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Food donor surprised Msipa is a politician after all

The assistant country director of CARE International Stephen Gwynne-Vaughn was surprised that Midlands provincial governor Cephas Msipa was a politician after all when he distributed fertilizer at a function at which his organisation was launching its food distribution programme to the people of Lower Gweru.

Speaking at the official launch of the CARE and C-SAFE programme, Msipa thanked the organisation for assisting the people of Lower Gweru and stressed that the food distribution should be apolitical.

He said that people that received food from CARE should also not get food from the Grain Marketing Board and urged CARE to address the complaints of wage earners who were not eligible for aid but could not find food to buy.

Msipa told the audience that he had told President Robert Mugabe about their plight and Mugabe had asked Msipa to tell the people that we was working with them and he suffered with them.

Mugabe had given Msipa several bags of fertiliser which Msipa distributed at the ceremony.

United States embassy officials were surprised by this move and so was Gwynne-Vaughan who commented to embassy officials that the normally moderate Msipa was a politician after all.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE583, FOOD AID PROGRAM JUST IN TIME IN LOWER GWERU

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE583

2003-03-21 06:03

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000583

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

USAID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA FOR HAJJAR, KHANDAGLE AND MARX,

DCHA/FFP FOR LANDIS, BRAUSE, SKORIC AND PETERSEN,

AFR/SA FOR POE AND COPSON, AFR/SD FOR ISALROW AND WHELAN

PRETORIA FOR FFP DISKIN AND OFDA BRYAN

NAIROBI FOR DCHA/OFDA/ARO FOR RILEY, MYER AND SMITH,

REDSO/ESA/FFP FOR SENYKORR

ROME PLEASE PASS TO FODAG

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2013

TAGS: PGOV EAID KHIV ZI

SUBJECT: FOOD AID PROGRAM JUST IN TIME IN LOWER GWERU

 

Classified By: POLITICAL OFFICER KIMBERLY JEMSION FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) A

ND (D).

 

——-

Summary

——-

1. (U) PolOff attended the official launch of the Consortium

for Southern African Famine Emergency (C-SAFE) project by

CARE International in Lower Gweru, Midlands province on March

13. Food distributions are occurring just in time, as

several people had collapsed in the weeks preceding CARE

distributions. In addition, at least 20 people have also

died due to AIDS-related illnesses over the last few weeks.

 

—————————–

Lower Gweru Food Just in Time

—————————–

2. (U) PolOff attended the official launch of the Consortium

for Southern African Famine Emergency (C-SAFE) project by

CARE International in Lower Gweru, Midlands province on March

13. C-SAFE is a regional food assistance program to

Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi involving CARE International,

World Vision, and Catholic Relief Services. The Zimbabwe

program targets 664,746 beneficiaries in seven districts.

CARE is working in Gweru and Chirumhanzu in Midlands province

and Gutu in Masvingo province.

 

3. (U) PolOff spoke with a Gweru-based field officer about

the situation in Gweru. The field officer, who began working

with CARE in January, said this was the first time CARE would

be distributing all three commodities–10-kg whole-kernel

corn, 1.8 kg beans, and 600 ml vegetable oil–to

beneficiaries. This was the third distribution for the ward.

 

4. (U) The field officer told PolOff that he could see the

difference in the community. He said prior to the February

distribution, which was actually distributed the week of

March 3, people had been fainting and children were not

attending school regularly because of hunger. The field

officer and Stephen Gwynne-Vaughn, the Assistant Country

Director, said they distributed the February rations late

because of problems getting commodities across the South

African/Zimbabwe border at Beitbridge. Both said they got to

Lower Gweru just in time.

 

5. (U) Crops in the region were in very poor condition.

Corn stalks were either dried out or appeared severely

stunted. MDC MP for Gweru Rural, Renson Gasela, told PolOff

that the people in his constituency would harvest little if

anything and will need food assistance until this time next

year.

