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Cablegate: U.N. Donor Meeting with Goz Ministers of Health

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 002472

SIPDIS

USAID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA, DCHA/FFP, DCHA/OTI, AFR/SA FOR POE
AND COPSON AND AFR/SD

STATE FOR AF/S DELISI AND RAYNOR

NAIROBI FOR DCHA/OFDA/ARO AND REDSO/ESA/FFP

GENEVA PLEASE PASS TO UNOCHA, IFRC

PRETORIA FOR USAID/DCHA/FFP AND DCHA/OFDA

ROME PLEASE PASS TO FODAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL US ZI
SUBJECT: U.N. DONOR MEETING WITH GOZ MINISTERS OF HEALTH
AND SOCIAL WELFARE
REFS: HARARE 2422

1. Summary: On November 6, Ambassador Sullivan and A/USAID
Director attended a meeting, hosted and chaired by the U.N.
Humanitarian Co-ordinator (HC) to Zimbabwe (J. Victor
Angelo), between major donor country representatives and key
Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) officials on the worsening
humanitarian crisis in the country. The meeting was well
attended by Chiefs of Mission and senior representatives of
most major donor countries to Zimbabwe. Key GOZ
participants included Minister of Labor, Public Works and
Social Welfare July Moyo and Minister of Health and Child
Welfare Dr. David Parirenyatwa. At the outset, both
ministers thanked donor representatives for their countries'
assistance to date, discussed the country crisis and
response, and concluded with a list of areas of additional
need. These initial statements provided little new
information, largely reiterating information presented in
prior documentation on these subjects. Most of the
subsequent questions and answers covered similarly familiar
topics, with the ministers' responses also largely echoing
past exchanges on these subjects. Meeting highlights
included a testy exchange on the "Insiza (World Food
Programme (WFP) food seizure) incident" which remains
unresolved, and a coerced announcement that the government
had agreed to allow Save the Children Federation to resume
food assistance activities in Binga and Nyaminyami
Districts. At the conclusion, all present concurred that it
had been a useful exchange, and agreed to continue to
participate in future such meetings on a regular basis.
This meeting represents an initial attempt by HC Angelo to
promote a more direct dialogue on humanitarian issues
between the government and donors. (Angelo clearly took
advantage of donor expressions of concern to press the GOZ.)
The Mission remains sceptical that this new venue will prove
any more effective than past similar U.N.-brokered
initiatives at dialogue with the GOZ. However, the Mission
will continue to participate, if for no other reason than it
provides us with a useful venue to put forth our points to
government on the increasingly desperate situation, and our
increasingly frustrated efforts to respond to it. End
Summary.

2. On November 6, Ambassador Sullivan and A/USAID Director
attended a meeting, hosted and chaired by the U.N.
Humanitarian Co-ordinator to Zimbabwe (J. Victor Angelo),
between major donor country representatives and key GOZ
officials on the worsening humanitarian crisis in the
country. The meeting was the first of a planned series of
regular such donor-government meetings, in a new HC
initiative to promote a more direct dialogue between the two
groups. The meeting was well attended by Chiefs of Mission
and senior representatives of most major donor countries to
Zimbabwe. GOZ participants included Minister of Labor,
Public Works and Social Welfare July Moyo, Minister of
Health and Child Welfare Dr. David Parirenyatwa, and
associated ministry staff.

3. The meeting started with statements by both ministers
that thanked donor representatives for their countries'
assistance to date, discussed the country crisis and
response, and concluded with a list of areas of additional
need. These rather lengthy initial statements provided
little new information, largely reiterating information
presented in prior documentation on these subjects
(especially the September Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment
Committee (VAC) report and the U.N.'s Consolidated Appeal
(CAP) for Zimbabwe - see Reftel).

