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Mugabe brought usual suspects into inclusive government

President Robert Mugabe reappointed most of the ministers he had referred to as “the worst one (cabinet) he has ever had” to the inclusive government.

The cabinet included what were termed by the West as hardliners such as Emmerson Mnangagwa, Nicholas Goche, Didymus Mutasa, Joseph Made, Sydney Sekeramayi and David Parirenyatwa.

The United States embassy said these individuals had been integrally involved in some of the country’s most disastrous economic, social, and humanitarian policies.

Full cable:

Viewing cable 09HARARE119, ZIM NOTES 02-13-2009

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE119

2009-02-13 09:57

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO1273

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0119/01 0440957

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 130957Z FEB 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4044

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2202

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2633

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2755

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1232

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2024

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2380

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2804

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5232

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1925

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000119

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN

TREASURY FOR D. PETERS

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

COMMERCE FOR ROBERT TELCHIN

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O.12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON ZI

 

SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 02-13-2009

 

———–

1. SUMMARY

———–

 

Topics of the week:

 

– Tsvangirai and Deputies Sworn Into Government…

– Tsvangirai Picks Fill New Ministerial Posts…

– While Mugabe Resorts to the Usual Suspects…

– National Security Council Bill Passed…

– Little Progress for Detainees…

– Cholera on the Decline?…

– White Farmers Report Numerous Summons…

– Update on Arrested USAID Employee…

– Civil Servants Promised US$100 Vouchers…

– Banking Sector Still Struggling…

– RBZ Staff Ordered to Put Squeeze on Shopkeepers…

– Duty-Free Status On Basic Commodities Extended…

– Keep Sanctions on, Business Leaders Tell Ambassador…

– Poor Outlook for Grain Crops…

– No Diamond Megadeal in Sight…

– Requiem for the Zimbabwe Dollar…

 

—————————–

On the Political/Social Front

——————————

 

3. Tsvangirai and Deputies Sworn Into Government… MDC president

Morgan Tsvangirai assumed the office of Prime Minister after being

sworn in by President Mugabe on February 11. Also sworn in were his

deputies Thokozani Khupe of the MDC-T and Arthur Mutambara of the

MDC-M. The ceremony was attended by the leaders of South Africa,

Mozambique, and Swaziland, AU chairman Jean Ping, former South

African president Thabo Mbeki, SADC executive secretary Tomaz

Salomao, as well as numerous diplomats and other dignitaries.

Following the ceremony, Tsvangirai held a rally attended by an

estimated 20,000 MDC-T supporters at a Harare stadium. Among the

highlights of his speech was a promise to pay all civil servants,

soldiers, teachers, and health personnel in forex by the end of the

month. He also stressed the importance of immediately freeing

political detainees and establishing a cooperative relationship with

ZANU-PF. See Harare 111.

 

4. Tsvangirai Picks Fill New Ministerial Posts… Morgan

Tsvangirai named 14 people to fill the ministerial and deputy

ministerial posts he was granted under the power-sharing agreement.

His most significant appointments included MDC negotiator and lawyer

Tendai Biti as Finance Minister, and Giles Mutsekwa to co-chair the

Home Affairs ministry. An interesting development was naming white

farmer and long-time ZANU-PF adversary Roy Bennett Deputy Minister

of Agriculture. See Harare 107.

 

 

5. While Mugabe Resorts to the Usual Suspects… Mugabe prepared

to reappoint many of the members of his old Cabinet that he referred

to last year as “the worst one he has ever had.” While he had not

yet assigned the individuals to specific ministerial or deputy

ministerial posts, the list of 39 people released on February 12

included such ZANU-PF stalwarts as Emmerson Mnangagwa, Nicholas

Goche, Dydimus Mutasa, Joseph Made, Sydney Sekeramayi, and David

Parirenyatwa. These individuals have been integrally involved in

some of the country’s most disastrous economic, social, and

humanitarian policies.

Qhumanitarian policies.

 

6. National Security Council Bill Passed… Parliament passed

legislation on February 10 creating a National Security Council

(NSC) whose responsibility it will be to review national security

policies and “direct appropriate action.” The NSC legislation

 

HARARE 00000119 002 OF 003

 

 

passed both the House of Assembly and the Senate easily and awaits

President Mugabe’s signature before becoming law. The legislation

was amended from an earlier draft produced by the MDC-T to include

the service chiefs as well as leading government figures. The

function of the NSC as stated in the legislation appears to be more

oversight-based than operational. Mugabe will chair the council and

all decisions will be based on consensus. See Harare 117.

 

7. Little Progress for Detainees… Despite assurances that

Tsvangirai would not be inaugurated until political prisoners were

released, about 29 remain in custody. Encouragingly, on February 12

three detainees–including Jestina Mukoko–were granted access to

medical care at Avenues Clinic, where they remain. On Tsvangirai’s

first day as Prime Minister, he visited Chikurubi Maximum Security

Prison and met with detainees for about 45 minutes. Separately,

eight WOZA women and two ZLHR lawyers were arrested on February 10

and held for 48 hours before being released on bail. Three were

beaten by an officer; all 10 face charges of disturbing the peace

and are due to reappear in court on March 4. See Harare 115.

