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Mugabe took time off to console Tsvangirai

President Robert Mugabe and a handful of senior Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front officials, excluding security chiefs, set aside their political animosities to pay their respects in person at a memorial service for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife Susan.

Susan was killed in a car accident when the vehicle in which she was travelling with her husband was struck by an oncoming truck.

Tsvangirai sustained minor inquiries.

“Rest assured we are with you, Honourable Prime Minister. Our hearts on this day and the days to follow are with you,” Mugabe said.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE222, ZIM NOTES 03-13-2009

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09HARARE222

2009-03-16 07:41

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO0158

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0222/01 0750741

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 160741Z MAR 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4221

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2239

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2695

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2816

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1278

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2084

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2440

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2864

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5303

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1986

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000222

 

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 03-13-2009

 

———–

1. SUMMARY

———–

 

Topics of the week:

 

– Tragic Car Accident Results in Death of Tsvangirai’s Wife…

– Roy Bennett Out on Bail…

– Surge in Land Invasions Continues…

– Retired Army Chief Dies…

– New Independent Newspaper Seeks Approval…

– Australia Makes Non-Humanitarian Donation…

– Cholera on the decline…

– Emergency Health Summit…

– Marketing/Media Survey Results Released…

– IMF Article IV Mission Reports Traction…

– Postal Authority Holds up Delivery of U.S. Mail for Lack of

Payment…

– Internet, E-Mail and International Calls Reduced to a Crawl…

– Slight Decline in Cost of Consumer Basket…

– COMESA Summit on…

 

—————————–

On the Political/Social Front

——————————

 

2. Tragic Car Accident Results in Death of Tsvangirai’s Wife…

Susan Tsvangirai, the wife of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, was

killed in a tragic car accident on March 6 while driving to a MDC

rally in Manicaland. Their vehicle was struck by an oncoming truck

at an accident-prone stretch of road. The prime minister was also

in the vehicle, but emerged with only minor injuries. A church

service and public memorial held in Harare resulted in an outpouring

of support, as thousands of well-wishers paid their respects.

President Mugabe and a handful of senior ZANU-PF officials

(excluding security chiefs) set aside political animosities and paid

their respects in person at the church service. Ambassador McGee

attended both events and also the internment the following day in

the Tsvangirai home village. Tsvangirai will take several weeks off

with his family in South Africa before returning to work. See

Harare 194 and 217.

 

3. Roy Bennett Out on Bail… The incarcerated Deputy Minister of

Agriculture-designate, Roy Bennett, was freed on bail from a Mutare

prison on March 12, following a Supreme Court ruling that upheld a

lower court decision to grant him bail. State prosecutors had

sought to delay Bennett’s release and even arrested the Mutare

magistrate who had authorized his release on February 24 after the

initial High Court ruling. See Harare 218.

 

4. Surge in Land Invasions Continues… The surge in land

invasions, eviction notices, and prosecutions targeting the 400 to

600 white farmers remaining in Zimbabwe has been encouraged by

Attorney General Johannes Tomana, President Mugabe, and a

controversial High Court ruling that stated that Zimbabwe was not

bound by the SADC Tribunal judgment in November 2008 that upheld the

property rights of 77 white-owned farms. Tsvangirai has

unsuccessfully pressed Mugabe on calling for an end to the

invasions. See Harare 207.

 

5. Retired Army Chief Dies… Former commander of the Zimbabwe

defense forces General Vitalis Zvinavashe died on March 10 following

a struggle with cancer. Zvinavashe was an independence fighter who

entered politics and most recently lost a parliamentary campaign to

an MDC opponent in 2008. Following those elections, Zvinavashe, who

Qan MDC opponent in 2008. Following those elections, Zvinavashe, who

prior to the 2002 presidential election said that service chiefs

would not recognize a president who had not been part of the

liberation war (read Tsvangirai), told other ZANU-PF candidates to

“accept the reality” that the MDC had won and urged people to

preserve the peace. The MDC issued a statement praising him as a

 

HARARE 00000222 002 OF 003

 

 

liberation hero and mourning his death. See Harare 217.

 

6. New Independent Newspaper Seeks Approval… Trevor Ncube’s

local media company, Zimind Publishers Group, has announced their

intention to begin publishing a daily independent newspaper in

Zimbabwe. The group has applied for licenses and is awaiting

approval to launch the new publication that will be entitled

“NewsDay.” Zimind CEO Raphael Khumalo told us that the publishing

company has been in discussion with media regulatory authorities

since the signing of the September 15, 2008 global political

agreement, and had recently discussed the project with the new

Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Webster Shamu.

Currently, the state-controlled Herald is the only daily newspaper.

Zimind already publishes two weekly newspapers, the Zimbabwe

Independent and the Standard.

