Cablegate: Scenesetter for Codel Meek's Visit to Zimbabwe

DE RUEHSB #0677/01 2311504
O 191504Z AUG 09




E.O. 12958: N/A
SEPTEMBER 2-3, 2009


1. (SBU) U.S. Mission Zimbabwe welcomes Representative Meeks
and his delegation. Your visit comes at an important period
in Zimbabwe's history following the entry into government of
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in February of this
year and is an opportunity to express support for democratic
reform in Zimbabwe and emphasize our expectations of the new
government. While the power-sharing agreement between
President Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the MDC is flawed and fragile,
under the new government the economy has stabilized after a
lost decade and there are signs of political change. Most
noteworthy is that Morgan Tsvangirai is Prime Minister,
something that was virtually inconceivable a year ago, and
the MDC has a majority in Parliament. Also, the process of
drafting a new constitution has begun. Disturbingly,
however, Mugabe and ZANU-PF continue to drag their heels on
full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
MDC governors have not yet been appointed, Deputy Minister of
Agriculture-designate Roy Bennett has not yet been sworn in,
and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono and
Attorney General Johannes Tomana, appointed in violation of
the GPA, remain in office. The Attorney General's office
under Tomana has selectively prosecuted MDC Members of
Parliament (MPs) in an apparent attempt to weaken the MDC
majority in Parliament. While violence has decreased,
ZANU-PF structures remain in place in parts of the country
and there is intimidation of MDC supporters. Invasions and
disruptions of white-owned farms and wild-animal
conservancies continue.

2. (SBU) Investors are showing renewed interest in Zimbabwe
due to the country's abundant natural resources and
well-educated populace. But so far they are remaining on the
sidelines, concerned about political instability and absence
of investment security. There is no land tenure -- title to
land resides in the State and seizure of land is
constitutional -- and the government has threatened to
require 51 percent indigenous ownership of businesses in all

3. (SBU) Donors, especially the U.S., provide large amounts
of humanitarian assistance, but are unwilling to reengage in
direct development assistance to the GOZ until there is
greater compliance with the GPA, particularly an end to human
rights violations and establishment of the rule of law. In
an effort to achieve greater compliance with the GPA,
Tsvangirai and the MDC have appealed to the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and its current head, South
African President Jacob Zuma. Zuma is scheduled to visit
Zimbabwe for an agricultural show on August 27 at which time
he is expected to hold talks with Mugabe and Tsvangirai. The
SADC Heads of State and Government will meet in Kinshasa
September 7-8. There are reports that Zuma intends to exert
QSeptember 7-8. There are reports that Zuma intends to exert
more pressure on Mugabe than his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki,
but this remains to be seen. Real change appears unlikely
until there are new elections, and this will probably occur
in 2012 or 2013. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- -
Despite Flawed Agreement, MDC Joins Government
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (SBU) Presidential and parliamentary elections took place
on March 29, 2008 and were relatively fair. The Tsvangirai
(MDC-T) and Mutambara (MDC-M) factions of the MDC combined

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won a parliamentary majority. Tsvangirai may have won a
majority in the presidential vote, but after delaying the
announcement of results for almost a month, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Authority announced he was just short of the 50
percent of the vote necessary to claim outright victory. In
the run-up to the June 27, 2008 presidential runoff election,
ZANU-PF unleashed a campaign of violence against MDC
supporters. Tsvangirai ultimately withdrew his name and
Mugabe won a clearly flawed victory.

5. (SBU) The international community, including SADC
countries, refused to recognize Mugabe's victory and grant
him the legitimacy he craved. Under pressure from SADC, and
with the economy imploding under inflation that ultimately
reached over a quadrillion percent, Mugabe entered into
negotiations with the MDC. The GPA was signed on September
15, 2008. For Mugabe, a coalition government represented a
way to shift responsibility to the MDC and to gain
legitimacy; for Tsvangirai, it presented an opportunity to
enter government and to stabilize the economy and help badly
affected Zimbabweans.

6. (SBU) While lofty in tone -- the GPA called for an end to
violence, institution of the rule of law, and power sharing
-- the agreement was scant as to detail and Tsvangirai spent
the next five months trying to negotiate with Mugabe as to
the specifics of the new government. During this period of
negotiation, over 30 MDC officials and members of civil
society were abducted, tortured and prosecuted. (NOTE: Even
after the formation of the new government, many of these
people are still being prosecuted, although there is no
evidence to support charges against them. END NOTE.)
Despite few gains in negotiations with Mugabe, in February,
2009 Tsvangirai and the MDC agreed to the passage of
Amendment 19 which incorporated the GPA and paved the way for
the inauguration of MDC officials and the establishment of
the new government in mid-February of this year.

Political Progress is Slow...

7. (SBU) Two years ago, it would have been difficult to
conceive that Morgan Tsvangirai would be Prime Minister of
Zimbabwe, that the MDC would have a majority in parliament,
and that the Speaker of the House of Assembly would be from
the MDC. The MDC is now in a position to influence the
political and economic trajectory of Zimbabwe, and Tsvangirai
has been received in the U.S., Europe, and Africa as a head
of government. Nevertheless, ZANU-PF is attempting to
frustrate political progress and the GPA remains unfulfilled.

