Cablegate: Zim Notes 09-11-2009
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TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI
SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 09-11-2009
Topics of the week:
- SADC Summit...
- New Strategy Against White Farmers?
- Senior EU Delegation to Visit...
- MP Jonathan Moyo Re-joins ZANU-PF...
- Activist Killed for a Song...
- MFA Apologizes, and The Herald Prints Embassy Letter...
- University of Zimbabwe Re-opens...
- ZANU-PF Harasses MDC Supporters in UMP...
- Violence Continues in Chiadzwa...
- More Spin on SDRs...
- Investment Road-show Moves to London...
- Zimbabwe Slips on the World Bank's Doing Business Rankings...
- Retail Giant in Discussion with Potential Partner...
On the Political and Social Front
2. SADC Summit... The SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government
which ended this week in Kinshasa produced a communiqu which, with
reference to Zimbabwe, "noted the progress made in the
implementation of the Global Political Agreement and called on the
international community to remove all forms of sanctions against
Zimbabwe." The MDC unsuccessfully sought a subsequent special SADC
summit on Zimbabwe in light of the short shrift the Kinshasa Summit
afforded to Zimbabwe. Global Political Agreement issues will next
be considered by the SADC organ on politics, defense, and security
of which Mozambique, Angola, and South Africa are members. No date
has been set for a meeting of the organ.
3. New Strategy Against White Farmers? Embattled white farmer Mike
Campbell, whose house was burned to the ground two weeks ago,
continues to face trouble from the government. On Thursday security
forces claimed that they found two explosive items, reportedly
weapons caches, in the remains of his house. They then held two
controlled explosions to destroy them. The Campbells have not been
charged with any crimes, and police refuse to investigate the fire.
Separately, last week a farmer reported police were trying to charge
him with shooting at settlers. Police presented empty shells as
evidence, but the farmer got off because the shells didn't fit any
of his guns. These two incidents may be part of a new strategy to
lock up resistant farmers.
4. Senior EU Delegation to Visit... The most senior EU delegation
since 2002 will visit Zimbabwe September 12 and 13. The delegation
will be comprised of Swedish International Development Co-operation
Minister Gunilla Carlsson, EU Aid Commissioner Karel De Gucht and a
representative of the council secretariat. A Ministry of Media,
Information, and Publicity official commented with the usual ZANU-PF
party line, declaring "the starting point would obviously be that
the EU has to admit that sanctions are wrong and that land reform in
Zimbabwe is irreversible. That admission, and that admission alone,
is the only true proof that they recognize us as a sovereign nation
that lost tens of thousands of citizens to create a democracy after
decades of racist minority rule."
Qdecades of racist minority rule."
5. MP Jonathan Moyo Re-joins ZANU-PF... The controversial
independent MP Jonathan Moyo has petitoned to re-join the ZANU-PF
party. ZANU-PF officials told the press that Moyo will have to
re-enter ZANU-PF at "cell level" and rise through the ranks like
everyone else. Moyo, who called ZANU-PF a "dead duck on the shelf"
in 2007, has recently re-directed his long, vicious tirades against
the MDC. Moyo is well-known for his service as Mugabe's Minister of
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Information from 2000 until 2005 when he was expelled from the party
for attempting to re-arrange the ZANU-PF succession, enraging
6. Activist Killed for a Song... On August 30 MDC activist
Godknows Mtshakazi, was beaten to death by four soldiers at Mufiri
Business Centre in Shurugwi, Midlands Province for playing an MDC
song in a bar. Mtshakazi and several other MDC activists were having
a drink and a listening to the radio when a soldier accused the
group of organizing an MDC rally, which the group denied. The
soldier singled out Mtshakazi as the leader of the group and beat
him to death after dragging him to a nearby army base. Afterwards
the soldiers sent word to Mtshakazi's wife to go and collect her
husband. Immediately after the incident, the soldier who instigated
the fight was arrested in Bulawayo; it is not yet clear if he will
7. MFA Apologizes, and The Herald Prints Embassy Letter... After
The Herald reported on September 4 that Codel Meeks only met with
President Mugabe as an "afterthought" on September 3, we sent a
letter to The Herald clarifying that the delegation had sought a
meeting with Mugabe weeks before the visit. To our pleasant
surprise, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent us an "urgent" dip
note that day, explaining that the story in The Herald was not the
government's view of events. On September 5, The Herald printed our
letter. This is the closest thing we've seen to an apology from the
MFA in recent memory, and The Herald has rarely printed our critical
8. University of Zimbabwe Re-opens... The University of Zimbabwe
finally re-opened on September 8 for the second semester, after
closing for 10 months. The lack of water and financial problems
forced the closure of the university in November 2008. The Zimbabwe
National Students Union (ZINASU) staged a demonstration and
petitioned the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education to review
what they called unaffordable tuition fees. Surprisingly, police on
bicycles escorted the peaceful protestors.
