Cablegate: Zim Notes 10-09-2009
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131124Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4999
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3077
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3189
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1618
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2452
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2821
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3237
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5684
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2371
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000812
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 10-09-2009
Topics of the week:
- Mugabe Opens Parliament...
- ...And Then Attacks West's "Obnoxious Agenda"...
- State Media Calls Off Attack Dogs...
- ... And Then Intimidates Independent Paper...
- Voter Roll Irregularities...
- Striking Mine Workers Shot, Intimidated...
- Minister of Defense Leads Diamond Delegation...
- Zim Third-to-Last in Governance...
- Biti is Best Finance Minister in Africa...
- Stock Exchange Rises Against a Sea of Gloom...
- Large Textile Firm Goes Under...
- Journalists Astounded...
- Government Cooks Up Another Privatization Plan...
- Gono Wins Ig Nobel Prize...
On the Political and Social Front
2. Mugabe Opens Parliament... President Robert Mugabe gave a
subdued and conciliatory speech at the opening of Parliament this
week. There was a marked contrast with the atmosphere last year
when MDC MPs jeered him and accused him of stealing the election.
Under instructions from their party, they remained respectful and
even applauded when Mugabe called for unity. Instead of the
anti-Western rhetoric of previous parliamentary openings, Mugabe
stated, "Our country remains in a positive stance to enter into
fresh, friendly and cooperative relations with all those countries
that have been hostile to us in the past." Mugabe also said that as
re-engagement proceeds, he would expect sanctions to be lifted.
3. ...And Then Attacks West's "Obnoxious Agenda"... President
Mugabe spoke at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
'World 2009' meeting in Geneva on Wednesday. He attacked the West
for what he called the continued violation of Zimbabwe's airwaves by
foreign based radio stations. Mugabe told a Council of Ministers
meeting that 'certain western countries' had 'radio broadcasting
systems' that were targeting 'his' country to further their
'obnoxious regime change agendas.'
4. State Media Calls Off Attack Dogs... State media has ceased, at
least for the time being, attacks on Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai. A Tsvangirai advisor told us that "hate speech" was one
of the issues about which Tsvangirai had recently confronted
President Robert Mugabe, and that Mugabe had subsequently instructed
George Charamba, presidential spokesperson and permanent secretary
in the Ministry of Information, to lay off. Charamba, who has
substantial control over the content of State media, took Mugabe's
instructions one step further. There has been no negative coverage
of Tsvangirai, but neither has there been any other coverage.
5. ...And Then Intimidates Independent Paper... George Charamba
admonished Zimbabwe Independent Editor Barnabas Thondhlana to not
launch publication of a new independent daily "NewsDay." Charamba
threatened to arrest him if the paper begins publishing without a
license from the Media Information Commission. The MIC has been
Qlicense from the Media Information Commission. The MIC has been
defunct for more than six month, and until the President announces
the new Zimbabwe Media Commission, there is no body to issue
6. Voter Roll Irregularities... In an exhaustive preliminary
analysis of the Zimbabwe voters' roll entitled "2013 Vision-Seeing
Double and the Dead," the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) based in
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Harare points to numerous irregularities that undermine the
possibility of a fair election in Zimbabwe. Among RAU's findings:
There are over 74,000 registered voters over the age of 100 out of
approximately 6 million voters (and RAU asserts the 6 million figure
is improbable in a population that was calculated at 11.6 million in
the last census in 2002); there are over 182,000 voters registered
in two or more constituencies; in a number of instances, entire
blocks of voters appear in two constituencies. Because electoral
authorities refused to release detailed election results, it was
impossible to compare the voters' roll with actual voting. RAU
recommends legislative reform to remove the discretion of the
Registrar-General in registration of voters, a reconstituted and
independent electoral commission, a new Registrar-General, and
construction of a new voters' roll. The RAU report can be found
7. Striking Mine Workers Shot, Intimidated... Three leaders of a
protracted strike at Shabanie asbestos mine in central Zimbabwe were
shot on September 25 by police apparently acting at the behest of
management of the government-operated mine. Since the shooting,
workers have returned to the job, fearing further violence and loss
of their mine-owned housing. Labor leaders have called for an
official inquiry into the shooting, but so far no action has been
taken. See Harare 788.
