Cablegate: Zim Notes 09-08-2009
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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080824Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4878
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3012
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3127
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1556
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2390
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2757
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3175
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5620
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2303
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000714
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 09-08-2009
Topics of the week:
- Codel Meets with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and MPs...
- Min. of Justice Withdraws Zimbabwe from SADC Tribunal...
- Fires Destroy Two White Homesteads...
- KP Chair Clarifies Zim Visit...
- Teachers Ignore Call to Strike...
- Mugabe Grants Amnesty to 1,500...
- S/GAC Visits Zim...
- Residents Angered by Council's Profligacy...
- HRW: GPA Fails to Deliver...
- Gono Spins SDR Allocation...
- Cost of Food Basket for Family of Six Falls...- LonZim Mulls Secondary Listing in Zimbabwe...
- Industry Recovery a Curse for Power Utility...
- CZI Goes Zzzzz...
On the Political/Social Front
2. Codel Meets with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and MPs... A five-member
Congressional delegation led by Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY), and
including Rep. Melvin Watt (D-NC), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX),
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), spent two
days in Harare meeting separately with President Mugabe, Prime
Minister Tsvangirai, Speaker Moyo and the three co-chairs of the
Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution. The delegation
discussed the performance of the inclusive government and the need
to resolve outstanding issues, while reiterating their support for
the Zimbabwean people. Despite several weeks of advance notice,
permission to meet with Mugabe came shortly before the group was
scheduled to depart Harare resulting in only a brief courtesy call.
The State media portrayed the rushed meeting as an indication that
the U.S. was not interested in meeting with ZANU-PF officials. See
3. Min. of Justice Withdraws Zimbabwe from SADC Tribunal...
Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa (ZANU-PF) delivered a letter
to the SADC Tribunal dated August 7 informing the regional body's
legal organ that Zimbabwe would no longer participate in Tribunal
proceedings until the establishment of the court has been ratified
by two-thirds of all members. Chinamasa said Zimbabwe would also no
longer be bound by the court's decisions, which previously the
country had only participated in out of "respect for the SADC
Secretariat." Legal opinions differ about whether or not Zimbabwe's
ratification of the SADC Treaty extends to the un-ratified Protocol
that formed the Tribunal Court. The decision follows the Tribunal's
November ruling favoring the case of a group of white farmers
contesting the seizure of their farms.
4. Fires Destroy Two White Homesteads... The farmhouses of white
commercial farmers Ben Freeth and his father-in-law Mike Campbell
were burnt down on August 31 and September 2, respectively. There
are different reports about the first fire, but the second fire
appears to be an act of arson stemming from the farmers' refusal to
vacate their properties, despite having been granted relief by the
SADC Tribunal Court last November. The Freeths and Campbells have
QSADC Tribunal Court last November. The Freeths and Campbells have
also been victimized by violence for remaining on their land, as
evidenced by their April 2008 abductions and beatings at the hands
of ZANU-PF militias. Perhaps not coincidentally "Mugabe and the
White African," a film about farm invasions and the SADC Tribunal
screened in Johannesburg on September 1.
5. KP Chair Clarifies Zim Visit... The Namibian Deputy Minister of
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Mines and Kimberley Process Chairman Bernard Esau issued a statement
this week to clarify that his recent visit to Zimbabwe was a
"bilateral (trip) for informative purposes only." Also this week,
Zimbabwe Minister of Mines and Mining Development Obert Mpofu told a
parliamentary committee that the government wants "50 percent
shareholding in joint ventures with investors, that's not
negotiable." For Esau's statement, see:
6. Teachers Ignore Call to Strike... The Zimbabwe Teachers'
Association (ZIMTA) called for teachers to strike this week when the
third term started on September 2. ZIMTA and the Progressive
Teachers' Union (PTUZ) engaged in long negotiations with Education
Minister David Coltart (MDC-M) and Finance Minister Tendai Biti
(MDC-T) over salaries. Teachers, like all civil servants, are being
paid on average just US $150 per month. PTUZ did not call on its
members to strike, acknowledging the two ministers' efforts to
negotiate a raise while contending with empty government coffers. We
have heard that most teachers, regardless of union membership, were
back in class this week.
