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Chamisa stripped of powers

Information and Communications Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa was stripped of his powers when the communications portfolio was reallocated to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development led by Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front minister Nicholas Goche.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the reallocation was “illegal” while Chamisa threatened to quit if the action was not rescinded.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE326, ZIM NOTES 04-17-2009

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE326

2009-04-20 07:30

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO3839

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0326/01 1100730

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 200730Z APR 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4393

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2269

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2782

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2903

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1348

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2168

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2533

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2951

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5392

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2070

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000326

 

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 04-17-2009

 

———–

1. SUMMARY

———–

 

Topics of the week:

 

– Outstanding Issues Still Outstanding…

– Communications Portfolio in Limbo…

– Constitutional Process Kicks Off…

– Joint Independence Day Celebrations Planned…

– MDC MPs Divided Over Cars…

– U.S. Lauded for Lifting Travel Warning…

– MDC MP Jailed for “Inciting Violence”…

– MPs Charged With Diverting Agriculture Inputs…

– Poverty Datum Line (PDL) Falls As Prices Continue To Drop…

– Econet Wireless Secures 3G Frequencies…

– Cholera and Election Violence’s Toll on Tourism…

– Stable Food Security Situation…

– Cautious Optimism at Agribusiness Firm…

 

—————————–

On the Political/Social Front

——————————

 

2. Outstanding Issues Still Outstanding… The inaugural meeting of

the Government Executive Committee, comprising President Robert

Mugabe and his two vice presidents and Prime Minister Morgan

Tsvangirai and his two deputy prime ministers which was to discuss

outstanding issues-media, land invasions, appointments of governors

and permanent secretaries, the stripping of MDC minister Nelson

Chamisa’s portfolios (see below), and Mugabe’s failure to swear in

Roy Bennett as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture-took place on

Thursday and was adjourned without discussion of any of these

issues. ZANU-PF participants expressed uncertainty about what was

called for in the Inter-Party Agreement, and who had what authority.

At Tsvangirai’s suggestion, three of the Agreement’s negotiators,

Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, and Patrick Chinamasa, will discuss the

Agreement and its mandates with the Committee on Monday.

 

3. Communications Portfolio in Limbo… The communications

portfolio of the Ministry of Information and Communications

Technology, headed by up-and-coming MDC minister Nelson Chamisa, was

suddenly reallocated by Mugabe’s office to the Ministry of Transport

and Infrastructure Development, led by ZANU-PF minister Nicholas

Goche. While Chamisa and the MDC fight the reallocation, the

government mouthpiece The Herald has already begun referring to the

“Ministry of Transport, Communication, and Infrastructure

Development.” Tsvangirai termed the move “illegal” and the MDC has

stated it will not accept it. Chamisa has threatened to quit if the

action is not rescinded. See Harare 321.

 

4. Constitutional Process Kicks Off… On April 12, the House of

Assembly announced the formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee

to direct the process to form a new Zimbabwean constitution.

Members are divided between the three political parties. The

committee chair-who may come from outside Parliament-has not yet

been chosen. Civil society groups quickly opposed the process,

arguing they are not adequately epresented. See Harare 323.

 

5. Joint Independence Day Celebrations Planned… For the first

time, MDC officials will join ZANU-PF at national Independence Day

celebrations on April 18. The main celebration will be led by

Qcelebrations on April 18. The main celebration will be led by

President Mugabe at the National Sports Stadium. Officials will not

wear party regalia.

 

6. MDC MPs Divided Over Cars… The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

distributed vehicles to MPs this week, despite protestations from

Prime Minister Tsvangirai that the RBZ should cease all quasi-fiscal

activities. Some MDC MPs reportedly accepted vehicles against the

MDC leadership’s directive that no one should accept a vehicle from

 

HARARE 00000326 002 OF 003

 

 

the RBZ. The Independent reports that some MPs have declared this

“unfair” and have threatened to break away.

