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Government tightens political noose

Information Minister Jonathan Moyo on 25 June announced that the government would soon prohibit non-governmental organisations, churches, and aid agencies from conducting voter education campaigns.

He said the government was devising a policy that would permit only the government-controlled Electoral Supervisory Commission and political parties to carry out voter education.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 01HARARE2042, THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE TIGHTENS THE POLITICAL NOOSE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE2042

2001-06-29 10:31

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.

 

291031Z Jun 01

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTO4761

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 02042 291028Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   AMAD-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00

DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00   VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00

IO-00   LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01   DCP-01   NRRC-00

NSAE-00 OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00

ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00

PMB-00  DSCC-00 PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00

/011W

——————FF2D3A 291029Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9206

INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 002042

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL. 06/26/11

TAGS: PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE TIGHTENS THE POLITICAL NOOSE

 

REF: HARARE 1987

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 02042 291028Z

 

CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D’AFFAIRES AUBREY HOOKS. REASONS: 1.5

(B) AND (D).

 

MOYO’S REMARKS, CONTROVERSIAL AS ALWAYS

—————————————

 

1. (U) ON JUNE 25, INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO ANNOUNCED

THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE WILL SOON PROHIBIT NGOS, CHURCHES,

AND AID AGENCIES FROM CONDUCTING VOTER EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS.

ACCORDING TO MOYO, THE GOZ IS DEVISING A POLICY THAT WILL PERMIT

ONLY THE GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED ELECTORAL SUPERVISORY COMMISSION

AND POLITICAL PARTIES TO CARRY OUT VOTER EDUCATION EFFORTS.

 

REACTION

——–

 

2. (U) NOT SURPRISINGLY, THE NGO COMMUNITY HAS REACTED ANGRILY TO

MOYO’S ANNOUNCEMENT. A GROUP OF 15 CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS ISSUED A

STATEMENT INSISTING IT WAS THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO INFORM

VOTERS ABOUT ELECTORAL LAWS AND THEIR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES.

IN THEIR STATEMENT, “THE GROUPS REJECT UNRESERVEDLY ANY

ALLEGATIONS THAT THE VOTER EDUCATION PROVIDED BY CIVIC GROUPS IS

PARTISAN AND CALL ON THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY TO

RETRACT THIS UNSUBSTANTIATED AND MALEVOLENT ALLEGATION. THE

GROUPS WILL TAKE ALL MEASURES TO DEFEND THEIR LEGAL AND SOCIAL

RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITY TO INFORM AND EDUCATE THE PUBLIC.” THE

LEGAL RESOURCES FOUNDATION (LRF) IS AN INFLUENTIAL, WELL-RESPECTED

NGO WHICH RUNS A NUMBER OF LEGAL AID CLINICS AROUND THE COUNTRY

AND IS ONE OF THE MANY ORGANIZATIONS ENGAGED IN VOTER EDUCATION

ACTIVITIES. IN A STRONGLY-WORDED PRESS RELEASE ON JUNE 27, THE

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03      HARARE 02042 291028Z

LRF ASSERTED THAT ANY LAW WHICH PURPORTED TO PREVENT CIVIC GROUPS

FROM CONDUCTING VOTER EDUCATION PROGRAMS WOULD BE OVERTURNED BY

THE COURTS. THE LRF EMPHASIZED THAT NGOS AND CHURCHES HAVE LONG

SPONSORED NON-PARTISAN CIVIC AND VOTER EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN

ZIMBABWE AND SHOULD CONTINUE TO DO SO. A JUNE 29 EDITORIAL IN THE

INDEPENDENT “DAILY NEWS” SLAMMED MOYO’S ANNOUNCEMENT: “OF ALL THE

MANY PARANOID MEASURES THE GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN IN ITS FUTILE

ATTEMPT TO STOP THE FIERCE WINDS OF POLITICAL CHANGE THAT HAVE

BEEN BLOWING ACROSS THE COUNTRY SINCE THE REJECTION OF THE

FRAUDULENT DRAFT CONSTITUTION IN FEBRUARY LAST YEAR, NONE HAS BEEN

QUITE SO GLARINGLY UNDEMOCRATIC AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THIS ONE.”

 

COMMENT

——-

 

3. (C) DURING THE TWENTY-ONE YEARS SINCE INDEPENDENCE, CIVIL

SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS HAVE BEEN THE PRINCIPAL IMPLEMENTERS OF

VOTER EDUCATION. THEY HAVE FOCUSED ON TECHNICAL/PROCEDURAL ISSUES

SUCH AS THE IMPORTANCE OF REGISTERING TO VOTE AND VERIFYING THAT

ONE’S NAME IS ON THE VOTERS ROLL; THE MECHANICS OF MARKING ONE’S

BALLOT AND PLACING IT IN THE BOX; AND EMPHASIS ON THE SECRECY OF

THE BALLOT. THESE EFFORTS HAVE BEEN CRUCIAL IN ELEVATING THE

AWARENESS OF CITIZENS ABOUT THEIR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES, A

PREREQUISITE FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF DEMOCRACY. IT IS NOT

SURPRISING, THEREFORE, THAT ZANU-PF INTENDS TO ASSERT ITS CONTROL

OVER THIS EXERCISE, AS IGNORANCE HAS PROVEN TO BE THE RULING

PARTY’S BEST WEAPON IN ITS ATTEMPTS TO CLING TO POWER. THE

PROVISION OF VOTER EDUCATION BY NEUTRAL ORGANIZATIONS THREATENS

ZANU-PF’S MOST EFFECTIVE CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES, PARTICULARLY IN

RURAL AREAS: BEATING OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS, THREATENING THEM WITH

VIOLENCE IF THEY DO NOT VOTE FOR THE RULING PARTY, AND TELLING

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 02042 291028Z

CITIZENS THE PARTY IS ABLE TO DETERMINE FOR WHOM THEY CAST THEIR

BALLOTS.

 

4. (C) MOYO’S WILLINGNESS TO ALLOW POLITICAL PARTIES TO CONDUCT

VOTER EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS UNDERMINES HIS EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS HAVE BEEN TOO PARTISAN IN THEIR EFFORTS. MOYO

LIKELY ASSUMES, HOWEVER, THAT THE BAN ON FOREIGN FUNDING OF

POLITICAL PARTIES WILL, IN PRACTICAL TERMS, MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR

THE OPPOSITION MDC TO FILL THE VOID LEFT BY NGOS. WE EXPECT THAT

CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS WILL FIERCELY RESIST THE GOZ ON THIS ISSUE

AND IGNORE A BAN IF NECESSARY, BUT A GOVERNMENT PROHIBITION WILL

MAKE IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT FOR SUCH GROUPS TO OPERATE,

PARTICULARLY IN RURAL AREAS. AS THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

EXPECTED IN EARLY 2002 APPROACHES, WE HAVE NO DOUBT THAT ZANU-PF

WILL COME UP WITH OTHER CREATIVE MEASURES DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN ITS

HOLD ON POWER.

 

HOOKS

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

(15 VIEWS)

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