9. ZANU-PF Harasses MDC Supporters in UMP... ZANU-PF has stepped
up a campaign of harassment against MDC supporters in Uzumba Maramba
Pfungwe (UMP) in Mashonaland Central Province. The MDC says ZANU-PF
is using war veterans, soldiers and traditional leaders to demand
that MDC supporters denounce their party membership and surrender
all party materials and regalia by October. As a result, several
MDC supporters have been forced to become ZANU-PF members.
10. Violence Continues in Chiadzwa... Soldiers killed an illegal
digger after imposing an arbitrary curfew on residents in the area
on September 4. The police who took him to the hospital claimed he
had attempted to disarm a soldier, but privately conceded he had
been beaten to death by soldiers when he violated the curfew. The
Mutare-based 3rd brigade of the army will soon move to the area to
QMutare-based 3rd brigade of the army will soon move to the area to
replace the 5th brigade. Our contacts report that the changeover may
contribute to increased smuggling because the 3rd brigade has more
knowledge of the area and contact with the illegal diamond dealers
in Mutare and across the border in Mozambique. The Herald published
a scathing article this week, claiming that the NGO Human Rights
Watch, which has publicly decried human rights abuses in the
Chiadzwa diamond fields, is nothing more than a tool of the U.S.
government for illegal regime change in Zimbabwe.
On the Economic and Business Front
11. More Spin on SDRs... The September 8 edition of The Herald
extended its misinformation campaign on Zimbabwe's "windfall" from
the IMF. (On September 4, a lead article in the newspaper quoted
RBZ Governor Gono as stating that Zimbabwe had received US$500
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million from the IMF.) Under the headline, "IMF loan: Second
tranche released," the ZANU-PF rag reported that "dust raised by
internal wrangles" between Finance Minister Biti and Gono had "sent
bad signals to the global lender." The Herald also said,
"Investigations have revealed that the US$408 million received at
the end of last month has remained untouched in the RBZ account."
The paper quoted Gono's adviser, Munyaradzi Kereke, saying, "We
continue to await directives from Government on how to deploy it."
Elsewhere in the press, reporting on this story has been on target.
The Sunday Standard, for example, accurately reported on September 6
that Biti did not intend to borrow from Zimbabwe's new SDR
12. Investment Road-show Moves to London... Following a successful
investment conference for 40 international fund managers in Zimbabwe
in June, the financial services group Imara and co-hosts Fleming
Family and Partners will take their road-show to London on September
24. According to Imara, economics is going ahead of politics, with
investors seeking to exploit the first mover advantage. In a press
statement, Imara said Finance Minister Biti and executives from five
leading Zimbabwean companies will address the London conference.
Imara says dollarization makes Zimbabwe a good deal for investors
because it eliminates exchange-rate risk. The many Zimbabweans who
keep their foreign currency accounts outside the banking system seem
to take a different view.
13. Zimbabwe Slips on the World Bank's Doing Business Rankings...
Zimbabwe is now ranked 159 out of 183 countries surveyed in the
World Bank's Doing Business Report for 2010, well below South Africa
and Botswana, which are rankd 34 and 45, respectively. Reflecting
the poor business environment, a senior cartographer in the Ministry
of Mines and Mining Development told us that applications for
prospecting licenses submitted in 2007 have not yet been processed.
Such delays help to explain why Zimbabwe has not attracted foreign
investment in recent years.
14. Retail Giant in Discussion with Potential Partner... A local
retail giant, OK Zimbabwe Limited, has held a number of discussions
with South African retailers, including Shoprite, to find a
potential technical and equity partner. The chief executive officer
of OK told us that the discussions are still at a preliminary stage,
but the eventual shareholding structure will be guided by the
current rules of a maximum of 35 percent foreign ownership in
Quotes of the Week
15. "Politicians are the ones that would have let the nation down.
I won't feel bad. I am not a politician. The nation would have been
let down, but not by me." - Attorney General Johannes Tomana,
deflecting potential blame if the government collapses. September
16. "The rule of law has failed in Zimbabwe as there are some
Q16. "The rule of law has failed in Zimbabwe as there are some
people in government and ZANU-PF who continue to disregard the law.
MDC members continue to be arrested on trumped-up charges, assaulted
or even murdered... Perpetrators of political violence cannot go
unpunished. As long as there is no rule of law there is no justice,
which means there will be no investment in Zimbabwe as there is no
investor security." -- MDC-T Senator and businessman Matson Hlalo,
speaking to residents of his constituency of Emakhandeni-Entumbane.