7. Mugabe Grants Amnesty to 1,500... Citing overcrowding and
limited resources in the prison system, President Mugabe granted
amnesty to 1,500 prisoners this week. All convicted female prisoners
and juveniles, except those serving sentences for serious crimes
such as murder, rape and other sexual offenses, car-jacking, armed
robbery and stock theft, would have the remainder of their sentences
8. S/GAC Visits Zim... Ambassador Eric Goosby, the Global AIDS
Coordinator for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
(PEPFAR) and lead for the U.S. Government's engagement with the
Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, was in Zimbabwe this
week, meeting with USAID, CDC, implementing partners and government
officials. Through PEPFAR, the USG is the leading provider of
bilateral HIV/AIDS assistance to Zimbabwe. Between 2004 and 2008,
the U.S. Government provided nearly $109 million to Zimbabwe to
support comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care
9. Residents Angered by Council's Profligacy... Harare residents
voiced their anger at the free-spending Harare City Council which
recently bought a Mercedes for the mayor and two Toyota Prados for
his directors, while failing to supply water to certain residential
areas. The total bill for the vehicles came to US$343,000. The
Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) has demanded a meeting
with Mayor Masunda over the matter and argues that the money could
have provided six month's worth of water to the city's dry suburbs.
10. HRW: GPA Fails to Deliver... This week, Human Rights Watch
published a new report documenting the Global Political Agreement's
(GPA) failures to improve human rights in Zimbabwe. See:
On the Economic and Business Front
11. Gono Spins SDR Allocation... Following the International
Monetary Fund's new allocation of Special Drawing Rights to all its
members, The Herald has portrayed the increase in Zimbabwe's
reserves as a cash windfall ("IMF gives Zim US$500m") resulting from
"months of behind-the-scenes interaction" between the IMF and
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono. The GOZ mouthpiece
quotes Gono as saying, "We have been in constant delicate
discussions with IMF technical teams over the past few months and I
am pleased to now say that we have gotten somewhere." Meanwhile,
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back here on Earth, the RBZ is still going nowhere fast. But after
Dr. Gono's spin-doctoring, Finance Minister Biti is likely to be
pilloried by The Herald if he chooses not to borrow the SDRs (at a
non-concessional interest rate) to fund a stimulus package. We
expect Biti will risk The Herald's wrath and keep the SDRs in
reserve for now. See Harare 711.
12. Cost of Food Basket for Family of Six Falls... Data shows that
the cost of a food basket for a family of six monitored by the
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) fell from about US$500 in July to
US$495 in August, thanks to a 4 percent decline in food prices which
the director of CCZ attributed to a re-appearance of Zimbabwean as
opposed to imported products on supermarket shelves. Despite the
observed fall, the new level is still far above average earnings.
13. LonZim Mulls Secondary Listing in Zimbabwe... After surviving
a shareholder revolt that would have seen it selling Zimbabwean
assets, the London alternative investment market (AIM) listed LonZim
is working with advisors on a planned secondary listing on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE). According to LonZim's executive
chairman, the decision is primarily attributed to the expected
recovery reflected in rising equities on the ZSE.
14. Industry Recovery a Curse for Power Utility... The chief
executive officer of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(ZESA) told an energy forum on August 2 that an economic turnaround
will strain the country's capacity to generate electricity. He
stated that ZESA would need US$900 million to refurbish its two main
electricity generating stations to ramp-up production and enable the
utility to cope with the expected demand as the economy recovers.
15. CZI Goes Zzzzz... The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
(CZI) held its annual conference this week. The two-day gathering
was sparsely attended, perhaps because captains of Zimbabwean
industry could not spare the US$240 registration fee. President
Mugabe was scheduled to speak, but failed to appear. The Prime
Minister and Finance Minister were also conspicuous by their
absence. Speakers from industry, government, and academia offered
numerous platitudes but no new ideas.
Quote of the Week
16. "Clearly, the Congressmen did not have the President on their
schedule. The meeting was incidental to their mission in Zimbabwe."
-- Presidential spokesman George Charamba, on a September 3 CODEL
meeting with Mugabe, requested over two weeks in advance.