Sullivan made this observation soon after ZANU-PF’s deputy director for external relations Itai Mach complained to the embassy about a travel advisory notice that had been issued by the United States government warning people not to travel to Zimbabwe.
Mach asked whether a party delegation could be allowed to travel to Washington to give the party’s side of the story.
Viewing cable 04HARARE171, RULING PARTY PROTESTS TRAVEL ADVISORY, RAISES
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000171
AF/S FOR SDELISI, LAROIAN, MRAYNOR
AF/PD FOR DFOLEY, CDALTON
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER, DTEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
PARIS FOR CNEARY
NAIROBI FOR TPFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2009
SUBJECT: RULING PARTY PROTESTS TRAVEL ADVISORY, RAISES
POSSIBLE DC VISIT
REF: (A) STATE 15219 (B) 03 HARARE 2236
Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5(b)(d)
¶1. (C) Deputy Director of ZANU-PF's Bureau of External
Relations Itai Mach called poloff on January 27 to protest
the text of the travel advisory issued by the Department on
January 22 (ref A). He charged that it was a politically
motivated effort to disrupt Zimbabwe's "recovering" economy
with a view to discrediting the ruling party. International
media had seized on the advisory to damage Zimbabwe's
international image for purposes of tourism and investment.
He asserted that the country's security situation was
improving and that the government was attaching priority to
fostering a favorable atmosphere for tourism and investment.
Poloff explained the apolitical purpose of travel advisories
generally, highlighted the indisputable facts in the
advisory, and noted that the advisory was essentially
identical to one issued in January 2003.
¶2. (C) Mach then renewed his inquiry about the possibility
of a ZANU-PF delegation visiting Washington to engage with
the USG, members of the Congress, and others interested in
Zimbabwe. He did not elaborate on details of the party's
intended activities or message other than to convey the
party's "side of the story." He asked if waivers would be
granted to party members who were subject to travel
restrictions but did not name the members wishing to travel.
¶3. (C) COMMENT: After CNN's treatment of the travel
advisory as news, government and independent papers alike
played the advisory up here to considerable interest among
the public and diplomatic community. For their part,
government papers generally parrotted Mach's analysis and,
weaving in mischaracterizations of Morgan Tsvangirai's
treason trial testimony as evidence of CIA involvement in a
coup plot, lately have increasingly projected a USG bent on
regime change. We view the portrayal more as coincident
opportunistic propaganda driven by Information Minister
Jonathan Moyo than a concerted effort to alienate the USG
further. Nonetheless, suspicions about USG motives remain
deep among many ruling party members, and most continue to
keep their distance from Americans out of concern for
"political correctness" in their insecure liberation party.
¶4. (C) COMMENT (CONT'D): Mach's approach follows an initial
more tentative inquiry last month (ref B). The effort
probably reflects more interest in manufacturing trappings of
legitimacy for the ruling party than in moving toward
resolution of the country's political crisis. There have
been signs that the party is interested in rehabilitating its
international image -- vocal support among prominent party
members for RBZ Chairman Gono's interest in reengaging the
IFIs, for example. While we doubt the depth of this
interest, we hope to use it in this instance to provoke a
more substantive effort on the ruling party's part.
Accordingly, we propose to pour cold water on Mach's inquiry
with a vague response -- reiterating our seriousness about
the travel restrictions and noting the existence of a waiver
process without indicating that waivers would be granted in
this case. While deflecting the visa issue, we would
reiterate our interest in facilitating resolution of
Zimbabwe's political crisis but emphasize that meaningful
actions by the ruling party indicating its seriousness on
that front would enhance prospects for any meaningful
dialogue involving the USG. Poloff is scheduled to meet Mach
on February 2.