Cablegate: Zim Notes 02-05-2010
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0100/01 0390751
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080749Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0017
INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0004
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0004
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0004
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0004
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000100
AF/S FOR B. WALSH
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
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI
SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 02-05-2010
IMF to Restore Voting Rights-Biti...
ACR Reports Offices Raided...
Dozens Arrested While Discussing the Constitution...
Zimbabwe Named to AU's Security Council...
MDC-M Spokesman Defects...
MDC Councilors Accused of Killing a ZANU-PF Councilor...
AG Admits (Some) Mistakes...
Police Arrest Private Newspaper Employees...
Anglicans Gather In Protest Service...
Central Bank Defaults on Bond...
Zimbabwe to Import Grain...
Government Restricts Foreign Travel...
RBZ Farm Mechanization Beneficiaries to Repay...
On the Political and Social Front
2. The Zimbabwe Independent quotes Minister of Finance Tendai
Biti, who returned this week from visits to Washington, London, and
Germany, as stating, "We were pushing for the restoration of
Zimbabwe's voting rights in the IMF. The U.S. will support us, and
we made similar requests to Germany and the UK, who will also
support us in this regard."
3. President Mugabe issued a circular this week implying that
ministers should report to the two vice presidents -- Joice Mujuru
and John Nkomo of ZANU-PF -- instead of PM Tsvangirai. The
directive lays out supervisory responsibilities for Mujuru over
social, agricultural, and infrastructural ministries, and for Nkomo
over financial, economic, and environmental ministries. The
controversial circular was immediately challenged by Tsvangirai who
charged that it was in violation of the GPA and therefore
unconstitutional. Finance Minister Biti also released an MDC
statement this week blasting ZANU-PF for attempting to sabotage the
inclusive government. The circular follows reports from MDC
negotiators that their ZANU-PF counterparts have adopted entrenched
negotiating positions since the ZANU-PF party Congress in December.
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4. Mining firm African Consolidated Resources (ACR) reported that
on February 3 their offices in Harare were raided by well-armed
gunmen. Eight men reportedly armed with AK-47s broke into ACR's
offices shortly after midnight and left with computer equipment and
a vehicle. ACR is embroiled in an ownership dispute over diamond
rights with the government and two private mining firms, Mbada and
Canadile. Last week, the Supreme Court ordered that Zimbabwean
mining parastatal Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ)
hand over diamonds taken from ACR to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
That transfer has now been put on hold because of security
5. On January 30 in Mt. Darwin, police broke up an MDC meeting on
the constitution and arrested all 52 MDC supporters in attendance.
Police force-marched the group to the police station where most
were released without charge. Eleven, including the MDC's chairman
for Mashonaland Central were detained, charged with breaching
security laws, and released on bail on February 4. Separately, 22
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) activists were arrested while
discussing constitutional reform in a private house in Bulawayo on
February 2. They were released the same day without charge, and
police apologized noting they "didn't know they were WOZA members."
6. At the African Union summit in Ethiopia earlier this week,
Zimbabwe was named to the Peace and Security Council. Zimbabwe will
retain a seat at the 15-member council for two to three years.
7. Gabriel Chaibva, MDC-M's spokesman, announced this week that he
was leaving the party and joining ZANU-PF. In his resignation
Chaibva said he wanted to "work hard for the people's party,
ZANU-PF, to regain its revolutionary image as the defender of our
freedom, democracy, and the gains of our liberation struggle."
8. Three MDC councilors in Banket, Mashonaland West, including
Fanny Tembo and Emmanuel Chinanzavana (who were abducted and
tortured by security agents in 2008), were arrested on January 28
and charged with abducting and killing a ZANU-PF councilor in
Banket. The three remain in jail after numerous delays in
scheduling a bail hearing.
9. Attorney General Johannes Tomana conceded that his law officers
and prosecutors had at times misjudged when they invoked section
121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA) to
effectively reverse the granting of bail by magistrates or judges.
Section 121 is essentially an appeal of the decision granting bail
and forces the accused to remain in custody for 7 days until the
government makes a decision whether to appeal. In most cases, the
government does not appeal; the procedure is a harassment technique
to extract additional custody. The provision has been used
repeatedly since 2008, particularly in political cases. Testifying
before a parliamentary committee, Tomana said he could not rule out
"malice, corruption, misjudgment, and human error" on the part of
his law officers when invoking section 121.
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10. Police officers forced their way in to an apartment belonging
to independent newspaper The Zimbabwean on Wednesday. Officers took
two employees (believed to be marketing officers) to a nearby
police station and released them the same day without charge. The
apartment is used by stringers who write for The Zimbabwean, which
is published in South Africa and the UK.
11. Approximately 3,000 members of the regional body of the
Anglican Church, the Church of the Province of Central Africa
(CPCA) gathered in Harare's Africa Unity Square on January 31 to
pray for peace and to protest their continued inability to access
Anglican churches. For nearly three years, rogue ex-Anglican bishop
and ZANU-PF stalwart Nolbert Kunonga has used his influence and the
police to prevent members of the CPCA from accessing Anglican
churches, schools, cemeteries, and other property. Harare's CPCA
Bishop Chad Gandiya led the service and prayed for peace, noting
the irony of holding the service directly across the street from
the locked Anglican cathedral. The service was not disrupted by the
police or Kunonga's handful of supporters.
On the Economic and Business Front
12. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has failed to redeem on
time the gold bonds it issued for gold delivered by mining
companies in 2007 and 2008. The financially distressed central bank
extended the life of the bonds by another six months pending the
outcome of talks on funding with the Ministry of Finance. The RBZ
has also failed to refund over US$34 million owed to platinum
producer Zimplats, hoping government will take over the debt. These
defaults and calls for indigenization of mines pose a threat to the
nascent recovery now evident in the mining sector.
13. Preliminary estimates show that Zimbabwe is likely to produce
only a quarter of its two-million-ton maize requirement in 2010.
The huge deficit has been caused by a dry spell that hit most parts
of Zimbabwe in January and the continued farm invasions. The
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union has urged the government to start
preparing to import grain in order to avert starvation. More
reliable estimates should be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
14. The Chief Secretary to Cabinet has issued instructions
restricting foreign travel by government officials to critical
businesses that support the economic recovery process. The goal is
a reduction in the number of both trips and delegates as a way of
reducing costs. During his 2010 budget speech, Finance Minister
Biti reported that foreign travel by government officials had
gobbled US$28.6 million, more than the GOZ spent on social sectors.
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15. Hamstrung by a shortage of funds, RBZ Governor Gono now wants
new farmers who benefited from the farm mechanization program to
start repaying for equipment they received from the RBZ out of this
year's harvest. According to the Financial Gazette, the debt
recovery process is expected to realize US$1 billion which will be
used to recapitalize the RBZ. Fat chance.
Quote of the Week
16. "ZANU-PF continues to use the public media, the constitutional
process, the commercial farms, the diamond mines and the civil
service as the battlefields for its destructive agenda aimed at
perpetuating their selfish grip on power. Their determination to
enrich themselves at the expense of national development risks
keeping all our citizens mired in poverty." -- Finance Minister and
MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti in a statement issued by the
MDC-T on February 2, 2010.