8. (SBU) The GPA called for major appointments subsequent to
its signature to be made by Mugabe as president in
consultation with Tsvangirai. Nevertheless, Mugabe without
consultation appointed Gono as Reserve Bank Governor and
Tomana as Attorney General. Finance Minister Tendai Biti of
QTomana as Attorney General. Finance Minister Tendai Biti of
MDC-T has largely marginalized Gono whose source of power
over the last several years rested in his ability to print
money; with the abandonment of the Zimbabwe dollar and the
usage of foreign currency, principally the U.S. dollar,
Gono's wings have been clipped. Gono remains a symbol,
however, of economic mismanagement and ZANU-PF patronage.
Tomana has been largely responsible for the selective
prosecution of a number of MDC MPs. This is quite likely
part of a ZANU-PF strategy to weaken and perhaps overcome the
MDC's parliamentary majority. Tsvangirai and the MDC have
urged Mugabe to comply with the GPA by dismissing both Gono

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and Tomana and replacing them in consultation with
Tsvangirai. There are signs that Mugabe may accede to a
compromise: the replacement of Tomana. Gono is a Mugabe
confidante who knows where the skeletons are buried, and
Mugabe is reluctant to have him on the outside.

9. (SBU) Under the GPA, ZANU-PF and the MDC are supposed to
divide governorships, ministerial permanent secretaries, and
ambassadorships. The parties agreed that permanent
secretaries and ambassadors will remain in place and be
replaced proportionally as positions become open. The first
five MDC ambassadors were recently named. An agreement was
reached several weeks ago dividing governorships between the
parties. New governors were to assume their positions the
first of September. Last week, Mugabe reneged on the
agreement; the MDC will appeal to SADC if he fails to comply.

10. (SBU) Roy Bennett, the MDC treasurer, returned from
exile after the formation of the new government. He was
appointed to be a Senator and designated by Tsvangirai as the
Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Bennett was arrested and
charged with treason three days after the new government was
formed and released on bail a month later. He is alleged to
have illegally possessed weapons to use against the
government. Bennett's trial is scheduled for October and
Mugabe has refused to swear him in as deputy minister despite
the fact that other government officials have been sworn in
despite pending charges.

11. (SBU) ZANU-PF structures, used to terrorize and
intimidate MDC supporters in the last election, remain in
place in many rural areas.

12. (SBU) Invasions and disruptions of farms and wild-animal
conservancies continue to take place. These actions prevent
harvests and are inimical to tourism which is a key component
of economic growth in Zimbabwe.

...But There is Progress

13. (SBU) The GPA calls for an 18-month process to draft a
new constitution. This process is being guided by Parliament
and, despite opposition from ZANU-PF (which fears that
completion of a new constitution will be a prelude to early
elections), and elements of civil society (who oppose a
political, as opposed to a civic-led process), it is

14. (SBU) The BBC is now operating openly -- albeit with
some pressures to self-censor -- and there are possibilities
that independent daily newspapers will be allowed to publish
in the coming months.

15. (SBU) The MDC is celebrating its 10th anniversary and
has openly held rallies around the country. Last weekend in
Mutare, Zimbabwe's third-largest city, the party claimed
attendance of 40,000.

16. (SBU) The MDC is present in government and in ministries
it controls is establishing policies and taking actions. In
general, it is seen by the public, which has never known
Qgeneral, it is seen by the public, which has never known
post-independence anything but a ZANU-led government, as a
legitimate democratic governing force.

Reversing Economic Decline

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17. (SBU) Zimbabwe's economy shrank across all sectors
between 1999 and 2008; real GDP is estimated to have declined
by over 40 percent. President Mugabe's large unbudgeted
payments in late 1997 to agitating veterans of the 1970s
liberation war precipitated the economic decline, and
Zimbabwe's costly military intervention in the Democratic
Republic of Congo in the late 1990s further destabilized the
economy. The disastrous fast-track land redistribution
exercise that began in 2000 and the implementation of such
wrongheaded policies as draconian price controls led to a
sharp fall in food production and exports. The collapse of
the agricultural sector had a multiplier effect on Zimbabwe's
largely agriculturally-based manufacturing sector - a second
pillar of the economy. In addition, Zimbabwe's pariah status
devastated the tourism industry. A fourth pillar of the
economy - the mining sector - failed to take advantage of a
decade of rising commodity prices, being subject, as well, to
misguided pricing, poor foreign exchange policies, and
patronage abuse.

18. (SBU) Zimbabwe's external payments position deteriorated
sharply in the past decade and the rate of inflation spiraled
out of control as the government turned to money creation to
fund its spending. Inflation is estimated to have peaked at
an unprecedented level of 500 quadrillion percent in
September 2008. In late 2008, the Zimbabwe dollar virtually
disappeared from circulation and the pricing of goods and
services shifted to foreign currency.

