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Cablegate: Zim Notes 11-16-2009

VZCZCXRO8675
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0901/01 3200654
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160654Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5137
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3170
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3282
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1709
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2543
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2912
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3330
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5778
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2462
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000901

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

SIPDIS

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI
SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 11-16-2009

-----------
1. SUMMARY
-----------

Topics of the week:

Bennett's Lawyers Challenge Judge's Impartiality...
Magistrate Who Jailed Prosecutor Forced Out...
Outreach Campaign Focuses on Child Protection...
Prison Guards Deny Medical Treatment to Abductee...
MDC-T MP Acquitted of Rape Charges...
Court Throws Out Charges Against ZCTU Leaders...
Grain Marketing Board Tries to Borrow...
Watchdog Unearths Massive Looting of State Assets...
Old Mutual Slammed for Stake in Zimpapers...
Loan from Meikles Saves Kingdom Bank...

---------------------------------
On the Political and Social Front
----------------------------------

2. Bennett's Lawyers Challenge Judge's Impartiality... On November
12, the trial of Roy Bennett was further delayed as his lawyers
filed a motion challenging Judge Bhunu's impartiality in handling
the case. Bennett's lawyers argued that while hearing the bail
application of Bennett's alleged coconspirator Peter Hitschmann's
May 2006, Bhunu remarked that the evidence against Hitschmann was
"overwhelming. Judge Bhunu will decide on November 16 if he will
recuse himself. Harrison Nkomo, a member of Bennett's defense team,
believes Bhunu will jump at the opportunity to avoid dealing with
the politically-sensitive case. Hitschmann was acquitted and the
prosecution now wants him to testify against Bennett on the basis of
a confession which state security agents allegedly extracted through
torture.

3. Magistrate Who Jailed Prosecutor Forced Out... Chioniso
Mutongi, the magistrate who jailed prosecutor Andrew Kumire for
contempt of court during the trial of human rights lawyer Alec
Muchadehama, has been forced to resign. The Herald reported that
Mutongi resigned on November 3, citing interference and intimidation
by the Attorney General. Mutongi said that subsequent to her ruling
she "had a torrid time and was entirely abused and harassed'' by
the prosecution, but did not receive any protection from the Chief
Magistrate, Hlekani Mwayera.

4. Outreach Campaign Focuses on Child Protection... Over two
million Zimbabwean children country-wide will benefit from a
multi-media awareness campaign on child protection put together by
Children First, in partnership with Population Services
International (PSI) and USAID. The campaign will feature a weekly
radio-drama program broadcast on Radio Zimbabwe as its centerpiece.
Broadcast over 26 weeks, the radio program will focus on children's
rights and what they can do if their rights are violated. The radio
drama will be complemented by distribution of exercise packs that
educators can use to guide discussions with children's groups. The
program was unveiled in two phases: The first was on October 21 in
Harare and the second was on November 5 near Bulawayo. Programming
will be in both Shona and Ndebele.

5. Prison Guards Deny Medical Treatment to Abductee... MDC-T
Transport Manager Pascal Gwezere has still not received his
QTransport Manager Pascal Gwezere has still not received his
court-ordered medical treatment because of resistance by prison
officials. Gwezere was abducted by state security agents on October
27, and according to his lawyers, has been subjected to severe
torture during his ongoing detention.

6. MDC-T MP Acquitted of Rape Charges... The MDC-T MP for Kwekwe,
Blessing Chebundo, was acquitted this week of charges that he had
raped a 14-year old girl. The MDC had argued that ZANU-PF was
politically persecuting a number of its members, including Chebundo,

HARARE 00000901 002 OF 003


on trumped-up charges. Chebundo defeated the notorious Defense
Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa (ZANU-PF) in the March 2008 elections.
Separately, Thamsanqa Mahlangu (MDC-T), an MP serving as the Deputy
Minister of Youth, was acquitted of charges that he stole the cell
phone of war veteran's leader, Joseph Chinotimba.

7. Court Throws Out Charges Against ZCTU Leaders... On November
12, Victoria Falls-based magistrate Richard Ramaboea threw out
charges against Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions President Lovemore
Matombo and four staffers. The five labor leaders were arrested by
the police on November 8 for violating the Public Order and Security
Act (POSA) by not notifying the police of their intention to hold a
public meeting. The police detained the unionists for four days,
before eventually charging them on November 12. Magistrate Ramaboea
berated the police and reminded them that the law did not cover
trade unions.

-----------------------------------
On the Economic and Business Front
----------------------------------

8. Grain Marketing Board Tries to Borrow... In an attempt to raise
USD 2.5 million to purchase grain, the GOZ's former grain monopoly
is trying to borrow directly from the market by auctioning
three-month bills. Bankers have told us they expect little demand
for GMB paper, mainly because the state-owned enterprise is broke
and does not have a business plan that makes sense. An implicit GOZ
guarantee behind GMB bills probably will not help much, since the
GOZ is also broke. The GMB currently quotes prices for corn that
are significantly above world market prices. After years of buying
high and selling low, the GMB can no longer pay its employees or its
creditors.

9. Watchdog Unearths Massive Looting of State Assets... In a
special report for the first quarter of the 2009 financial year,
Zimbabwe's Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) highlighted massive
looting of state assets across a number of ministries. The report
notes the recruitment of 10,277 youths who were added to government
payroll in 2008 without following proper procedures, costing the
state large amounts of money in wages. The CAG also found that about
44 motor vehicles out of a large pool donated by Reserve Bank
Governor Gono disappeared with top level officials in various
ministries under unclear circumstances because of lack of
documentation. The same happened with regard to computers, laptops,
and fax machines bought by Gono in a clear case of patronage.

10. Old Mutual Slammed for Stake in Zimpapers... Old Mutual
Zimbabwe, the local arm of South Africa's insurance and finance
giant, has come under fire for its 18 percent stake in Zimpapers,
the GOZ-controlled publisher of The Herald and other Mugabe-friendly
publications. From what we see in the press, the controversy began
in South Africa, where human-rights organizations and trade unions
have accused Old Mutual of "directly supporting the Mugabe regime."
Qhave accused Old Mutual of "directly supporting the Mugabe regime."
Old Mutual's holding in Zimpapers date back to before independence,
when the firm held shares in the Rhodesian Printing and Publishing
Company.

11. Loan from Meikles Saves Kingdom Bank... The recent demerger of
Kingdom Financial Holdings (KFH) from Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited
has potentially negative consequences for Kingdom Bank in the medium
to long term. A managing director of one of the subsidiaries of KFH
told us that the group only managed to satisfy the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe's minimum capital requirements courtesy of a loan from
Meikles Africa. Apart from mobile telecom leader Econet Wireless
and Meikles Africa, which moved their accounts out of the KFH group,
the bank had reportedly not experienced any massive outflow in
deposits. But following the resignation of eight executives this
month, clients may start moving their money out, which could trigger
a run on the bank.


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-----------------
Quote of the Week
-----------------

12. "Mutambara and the MDC-M are an extension of ZANU-PF. What
kind of party president would fail to garner more than 300 votes
during last year's elections in Chitungwiza? He is not worthy to be
deputy prime minister." MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti
addressing a rally at Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza on November 8.


RAY

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