 

8. Cholera on the Decline?… As of February 12, cholera has

caused more than 3,500 deaths out of nearly 73,400 reported cases,

according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO). Promisingly,

between February 1 and 7, WHO reported a 15 percent decrease in new

cholera cases and a 35 percent decrease in cholera deaths compared

to the previous week. The decrease in cases and deaths reversed a

trend of steady increases in weekly new cholera cases through the

end of January. However, WHO noted that the current decreases may

result from a lack of reporting from several districts.

 

9. White Farmers Report Numerous Summons… The Commercial Farmers

Union (CFU)-a body that represents the interests of the remaining

commercial farmers as well as past evicted farmers-reported that

approximately 40 white farmers received summons demanding they

appear in court for violating orders to vacate their properties.

The CFU tells us the Attorney General gave instruction to

prosecutors to commence and complete as many land cases as possible

before the end of February. The CFU suspects an effort to take as

many farms as possible prior to a possible shift in land policy as a

result of the new government.

10. Update on Arrested USAID Employee… On February 12, USAID

driver Frank Muchirahondo-arrested on January 22 on dubious charges

of involvement in the attempted assassination of Air Force Chief

Shiri-appeared before the magistrate’s court in Bindura. Because

the prosecution was not prepared to respond to the defendant’s

complaints about abuse suffered while in police custody, the court

hearing was postponed until February 19. The judge ordered the

prosecution to be prepared to address the defendant’s complaints on

Qprosecution to be prepared to address the defendant’s complaints on

February 19 and to hand over to Frank’s lawyer the State’s paperwork

summarizing charges. The Mission is working with USAID/GC and DOJ

to determine how to fund continued legal representation for Frank.

 

 

———————————–

On the Economic and Business Front

———————————-

 

11. Civil Servants Promised US$100 Vouchers… Acting Minister of

Finance Chinamasa announced February 13 that all civil servants

would get vouchers worth US$100 later this month. He said the

vouchers will be securitized, tradable, and redeemable for goods in

participating shops or for cash. It conflicts with Tsvangirai’s

promise to pay civil servants in foreign currency by the end of

February. The Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe told us its members

will redeem the vouchers at a discount because of uncertainties

surrounding the underlying securities, given the dire shortage of

foreign currency in the country.

 

 

HARARE 00000119 003 OF 003

 

 

12. Banking Sector Still Struggling… Dollarization has brought

some relief to the banking sector, where local currency revenue no

longer covered rising foreign currency costs. But problems related

to foreign currency shortages, the introduction of statutory

reserves on foreign currency accounts, and ceilings on lending rates

still undermine profitability at most banks. See Harare 118.

 

13. RBZ Staff Ordered to Put Squeeze on Shopkeepers… An RBZ

employee told us that much of the bank’s 12,000 staff had been

ordered out onto the streets to pressure shopkeepers to buy a

license to trade in hard currencies. The mood is grim at the RBZ,

where salaries have gone unpaid, CIO presence is pervasive, and the

cafeteria is now serving only cabbage and greens.

 

14. Duty-Free Status On Basic Commodities Extended… To augment

the supply of goods on the local market, government this week

extended duty-free status on most imported basic commodities to June

30, 2009. Prices of most commodities held steady this week, helped

by the formation of an inclusive government.

 

15. Keep Sanctions on, Business Leaders Tell Ambassador… At a

luncheon hosted by Ambassador McGee this week, heads of the major

business associations called on the U.S. to keep sanctions in place

to force the new government to implement sensible policies.

Ambassador McGee advised the group on the prerequisites for our

re-engagement with the GOZ. For their part, the businessmen

promised to help set up the checks and balances necessary to avoid

the abuse of power by government ever again.

 

16. Poor Outlook for Grain Crops… Zimbabwe’s 2008 winter wheat

harvest is forecast at the lowest level since independence-38,900

MT, according to the USDA’s Zimbabwe Grain and Feed Quarterly

Update. The GOZ estimates a maize planting area this season of

about 890,000 hectares, with production at last season’s low level

of 400,000 MT. South Africa dispatched seed and fertilizer worth

around R300 million (about US$32 million), according to the report,

mostly arrived past the optimum planting date.

 

17. No Diamond Megadeal in Sight… A megadeal to sell the mineral

rights to the disputed diamond deposit near Mutare and quickly fill

the GOZ’s forex coffers has apparently stalled. See Harare 110.

 

18. Requiem for the Zimbabwe Dollar… The Z$100 trillion note

appeared on the street in very limited circulation ths week-it

presents a huge problem in making change. In addition, hardly any

shops accept the local currency.

 

—————–

Quote of the Week

—————–

 

19. “As Prime Minister I make this commitment that, as from the end

of this month, our professionals in the civil service, every health

worker, teacher, soldier and policeman will receive their pay in

foreign currency until we are able to stabilize the economy.” —

Morgan Tsvangirai speaking at a MDC rally in Harare following his

QMorgan Tsvangirai speaking at a MDC rally in Harare following his

swearing in on February 11.

 

20. “The job is the worst in the world but I will have to look the

job in the eye and I have no doubt that I will be equal to the task

and will prevail.” — Tendai Biti referring to his nomination as

Minister of Finance on February 11.

 

 

DHANANI

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