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Cablegate: Government of Zimbabwe (Goz) Buys Pas Building

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

131333Z Apr 04

UNCLAS HARARE 000632

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/PD FOR CEFIRD, LWKOENGESTER, AF/S FOR DELISI,
MRAYNOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO ZI
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE (GOZ) BUYS PAS BUILDING


1. SUMMARY. GOZ HAS PURCHASED THE BUILDING HOUSING PAS
HARARE AND IS EVICTING ALL THE OTHER TENANTS BUT EXEMPTING
PAS. IT IS STILL UNCLEAR IF THE BUILDING WILL BE USED BY
THE MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS OR THE MININSTRY OF LOCAL
GOVERNMENT. LONG TERM PAS EMPLOYEES HAVE SUGGESTED SEVERAL
SCENARIOS TO EXPLAIN WHY PAS IS EXEMPTED FROM THE MOVE,
NONE OF THEM FAVORABLE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS. SEVERAL
SCENARIOS ARE POSSIBLE AFTER THE GOZ MOVES IN AFTER SEPT
30, 2004. THIS IS AN INFORMATION CABLE AND NO ACTION IS
REQUESTED AT THIS TIME. END SUMMARY.


2. PAS IS LOCATED OUTSIDE THE EMBASSY ON A DOWNTOWN
STREET IN AN OLDER BUILDING WITH PAS ON THE FIRST AND
SECOND FLOORS AND OTHER TENANTS ON THE FLOORS ABOVE. WHILE
PAS HAS A DOOR DESIGNATED FOR ITS USE, IT SHARES A COMMON
LOBBY AND HAS ONLY A STAIR RAIL BETWEEN THE LOBBY AND THE
STAIRS LEADING TO THE FIRST FLOOR. EVERYONE COMING TO PAS
IS IN CLEAR VIEW OF EVERYONE IN THE LOBBY.

3. LONG TERM FSNS REACTED BADLY TO THIS NEWS. THE LOBBY
ISSUE IS RIGHT ON THE TOP OF THEIR FEARS. IF THE GOZ
FOLLOWS ITS NORMAL POLICY THEY WILL BE SETTING UP THEIR
GUARDS TO MONITOR ENTRANCE INTO THEIR OFFICES AND THIS
COULD MAKE OUR PATRONS LEERY OF COMING TO PAS FOR FEAR OF
FINDING THEMSELVES ON A LIST. THE OFF-SITE LOCATION OF PAS
HAS MADE IT EASY FOR REPORTERS AND ACTIVISTS AND OPPOSITION
LEADERS TO COME AND GO WITHOUT BEING NOTICED. THE VERY
BUSY STREET AND THE HEAVY TRAFFIC IN AND OUT OF THE PAS IRC
AND EDUCATIONAL ADVISING HAS MASKED THEIR COMINGS AND
GOINGS.

4. FSNS HAVE ALSO VOICED CONCERN THAT THEY WILL BE
FOLLOWED, QUESTIONED ABOUT THEIR EMPLOYMENT AND HARASSED.
THEY ARE CONVINCED THAT OUR PHONES WILL BE BUGGED AND THERE
WILL BE CAMERAS WATCHING US. THEY HAVE ALSO POINTED OUT
THAT THE BUILDING CONTROLS OUR ELECTRICITY. THEY HAVE
SUGGESTED THAT WE WILL ONLY BE EXEMPT UNTIL IT GETS CLOSER
TO ELECTIONS WHEN WE WILL BE ASKED TO MOVE, RESULTING IN A
PERIOD OF INACTIVITY DUE TO LACK OF CONNECTIONS, ETC. A
SUDDEN MOVE WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT DUE TO THE NEED FOR SO
MANY PHONE LINES, INTERNET CONNECTIVITY ETC. AT THE
MOMENT, EVEN GETTING ADDITIONAL PHONE LINES CAN TAKE
MONTHS.

5. IS ANY OF THIS REASONABLE? POSSIBLY, BUT IT IS ALSO
POSSIBLE THAT THE GOZ BOUGHT THE BUILDING BECAUSE IT NEEDED
MORE SPACE DOWNTOWN, OR SIMPLY TO KEEP A BETTER EYE ON THE
BUILDING ACROSS FROM PAS THAT HOUSES THE OPPOSITION MDC
OFFICES. NONETHELESS, WITH ELECTIONS LOOMING IN MARCH AND
OUR BELIEF THAT NO FOREIGN REPORTERS WILL BE GIVEN VISAS,
PAS HAD BEEN PLANNING ON USING THE NEW DVC EQUIPMENT TO LET
THE PRESS SPEAK DIRECTLY TO PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE
ELECTION, INCLUDING ACTIVISTS, NGOS AND POLITICIANS. PAO
MET WITH THE INTERNATIONAL AND SOUTH AFRICAN PRESS WHEN IN
PRETORIA LAST WEEK. IN ANTICIPATION OF BEING ABLE TO KEEP
THE PRESS INVOLVED VIA DVC, WE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON GETTING
ACCESS TO A 516K LINE THAT SHOULD PRODUCE CLOSE TO
TELEVISION QUALITY TRANSMISSION. ONE SUSPECTS THAT THE GOZ
WOULD NOT BE HAPPY WITH THIS AND COULD INDEED TRY TO STOP
IT BY INTIMIDATION, HAVING US MOVE OR SHUTTING OFF THE
POWER.

6. AS WE FIND MORE INFORMATION WE WILL KEEP YOU INFORMED.
NO ACTION IS REQUESTED AT THIS TIME. UNTIL THE GOZ MOVES
IN THIS IS ALL SPECULATIVE. SULLIVAN

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