 

6. (U) The field officer said that, overall, compilation of

the beneficiary list went well except that people who lived

in growth points were denied access to relief food, as were

people with formal sector employment. People living near

growth points were classified as living in an urban area and

were declared ineligible for food aid. The field officer

thought this ridiculous because the people living in the

growth points are no better off than their neighbors in the

more rural areas. (Note: A growth point is a collection of

permanent commercial structures in a rural area. The growth

point often includes a grocery store, barbershop/beauty

salon, butcher, and a bottle store. People living in and

around the growth point may also have piped water and

electricity. End note.)

 

7. (U) The field officer complained to PolOff that even

though he and his colleagues helped distribute hundreds of

tons of corn, they do not have any corn from which to make

sadza, the staple cornmeal mush eaten daily. He said he and

his colleagues had complained to CARE about their plight,

asking for assistance in procuring corn, but were informed

that they were ineligible to receive CARE food. The field

officer also said their long work hours made it difficult for

them to shop.

 

——————–

AIDS Taking Its Toll

——————–

8. (U) During the drive to the distribution site, PolOff

noticed at least a score of new graves in the Gweru cemetery.

The field officer mentioned there had been more than 20

deaths over the last two weeks. He thought they were most

likely due to AIDS-related illnesses. He commented that the

cemeteries could not keep up with demand and that funeral

services were on a 30-40 minute schedule to accommodate all

mourners.

 

———————————–

Mugabe Capitalizes on C-SAFE Launch

———————————–

9. (U) The official ceremony consisted of skits and songs by

the primary and secondary school children and women and of

speeches by local government officials (the CARE field

officer told PolOff that the District Administrator recently

ensured that the government’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB)

food was reserved for teachers and nurses), headmen, chiefs,

CARE representatives, and Governor Msipa. The skits focused

on the registration process while the songs thanked CARE and

C-SAFE for coming to the community’s aid and described how

life had been before C-SAFE/CARE. (Note: Governor Msipa

translated the skits and songs. End Note.)

 

10. (U) Governor Msipa,s speech began as an apolitical

oratory but then became somewhat political. He began by

thanking CARE and C-SAFE for assisting the people of Gweru.

He stressed that distribution should be apolitical and that

people who receive CARE food should not also receive GMB

food. He also urged CARE to address the complaints of the

wage earners who were ineligible for aid but could not find

food to purchase and to find a solution to the growth point

dilemma. CARE’s Assistant Country Director Gwynne-Vaughn

seemed surprised to hear about this characterization of

growth points as urban areas and seemed willing to work on a

solution. He also wondered aloud to PolOff whether the

ineligibility was due to the people having formal sector

employment.

 

11. (U) Then, as testament to the politician that he is,

Msipa told the audience that he had met with President Robert

Mugabe and informed him of the plight of the people of Lower

Gweru and the launch of the C-SAFE project. Mugabe told

Msipa to tell the people that he was working for them and

that he suffered with them. Mugabe gave Msipa several bags

of fertilizer, which were delivered midway through the

ceremony, for the ward.

 

——-

Comment

——-

12. (C) PolOff was surprised at the ZANU-PF fertilizer

donation at, what was to be, an apolitical CARE/C-SAFE launch

and food distribution. As far as PolOff could ascertain,

none of the other speeches, skits, or songs hinted at a

political party, although MDC member, Renson Gasela, who is

on trial for treason with Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman

Ncube, represents the district. Gwynne-Vaughn also was

surprised by the fertilizer donation, commenting to PolOff

that the normally moderate Msipa was a politician after all.

 

13. (C) Comment Continued: PolOff is not sure if the Gweru

beneficiaries were aware of the origin of the food, although

the vegetable oil cans were printed with the letters USA.

The corn bags were printed with WFP and the beans were from

the U.S. During the ceremony, PolOff was introduced with the

remark that the U.S. is the largest food aid donor. In his

speech, Gwynne-Vaughn also mentioned that the U.S. is the

biggest donor to WFP and that USAID sponsors C-SAFE, although

it was not clear how many of those in the audience knew of

USAID’s connection with the U.S. Government. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

 

(11 VIEWS)

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