Cablegate: Squeeze On Humanitarian Efforts Increasing

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





E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Squeeze on Humanitarian Efforts Increasing

B. HARARE 1563

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: GOZ obstruction of international
organizations, especially in the area of assistance to
internally displaced persons, continues. The GOZ has
requested that the UN close its Relief and Recovery Unit and
is blocking access to newly displaced farmers resettled on
former commercial farms as well as ex-commercial farm
workers. The government media has stepped up its portrayal
of international organizations and their employees as
interfering with sovereignty and promoting regime change.

2. (SBU) United Nations Resident Representative and
Humanitarian Coordinator Victor Angelo told the diplomatic
community in late September that the UN had closed its
Relief and Recovery Unit (RRU) on September 2, at the GOZ's
insistence. The RRU had met with significant resistance
from the GOZ, and its operations had been progressively
constrained in the months preceding the GOZ's request, with
RRU staff often prohibited from traveling outside Harare.
The RRU, funded through the UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), focused on coordination of
humanitarian activities in Zimbabwe, including information
collection and sharing, monitoring of internally displaced
persons, and liaison with the GOZ. Donors have met several
times since then to discuss how to address the need for
coordination. Two USG-supported OCHA staff remain at the UN
offices, but there is no official OCHA office in Zimbabwe.

3. (SBU) As reported (ref A), in a series of "second
generation" evictions, police and local government in the
Banket region evicted A1 farmers, former communal area
subsistence farmers who settled on commercial farms under
the GOZ's fast-track land reform program. Over the past
week, a new series of evictions of A1 farmers began at four
former commercial farms in Mashonaland West, and local
government officials gave out notices of eviction to A1
farmers on another farm in Mashonaland East. The
International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been
involved in assessing the status of the displaced persons in
the Banket region. The GOZ reportedly told IOM and ICRC not
to assist the newly displaced farmers in Mashonaland West
and East, because it would be seen as encouraging farmers to
stay on or near farms instead of returning to their home
villages. IOM was to meet with the Permanent Secretary in
the Ministry of Social Welfare to discuss the increasing
number of displaced persons and the status of an IDP task
force the GOZ promised to set up. Meanwhile, thousands of
ex-commercial farm workers remain displaced and homeless,
and access to many of them even by IOM or ICRC is not

4. (SBU) On October 3, the government-controlled Sunday
Mail newspaper reported that UN Resident Representative
Angelo had been recalled because of reports that he was
"meddling in the country's internal politics." The article
further accused Angelo of working with the MDC to effect
regime change in Zimbabwe, a charge that continues to be
leveled daily in the press against non-governmental
organizations. The UN ran several statements in the press
denouncing the article and explaining that Angelo is
departing at the scheduled end of his term in Zimbabwe. The
Sunday Mail article also quoted Minister of Foreign Affairs
Stan Mudenge as saying that negative reporting on Zimbabwe
by UN elements "could lead to the collapse of the UN system
in Zimbabwe."

5. (SBU) Over the past several months, at least one
international NGO, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), has had
difficulty getting extensions of Temporary Employment
Permits for its international staff, which the GOZ was
issuing only in monthly increments. In late September, the
Immigration Office advised CRS that permits for three
international staff would not be renewed. The immigration
official told CRS that it could appeal but that, if the
appeal were denied, the staff in question would need to
leave the country immediately. Other international NGOs
have heard rumors that Temporary Employment Permits will be
denied for their expatriate staff, at least until after the
March elections, but have not received any official

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Like the recently gazetted NGO bill (refs
B, C), the GOZ's attempt to hamper international
organizations' humanitarian activities appears to be an
effort to limit access by outsiders to rural areas in
anticipation of the March 2005 elections. The GOZ wants to
control outside information. It also wants to control
humanitarian assistance, which dampens dependence on the GOZ
and is perceived by many in the countryside as associated
with the opposition. Ramped up GOZ efforts to control
outside access and influence in Zimbabwe underscore the
primacy of domestic political anxieties over GOZ interest in
burnishing its international image. The leadership likely
assesses that such measures will provoke a negative reaction
from the West but not from the region, which is the
principal focus of its modest charm offensive. END COMMENT.


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