Cablegate: Ambassador Tony P. Hall Returns to Zimbabwe

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

REFTEL: (A) 02 ROME 05058 (B) Harare 01147 (C) Harare


1. SUMMARY: Three years after my 2002 visit (see Ref A), I
returned to Zimbabwe August 11-13 and found the country
again poised for a food-security crisis. As a result of
the Government of Zimbabwe's (GOZ) misguided policies,
drought, hyperinflation, and the associated lack of
agricultural inputs, official estimates indicate at least
2.9 million Zimbabweans will require food aid in 2005-06.
In reality, a much higher level of need is likely: up to
4.9 million may require food aid (FEWS NET AUGUST 05). I
observed gross violations of human rights and was denied
access to a settlement for internally displaced persons

2. During my visit, I made it clear that the U.S. will
continue to support food-insecure Zimbabweans despite
concerns about reprehensible and self-defeating GOZ
programs, policies and actions. Donor support in terms of
food aid, ag inputs, and the prevention and treatment of
HIV/AIDS will also be needed for the entire Southern Africa
region. In Johannesburg, I announced a U.S. donation of
$51.8 million for 73,500 metric tons of food aid to be
distributed by WFP among six Southern African nations,
including Zimbabwe.

3. We should support the Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) efforts to alert the donor community regarding any
remediable shortfalls for the procurement and distribution
of basic ag inputs and extension services for the 2005 and
2006 planting seasons. END SUMMARY.

Economic and Social Crisis

4. Accompanied by Public Affairs Officer Carla Benini and
USAID Program Specialist Sam Clark, I spent three days in
Zimbabwe to examine local conditions and assess the food
security situation with the help of the local US Mission.
This visit followed a similar trip I made three years ago
(see ref A).

5. It was clear that optimistic GOZ assumptions forecasting
food requirements do not hold water. GOZ predictions of
food insecurity assume a market price of Zimbabwe Dollar
(ZW) $1,750/kg but August 2005 urban maize prices ranged
from ZW$3,430 to 4,000, about twice the GOZ projected
price. Even the government-controlled media reports that
wages are not keeping up with inflation. When I was there
in 2002, the official rate put one US dollar worth ZW$55;
during my recent visit, a dollar was worth ZW$18,000, and
more than ZW$40,000 on the black market. While the
Ministry of Social Welfare claims to have arrangements in
place to import 1.2 million MTs of grain, it freely admits
that fuel shortages due to a lack of foreign exchange are
interfering with the Grain Marketing Board's (GMB)
logistics for distributing food aid within the country.

6. GOZ attacks on poor settlements have accelerated
negative trends in health indicators (an increase in infant
mortality and over 30 percent prevalence of HIV among
adults). As outlined by the UN Special Envoy on Human
Settlement Issues in July 2005, an estimated 700,000 people

have had their homes and or livelihoods destroyed by the
GOZ Operation "Throw out the trash." There are repeated
allegations that these displacements of low-income
residents throughout Zimbabwe are primarily from areas that
do not support the incumbent administration. The health
implications, especially for prevention of HIV and AIDS,
where home-based care programs were disrupted, are very

What We Saw

7. Access Denied / Operation Throw out the Trash: Our site
visit to Hatcliff Farm revealed the complete destruction of
an entire community built under bilateral agreements
involving the GOZ, World Bank and USAID. Just three months
prior, during the coldest time of year, some 30,000
residents who had legally valid leases to their homes, were
forced out by police and dogs and a residential area the
size of 10 football fields was bulldozed flat. Interviews
with residents revealed extraordinary suffering as they
attempted to rebuild with limited resources. While I was
walking through the camp, I was approached several times by
residents asking me for food and blankets. Tents supplied
by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that
could provide shelter have been denied pending GOZ
approval. My visit to the GOZ-developed Hopely Farms
resettlement area coincided with the delivery of a USG- and
EU-funded WFP shipment of food aid for over 300 families.
Despite the food shipment, GOZ officials from the Ministry
of Justice refused to allow me access to the camp and to
the IDPs, citing arbitrary requirements for written
permission from a separate ministry.

8. Based on reports from IOM, the residents were moved to
the site in July without water and were provided food aid
consisting solely of un-milled corn. Residents are only
permitted to come and go if they report to the paramilitary
that control the site.

9. The battered relief community: Team meetings with NGOs
demonstrated their plight in trying to provide support for
food aid and agricultural inputs throughout Zimbabwe (see
ref C). As found in 2002, the GOZ refuses to facilitate
the operation of NGOs trying to deliver humanitarian
assistance. The NGO consortium, C-SAFE, which had managed
to import 25,000 MT of food last year, has only been able
to distribute 15,000 MT due to GOZ restrictions. A
reported 10,000 MTs have been denied clearance in Durban,
South Africa. Last-minute GOZ restrictions on NGOs in
2004, requiring that they import all seed stocks rather
than buy locally, contributed to shortfalls in seed
supplies throughout the country for the planting season in

10. "The Government of Zimbabwe has it in hand": During my
meeting with Zimbabwe's Minister of Social Welfare, (see
ref B) Minister Goche stressed that, while the GOZ does
face problems, "we are coping" and the situation is in
hand. He also stated that the GOZ is willing to accept
humanitarian aid from those of good will so long as it
"complements our efforts." My team's overall impression is
that the GOZ is very concerned with saving face and
reluctant to share basic data related to the food
emergency. For example, the GOZ does not share data on the
amount of food grain or seed stocks it has on hand,
seriously hampering donor efforts to assess and plan for
food and ag input requirements.

