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Mugabe never misses an opportunity to travel to the West

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Congress, which had been scheduled for 8 December, but had been postponed, was brought back to allow President Robert Mugabe to travel to Denmark for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

According to a cable by the United States embassy in Harare, though the party had earlier said the conference would be postponed by a week because the venue was already booked, it was moved back because Mugabe never missed an opportunity to travel to the West because of travel bans he is facing.

The international conference on civil aviation had to be moved instead to allow the congress so that Mugabe could travel to Copenhagen the following week.

According to the same cable Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were to lead separate delegations to the conference becoming the only country to be represented by two delegations.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE944, ZIM NOTES 12-07-2009

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09HARARE944

2009-12-07 09:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO9177

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0944/01 3410944

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 070944Z DEC 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5186

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3190

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3299

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1726

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2560

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2929

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3347

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5795

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2478

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000944

 

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 12-07-2009

 

———–

1. SUMMARY

———–

 

Topics of the week:

South Africans Mediate Talks…

ZANU-PF Congress Rescheduled for December 8…

Disunity in the Unity Government…

Ambassador’s Vehicle Detained by Police…

Threats Escalate in Mudzi…

Cholera Epidemic Less Severe…

Uncertainty for Chiadzwa Residents Continues…

Journalists’ Union Holds Congress, Venue Kept Secret…

Zimbabwean Wins Prestigious Literary Award…

No Women Allowed…

Biti’s Budget Blowout…

High Gold Price Spurs Production…

Tourist Arrivals Increase…

 

———————————

On the Political and Social Front

———————————-

 

2. South African mediators representing President Jacob Zuma were

in Harare this week to talk to ZANU-PF and the two MDCs. We

understand they were mostly in listening mode. Zuma will report to

the SADC Troika which will obviously not meet its goal, established

in Maputo at the Troika Summit on November 5, of resolving

outstanding issues by December 5. With the ZANU-PF Congress

beginning next week and the Christmas season approaching, it’s

unlikely there will be any resolution before January.

 

3. The ZANU-PF Congress, held every five years to elect party

officials and set policy, was originally scheduled for December 8. A

couple of weeks ago, party officials announced they were postponing

it a week. The ostensible reason was a conflict at the venue with an

already-scheduled international civil aviation conference. Some

suspected the delay was motivated by the inability of the party to

raise the necessary funds. Now the Congress has been rescheduled for

the original date of December 8. The reason: President Robert

Mugabe, who never misses, in the face of travel bans, an opportunity

to travel to the West, intends to attend the United Nations Climate

Change Conference in Copenhagen the following week. The civil

aviation conference has been moved.

 

4. According to a Danish diplomat in Harare, Mugabe and Prime

Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will lead separate delegations to

Copenhagen. Zimbabwe will be the only country represented with two

delegations.

 

5. Ambassador Ray’s vehicle was detained at a police roadblock in

Harare for over an hour on November 28 (he was not in the car). The

LES driver of the vehicle immediately notified the embassy and the

ARSO arrived on the scene. Police at the roadblock admitted that

they couldn’t search the vehicle, but said they had been ordered to

do so by a superior officer who passed the roadblock just ahead of

the Ambassador’s car. After numerous phone calls, the driver and

vehicle were eventually allowed to leave. We protested to the MFA,

where officials appeared to be unaware of the incident when meeting

with Ambassador Ray this week. See Harare 929.

 

6. There were disturbing reports this week from Mudzi, Mashonaland

East, that villagers were called to a venue supposedly to be given

seed only to find on arrival that it was a ZANU-PF meeting, with no

Qseed only to find on arrival that it was a ZANU-PF meeting, with no

seed in sight. Those gathered were threatened they must “surrender”

from the MDC, and that the MDC and Tsvangirai are rubbish. They were

also told that they must vote for the Kariba draft constitution.

 

7. USAID-funded cholera prevention measures, such as provision of

water purification kits, have contributed to a dramatic decrease in

 

HARARE 00000944 002 OF 003

 

 

cholera incidence and mortality versus last year. The total number

of cases of cholera reported this year is only 1.5% of that reported

at the same time last year: 146 cases, compared to 9,908 in November

2008. Similarly, only five have died from cholera this season,

compared to 412 deaths by the end of November 2008. The good news is

tempered by the fact that the case fatality rate for those

contracting cholera has not declined as dramatically, just a 19%

decrease, suggesting the health system’s capacity to treat cholera

has not improved as much as cholera prevention over the same period.

