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MPs jeer Mugabe

Members of Parliament jeered and heckled President Robert Mugabe when he addressed the first parliament in which his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was no longer in control.

ZANU-PF and the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change led by Arthur Mutambara had suffered a humiliating defeat the previous day when their candidate for Speaker of Parliament Paul Themba Nyathi lost to the Morgan Tsvangirai faction candidate Lovemore Moyo.

Moyo beat Nyathi by a vote of 110-98 which meant that four ZANU-PF MPs and eight MDC-M legislators had voted for Moyo.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE758, ZIM NOTES 8-29-2008

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08HARARE758

2008-08-29 11:06

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO1615

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0758/01 2421106

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 291106Z AUG 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3358

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2048

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2246

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2366

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0896

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1643

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1999

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2420

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4852

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1515

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000758

 

AF/S FOR G.GARLAND

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN

TREASURY FOR J.RALYEA AND T.RAND

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O.12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI

 

SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 8-29-2008

 

———–

1. SUMMARY

———–

 

Topics of the week:

 

– MDC Wins House Speakership…

– Police Forcefully Disrupt NGO Meeting…

– Looming Food Crisis…

– Death Toll at 171…

– Infrastructure Bombing…

– Abuses of Students Come to Light…

– Olympic Swimmer Returns Triumphant…

– Payment Delays/Power Cuts Strain RioZim…

– Delta Corporation in “Survival Mode”…

– Dismal Turnout at Harare Ag Show

– Inflation Factoid…

 

——————————————— ———-

2. Price Movements-Exchange Rate and Selected Products

——————————————— ———-

 

Parallel rate for cash doubled to Z$200:US$1

 

Bank transfer nearly quadrupled to Z$2000:US$1 against inter-bank

average of Z$31:US$1

 

Bread on the parallel market rose to Z$300

 

Sugar rose to Z$300/2kg

 

Cooking oil inched up to Z$90/750ml

 

Petrol and diesel rose by a third to Z$300/liter

 

—————————–

On the Political/Social Front

—————————–

 

3. MDC Wins House Speakership… The MDC (MDC-T) Tsvangirai

formation shocked ZANU-PF and President Robert Mugabe by winning the

House of Assembly speaker’s position on Monday. MDC-T’s Lovemore

Moyo defeated Paul Themba Nyathi, nominated by the MDC Mutambara

faction (MDC-M) by a vote of 110-98. In a secret ballot, apparently

4 ZANU-PF MPs and 8 MDC-M MPs defied their parties and voted for

Moyo. The following day, Mugabe convened Parliament. In a blatant

demonstration of disrespect for Mugabe and his position as

president, the MPs jeered and heckled him throughout his speech.

Moyo’s election confounded SADC, which had called for the convening

of Parliament after Tsvangirai failed to sign a power-sharing deal,

and put to bed an alliance between ZANU-PF and MDC-M designed to

undermine MDC-T. Tsvangirai and his party are emboldened and will

undoubtedly continue to take a strong stand in negotiations with

ZANU-PF. See Harare 747, 741, 730.

 

4. Police Forcefully Disrupt NGO Meeting… The anti-riot squad

illegally disrupted the annual meeting of Crisis in Zimbabwe

Coalition (CZC) at a local hotel on August 28, claiming that under

the dreaded Public Order and Security Act (POSA), CZC should have

given them four days’ notice for convening a public meeting.

However, the High Court previously determined that under POSA

internal meetings do not require police permission.

 

5. Looming Food Crisis… The Mugabe government continues to deny

NGOs and Private Voluntary Organizations access to over 1.3 million

at-risk Zimbabweans to provide food, water, seed, fertilizer, and

hygienic support. Currently, less than 300,000 people are receiving

assistance, and record-low harvests may expose up to 5 million

 

HARARE 00000758 002 OF 003

 

 

Zimbabweans to a severe food crisis. While there are large

stockpiles of supplies in South Africa and Zimbabwe, the supply

backlog is forcing donors to reconsider the utility of sending

additional aid to Zimbabwe. Some NGOs have been able to conduct

discrete workaround operations with the consent of local officials,

though these groups still routinely face the threat of violence from

war veterans and youth brigade members. See Harare 754.