8. Minister of Defense Leads Diamond Delegation... The Herald is
reporting that Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is leading a
Zimbabwean delegation to Angola and Namibia to consult on how best
to comply with Kimberley Process recommendations in exploiting the
Chiadzwa diamonds. Deputy Minister of Mines Murisi Zwizwai (MDC-T)
and other "high level officials" are also on the trip. Zwizwai
caused a firestorm in the MDC in June when he repeated ZANU-PF's
mantra that there had been no violence in the lucrative, troubled
diamond fields, where NGOs report over 200 have been killed in the
9. Zim Third-to-Last in Governance... The Mo Ibrahim Foundation
released its Index of African Governance this week, ranking Zimbabwe
51 out of the 53 African countries measured by commitment to four
pillars of governance - safety and rule of law, participation and
human rights, sustainable economic opportunity, and human
development. Only Somalia and Chad scored worse.
On the Economic and Business Front
10. Biti is Best Finance Minister in Africa... In another case of
a prophet not being popular at home, Finance Minister Tendai Biti
has just won the Euromoney Emerging Markets award for Best Finance
Minister in Africa. Biti has withstood steady abuse from the
government press for prudent policies that put a stop to the
destabilizing habits of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono. Despite
Qdestabilizing habits of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono. Despite
the iron constraints that come with a cash budget, Zimbabwe's
economy has recovered significantly under Biti's watch.
11. Stock Exchange Rises Against a Sea of Gloom... Following the
end of hyperinflation and the re-opening of trading on the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange (ZSE) in February, the market has performed
exceptionally well. The latest data show that the benchmark
industrial index rose by 64 percent from February through September.
According to the ZSE's Chief Executive Officer, foreign investors
are taking advantage of low share prices for heavily capitalized
firms such as Delta, Econet, Old Mutual, and Innscor, which should
produce solid returns if the economic recovery is sustained.
12. Large Textile Firm Goes Under... One of the largest textile
manufacturers in Zimbabwe, David Whitehead Limited, has filed for
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voluntary liquidation. The company has high production costs and a
debt overhang of over USD2 million. New investors who bought the
company late last year now believe that the balance sheet failed to
show the company's true financial strength as it included some
assets that were in dispute. The closure of the company will result
in a loss of 1,400 jobs.
13. Journalists Astounded... On October 5 the Public Affairs
Section held a press roundtable on Zimbabwe's economy. The
questions mainly had to do with sanctions -- or the "illegal
economic embargo," as it is known in the official press. The
assembled journalists, all of them from independent news outlets,
were astounded to hear that trade between the U.S. and Zimbabwe has
doubled since 2003. So much for the embargo. Surprisingly -- or
perhaps not -- the local press did not consider this worth
14. Government Cooks Up Another Privatization Plan...
privatization plan prepared by the Ministry of State Enterprises and
Parastatals. Most state-owned enterprises are operating at around
five percent capacity, mainly because their capital stock has
eroded. Zimbabwe has seen many privatization plans but relatively
little privatization. We do not expect a different outcome this
15. Gono Wins Ig Nobel Prize... Reserve Bank Gideon Gono received
the Ig Nobel Prize in Mathematics on October 1 for "giving people a
simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers - from
very small to very big - by having his bank print bank notes with
denominations ranging from one cent ($.01) to one hundred trillion
dollars ($100,000,000,000,000)." The Annals of Improbable Research
announced the awards in a ceremony at Harvard University. Gono did
Quote of the Week
16. "We have repeatedly told the police that they should always
refrain from using firearms against defenseless people." --
Co-Minister of Home Affairs, Giles Mutsekwa, speaking about the
September 25 shooting at Shabanie mine
17. "I was hired by politics to make them look pretty" --George
Charamba, the bombastic Information Ministry Permanent Secretary
speaking to Zimbabwean newspaper editors at a UNESCO-organized
meeting on October 6.