 

7. Australia Makes Non-Humanitarian Donation… The Australian

government this week shifted its policy towards Zimbabwe by saying

it will expand assistance beyond humanitarian aid to help the

national unity government in Harare serve the population.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith announced on March

11 that his government would pledge US$6.5 million to help restore

Zimbabwe’s water, sanitation, and health sectors. Smith stated that

the Australian government “recognizes there are some risks to this

approach. We are under no illusions about the fragility of the

political situation in Zimbabwe.”

 

8. Cholera on the decline… The World Health Organization (WHO)

reports that, for the week ending 28 February, there was a 25

percent decrease in suspected new cases and a 42 percent decrease in

deaths when compared to the prior week. WHO attributes the decline

to improved case management at cholera treatment centers (CTCs) and

to cholera prevention campaign programs emphasizing early treatment;

funded in part by USAID. However, the same report notes that the

proportion ofcommunity deaths – i.e. those occurring outside

clinics and cholera treatment centers – remains “appalling” in

Midlands, Mashonaland East, and Manicaland provinces. As of March

10, the outbreak has claimed 4,041 and affected more than 89,000.

 

9. Emergency Health Summit… A two-day Summit in Harare was

attended by over 300 senior health professionals on March 5-6. The

theme was Get the Zimbabwe Health System Moving within the next 100

days. Prime Minister Tsvangirai encouraged participants to ensure

that a “health system was put in place that is the pride of our

nation and the envy of our continent.” The health system has

suffered a decade of neglect with the entire system near collapse

and major hospitals in urban areas barely functioning. While

practical solutions were offered, significant donor funding is

required.

 

10. Marketing/Media Survey Results Released… The latest data

from the Zimbabwe Advertising Research Foundation survey of urban

households revealed a host of media and household trends. The most

Qhouseholds revealed a host of media and household trends. The most

prevalent media trend was a decline in viewership and readership of

state-controlled media. Respondents reported ZBC viewership fell

from 63 percent in Q4 2007 to just 38 percent in Q4 2008. Readership

of the Herald declined 6 percentage points to 38 percent. Reported

usage of most household products and staple foods also declined.

Among the steepest drops was milk, which fell from 53 percent

regular usage to just 35 percent. Only 14 percent of urban

residents reported being employed full time in the formal sector.

 

———————————–

On the Economic and Business Front

———————————-

 

11. IMF Article IV Mission Reports Traction… On day four of its

mission, IMF staff reported to donor economists good data provision

by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and a good level of competence

among interlocutors at the RBZ, Finance Ministry and Zimbabwe

 

HARARE 00000222 003 OF 003

 

 

Revenue Authority. The inflow of foreign exchange to banks has

increased significantly in two months and tax revenues could be

adequate to finance another round of close to US$100/person foreign

exchange payments to civil servants in March. An IMF accountant

will arrive this weekend to lay the groundwork for an external audit

of the RBZ by an international accountancy firm.

 

12. Postal Authority Holds up Delivery of U.S. Mail for Lack of

Payment… Zimbabwe Post recently informed us it was holding up

delivery of over 600 bags of incoming mail from the U.S. pending

payment of terminal dues and transit charges. We learned that the

U.S. Postal Service’s bank had held up payments under the erroneous

belief that Zimbabwe was under sanctions. Upon clarification, USPS’

corporate treasury department authorized a $110,000 payment to

Zimbabwe Post last week.

 

13. Internet, E-Mail and International Calls Reduced to a Crawl…

Zimbabwe’s internet service providers said their services had been

adversely affected by the cessation of operation on March 2, 2009 of

one of the two ComOne gateways for data traffic flow out of the

country. We learned that international service was disconnected for

non-payment of fees.

 

14. Slight Decline in Cost of Consumer Basket… The Herald

reported this week that the cost of the consumer basket for an urban

family of six fell by 1.83 percent from US$381.23 in January to

US$374.25 in February, 2009, underpinned by the continued decline in

the price of food. The fall could have been greater were it not for

significant increases in transport, rent, and utilities.

 

15. COMESA Summit on… The Director for International Trade in

the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Beatrice Mutetwa, told us

that the COMESA Summit, scheduled to occur in Zimbabwe last year but

postponed twice, will now take place here before the end of June

2009. The Secretary General of COMESA was in Zimbabwe recently and

is consulting with Kenya, which holds the chairmanship, to firm up

the date.

 

—————–

Quote of the Week

—————–

 

16. “Rest assured we are with you, Honourable Prime Minister. Our

hearts on this day and the days to follow are with you.” —

President Mugabe speaking at Susan Tsvangirai’s memorial service in

Harare on March 10.

 

 

MCGEE

 

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