19. (SBU) Formal acceptance of dollarization by the
government in February 2009 finally stopped hyperinflation
overnight and ushered in macroeconomic stability. The
adoption of a cash budget (monthly expenses matching monthly
revenue) by the new government put an end to high deficits
while dollarization provided a strong nominal anchor for the
control of inflation. Upon the new government's reengagement
with the IMF this year, the Fund approved the provision of
limited technical assistance to Zimbabwe.

20. (SBU) While the economy has begun to stabilize, the
systematic and ongoing attack on property rights, and reports
that all companies will be required to have 51 percent
indigenous ownership, have scared off investors. Today
Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa, is a poor
and deeply indebted country with a per capita GDP of less
than US$1/day. The success of the new government's economic
policies will depend on introducing further far-reaching
reforms that will spur production and attract support from
international donors and investors alike.

Current U.S. Assistance

21. (SBU) The Mission's current FY 2009 budget level for
Zimbabwe (excluding centrally-funded humanitarian assistance)
is approximately US$66 million. These funds support
Qis approximately US$66 million. These funds support
activities related to democracy and governance, health, and
the start-up of an economic growth program. A supplemental
budget of US$45 million is currently on the Hill to raise the
Mission's FY 2009 budget to approximately US$111 million.
This funding level, although US$60 million short of the
Mission's full transition request, would enable the Mission
to begin to implement components of the National Security
Council's recently-approved transition strategy for Zimbabwe.
In addition to the above funding, the Mission receives

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significant support from USAID's Bureau for Democracy,
Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/DCHA) for food
and non-food humanitarian assistance and transition support.
To date, FY 2009 funding from DCHA is another US$114 million
- US$94 million from the Office for Food for Peace
(USAID/FFP), US$16 million from the Office of Foreign
Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), and US$4 million from the
Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI).

Status of GOZ and Donor Community

22. (SBU) Through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), the donor
community, including the USG, has created a mechanism to
provide technical assistance to progressive-line ministries
and the Office of the Prime Minister to fill critical gaps.
This mechanism is intended to assist overwhelmed ministries
to identify and prioritize critical needs and to advise on
policy reforms. Coordination between the GOZ and the donor
community is at a nascent stage. Much work remains to
improve coordination at all levels and to educate the GOZ on
aid effectiveness principles and standard development

U.S. Policy and Reengagement

23. (SBU) The U.S. and other donors form a very cohesive
front subscribing to a set of principles to guide
reengagement with Zimbabwe to ultimately include
developmental assistance. These principles include:

-- Full and equal access to humanitarian assistance;
-- Commitment to macroeconomic stabilization;
-- Restoration of the rule of law, including enforcement of
contracts, an independent judiciary, and respect for property
-- Commitment to the democratic process and respect for
internationally accepted human rights standards; and
-- Commitment to timely free and fair elections with
international standards, and in the presence of international

24. (SBU) Access to humanitarian assistance has improved,
the MDC-controlled finance ministry is working to achieve
macroeconomic stabilization, and a constitutional process
called for by the GPA is underway -- a new constitution is a
predicate to new elections. Much remains to be done,
however, in the area of human rights and rule of law and the
USG has signaled that greater engagement and developmental
assistance will depend on progress in these areas. In the
interim, and following the guidance of President Obama from
his meeting in June with Prime Minister Tsvangirai, we are
putting in place "humanitarian plus" assistance in the areas
of health, education, and agriculture, including credit

The Outlook

25. (SBU) Tsvangirai has made clear he is committed to
remaining in the government. While he will raise the failure
of Mugabe and ZANU-PF to fully comply with the GPA with South
Qof Mugabe and ZANU-PF to fully comply with the GPA with South
African President Zuma (due to visit Zimbabwe on August 27)

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and with SADC (a SADC Heads of State and Government summit
will take place in Kinshasa in early September), Mugabe is
only likely to give enough to satisfy SADC and Zuma without
relinquishing control of government or acceding to meaningful
reform. Without such reform, the engagement of donors and
the International Financial Institutions is likely to be
limited and economic growth therefore constrained. On the
political front, it was initially assumed that the drafting
of a new constitution would lead to elections in 2010 or
2011. At this point in time, the most likely scenario is a
continuing and uneasy coalition between ZANU-PF and the MDC
with some economic progress and fitful and limited political
reform. Real political change would seem possible only after
a new election. Neither party, however, seems eager to
advance elections which are scheduled under the current
constitution for 2013.

A Note on Your Visit

26. (SBU) Your visit provides an opportunity to demonstrate
U.S. commitment to democratic transition in Zimbabwe. You
will be meeting with President Mugabe, Prime Minister
Tsvangirai, and House of Assembly Speaker Lovemore Moyo and
other parliamentarians. With Mugabe, you will be able to
reiterate the message that the U.S. supports the Zimbabwean
people, but that greater engagement, including assistance,
depends on a demonstration of greater commitment to political
reform and rule of law. With Tsvangirai, you can express
support for his efforts to achieve democratic reform and
encourage him to continue to press for full implementation of
the GPA. With parliamentarians, you can underscore the
importance of drafting a constitution that enshrines
fundamental liberties and contains property guarantees. You
can also emphasize the importance of an independent


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