4. Most of the subsequent questions and answers (Q&A)
covered similarly familiar topics, such as the plight of the
ex-commercial farm workers, NGO registration/approval
(Germany), politicization of food aid (Sweden, U.S.),
improved program transparency, information-sharing and
coordination (especially regarding GOZ/Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) food aid and sales activities - Britain, U.S.), and
several statements on respective country contributions to
date to the humanitarian crisis by the U.S., British and the
EU. The ministers' responses to these questions also
largely echoed past exchanges on these subjects. Major
points of this Q&A included:
- ex-commercial farm workers could not be singled out for
special treatment; rather, they must be treated the same as
others with "no discrimination" within a given area(GOZ).
As long as this principle was adhered to, there would be no
problem with assistance to this target group. In this
regard, Moyo mentioned the GOZ's current UN-supported effort
to survey farm workers nationwide to get a better idea of
their numbers, locations, conditions and needs. [Note: A
review of the draft Terms of Reference for this survey
reveals that the real purpose behind this survey is to
determine the status of payment of retrenchment packages for
these workers, presumably so that additional pressure can
placed on commercial farmers (and Britain?) to own up to
this government-imposed responsibility. End Note.]
- many of the current problems with coordination and
purported "politicization" of humanitarian assistance
resulted from NGO activities that were not duly approved by
central government or implemented through
accepted/established local government structures. Hence,
all programs must be reviewed and approved by central
government, and implemented through established local
structures to avoid these problems. Government would
continue its best efforts to enlist the support of
additional NGOs, who followed these procedures, to assist in
the relief effort.
- "politicization of assistance" was an "emotional" and
"highly distorted" issue due to the current polarized
political environment. Hence, there was a need for prompt
reporting and joint investigation of reported incidents to
ensure that the facts were ascertained, "false" reports were
quickly quashed and appropriate corrective measures could be
effected in a timely manner.
- good information and coordination of government programs
(especially the GMB) was hampered by various operational
constraints, such as unpredictability of supplies,
logistical bottlenecks, etc. However, within these
constraints, government would endeavour to provide better
information on their program operations in the interest of
avoiding duplication and maximizing the effectiveness of
limited aid resources.
- major new donor commitments noted included the long-
awaited arrival of some $26 million in critical medicines,
and the provision of additional equipment and supplies to
the country's central blood transfusion unit - both by the
EU.

5. Meeting highlights included a brief and testy exchange
on the "Insiza incident", where approximately 3 MT of WFP
food commodities (including some U.S.-donated vegetable oil)
were seized by ruling party supporters in several wards in
the run-up to the recent Parliamentary by-election in this
district. In response to the U.S. Ambassador's query on the
status of this issue, following HC Angelo's confirmation
that WFP food distributions remained suspended in this
district, Minister Moyo indicated the results of his
personal investigations into these incidents, characterizing
them as "complicated" and unfortunate "errors of judgement."
In response to the Ambassador's query on plans for the
restitution of the stolen commodities, the Minister stated
that it was better not to dwell on restitution (read
"retribution") for past mistakes, but rather to move forward
with "lessons learned" for avoiding such incidents in the
future. It was clear following this exchange that this
issue remains unresolved, much to the chagrin of the GOZ and
their party supporters within this district. (On the weekend
following this meeting, State media claimed that agreement
had been reached to resume food deliveries in Insiza, a
claim rebutted by HC who told the Ambassador that issues of
restitution must be addressed as well as correct
acknowledgement by GOZ of the source of the cutoff.)

6. Near the end of the meeting, Minister Moyo announced an
agreement by all levels of government to allow Save the
Children Federation (SCF/UK) to resume food distribution and
supplementary feeding activities in Binga and Nyaminyami
Districts, following an almost two-month cessation for
"political reasons" after the local government elections at
end-August. It is significant to note, however, that
Minister Moyo only made this welcome announcement under
pressure from HC Angelo. The Embassy learned Nov 11 from UN
that SCF/UK is re-mobilizing staff now in preparation for
the resumption of food distribution and feeding activities
on Nov 13. End Note.]

7. At the meeting's conclusion, all present concurred that
it had been a useful exchange, with a generally constructive
ambience, and agreed to continue to participate in future
such meetings on a regular basis.

8. Comment: This meeting represents an initial attempt by
HC Angelo to promote a more direct dialogue on humanitarian
issues between the government and donors. Through this
initiative, Angelo seems to be trying to re-engage
government/donors at some level through a dialogue on issues
surrounding this somewhat less controversial area of
bilateral relations, as well as trying to extricate himself
from the center of difficult dialogue between government and
donors. As a first attempt, the meeting went well, with a
reasonable exchange of views on several important subjects.
Even the testy exchange on politicization of food assistance
was important for the Government to hear. We are not
optimistic that this initiative will prove any more
effective than past similar U.N.-brokered initiatives at
dialogue with the GOZ. However, the Mission will continue
to participate to put forth our points to government on the
increasingly desperate country situation, and our
increasingly frustrated efforts to respond to it.
Sullivan#

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