Cablegate: Zim Notes 08-28-2009
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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311026Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4859
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RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2378
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2745
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3163
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5608
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2291
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000699
AF/S FOR B. WALCH
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND J. HARMON
COMMERCE FOR ROBERT TELCHIN
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI
SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 08-28-2009
Topics of the week:
- Zuma Visits Zimbabwe, Discusses GPA...
- Elections When?...
- Mutambara Speaks Out...and is Slammed...
- KP Chair's Visit Stir Controversy...
- Mugabe Seeks Health Care in Dubai...
- Deputy Youth Minister's Trial Begins...
- Richard Hove Dies...
- Doctors Strike Ends...
- Cholera Reports Not True...
- ...But H1N1 Reports Are...
- Villagers Beat Up Policeman...
- Leaving on a Jet Plane - Twice...
- Afreximbank Gives Loans to Farmers...
- Too Little Too Late for Commercial Farmers...
- Zimbabwe "Riskiest" Investment Destination...
On the Political/Social Front
2. Zuma Visits Zimbabwe, Discusses GPA... South African president
Jacob Zuma arrived in Harare on Thursday, his first visit to
Zimbabwe since he took office. He met privately with Zimbabwean
president Robert Mugabe, attended a State dinner hosted by Mugabe,
and then met late into the night, separately, with Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara. He
will meet today jointly with the three principals, as well as Vice
President Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe.
According to MDC sources, Zuma is raising the outstanding issues of
the continuing presence of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono,
Attorney General Johannes Tomana, Mugabe's refusal to appoint MDC
governors and Roy Bennett as deputy minister of agriculture, and
selective prosecutions. Zuma has told the MDC that if he is unable
to move Mugabe on these issues, he will support placing them on the
agenda of the SADC Summit in Kinshasa in early September. ANC
secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has been quoted in the independent
press in Harare as saying Zuma will be more vocal that former South
African president Thabo Mbeki in attempting to curb Mugabe's
"deviant behavior," but we have not yet seen any evidence to that
3. Elections When?... The Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed
last September provides for an 18 month process to draft a new
constitution, followed by a national referendum on the consttution.
The GPA says nothing about elections. At the time of formation of
the inclusive government in February, a widespread assumption was
that the government would be transitional; instead of the next
elections taking place in 2013, as they would under the current
constitution, many believed that a new constitution would pave the
way for new elections and an end to the transitional government in
2010 or 2011. For the past several months, it has seemed that
ZANU-PF was dragging its feet on the constitutional process to avoid
the prospect of elections--as things stand now, there is no question
they would lose reasonably fair elections. But it increasingly
appears that the MDC also would be content to allow an election date
to slide. Noting this, the semi-independent The Financial Gazette
(Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has an interest but the paper is
Q(Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has an interest but the paper is
often critical of the government and ZANU-PF) in an editorial in
Thursday's edition noted lack of progress in fulfilling the GPA and
called for limiting the lifespan of the government to two years with
elections to immediately follow.
4. Mutambara Speaks Out...and is Slammed... At a government
ministerial retreat last weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
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Mutambara stated that last year's elections (won by President Robert
Mugabe after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew because of
ZANU-PF-led violence against the MDC) were fraudulent. Most ZANU-PF
ministers present walked out. Since, the State media has been on a
campaign against Mutambara. An op-ed in Wednesday's The Herald
entitled "Mutambara must grow up" took him to task and quoted
ZANU-PF Minister of Justice Patrick Chinimasa as saying his party
would not participate in any meeting at which Mutambara had a role.
The same op-ed also praised Tsvangirai's growing composure as a
leader. Mutambara has been somewhat of a loose cannon. He has
criticized the west and called for a lifting of sanctions. He has
also urged ZANU-PF to comply with the Global Political Agreement. At
the Global 2009 Dialogue in Kampala in July, he incurred the ire of
ZANU-PF by suggesting that Zimbabwe's "brand" needed acceptance by
the west and by CNN, BBC, and Skynews.
5. KP Chair's Visit Stir Controversy... Bernard Esau, the Namibian
serving as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme Chair, was in
Zimbabwe last week claiming to represent a KP team on a routine
mission. International diamond industry members closely followed his
comments, with some in India rejoicing in Esau's statements that
Zimbabwe "won't be suspended," while industry watchdogs have decried
Esau's behavior. This week The Herald ran a long editorial pointing
out that the KP is "not legally binding." The editorial continued,
"the attempt to try and portray its army as a rogue force that is
brutalizing its citizens to get diamonds mined for free can only be
believed by the gullible who are the willing victims of Western
propaganda" The KP team that visited Zimbabwe in late June has not
yet issued its final report, making Esau's visit and public comments
highly unusual. See The Herald's tirade in full:
6. Mugabe Seeks Health Care in Dubai... This week President Mugabe
made a quick trip to Dubai. While his office reports he was on
holiday, many believe he was receiving medical care. In the past he
has often traveled to Malaysia for treatment of his suspected
prostate cancer. During his brief absence, rumors raged that he was
extremely ill, but he has assumed a full schedule since his return.