 

6. MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti is seeking to have the

humanitarian access issue raised in Parliament. The UN Food and

Agriculture Organization is preparing a presentation for

parliamentarians on the impact of the suspension on food aid. The

MDC is also planning a media blitz on the effects of the NGO ban.

In addition, local and international NGOs are increasing their

advocacy by issuing a common statement on behalf of 100+ agencies.

They are also finalizing a presentation to convey the impact of the

ban on food security, agricultural recovery, nutrition/child

protection, and water/sanitation, and they also plan to step up

advocacy in the region.

 

7. Death Toll at 171… The death toll from post-March 27 election

violence now stands at 171. However, the actual number is likely

higher, due to the unknown number of unconfirmable deaths. See

Harare 751.

 

8. Infrastructure Bombing… On the evening of August 21, two

bombs were detonated on the Hunyani bridge 25 kilometers from Harare

on the Bulawayo-Harare road. The bombs caused minor damage to the

road and rail line. Police have no leads or suspects in their

investigation. This is the second bombing to take place this month.

At this point we don’t know if this was malicious mischief, efforts

by an anti-Mugabe group to harm infrastructure, or intentional

ZANU-PF action to later blame on the MDC.

 

9. Abuses of Students Come to Light… “Inside Pandora’s Box”

details the strong-arm tactics used against Zimbabwean student

protesters in 2006. Produced by Students Solidarity Trust-a local

Zimbabwean student activist group-the 42-page report delves into the

detentions and beatings of students, as well as the legislative

measures taken by the Mugabe regime to suppress student protests.

The report is on the Embassy intranet site.

 

10. Olympic Swimmer Returns Triumphant… Olympic gold and silver

medalist Kirsty Coventry returned to a hero’s welcome at Harare

International Airport this week. The Herald awarded her a front

page picture and banner headline, “Royal welcome for Kirsty.”

Mugabe mentioned her triumph in his speech at the opening of

Parliament; the MDC responded by shouting, “she’s white, she’s

white,” in mockery of Mugabe’s customary racist attitude toward

Zimbabwe’s white population.

 

———————————-

On the Economic and Business Front

———————————-

 

11. Payment Delays/Power Cuts Strain RioZim… Nonpayment for gold

deliveries to the Reserve Bank continues to constrain cash flow at

RioZim. In its half-year results, RioZim reported that gold

production at Renco Mine declined 31% compared to the same period

last year, affected by load shedding and plant breakdowns. Nickel

and copper production fell 39%, primarily due to power cuts.

Analysts see the company’s best prospects in coal and diamonds.

Coal production at Sengwa Colliery increased just over 10% before

RioZim recently terminated mining there in May to focus on seeking a

partner for a 2000 MW power station envisioned for the site. Murowa

Diamonds, 22% owned by RioZim, nearly tripled its diamond output to

135,000 carats.

 

 

HARARE 00000758 003 OF 003

 

 

12. Delta Corporation in “Survival Mode”…   Delta executives said

the economy had entered the “melt down zone” and Delta was in

“survival mode,” streamlining operations and refocusing on exports.

Capacity utilization at the beverage giant is 25-35%. Illustrative

of the export strategy, local sales of malt-based lager declined 46%

in the last 6-month reporting period as Delta sidetracked its barley

malt for the export market. Elsewhere in the business tea

production fell 62% over the previous reporting period, along with

declines in poultry, beef, fruits and vegetables. Analysts

nevertheless recommend Delta for its strong balance sheet, cash flow

and brands.

 

13. Dismal Turnout at Harare Ag Show… At mid-week, attendance at

the once-renowned Harare Agricultural Show was less than a quarter

of last year’s already poor showing, matched only by the low turnout

of exhibitors.

 

14. Inflation Factoid… The highest-denomination note (Z$500)

fell in value on the street from US$33 to US$2.50 in the month of

August.

 

—————–

Quote of the Week

—————–

 

15. Mugabe at a lunch marking the opening of Parliament, reported

in The Herald of August 27: Cde Mugabe said judging by the number

of new cars on the roads, some of which included the latest models,

it was surprising to note that Zimbabwe was regarded as poor.

 

 

MCGEE

 

(13 VIEWS)

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