11. WFP Food Aid in support of HIV/AIDS in Mutare: In
Mutare, near the Mozambique border, the team visited a
joint WFP-Africare home-based care feeding program that is
improving the lives of 3,000 HIV/AIDS victims and affected
persons. The team learned about an innovative pilot
program that encourages greater involvement of men in home-
based care. During the presentations a plea was voiced to
include anti-retroviral (ARV) medicines in the program's
home based care kits. This WFP/Africare program should be
considered for the introduction of ARVs.

12. FAO support for agricultural inputs and response to
HIV/AIDS: the team visited demonstration gardens
implemented by FAO through a program that distributes drip
irrigation kits, an approach that is important to meet the
needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS. The GOZ imposed
last-minute restrictions on NGO seed procurement for the
last planting season and over 45 percent of farmers ran out
of seed. FAO and other agencies are aggressively working to
avoid similar shortfalls for the 2005/06 planting season.
A preliminary 2005 report (ZimVAC) indicates that more than
1/3 of farmers will need to buy seed for the next cropping
season and 15 percent are unsure where they would obtain
seeds. This is a serious problem given the hyperinflation
and reduced buying power. We look to FAO to alert the
donor community as to any shortfalls for the procurement
and distribution of basic agricultural inputs and extension

Press Briefings

13. At press briefings in Harare and Johannesburg, I made
the following points:
-"I remember when this country was a breadbasket of
Southern Africa. Today, the breadbasket is empty,
thanks to counterproductive land reform policies and a
drought that has made the situation even worse."
-Commenting on being denied access to the Hopely Farm,
"This is just the sort of bureaucracy that the UN
Special Envoy spoke out against. We can't address the
suffering of these people if we can't see them and
assess their needs."
-"The United States will stand by the people of
Zimbabwe, because there is no place in politics when
it comes to feeding hungry people."
-"It would be easy to turn your back on this
government, but we can't turn our back on the people."


14. This visit focused primarily on Zimbabwe, but the donor
community needs to be mindful of the emerging needs of the
five other countries in the region: Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, Swaziland, and Zambia. The announcement of a
USG regional donation of US$51.8 is a step in the right
direction, but we must urge other donors to assist in
regional and country specific appeals. The current WFP
appeal for the Southern Africa Region has a shortfall of
US$199 million, the equivalent of 357,000 MT.

15. It is clear that the current problems in Zimbabwe are
largely man-made, resulting from misguided GOZ policies.
While we must disassociate ourselves from the reprehensible

GOZ actions, we cannot abandon the people of Zimbabwe.
Clear evidence of violations of humanitarian principles and
human rights were found. These should be addressed in as
many venues as possible.

16. There is a consensus that if actions are taken soon,
despite large out-migration of talented educated persons,
Zimbabwe still has the essential human capital of dedicated
citizenry required for long-term development.

17. In the short-term, so long as donors provide adequate,
in-time assistance to keep the pipeline supplied, the
combination of existing GOZ and related WFP, FAO, and NGO
assistance infrastructure is in place to avert famine.

18. We should support FAO's efforts to alert the donor
community regarding any remediable shortfalls for the
procurement and distribution of basic agricultural inputs
and extension services for the 2005 and 2006 planting

19. Based on the observations in Mutare and discussions
with USAID-Harare and others, Zimbabwe has major shortfalls
in international donor support for HIV/AIDS. In particular
we hope that the GOZ can be encouraged to resume efforts to
obtain funding from the Global Fund by revising its
proposals to realistic funding levels, with plans for
programming to be implemented by NGOs and multilateral
agencies. Despite problems with GOZ policies, expanded
funding must be found to increase access to ARVs.


2005ROME02787 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN News: ‘Things Have To Change’ Canada’s Trudeau Declares Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that the world must change, as multilateral systems established decades ago are not working as they should, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada told the UN General Assembly on Friday. “The world is in crisis, and ... More>>

Assange's Hearing: Latest Observations From Court

Despite severe restrictions on observers, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is the only NGO that has gained access to the hearing, and we’ve managed to monitor proceedings on most days. We will continue to do so whenever possible. Yesterday I was in court ... More>>

ILO: Impact On Workers Of COVID-19 Is ‘catastrophic’

COVID-19 has had a “catastrophic” impact on workers, the head of the International Labour Organization ( ILO ) said on Wednesday, with lost working hours higher than originally forecast, and equivalent to 495 million full-time jobs globally in the ... More>>

UN: WHO Warns Against Potential Ebola Spread In DR Congo And Beyond

Ebola is spreading in a western province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), raising fears that the disease could reach neighbouring Republic of Congo and even the capital, Kinshasa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. ... More>>