7. Deputy Youth Minister's Trial Begins... The trial of Thamsanqa
Mahlangu (MDC-T), who stands accused of stealing the $40 cellphone
of war veteran Joseph Chinotimba, began this week. Unlike other
recent prosecutions of MDC-T MPs, we're told there may be substance
to the charge.
8. Richard Hove Dies... ZANU-PF Senator and Politburo member
Richard Hove died of natural causes this week at age 77. Hove was
also chairman of the board of ZB Bank, which was added to the
Treasury Department's sanctions list last year.
9. Doctors Strike Ends... A three-week long strike by junior
physicians demanding higher pay at five central hospitals has ended.
Qphysicians demanding higher pay at five central hospitals has ended.
Senior physicians at affected hospitals disapproved of the actions
by the junior physicians. The impact of the strike on the health
sector was minimal; central hospitals continued to function and
10. Cholera Reports Not True... This week the local and
international press initially reported that a cholera outbreak had
occurred in a village near the southeastern town of Chipinge. The
local office of the World Health Organization responded quickly and
determined that the symptoms were not consistent with cholera and
stool samples came back negative. Health officials suspect the
illnesses were caused by food poisoning.
11. ...But H1N1 Reports Are... Zimbabwe's first five
locally-contracted cases of H1N1 have been confirmed. The cases were
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identified in a school in the eastern city of Mutare. All patients
were treated and recovered, and their contacts were followed for a
week after exposure
12. Villagers Beat Up Policeman... A group of villagers assaulted
two policemen with logs in a village near the southern town of
Chiredzi this week. One officer lost six teeth in the beating. The
two officers had intervened when they thought the villagers were
buying meat from a stolen animal. Five of the villagers were
arrested and are expected to face attempted murder charges.
On the Economic and Business Front
13. Leaving on a Jet Plane - Twice... Despite the looming collapse
of Air Zimbabwe, President Mugabe continues to commandeer planes for
personal use. On August 18, he grabbed Air Zim's Boeing 737 for a
SADC meeting in Namibia. The next day h seized a Boeing 767 for a
private visit to Dubai. On both occasions the airline had to cancel
scheduled flights, losing income necessary to meet its financial
obligations that include foreign debt of USD 78 million. That
includes USD 50 million owed to China for the purchase of two small
14. Afreximbank Gives Loans to Farmers... In testimony to the
parliamentary budget committee, Finance Minister Biti said the
African Export Import Bank had made a commitment to provide USD 30
million to local banks for on-lending to farmers during the 2009-10
agricultural season. This is a change from the past when farmers
were given free inputs financed by the printing presses of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
15. Too Little Too Late for Commercial Farmers... The main
architect of Zimbabwe's indigenization law, Paul Magwana of ZANU-PF,
spoke at an investment conference this week and was asked to compare
indigenization with land reform. Magwana commented that land reform
was a "revolutionary" program and "erroneous." It had backfired and
caused Zimbabwe to lose its agricultural capacity and its status as
a "breadbasket." Mangwana is one of the three chairs of the
Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution. Land reform is
considered sacrosanct by ZANU-PF, and it is noteworthy that Mangwana
made these comments publicly. While his belated insight is welcome,
it will do nothing to restore farm output from commercial farmers
who still face harassment and threats from land invaders.
16. Zimbabwe "Riskiest" Investment Destination... Citing
"economic, political, commercial, external, and political
insecurity," a recent Dunn and Bradstreet survey ranked Zimbabwe as
the "riskiest" (along with Afghanistan) country for investment.
Quotes of the Week
17. "Nobody, and I must stress this emphatically, nobody wants to
be removed from power. Power is so sweet that no one wants to leave
it.... So if you continue to remind me that I am writing my own
removal from power, the chances of me voting for a new Constitution
Qremoval from power, the chances of me voting for a new Constitution
will be diminished. This is across party lines." - ZANU-PF MP and
Constitutional Committee Co-Chair Paul Mangwana, in The Zimbabwe
Times, August 23, 2009.
18. "Cde Mugabe is the head of the government of the Republic of
Zimbabwe. He is the President of this country. He is the man who
chairs our cabinet. He is the one who tells all of us, including the
Prime Minister, what should be done." Minister of State for
Presidential Affairs Didymus Mutasa (ZANU-PF) speaking to ZBC-TV on
Wednesday August 26, 2009.
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