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Cablegate: Un Ocha Rep Begins to Put Backgone in Un Agencies

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

031318Z Oct 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001361

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
DCHA/FFP FOR LANDIS, WELLER, MUTAMBA, PETERSEN
CHA/OFDA FOR GOTTLIEB, PRATT, MENGHETTI, MARX
AFR/SA FOR LOKEN, COPSON, HIRSCH
EGAT FOR HOBGOOD, THOMPSON, HESS, MCGAHUEY, GILL,
RUSHING-BELL, HURDUS
USUN FOR EMALY
PRETORIA FOR DISKIN, HALE, SINK
ROME FOR FODAG FOR NEWBERG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL EAGR EAID ZI
SUBJECT: UN OCHA REP BEGINS TO PUT BACKGONE IN UN AGENCIES
ON THE GROUND

REF: HARARE 1307

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Agnes Asekenye-Oonyu from the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs met with the Ambassador
and USAID mission director to discuss her efforts at
improving humanitarian coordination among the UN agencies in
Zimbabwe and with donors and NGOs (reftel). Asekenye-Oonyu
described the measures she had undertaken to strengthen
coordination on humanitarian activities. She had encouraged
the UN agencies here to speak to the GOZ with one voice and
stand firmly behind their technical assessments and
judgments. The UN agencies had made efforts to share
information better with donors and the NGO community and were
beginning to have better, more productive meetings with GOZ
cabinet ministers. Her efforts seem to be putting backbone
in the UN agencies, encouraging them to push back on the
obstructionist GOZ. End summary.

---------------------------
Better Coordination to Come
---------------------------

2. (SBU) On September 28, UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Assistant Director Agnes
Asekenye-Oonyu spoke to the Ambassador and USAID director
about her efforts to improve humanitarian coordination among
UN agencies in Zimbabwe (reftel). She said the other UN
agencies had overcome their initial skepticism and were now
pleased that OCHA had stepped in to improve humanitarian
coordination. Asekenye-Oonyu said she expected the OCHA
office to be staffed with 6 international and 15 national
personnel, including staff for 2 offices and personnel in the
field. She estimated the office would need US $2 million per
year to operate. She offered to brief officials in
Washington on these efforts.

3. (SBU) Asekenye-Oonyu reiterated the UN would now provide
better information to and coordination with the donor
community and NGOs. Monthly meetings would be scheduled with
donors, and there would be staff designated to liaise with
NGOs that needed increased support. The Ambassador suggested
reviving a regular meeting of Ambassadors from donor
countries. This would give the Ambassador the chance to push
U.S. views within the donor community and also ensure that
the positions discussed publicly among donors accurately
reflected the policies of their countries.

4. (SBU) Plans were moving ahead for the visits of UN
officials. Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Jan
Egeland was planning to visit for at least two days in
mid-October, with Undersecretary for Political Affairs
Ibrahim Gambari to follow. A visit by the Secretary General
was still being explored for January, despite Zimbabwean
press reports that his visit was off.

----------------------
Standing up to the GOZ
----------------------

5. (SBU) Asekenye-Oonyu said she was making progress on
encouraging the UN team to stand together and push back on
GOZ efforts to divide the team and divert attention from key
issues. She said the major challenge, and an area where she
had made progress, was in convincing the UN agencies to
report on their findings without clearing them beforehand
with the GOZ, because &we don,t report to the Government.8
She said the GOZ typically would stall the issuance of any
document and insist on changing the majority of it, weakening
the message. The UN agencies should determine the facts,
produce analyses, and stand by them, letting the GOZ
challenge those facts and findings if it disagreed.

6. (SBU) Asekenye-Oonyu noted that the GOZ would take any
opportunity to divert attention from the issues and divide
the agencies. Chombo, in particular, had tried to divide the
country team by playing the race card with regard to
individual agency heads. Asekenye-Oonyu had insisted that UN
Resident Representative Agostinho Zacarias not play into the
GOZ,s game and that the agencies stand as one team of UN
officials. Chombo had backed down in the face of this
resolve. According to Asekenye-Oonyu, Zacarias,s approach
to the GOZ was becoming firmer thanks to her encouragement to
him to strategize with his team and develop an agenda prior
to meetings with the GOZ. She had urged him to be the
principal interlocutor at such meetings, enabling the UN to
speak with one voice and fend off GOZ attempts to foment
discord within the team.

-------
COMMENT
-------

7. (SBU) Asekenye-Ooyu has brought a breath of fresh air to
the UN country team in Zimbabwe, and her efforts are
beginning to show results. Despite her recent arrival and
unfamiliarity with Zimbabwe, she is clearly a fast learner
who has quickly divined the dynamics of, and problems with,
the UN-GOZ relationship. She appears to be pushing the GOZ
hard and is bringing much-needed backbone to the UN team.
The Embassy supports her efforts and strongly recommends
increased support of the OCHA team,s operation in Zimbabwe.
DELL

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