Cablegate: Zimnotes 2/12/2010
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0132/01 0470753
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160752Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0056
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
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0024
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0024
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0024
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000132
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: ZIMNOTES 2/12/2010
Civil Service Strike Hits Education Sector...
Commissioners to ZEC and HRC Selected...
No Progress on Talks...
MDC-T Expels 23 Councilors...
Diamond Firm Directors Arrested...
Newspaper Staff Charged...
No Birthday Cake for the Government...
"Indigenization" Rules Issued...
Resolve Outstanding Issues, Parties Told...
Energy Bill to Open up the Sector...
Central Bank Approves Credit Bureau...
On the Political and Social Front
2. A government workers strike that began on February 5 led by
Zimbabwe's two teachers' unions -- ZIMTA and PTUZ -- resulted in
widespread school closures across Zimbabwe. The unions estimate
that over 70 percent of their combined membership of approximately
60,000 teachers have joined the labor action to demand higher wages
and reduced utility rates. Some government offices have been forced
to close as well, including a handful of ministries and the courts,
which has delayed several prominent cases including the Bennett
trial. Hospitals are functioning normally as doctors and nurses
reported to work. The state media has blamed the strike on an MDC
failure to meet the needs of workers. See Harare 110.
3. Following several weeks of rumors, President Mugabe and PM
Tsvangirai appear to have agreed upon chairs to the newly-created
Electoral and Human Rights Commissions. Though still not announced
by the state press or the government, former High Court Judge
Simpson Mtambanengwe (ZEC) and former University of Zimbabwe law
professor Reg Austin (HRC) have been offered the positions,
according to multiple independent press reports. Discussions with
our contacts indicate that both Mtambanengwe and Austin are well
regarded by their peers. Mtambanengwe served as a High Court judge
for 12 years and is now acting Chief Justice in Namibia and the
chair of Namibia's electoral commission. Austin has served as the
UN Chief Electoral officer in Cambodia and Afghanistan.
4. Despite the return of South Africa's facilitation team on
February 8, the resulting two days of talks produced no discernible
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results. ZANU-PF appears determined not to give any ground until
sanctions are lifted, leaving the MDC with no maneuvering room. The
facilitators left on February 11 without making any public
statements or giving any indication when they might return. MDC
intends to declare a deadlock and appeal to SADC, but is waiting
for the Media, Electoral, and Human Rights commissions to be
announced before it does so.
5. In a move that deprives the party of control of the large town
of Chitungwiza, the MDC-T dismissed 23 councilors from the party
for corruption, breach of the party's charter, and insubordination.
Spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told us that the party took the
decision after its investigations implicated the councilors on
serious, but unspecified, corruption charges. The councilors will
likely remain in office because Local Government Minister Ignatius
Chombo (ZANU-PF) said he would not call for an early election to
replace the councilors.
6. Two South African directors of Canadile Miners, one of two
firms extracting diamonds at the Chiadzwa fields, have been
arrested on allegations of illegally possessing the precious
stones. Komilan Packirisamy and Viyandrakumar Naidoo were arrested
in nearby Hot Springs on February 2 after company employees tipped
off police that the two had diamonds in their car. Police
discovered stones worth an estimated US$28,000 in the vehicle. The
other firm granted mining rights, Mbada Diamonds, has also been
mired in controversy for airlifting diamonds out of Zimbabwe and
for attempting to hold an auction that would have violated the
Kimberley Process plan agreed upon by the GOZ in November.
7. On February 11, two men were charged with writing and
publishing false statements in the January 10 edition of The
Zimbabwean under the headline "Mnangagwa plots fight back: talk of
new splinter group. " Barnabas Madzimure and Fortune Mutandiro, who
work for The Zimbabwean's local distributor, Adquest, were
initially arrested and released without charge on January 17 after
spending several hours answering questions and producing papers to
show that the newspaper had been legally imported. The Zimbabwean's
editor, Wilf Mbanga, issued a statement accusing Jonathan Moyo of
orchestrating the harassment of the newspaper.
8. The inclusive government turned a year old on February 11 with
virtually no fanfare. News articles and reports from civil society
are evaluating the numerous shortcomings and still-to-be-fulfilled
promises of the inclusive government: a land audit; greater media
freedom; progress towards a new constitution; new media, human
rights, elections, and anti-corruption commissions. Although the
economy has improved in the last year, those accomplishments were
overshadowed this week by the widespread civil servant strike.
On the Economic and Business Front
9. The Minister of Youth Development, Indigenization, and Economic
Empowerment issued regulations this week governing redistribution
of business ownership under the 2007 indigenization law. By
mid-April businesses must submit plans on how they will transfer a
controlling interest to black Zimbabweans. Although Tsvangirai
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described the regulations as "null and void", their publication
will naturally frustrate efforts to attract foreign investment. See
10. The Business Council of Zimbabwe (BCZ) has urged Mugabe,
Mutambara, and Tsvangirai to resolve outstanding issues under the
Global Political Agreement in order to encourage investment in the
country. The BCZ also called for the introduction of realistic and
pragmatic indigenization and economic empowerment policies in view
of the need to attract capital into the country. The business
community also expressed disappointment at the continuing farm
11. The GOZ is drafting an energy bill with tax incentives to
attract private investment of over US$2.5 billion in the
electricity and fuel sectors. The move is designed to stabilize
electricity supply by increasing the country's own internal power
12. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has approved the setting up of a
Credit Reference Bureau to ease credit risk management. Due to its
liquidity constraints, the RBZ has urged banks to fund the bureau
themselves. Following the adoption of a multi-currency system in
February 2009, banks pressed for the setting up of a centralized
credit information center in order to promote the flow of
information among lenders.
13. Pedzisayi Ruhanya, program manager of the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, an NGO advocating human rights and democratization, told
IRIN: "As a transitional government we should have been moving
towards a new democratic culture with new institutions, but that
has not happened. The constitution-making process has been stalled
at each and every opportunity, media reforms have not been
undertaken ... [and] the security forces continue to operate from
ZANU-PF's armpit as a partisan force."