Cablegate: Ottawa Hosts Like-Minded Countries Informal

DE RUEHOT #1424/01 3121637
P 071637Z NOV 08



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: Canada hosted an informal meeting of
like-minded countries on Zimbabwe in Ottawa on October 30.
Delegates agreed that MDC and ZANU-PF are in the midst of a
power struggle to which there is no easy solution in sight.
Several countries expressed concern at the Like-Minded
Group,s limited ability to influence a resolution to the
current stalemate. Participants acknowledged the limited
range of options the international community has available
and agreed that the best course of action is to be guided by
what MDC is willing or able to achieve through the
negotiations and to facilitate MDC,s effectiveness where
possible. There was also consensus that conditions on the
ground are deteriorating rapidly. The U.S. proposed
development of a consensus on benchmarks and continued
engagement with regional leaders, emphasizing the interests
of the region in resolving the crisis. Broad agreement
emerged that the international community would be in a
position to provide additional calibrated assistance as soon
as credible governmental partners emerge. Canada undertook
to write a paper laying out short-term options for a
diplomatic strategy and public diplomacy messaging based on
the meeting,s outcome, as well as to debrief South Africa on
the proceedings of the conference. Canada,s Ambassador in
Harare promised to debrief both MDC and ZANU-PF leaders on
the broad sense of the meeting. The Harare Fishmongers Group
was tasked to continue operationalizing the principles for
reengagement. Conferees agreed on the need more fully to
engage the African Union (AU) and the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) in resolving the crisis and on
the efficacy of broadening the negotiating structure to
include the AU. End summary.

Update on Situation

2. (SBU) Canadian Ambassador to Harare Barbara Richardson and
UK Ambassador to Harare Andrew Pocock opened with overviews
and discussion of recent political developments in Zimbabwe.
Richardson urged conferees to judge whether and when to
re-engage with Zimbabwe on the basis of democratic outcomes
in the currently stalemated talks among MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe. MDC interlocutors
have no faith in Thabo Mbeki as a mediator, according to both
Pocock and Richardson. ZANU-PF and Mbeki view the deadlock
as related to only one issue, control of Home Affairs, said
Pocock. MDC, on the other hand, objects to ZANU,s
unilateral actions including appointments of governors,
ministerial designations, continuing intransigence, and
ongoing violence by ZANU-PF supporters and militias,
according to Pocock. All parties want a SADC Summit, he
said, and Mugabe in particular is comfortable with such
plenary meetings, given his past ease in dividing and
conquering the SADC countries.

Policy Issues and Responses

3. (SBU) The U.S. delegation briefed on the humanitarian
situation and responded to the Chair,s request for
discussion of policy responses and diplomatic activities.
Currently over one million are in need of food assistance,
but the situation is much more complex, as basic services in
Zimbabwe collapse after years of mismanagement. There is
currently an appeal in place by the WFP and the UN, and it is
Qcurrently an appeal in place by the WFP and the UN, and it is
critical that donor countries reconsider their pledges as the
crisis deepens. In addition, access continues to be an issue
that requires donor -- but particularly UN -- attention.
Although the GOZ ban on NGO activities has been lifted, there
continue to be instances of local government interference in
the distribution of assistance based on need. Also, actions
taken by the GOZ in the financial arena are having a negative
impact on NGO abilities actually to deliver assistance.

4. (SBU) The U.S. head of delegation suggested that policy
responses include supporting MDC,s position while providing
strategic technical assistance to strengthen the MDC,s
ability to engage ZANU-PF in negotiations. Such assistance
could address deficiencies in messaging and communications.
In response to the three scenarios presented in the
Fishmongers, report, the U.S. suggested that the most likely
would be weak reform initially. Ultimately, assistance would
also be needed to build the capacity of the strategic
governing structure of the office of the Prime Minister,
parliament, and local government if a transitional governing

OTTAWA 00001424 002 OF 003

arrangement is to yield results. The U.S. also urged
continued engagement with regional leaders, emphasizing the
interests of the region in resolving the crisis. While most
delegations stressed the centrality of South Africa to
resolving the current impasse, the U.S. pointed out the
important role to be played by Tanzania and the potential of
expanding the negotiating structure to provide for a more
active role on the part of the AU. The U.S. also proposed
development of a consensus on benchmarks; while it was clear
that all delegations support the broad principles for
reengagement, it would be equally important to agree on what
constitutes success in a calibrated approach to
re-engagement. Early opportunities include cessation of
violence, appointing the PM and his deputies, submission and
repeal of key legislation in parliament, and appointing a new
governor of the RBZ. Change at the RBZ was among the
economic steps that the Fishmongers' Group emphasized needed
to come early.

