Cablegate: Zim Notes 12-21-2009
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0996/01 3550925
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210925Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5252
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3224
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3335
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1759
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2593
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2962
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 0023
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0025
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2496
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000996
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 12-21-2009
Potential Progress on Negotiations?
No Surprises at ZANU-PF Congress...
Moyo Rises from the Ashes...
Journalists Seek Nullification of ZUJ Election...
Mugabe Commandeers Plane to Deliver Climate Rant...
Central Bank Law on Hold...
Food Markets Still Balkanized...
Australia Boosts Assistance to Agricultural Sector...
Tobacco Farmers Start Drawing on Bank Facility...
Bindura Nickel Corporation to Resume Operations...
On the Political and Social Front
2. Multiple local news outlets reported this week that the six
party negotiators have agreed on 15 of 21 contentious issues that
one or more of the parties believe are undermining the inclusive
government. Resolved issues apparently include unspecified media
reforms, "pirate" radio stations such as VOA that are broadcast into
Zimbabwe, and a land audit. Remaining unresolved issues include the
appointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney
General Johannes Tomana, the refusal to swear in Roy Bennett as
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, and the division of governorships.
These issues are likely to be referred to the three principals,
Mugabe, Tsvangirai, and Mutambara, though the negotiators intend on
meeting throughout the upcoming weekend.
3. ZANU-PF concluded its five-year Congress on December 12 by
reelecting President Robert Mugabe to another term, as well as
completing the appointments of Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo as Vice
Presidents, and Simon Khaya Moyo as Party Chairman. Though rumors
abounded, no challenges arose from the estimated 5,000 delegates
attending the Harare-based event. The party attempted to use the
Congress to quell party discontent, while blaming western sanctions
and the MDC for ZANU-PF's poor performance in the 2008 elections.
Several published resolutions sought to encourage President Jacob
Zuma's South African facilitation team to adopt a more patient and
ZANU-PF friendly approach. Mugabe also raised the possibility of
holding elections earlier than anticipated and warned the MDC not to
interfere with the security forces. See Harare 976.
4. Controversial politician Jonathan Moyo completed his
phoenix-like return to the good graces of ZANU-PF by being elected
into the party's Central Committee at the recently-concluded
Congress, and may soon land a position in the party's top echelon,
the politburo. Moyo won his Tsholotsho seat running as an
independent in 2008, though some of his constituents will no doubt
be surprised to find they are now residents of a ZANU-PF
constituency. Moyo had been banished from the party through his
involvement in the failed Tsholotsho incident in 2004 where he was
central in efforts to elevate Emmerson Mnangagwa's succession
5. December 17, two correspondents of VOA Studio 7 for Zimbabwe --
Godwin Mangudya and Frank Chikowore -- and two other freelance
QGodwin Mangudya and Frank Chikowore -- and two other freelance
journalists launched a court application seeking to nullify results
of a recent election held by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists. The
election, whose venue was kept secret to most journalists until the
day of the election, elevated Dumisani Sibanda, the news editor of
the government-controlled weekly, The Sunday News, to President, and
former President Mathew Takaona to a consultant position. Mangudya,
who planned to throw his hat in the ring, is seeking an order to
void the election on grounds that the process was biased.
HARARE 00000996 002 OF 002
6. Mugabe and his 59-member delegation left this week to attend the
Copenhagen climate change summit where he attacked the West for
environmental hypocrisy. The group took an Air Zimbabwe plane,
leaving passengers planning to travel to London to fend for
themselves. PM Tsvangirai had planned on attending the summit with
his own 19-member delegation, but pulled out at the last minute.
Mugabe's group includes his wife Grace who enjoys her overseas
shopping opportunities and once famously said in response to a
question on her expensive footwear, "I have very narrow feet so I
only wear Ferragamo."
On the Economic and Business Front
7. The Herald reports that the Senate has deferred debate on
amendments to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe law. The paper says
ZANU-PF senators want to make changes to the bill. Finance Minister
Biti has also told us he fears the legislation is stalled for now.
See Harare 987.
8. On the road recently with USAID consultants, we saw that rural
food markets are still creaky despite the abolition of the Grain
Marketing Board's monopoly. Remote rural markets are not integrated
due to poor road and telecommunications infrastructure, which makes
them largely inaccessible. A village with food surplus may co-exist
next to another village that has a food deficit. So for now it seems
food aid to deficit areas need not have a negative effect on
production in the food surplus areas. Better communication
infrastructure -- for instance, roads and cell-phone towers -- would
be a good way to get markets working, if only the GOZ had the money.
9. Australia announced it was donating US$4.4 million to Zimbabwe
through the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund -- an Africa-wide
initiative led by the UK and the Netherlands -- to boost Zimbabwe's
rural economy by establishing seed distribution businesses and
enable small loans to farmers. The assistance marks an effort by
Australia to move beyond short-term relief to Zimbabwe.
10. According to the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB),
small-scale tobacco growers have started drawing on a US$2.3 million
facility offered by the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe to purchase
fertilizers and chemicals. The facility is scheduled to assist 3,500
tobacco farmers. The TIMB identifies the main problem as being the
slow pace at which fertilizer companies push their product onto the
market. Outgrower schemes set up by tobacco companies deliver inputs
to at least three times as many farmers, and they have had more
success than the TIMB at procuring fertilizer.
11. Once the country's largest producer of nickel, BNC suspended
operations more than a year ago. But now the mine is set to re-open
following an upturn in nickel prices and stability in the local
economy. Bindura's parent company, Mwana Africa, said in a statement
accompanying its half-year results that operations can be restarted
Qaccompanying its half-year results that operations can be restarted
with very limited capital expenditure.
Quote of the Week
12. "The elections are not very far off, the inclusive government
was given a short life, 18 months, 24 months, and so the remaining
part of its life is very short."
-- An excerpt from President Robert Mugabe's closing remarks at the
ZANU-PF Congress on December 12.