADOR SULLIVAN'S REQUESTED CLARIFICATION ON THE
CURRENT FOOD SITUATION -- INITIALLY, MINISTER MAKONI
APPEARED TO SUGGEST THAT THE NATION'S FOOD NEEDS FOR THE
REMAINDER OF THIS CALENDAR YEAR COULD ADEQUATELY BE MET FROM
GOVERNMENT IMPORTS AND THIS YEAR'S HARVEST (STRONGLY
IMPLYING THAT NO INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE WOULD BE REQUIRED,
AT LEAST OVER THIS PERIOD). HOWEVER, IN RESPONSE TO
SPECIFIC FOLLOW-UP QUERIES ON THIS SUBJECT BY THE BRITISH
HIGH COMMISSIONER, THE MINISTER RETRACTED THIS POSITION,
STATING, "OF COURSE WE WILL NEED INTERNATIONAL/EXTERNAL
ASSISTANCE." HE HAD APPARENTLY DOUBTED-COUNTED PURCHASES
MADE THIS YEAR, THEREBY MAXIMIZING GOZ RESOURCES.
ADDITIONAL ATTEMPTS TO CLARIFY THE FIGURES SPAWNED
CONFUSION, WITH THE MINISTER FINALLY STATING THAT HE WOULD
NEED TO "REVIEW THE FIGURES", AND THAT HE WOULD GET BACK TO
THE AUDIENCE WITH THE CORRECT POSITION ON THIS SUBJECT AS
SOON AS POSSIBLE.

16. AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING, THE MALAWIAN HIGH
COMMISSIONER TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO NOTE THE GREATER
REGIONAL NATURE OF THE PROBLEM. SHE HIGHLIGHTED HER OWN
COUNTRY'S DESPERATE SITUATION, CITING ONE PRESS REPORT
INDICATING THAT ONE IN FIVE MALAWIANS WERE UNDER SEVERE
THREAT OF DYING FROM STARVATION. SHE EXPRESSED HER
COUNTRY'S GRATITUDE FOR DONOR ASSISTANCE PLEDGED/PROVIDED TO
DATE, AND ENDORSED THIS TYPE OF CONSULTATIVE EXCHANGE AS THE
ONLY WAY TO PROPERLY ADDRESS A SERIOUS CRISIS OF THIS SCOPE
AND MAGNITUDE.

17. AT A PRIVATE LUNCH IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE MEETING,
UNDP RESREP ANGELO ELABORATED ON A FEW OF MAKONI'S REMARKS
AND TOOK ABOARD A FEW SUGGESTIONS FROM THE AMBASSADOR ON
POSSIBLE NEXT STEPS. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CONVERSATION
INCLUDED:

-- THE AMBASSADOR SUGGESTED THAT IT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL FOR
THE UN TO ORGANIZE FIELD VISITS BY DIPLOMATS AND
INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS TO FOOD DISTRIBUTION SITES, BOTH
TO PUBLICIZE THE SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM AND TO DISCOURAGE ANY
TEMPTATION FOR ANYONE TO MANIPULATE FOOD DISTRIBUTION FOR
POLITICAL ENDS. ANGELO AGREED THAT DIPLOMATIC VISIST WERE
DESIRABLE BUT OPINED THAT JOURNALISTS WOULD BE MORE
COMFORTABLE FENDING FOR THEMSELVES. THE AMBASSADOR STRESSED
THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT THAT THE MEDIA BE ALLOWED TO VIEW THE
SITUATION CLOSE UP.

-- THE AMBASSADOR STRESSED THAT THE PRESENCE OF INDEPENDENT
MONITORS OF WFP FOOD AID WOULD SERVE TO LIMIT GOZ PARANOIA
AND TAKE A BURDEN OFF THE UN. HE SAID THAT HE WAS CERTAIN
THAT DONOR SUPPORT FOR SUCH AN EFFORT WOULD BE FORTHCOMING.
ANGELO ACCEPTED THAT SGS AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ACCOUNTING
ORGANIZATIONS WOULD BE WELL PLACED TO TACKLE SUCH AN
ASSIGNMENT.

