Cablegate: Zim Notes 10-16-2009
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0834/01 2920745
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190745Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5038
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3103
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3214
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1643
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2477
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2846
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3262
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5709
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2396
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000834
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 10-16-2009
Topics of the week:
- Roy Bennett Locked Up Again and then Ordered Released...
- MDC Announces Disengagement from ZANU-PF...
- Media Commission Selected, but not Announced...
- Journalist Arrested in Chiadzwa...
- Trial of Human Rights Lawyer and Court Clerk Begins...
- IMF Mission Briefs Donors...
- Shoprite Gets Cold Feet...
- Liberalization of Gold Marketing Leads to Mine Re-opening...
- Ministry of State Enterprises and Parastatals Fights for
On the Political and Social Front
2. Roy Bennett Locked Up Again and then Ordered Released... On
October 13, MDC Treasurer and Deputy Minister of Agriculture Roy
Bennett appeared for trial in the Magistrates Court in Mutare. The
Attorney General's representative obtained a delay and then indicted
him (essentially refilling charges) in the High Court on October 15.
He was immediately imprisoned after the AG refused to extend his
bail. Bennett's trial on charges of banditry, terrorism and
sabotage is now scheduled to start in Mutare on October 19. On
October 16, attorney Beatrice Mtetwa argued Bennett's bail
application before Justice Charles Hungwe in the High Court.
Hungwe, who is perhaps Zimbabwe's most independent judge, ordered
3. MDC Announces Disengagement from ZANU-PF... After Bennett was
locked up on October 15, the MDC Standing Committee met and resolved
to disengage from ZANU-PF until all Global Political Agreement (GPA)
outstanding issues were resolved. Disengagement means the MDC
will not meet with ZANU-PF in Cabinet or in the Council of
Ministers. Outstanding issues include the appointments of Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes
Tomana, and President Robert Mugabe's failure to appoint governors.
At this time, the MDC has no intention of leaving government, but is
seeking to pressure ZANU-PF to implement the GPA. See Harare 832
4. Media Commission Selected, but not Announced... President
Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have jointly
selected members for the new Media Commission which will inter alia
license newspapers. George Charamba, Permanent Secretary in the
Minister of Information and Mugabe spokesperson, has indicated the
Commission will not be announced until members of the other
commissions provided for in the Global Political
Agreement-Electoral, Human Rights, and Anti-Corruption-are selected.
Interviews for the Electoral and Human Rights Commissions have
taken place and short lists of candidates for Mugabe and Tsvangirai
have been formulated. ZANU-PF appears to be foot-dragging on the
Media Commission, as independent dailies will begin publishing once
the Media Commission is established. See Harare 824.
5. Journalist Arrested in Chiadzwa... A freelance journalist was
arrested in Chiadzwa on October 8 and held at a military base in the
Qarrested in Chiadzwa on October 8 and held at a military base in the
diamond field after soldiers found her taking photographs. After
calling a friend in Harare, lawyers secured her release from the
base, and she was transferred to the jail in Mutare. She is
scheduled to appear in court in Mutare on October 19 on charges of
entering a protected area without a pass.
6. Trial of Human Rights Lawyer and Court Clerk Begins... The
HARARE 00000834 002 OF 003
trial of prominent human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama and high
court clerk Constance Gambara on charges of obstructing justice
began on October 14. They stand accused of illegally securing the
release of three men accused of bombing police stations in 2008 who
were abducted in late 2008 and tortured by State agents. In April,
a judge granted the three bail, but the State prosecutor indicated
he would file an appeal to bail. When he failed to do so within
seven days as required by law, Muchadehama approached the clerk who
issued an order of release. The State, however, proclaimed that it
had seven business days, not calendar days to file the appeal.
Muchadehama and Gambara were arrested in May; Muchadehama spent one
night in jail and Gambara spent one week in jail before being
On the Economic and Business Front
7. IMF Mission Briefs Donors... An IMF team arrived in Harare this
week to review GOZ economic reforms. At an October 13 briefing for
OECD chiefs of mission, IMF officials said there had been progress
on budget execution, but serious concerns remained about governance
at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Pressure for wage increases and
lack of progress on rule of law added to doubts about the economic
outlook. See Harare 820.
8. Shoprite Gets Cold Feet... South African retail giant Shoprite
has shelved plans to buy the OK Zimbabwe grocery chain. A statement
by Shoprite management cited "socio-economic and political
uncertainty." OK has declined to comment. Our business contacts
are inclined to think that Shoprite was put off by the GOZ's seizure
of Kingdom Meikles and other politically motivated meddling in
private business. See Harare 828.
9. Liberalization of Gold Marketing Leads to Mine Re-opening... On
October 14, Mwana Africa Plc. announced its first gold production of
5.5 kilograms at the Freda Rebecca mine, which had closed in 2007
amidst Zimbabwe's economic implosion. According to the Zimbabwe
Chamber of Mines, Freda Rebecca will be able to produce 990
kilograms of gold by end of year, thanks to both the liberalization
of gold marketing at the beginning of the year and the improvement
in Zimbabwe's economic climate.
10. Ministry of State Enterprises and Parastatals Fights for
Relevance... Following unilateral ZANU-PF appointments to boards to
state-owned enterprises under the Ministry of Information and
Publicity two weeks ago, the Ministry of State Enterprises and
Parastatals published advertisements calling for applications for
board appointments to parastatals on October 11. The confusion
arises from the overlapping functions of various ministries and the
on-going power struggles between the MDC and ZANU-PF in the
transitional government. Unfortunately for the Minister of State
Enterprises and Parastatals, an MDC appointee, most of the
parastatals were created by Acts of Parliament that compel them to
Qparastatals were created by Acts of Parliament that compel them to
report through their own line ministries.
Quotes of the Week
11. "I hope SADC see that ZANU-PF has not shifted from its position
of abusing the powers it has to decimate the MDC - powers given to
them by SADC." Beatrice Mtetwa, the human rights lawyer
representing Roy Bennett.
12. "The bottom line is that all animals are equal but some are
more equal than others." -- Jonathan Moyo quoted without irony in
HARARE 00000834 003 OF 003
the October 11 Sunday Mail on the reasons for his return to
13. "I did not want to shoot him. I placed my service pistol on
the table inviting him to come out of the hotel so that we could
fight. I wanted to fight him with my bare hands; that is why I
placed my service pistol on the table. The problem was that during
our discussion the MP continued to denigrate the army and I wanted
to discipline him. However, I have since forgiven him." --
Major-General Engelbert Rugeje, explaining allegations that he
threatened to shoot Tachiona Mharadze, MDC-T MP for Masvingo West,
following an altercation over the role of the army in the inclusive
government. Rugeje was frequently seen leading election-related
violence in Masvingo province in 2008.