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Cablegate: Un/Donor/Goz Meeting On the Zimbabwe Food

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000260

SIPDIS

USAID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA FOR HAJJAR, KHANDAGLE AND MARX
DCHA/FFP FOR LANDIS, BRAUSE, SKORIC AND PETERSEN
AFR/SA FOR POE, FORT AND COPSON
AFR/SD FOR ISALROW AND WHELAN
STATE FOR AF/S DELISI AND RAYNOR
NAIROBI FOR DCHA/OFDA/ARO RILEY, MYER AND SMITH
REDSO/ESA/FFP FOR SENYKOFF
NSC FOR DWORKIN
PRETORIA FOR USAID/DCHA/FFP FOR DISKIN
DCHA/OFDA FOR BRYAN AND FAS FOR HELM
ROME PLEASE PASS TO FODAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL US ZI
SUBJECT: UN/Donor/GOZ Meeting on the Zimbabwe Food
Crisis

REF: Harare 217

Summary: The US Ambassador and Acting USAID Director
attended a recent UN-hosted meeting between foreign
diplomats/donors and GOZ ministers to discuss the food
situation in Zimbabwe. The primary topic was the role
of the GOZ in acquiring and distributing the staple
food, maize, in the coming months. So far the GOZ
claims to have imported about 686,000 MT of maize. For
the next hunger season (May 2003 - April 2004) the GOZ
expects a harvest of about 571,000 MT and to import
another 230,000 MT for a total stock of about 802,000 MT
verses a demand of nearly 1.9 million MT. The GOZ
expects the resulting deficit of about 1.1 million MT to
be covered by a winter crop, additional GOZ imports, and
donor contributions. The GOZ also expressed a
willingness to consider wheat monetization. Both the
GOZ and WFP discussed constraints to importing
additional food.

In addition, the GOZ discussed the current livestock
situation ("critical") and an up-coming nationwide
health/nutritional survey sponsored by the GOZ, WHO and
UNICEF. End Summary.

1. On 27 January 2003, US Ambassador Sullivan and
Acting USAID Director attended a periodic meeting
organized by the UN for diplomats to discus issues
related to the humanitarian crisis with cabinet level
representatives of the GOZ. While most embassies were
represented by ambassadors/high commissioners, only the
Minister of Health (MoH), the Minister of Small
Enterprise Development (MoSME), the Deputy Minister for
Education, the Director of Veterinary and Livestock
Services at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), and an
Office Director from the Ministry of Public Service,
Labor, and Social Welfare (MoPSLSW) (Mr. Mitzi) were
present for the GOZ. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator
(UNHC) opened the meeting with a review of the visit and
discussions of UN Special Envoy for the humanitarian
crisis, James Morris. (See REFTEL)

2. The EU Ambassador opened the discussion from the
floor by suggesting that it is now necessary to "fast-
track" a food monetization program for Zimbabwe. The
Minister of Health responded that the GOZ would welcome
a written proposal. The Ambassador also repeated an
earlier request for a written explanation of the role of
the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) in providing food during
the current crisis. Mr. Mitzi stated that such a
document is being prepared. The SME Minister also noted
the need for transparency of the GMB.

3. Mr. Mitzi then provided information on food imports
by the GOZ as follows:

-Total maize imported February through mid-December
2002: 685,784 MT (the EU requested figures for the last
6 weeks as well).
-GOZ estimate of 2002/3 maize harvest: 571,347 MT, of
which 56,335 MT will be turned over to GMB (Comment: we
presume that the rest will be grown at subsistence level
on communal farms and therefore not enter the market).
-In addition to the harvest, GOZ expects GMB to have
230,965 MT on hand (Comment: this is actually planned
imports).
-Therefore, GOZ expects to have a total national maize
stock for the period July 2003-June 2004 of 802,312 MT
against a total consumption need (human and livestock)
of 1,895,843 MT. This means a GOZ planned deficit of
1,093,531 MT for 2003/4 which is to be met from "winter
cropping, government imports, and humanitarian aid."

4. WFP noted that it will cost approximately US$300
million to meet a 1,000,000 MT deficit.

5. The MoPSLSW recognizes the following constraints in
meeting the country's maize requirements:

-foreign currency shortage;
-the regional drought is causing congestion in the
supply routes;
-congestion at the Beitbridge border post;
-a critical shortage of locomotives;
-insufficient forex to bid on land transport vehicles
(regionally); and
-shortage of smaller trucks for the GMB to deliver food
within the country.

Donors also asked for similar information on other
commodities (e.g., wheat, beans, etc.).

6. WFP made the following comments about its program:

-WFP is bringing in 2,500-3,000 MT per day;
-import permit problems are improving;
-WFP is developing a contingency stock of fuel;
-the WFP pipeline will dry up sometime between March and
April 2003; and
-availability of South African rail cars is becoming a
serious constraint.

7. A representative from the MOH briefed the group on
the up-coming UNICEF/WHO/GOZ nutrition survey of
children under 60 months. This survey is to follow up
on an assessment done in May 2002. It will include all
districts in both rural and urban areas. It will look
at wasting, stunting, underweight, vitamin A, feeding
patterns of orphans, common childhood illnesses,
mortality, and supplemental feeding. Training is going
on now, and field work is expected to be completed late
February with a first draft planned for early March.

8. The MOA representative reported on the livestock
situation as follows:

-The current drought is having a major impact - over
20,000 animals have been reported to have died between
October 2002 and January 2003 in Matabeleland Province
alone (the actual number is probably much higher).
-Stock feed supply is critical, which is also severely
impacting on the dairy, pig, and poultry industries.
-Foot-and-Mouth disease is getting worse. Note: He
blamed this on the regional nature of the crisis - the
crisis in Botswana could have been prevented if Botswana
had bought vaccines for Zimbabwe back in October 2002
when the problem began - and on the lack of forex to buy
vaccines.
-While the number of dairy farms has decreased by 20-25%
(due to the resettlement program) the national dairy
heard has remained about the same size as cows are
transferred between farms, but milk production has
decreased (current demand is 13 million liters while
production is only 7-8 million liters per month).

Comment: The meeting produced some good information
from the government, for a change; but still not enough.
Despite improvements in current WFP operations, the GOZ
projections paint a fairly bleak picture regarding
future humanitarian assistance prospects in Zimbabwe,
indicating that the magnitude of the crisis is not
likely to abate soon, and that continued substantial
humanitarian assistance - similar to or more than last
year's levels -- will likely be required over the coming
year. SULLIVAN

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