-- THE AMBASSADOR POINTED OUT THAT THE CREDIBILITY OF THE
RELIEF EFFORT DEPENDED UPON STRAIGHTFORWARD PRESENTATION OF
THE FACTS, INCLUDING THE CAUSES OF THE PROBLEM. IT WOULD BE
NECESSARY TO PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT FLAWED GOZ POLICIES,
AND NOT JUST DROUGHT, HAD CONTRIBUTED TO THE CRISIS. ANGELO
AGREED.

-- ANGELO SAID THAT THE GOZ HAS FINALLY TAKEN THE LID OFF
THE PLIGHT OF FARM WORKERS. A UNDP TEAM IS CURRENTLY IN THE
FIELD ATTEMPTING TO TAKE THE MEASURE OF THIS VERY
COMPLICATED SITUATION. HE HOPED TO HAVE A CLEARER PICTURE
OF NUMBERS, LOCATIONS, AND NEEDS SOON.

-- ANGELO SAID THAT THE UNSYG HAD MET WITH MUGABE TWICE
DURING MUGABE'S RECENT VISIT TO NEW YORK. THE FIRST MEETING
FOCUSSED ON TECHNICAL/HUMANITARIAN ISSUES, WITH MUGABE
APPEARING LARGELY BLANK ON THE DIMENSIONS OF THE FOOD CRISIS
DESPITE THE FACT THAT NIGERIAN MEDIATOR ADEDEJI HAD GIVEN
HIM A PAPER (DRAFTED BY ANGELO) DESCRIBING THE SITUATION.
MUGABE PAID LIP SERVICE TO RETURNING TO ABUJA, BUT LITTLE
ELSE. THE SECOND MEETING FOCUSED ON THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE
AND WAS SINGULARLY UNPRODUCTIVE. MUGABE FEIGNED SURPRISE
THAT THE INTER-PARTY TALKS, WHICH HE TERMED AS "TECHNICAL,"
HAD COLLAPSED AND SAID THAT THIS INITIATIVE WAS THE CONCERN
OF HIS SUBORDINATES AND THAT HE WAS NOT INVOLVED.

-------
COMMENT
-------

18. MAKONI MADE HIS USUAL VALIANT EFFORT TO DEFEND OFTEN
INDEFENSIBLE GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND ACTIONS VIS A VIS THE
HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. HOWEVER, THE MEETING MOSTLY
UNDERSCORED PAST AND PRESENT GOVERNMENT PROBLEMS IN WORKING
WITH DONOR COUNTRIES INVOLVED. THE RECURRING PROBLEMS OF
RELATIVE PRIORITIES, INTERMINISTERIAL ACCOUNTABILITY, AND
POLITICAL INTRANSIGENCE ALL MANIFESTED THEMSELVES IN VARIOUS
STAGES OF THE PROCEEDINGS. MAKONI HAS NEVER BEEN THE
PROBLEM, NOR THROUGH ANY FAULT OF HIS OWN THE FIX, BUT
DESPITE HIS BEST INTENTIONS THE OUTCOME OF THE MEETING WAS
LESS THAN SATISFACTORY. INDIVIDUAL CASE-SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS
WILL SIMPLY NOT SUFFICE IN ADDRESSING A CRISIS OF THIS
MAGNITUDE, DEMANDS SERIOUS POLICY REFORM ARE REQUIRED. THE
FINANCE MINISTER'S APPARENT CONFUSION OVER ACTUAL COUNTRY
NEEDS AND DONOR REQUIREMENTS WAS PARTICULARLY DISTRESSING IN
THE CONTEXT OF A NATIONAL FOOD CRISIS OF HISTORICAL
DIMENSIONS. IT PROVIDED LITTLE REASSURANCE THAT THE
POLITICAL WILL AND WHEREWITHALL EXIST WITHIN GOVERNMENT TO
ADDRESS THESE SERIOUS POLICY CONCERNS IN A TIMELY AND
EFFECTIVE MANNER. HIS "LET BYGONES BE BYGONES" RHETORIC,
IMPLYING THAT THE DONORS SHOULD SUFFER COLLECTIVE AMNESIA
ABOUT THE ABUSIVE GOZ LAND GRAB PRESENTLY ONGOING, AND GET
ON WITH FORKING OVER TO THE GOZ WHAT IT THINKS IT NEEDS TO
REBUILD THE COUNTRY ANEW IN ITS OWN ZANU-PF IMAGE, MERITS NO
FURTHER COMMENT.

SULLIVAN

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