5. (SBU) Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade Director General for Africa Janet Graham
outlined Canada,s three-pronged approach: continued
humanitarian support to avert crisis conditions; pushing for
an African-led approach to solve the political stalemate;
and, strong public condemnation of human rights abuses by the
Mugabe government and ZANU-PF affiliated militias. Pocock
again urged donors to support MDC as it sets the terms for
negotiations, chief among them control of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe and the retirement or firing of the police

Donors Await Credible Government

6. (SBU) The discussion of re-engagement scenarios was
chaired by Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Director General Nadia Kostiuk, and began with a report
prepared by the Harare Fishmongers' Group. African
Development Bank (ADB) Senior Advisor Graham Stegmann said
the ADB will continue its new emphasis on helping fragile
states to reform and strengthen. It has no plans, however,
to re-engage with Zimbabwe until a credible governmental
partner emerges that reflects the will of the people of
Zimbabwe. Stegmann noted that progress and reform in
Zimbabwe will depend on credible people assuming important
roles within a new government and pursuing a real reform
agenda. He said Zimbabwe,s economic recovery challenges are
compounded by a lack of understanding among all political
leaders of the true damage that Zimbabwe,s economy has

7. (SBU) Stegmann commented that a recovery program must have
the full buy-in of all parties to achieve real momentum. He
noted that donors will likely look for early signs of
credibility by the new government, including appointment of a
respected figure as the head of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) and an early audit of the RBZ. The ADB can offer
expertise in agriculture, water, sanitation, infrastructure,
accountability operations, and lines of credit for exporters.
Zimbabwe must repay its arrears to the ADB as a
pre-condition for technical assistance and lines of credit,
which is a non-negotiable pre-condition, according to
Stegmann. The ADB has no funding to help forgive Zimbabwe,s
arrears to the bank (although the delegation requested
Qarrears to the bank (although the delegation requested
contributions to the ADB,s Fragile States Facility, which
could fund arrears clearance). Immediate flashpoints between
donors and the new government are likely to be land reform, a
timetable for lifting of sanctions, and investor protections.

8. (SBU) The World Bank,s Peter Nicholas said the Bank
strongly endorsed the analysis of the ADB on the problems
facing Zimbabwe as well as the rules for re-engagement in
Zimbabwe by international financial institutions. Once a
credible government partner exists, the World Bank stands
ready to provide humanitarian assistance, analytical policy
support, and programs to treat and combat HIV/AIDS, said
Nicholas. The Bank is working on proposals to make available
a $5 million fund for coping and survival mechanisms as well
as a $10 million grant for maize seed purchase and
distribution, tightly integrated with the FAO,s global

9. (SBU) Unlike the ADB, the World Bank has funding set aside
to assist in the clearance of Zimbabwe,s arrears, but the

OTTAWA 00001424 003 OF 003

new GOZ will need to become HIPC-eligible to gain access to
the Bank,s special arrears clearance program. Nicholas
highlighted that the Bank has gained important experience in
several other countries in security sector reform, including
disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, and it stands
ready to help implement those best practices in Zimbabwe. In
an apparent plea against benchmarks for reengagement, UNDP,s
Zimbabwe technical director Mark Simpson cautioned that
Zimbabwe, like all fragile states in transition, can and will
perform well and poorly simultaneously after it makes the
transition to a post-Mugabe government. He said donors must
manage their own expectations in this light and make their
domestic constituencies understand the disjointed dynamic of

10. (SBU) CIDA Acting Director General Louise Clement said
the donors must align their goals with those of the new
government when it comes. She emphasized the important role
of Zimbabwean civil society in crafting benchmarks for the
new government. Canada will remain cautious on re-engaging
in Zimbabwe and will likely advocate that many of the
Like-Minded Group,s benchmarks should be viewed as
pre-conditions for further steps and deeper re-engagement
with the new government. Canada recognizes the need for
flexibility in managing the fluid nature of reform with a new
government, said Clement, but Canada does want the group to
agree on minimal standards for deeming benchmarks as having
been met. She urged the conference to task the Fishmongers'
Group with further work on benchmarks and minimum
expectations for a new government.

11. (SBU) Sweden,s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Sten Rylander
seconded the Canadian proposal to task the Fishmongers' Group
on benchmarking and minimum standards. Sweden will step
forward with short-term humanitarian relief but cautioned
that it will be "quite strict" in requiring progress on
benchmarks in return for long-term recovery assistance.
Rylander also reiterated Sweden,s offer to host a donor
conference at the appropriate time. He urged caution in
pushing for early elections once a transitional government is
in place. In Sweden,s estimation, early elections often do
more harm than good. Germany,s representative Zimbabwe desk
officer Kristina Jonek said the group should take a
step-by-step approach ("we will deliver when you deliver")
and agreed with France,s advocacy for a pragmatic approach
to dealing with Zimbabwe.

12. (SBU) The UK will judge any new government by what it
does, not by who it appoints, said Ambassador Pocock. He
urged the group to consider ways to support the MDC, civil
society, and the parliament as they stand up to Mugabe and
ZANU-PF. The international community must engage African
leaders and publics intensively and at every level to achieve
a shared analysis of the situation in Zimbabwe and secure
agreement on a common path forward, said Pocock. South
Africa is the key player in applying outside pressure, said
Pocock, and, unless it can be prodded to move from analysis
to action, we have "no hope" of bringing about change in
Zimbabwe. Pocock also urged the conference to begin planning
for worst case scenarios to manage the consequences of
failing to solve the crisis. Those consequences include:
Qfailing to solve the crisis. Those consequences include:
final middle class flight; final infrastructure collapse;
potential internal conflict or civil war; and, large
increases in displaced persons, both internally and

13. (SBU) Countries and organizations attending the October
30 Meeting included Australia, Denmark, Finland, France,
Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand,
Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United
States, African Development Bank, European Commission, UNDP,
and the World Bank.

14. (U) AF/S has cleared this message.

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