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Cablegate: Zim Notes December 21, 2007

VZCZCXRO7626
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #1135/01 3551033
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211033Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2343
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1809
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1706
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1834
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0436
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1111
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1468
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1890
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4318
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0961
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001135

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR S.HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN
TREASURY FOR J.RALYEA AND T.RAND
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN
COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

SIPDIS

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI

SUBJECT: Zim Notes December 21, 2007


1. The Embassy Harare Political/Economic Section began producing
Zim Notes in July, 2007 to present a perspective on current events
in Zimbabwe. Suggestions are always welcome. If you would like to
receive Zim Notes by email, as well, please contact Frances Chisholm
at chisholmfm@state.gov. Distribution is restricted to U.S.
government employees.

2. Price Movements-Exchange Rate and Selected products:
Parallel: ZW$1,700,000:US$1; Official: ZW$$30,000:US$1
Sugar on the parallel market jumped to Z$3 million/2kg vs.
controlled price of Z$247,000/2kg
Cooking oil on the parallel market was steady at Z$6 million/750ml
vs. controlled price of Z$440,000/750ml
Diesel dropped to Z$2.6 million/liter, while petrol held steady at
Z$3 million/liter vs. Z$60,000/liter at controlled price

-----------------------------
On the Political/Social Front
------------------------------

3. Parliament Approves Fast-Tracking Of Various Amendments To Key
Restrictive Laws - Parliament passed several amendments proposed by
the GOZ to the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the
Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Electoral Law this week.
These Amendments - which were a result of the Inter-Party
negotiations in Pretoria - have not been welcomed by civic groups
who have argued that they fall far short of their recommendations
and expectations. The MDC national spokesperson was quoted in the
press as saying that although the opposition welcomes these changes
that were agreed upon in Pretoria, there was still much to be done
to ensure an even playing field during the 2008 elections.

The new amendments to POSA provide that individuals or groups that
are denied permission to hold a public gathering no longer have to
appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs - but rather can appeal to a
magistrate. Written notice of gatherings will now be handled by the
officer in charge of the police station nearest to the place of
meeting. Police will also be compelled to give notice to organizers
of an affected public gathering if they have evidence that a
disorder may ensure so that the issue can be discussed before the
gathering is prohibited. The amendment also prohibits gatherings
near parliament, a court or any protected place or area declared as
such in terms of the Protected Areas and Places Act, without the
consent of the government official in charge.

Amendments to AIPPA will, inter alia, make it possible for
journalists to work in Zimbabwe without accreditation, although
accreditation will be necessary to cover Parliament and for access
to official information. The Act also grants the Minister of
Information and Publicity the discretion to relax provisions
concerning foreign ownership of media groups.

The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill will transfer responsibility for
keeping voters' rolls from the Registrar of Voters to the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) and theoretically make the rolls more
accessible to the public. Employees of the police, defense forces,
and prisons will no longer be seconded as staff of the ZEC, except
as required for security. Public broadcasters will be required to
afford parties and candidates free access to public media.
Significantly, the Bill does not affect membership of the current
ZEC, widely seen as biased in favor of ZANU-PF, and does not affect
the current delimitation exercise currently being carried out by the
ZEC.

The changes to the BSA Bill provides for the reconstitution of the
present Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to make it freer of
government influence.


HARARE 00001135 002 OF 002


4. ZUMA on ZIM - Although most analysts expect new ANC president
Jacob Zuma to be tougher over time on Zimbabwean president Robert
Mugabe than SAG president Thabo Mbeki has been, Zuma in his initial
press conference on December 20 defended current SAG policy.
-- "Our quite diplomacy, we are confident with it. We are going to
continue with it."

-- In an apparent reference
to Britain, he said: "The manner in which some pe?qQ0=e]cZ
--
Zuma insisted South Africa's efforts to resolve the crisis in
Zimbabwe had achieved more than any other country, including those
that applied sanctions.

5. Zimbabwe Dialysis Machines Break Down - Indicative of
deteriorating health care services in Zimbabwe, patients with renal
failure are now unable to access dialysis treatment in the public
sector. Previously, the public sector system provided dialysis at a
modest cost to patients at two main centers--one in Harare at
Parirenyatwa Hospital and a second in Bulawayo at Mpilo Hospital.
The 18 dialysis machines in the public sector have not been
functional at Parirenyatwa for the last week and at Mpilo for the
past few months. Forty-four additional dialysis machines donated by
Sweden have been lying idle due to a dispute over who should repair
them. A crumbling health care system exacerbated by limited
government resources has meant that patients are forced to either
receive care in private facilities, if affordable, or remain
helpless as their bodies are slowly poisoned by toxic metabolites.

--------------------------
Economic and Business News
--------------------------

6. RQQq*$(~7r as a move against cash hoarders; he did not remove any
zeros. Two days later Zimbabwe is still in a cash crisis as the RBZ
fails to meet the bank's cash requirements which are soaring in
lockstep with six-digit inflation. In the face of hyperinflation,
the banks are seeking creative ways to make money but their deposit
base is eroding in real terms. See Harare 1134.

7. IMF Mission Warns of Exponential Inflation - An IMF team
visiting Zimbabwe this week on a short mission told a meeting of
donor ambassadors that the economy had probably contracted about 6
percent in 2007 and inflation was around 100,000% as the IMF's World
Economic Outlook had forecast earlier in the year. They warned that
the exponential rate of inflation that kicked in in March 2007 was
unsustainable, but acknowledged at the same time the dynamism of the
private sector, and the market orientation of the business community
and its confidence in the long run future of the country. Alarming,
however, was the devastating rate of skills loss, the deterioration
in infrastructure, and, going forward, the GOZ's proposed economic
policies that were largely "more of the same."

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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