Cablegate: Zim Notes 01-25-2010
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0048/01 0260626
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260626Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5339
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3278
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3389
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1812
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2646
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 3016
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 0077
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0079
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2548
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000048
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 01-25-2010
Official Constitutional Outreach Suspended...
... While ZANU-PF Launches Its Own Menacing Campaign...
WOZA Protest Disrupted, Three Arrested...
Journalist Flees After Death Threats from Cop...
Wheels of Justice Too Slow for Bennett...
Religious Group Faces Arrest Over Measles Immunization...
Abductees Rearrested, Released...
Dry Spell Threatens 2010 Harvest...
Millers Push for GMO Grain Imports...
Government Revenue Falters...
Companies Urged to Improve Competitiveness...
On the Political and Social Front
2. The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the constitution
suspended the outreach phase of the constitutional review process
citing disagreements over lack of funding and rapporteurs who should
collect and collate public views. This month the teams were expected
to begin their outreach efforts. The PSC is waiting for
UNDP-promised funding for public outreach that will include per
diems, fuel, and stipends for MPs as they canvass the country. The
PSC pledged to resolve the emerging disagreements over rapporteurs.
This appears to be a bump in the road; those involved believe the
process will soon resume.
3. We've received several reports this week of soldiers, war
veterans, and ZANU-PF officials calling rallies in villages in
Manicaland and in the Mashonaland provinces where villagers and farm
owners are told that they must vote for the Kariba draft or face
renewed violence or loss of property; headmen have been told to get
their constituents to vote for Kariba "or else." One MDC councilor
told the press," We're telling our supporters not to attend any of
these meetings. They shouldn't be afraid because if it means dying
we all die together."
4. Members of Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) marched to the
Ministry of Education in Harare on Monday to hand over their report
on the education system in Zimbabwe entitled Looking Back to Look
Forward. The report covers recommendations and a list of demands
that parents want addressed by the Minister of Education, Senator
David Coltart. Police interrupted the peaceful demonstration,
arresting three people, a woman and two men. One of the men,
Andrisson Manyere, is an accredited journalist who was previously
abducted and tortured by security agents in 2008; he was released
later that day without charge. One woman was held in jail for two
nights while police refused to assign an officer to her case.
5. Journalist Stanley Kwenda fled to South Africa this week after
he was reportedly threatened with death by senior police officer
Chief Superintendent Chrispen Makedenge. Kwenda published a story
last week describing the suicide of Makedenge's wife who reportedly
killed herself after suffering years of abuse and threats by her
violent husband. Makedenge is feared among activists in Zimbabwe as
he was involved in the 2008 abductions and torture of over a dozen
Qhe was involved in the 2008 abductions and torture of over a dozen
MDC and human rights activists.
6. On January 21 the Roy Bennett trial was again postponed to
January 25 owing to indisposition of one of the two assessors who
presides over the trial with Judge Chinembiri Bhunu. Judge Bhunu was
expected to rule on whether the prosecution's key witness, Michael
Peter Hitschmann, should be impeached and therefore liable to be
cross examined by the prosecution. Bennett's lawyer, Beatrice
Mtetwa, told us that the pace of the trial was too slow and remarked
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that the adjournments were invariably longer than the court
7. Members of loosely-affiliated religious groups known as
apostolic sects face arrests over their refusal on religious grounds
to immunize their children against measles. On January 22, The
Herald reported that in the last three months 51 children have died
of measles because their apostolic parents refused to immunize them.
Now the government has threatened to arrest those apostolics who
refuse to immunize their children. Last year many apostolics
succumbed to cholera after refusing to seek medical treatment.
8. Two MDC Councilors in Banket were arrested on Monday and
released without charge the same day. Concilia Chinanzavana and
Fanny Tembo were reportedly accused of kidnapping a ZANU-PF
councilor during the 2008 elections. Both were kidnapped in late
October 2008 and held by security agents and tortured for two months
before appearing in Harare police custody in December 2008 and
January 2009. MDC and human rights activists believe the arrests are
meant to continue to intimidate them and MDC supporters in the
On the Economic and Business Front
9. A month-long dry spell in most parts of the country is
threatening agricultural production this year. The Zimbabwe Farmer's
Union, which represents most small-scale farmers, says that its
members have lost around 60 percent of their crops. As a result,
Zimbabwe is facing potential massive food shortages this year with
food crops already wilting in many parts of the country. Tobacco
farmers have also been forced to reap their crop before maturity,
thereby accepting poor yields rather than waiting and writing the
crop off completely. More detailed crop assessments will be
available in a few weeks. For now, experts tell us the 2010 maize
harvest will be no better than 2009 and potentially somewhat lower.
10. The Grain Millers' Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has advised
government to lift an import ban on genetically modified grain in
view of the looming drought-induced shortage. The chairman of GMAZ,
who criticized a skewed government policy on GMOs that allows
imported maize meal in the country but bars grain, wants the policy
11. According to a report in the Financial Gazette, government
revenue in December was US$20 million below target, casting doubt on
the GOZ's US$1.4 billion revenue projection for 2010, especially in
view of tax cuts in the 2010 Budget. The government proposes to
reduce corporate tax from 30 percent to 25 percent, cut individual
tax from 40 percent to 35 percent, and increase the list of imported
products on zero-rated duty. These tax concessions will certainly
result in a fall in revenue unless there is substantial economic
12. At a workshop organized to consider export opportunities under
the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union and
Qthe Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union and
COMESA trade protocols, the vice president of the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries urged firms to improve competitiveness ahead of
the 2013 deadline when 45 percent of goods from the EU will enter
Zimbabwe duty-free. While acknowledging that local industry operated
under very harsh conditions in the past that made it difficult to be
efficient, he urged companies to increase efficiencies by cutting
costs and improving product quality.
Quote of the Week
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13. "ZANU-PF wants to take the country back to 2008. Their reason
is that they are clear in their minds that any process that may lead
to elections is against them because they cannot win any election in
the foreseeable future. They will scuttle the constitution, delay or
totally derail the talks, block the land audit while physically
bringing back violence out in the countryside." -- Unnamed Senior
MDC Official, speaking to The Zimbabwe Independent, January 22,