 

7. U.S. Lauded for Lifting Travel Warning… Given the improved

availability of basic food, fuel, and health care in Zimbabwe, on

April 8 the USG lifted the travel warning on Zimbabwe that was

issued on December 12, 2008. In a front page article in The Herald

on April 16, the newspaper inaccurately states that the travel

warning had been in place since 2002, making this big news that the

paper optimistically expects the lifting will “open the floodgates

for tourist arrivals.”

 

8. MDC MP Jailed for “Inciting Violence”… MDC-T MP for Chipinge

East, Mathias Mlambo, was arrested on April 13, accused of inciting

violence at a funeral for an MDC member in his constituency on April

10. While Mlambo was at the graveside with the deceased’s family,

an altercation broke out nearby when ZANU-PF supporters reportedly

taunted MDC supporters attending the funeral. When the MP went to

report the incident, police detained him and accused him of

provoking the violence. Mlambo has spent the week in jail, and a

Chipinge magistrate is set to rule on bail conditions on April 17.

Numerous MPs reporting incidents during election-related violence in

2008 were also arrested in similar fashion.

 

9. MPs Charged With Diverting Agriculture Inputs… Six MPs from

Masvingo province (5 MDC and 1 ZANU-PF moderate) are set to face

trial May 5 for allegedly diverting a total of maize seed and

fertilizer valued at near US$90,000.

 

———————————–

On the Economic and Business Front

———————————-

 

10. Poverty Datum Line (PDL) Falls As Prices Continue To Drop…

According to the Central Statistical Office, the PDL for a family of

five, which stood at US$552 in February 2009, fell to US$461 in

March in line with the general decline in prices of most food items.

Reputable independent estimates put the decline in Zimbabwe’s

general price level in March as high as 19 percent for low-income

earners, who make up the vast majority of the population.

 

11. Econet Wireless Secures 3G Frequencies… According to the

operations manager of Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator by

number of subscribers, Econet Wireless, the company has secured 3G

frequencies from the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory

Authority of Zimbabwe. How soon 3G will be available, however, is

uncertain, as the associated equipment, which has been idle over the

past three years, needs retesting before its deployment.

 

12. Cholera and Election Violence’s Toll on Tourism… The Zimbabwe

Tourism Authority reported a 24 percent decline in tourism receipts

from US$365 million in 2007 to US$294 million in 2008. The fall is

attributed to a sharp decrease in tourist arrivals caused by

election-related violence, as well as the cholera outbreak in the

latter half of the year. Although violence and cholera are on the

wane, the renewed wave of farm invasions is likely to prevent the

Qwane, the renewed wave of farm invasions is likely to prevent the

tourism industry from realizing its full potential yet again in

2009.

 

13. Stable Food Security Situation… Zimbabwe’s food security

situation remained stable and food supplies improved in March due to

the relaxation of restrictions on private sector trade and the

subsequent increase in private sector activity, according to the

March 2009 report of the Famine Early Warning Systems Network

(FEWSNet). Late summer harvests also improved household food

supplies in both urban and rural areas. See www.fews.net/zimbabwe.

Separately, a team from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in

Africa (AGRA), an organization chaired by former UN Secretary

General Kofi Annan, visited Harare last week and is looking to

initiate projects to improve food security for the 2010 harvest.

 

HARARE 00000326 003 OF 003

 

 

See Harare 306.

 

 

14. Cautious Optimism at Agribusiness Firm… CFI Holdings is

optimistic that, with the liberalization of grain importation, it

can up its capacity utilization from the current 20-25 percent level

to 60-70 percent, albeit pending an injection of US$5 million in

working capital. The manufacturer of animal feed, flour and maize

products stopped its grain outgrower scheme due to side marketing by

farmers and now relies on imports. With the increasing availability

of stock feed, the company’s poultry division has started exporting

day-old chicks and hatching eggs to Europe.

 

—————–

Quote of the Week

—————–

 

15. “So for them (MDC-T), after calling for the imposition of

sanctions yesterday to go back to those same people and say ‘remove

the sanctions’ is difficult… They will have psychological

difficulties and we should help them get over it. With time they

will have summoned the courage to go to the same people and say we

don’t need them anymore.” — President Robert Mugabe, in his annual

Independence Day interview with ZBC-TV. The Herald, Friday April

17.

 

 

MCGEE

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