 

 

8. Despite reports in The Herald this week that investors in

Chiadzwa have allocated US$10 million to relocate roughly 4,000

villagers living near the lucrative Chiadzwa diamond fields,

Chiadzwa residents remain in the dark about their future. Local NGOs

told us the community has appealed to the government to request

artisanal mining plots and for formal communication about the

government’s plan to move them. However, their letters remain

unanswered.

 

9. The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists’ (ZUJ) elective congress

begins December 4, but ZUJ has kept the venue secret to members

“because some politicians have sponsored candidates in a bid to

undermine the union’s independence.” A committee member from the

previous executive did not have information about the venue late on

December 3 and said he had given up on the organization. ZUJ is the

largest union of journalists with membership from both

government-controlled and privately-owned media.

 

10. Petina Gappah, a Zimbabwean single mother working in Geneva as

a trade lawyer, received The Guardian’s First Book Award this week

in recognition of her impressive collection of short stories, “An

Elegy for Easterly.” Gappah’s collection of stories has been praised

for its heart-warming, tragic, endearing, and often funny accounts

of Zimbabweans’ every day struggles.

 

 

11. During a recent visit to Bulawayo (see Harare 938) we were

dismayed that our beautiful hotel, the Bulawayo Club, refused to

allow women in the bar. During our visit, hotel staff enforced the

archaic rule by forcing an Australian diplomat also staying there to

leave the bar, despite her diplomatic protests. The gentlemen’s club

was founded in 1895 and fell into serious disrepair until it was

restored as a hotel, partly in preparation for the 2010 World Cup.

When we booked our stay, we didn’t realize the colonial architecture

also meant a step back in time to colonial-era gender-based

discrimination. We joined our Australian colleague in complaining to

the hotel management.

 

———————————–

On the Economic and Business Front

———————————-

 

12. Finance Minister Tendai Biti presented his 2010 budget to

Parliament on December 2. Spending is set to rise by 57 percent over

2009, driven by a 50 percent increase in the public-sector wage bill

Q2009, driven by a 50 percent increase in the public-sector wage bill

and an ambitious investment budget. The projected deficit is over 14

percent of GDP by Biti’s estimates and even bigger if the IMF’s

projection for GDP is used. Biti plans to close the gaping budget

hole with donor commitments and by selling more than half of the

Reserve Bank’s SDRs. So much for fiscal prudence. See Harare 941.

 

13. The price of gold continues to rise, underpinned by high demand

for the metal amid fears brought about by Dubai’s debt problems.

Demand for gold is also buoyed by persistent hopes that more central

banks, especially China, will diversify reserves by buying gold from

the International Monetary Fund. Such developments bode well for

local gold producers who are benefiting from the liberalization of

gold marketing after years of unfavorable operating conditions. As a

result, the country is expected to produce 4.5 tons of gold in 2009

 

HARARE 00000944 003 OF 003

 

 

compared with 3.5 tons produced in 2008.

 

14. Following the formation of the transitional government and an

improvement in the socio- economic environment, the number of

tourist arrivals has started to climb. Figures from the Zimbabwe

Council of Tourism show that 362,000 people visited Zimbabwe in the

first eight months of 2009 compared with 200,000 visitors in the

corresponding period of 2008. With the soccer world cup tournament

in South Africa fast approaching, the number of tourist arrivals is

expected to rise further in 2010.

 

—————–

Quote of the Week

—————–

 

15. “We know that they (Botswana and the U.S.) have recently

completed upgrading a transmitter site with the specific intention

of upgrading the media terrorism against Zimbabwe and its people.”

— George Charamba, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media,

Information, and Publicity, accusing the U.S. and Botswana of using

Voice of America and its Botswana-based transmitter to ‘beam hate

messages’ into Zimbabwe, The Herald, December 4, 2009.

 

RAY

 

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