SW Radio was one of the examples of sensitive assistance that the United States gave to Zimbabwean organisations which it said it was not going to name because proposed legislation in Zimbabwe made it illegal for democracy and human rights non-governmental organisations to receive foreign assistance.
The cable, however, said two-thirds of the US democracy and governance assistance to Zimbabwe fell in this category.
The cable listed examples of sensitive assistance as that for Voice of America, the Solidarity Centre which supported the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and the State University of New York parliamentary capacity building programme.
Viewing cable 05HARARE147, SUPPORTING HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY: THE U.S.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000147
AF/S FOR BNEULING
NSC FOR D. TEITELBAUM
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
DRL/PHD FOR MICHAEL ORONA
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SUPPORTING HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY: THE U.S.
RECORD - ZIMBABWE REPORT
REF: A. 04 STATE 267453
¶B. 04 HARARE 2046 AND PREVIOUS
¶C. 04 HARARE 2035
¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Zimbabwe Report for the 2004-2005
edition of Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: the U.S.
Record, is found in paragraphs 2 through 14. Due to the
sensitive nature of U.S. assistance in Zimbabwe, few specific
activities were included. Additional material, which is not
for publication, appears in paragraphs 15 and 16. END
¶2. (U) The Government of Zimbabwe,s human rights record
remained poor and it continued to commit abuses. Since its
disputed victories in 2000 parliamentary and 2002
presidential elections, the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has pursued repressive
policies designed to restore its dominant position in the
country. In the process, it has ignored the rule of law and
the welfare of its citizens. In the run-up to parliamentary
elections in the spring of 2005, which it is determined to
win, the regime has closed independent newspapers, harassed
opposition and civil society activists and passed repressive
legislation. Instances of political violence did, however,
decline in 2004 compared to previous years and government
officials issued statements that political violence would not
be tolerated, a potentially significant departure from
rhetoric in past pre-election periods. In addition, and
under regional and international pressure the regime did
start to provide the opposition with more democratic space
early in 2005. However, in the last week of January 2005,
government harassment of the opposition and civil society
increased; the government,s intentions and future actions
¶3. (U) In recent months, Parliament passed a spate of
repressive legislation, including a bill that restricts
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and bans foreign
funding for NGOs engaged in human rights or governance, and a
bill that the President recently signed imposing harsh
criminal penalties on journalists for not registering.
Although the ruling party has embarked on modest electoral
reforms, these reforms fall short of complying with the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) standards for
free and fair elections, and the Government continues to bar
the opposition from access to the state media. The only
independent daily newspaper remains closed, and the
Government closed a semi-independent daily. Independent
weeklies and a semi-independent daily continue to operate.
Zimbabwean civil society remains a vibrant force in the
country, despite ever-greater restrictions.
¶4. (U) Instances of judicial integrity can be found such as
the acquittal of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai on charges
of treason. Nevertheless, instances of political
manipulation of the judicial system by the ruling party
remain commonplace, and the Government ignores the decisions
of the courts when it is in its perceived interest to do so.
¶5. (U) The Government continued to use the state media to
denigrate Western, especially U.S. and U.K., criticisms of
human rights violations as a neocolonial effort to quash
Zimbabwe,s sovereignty. However, the Government,s
anti-Western rhetoric moderated during the last half of 2004,
one of several signals that the regime wanted to reduce
Zimbabwe,s international isolation and to seek international
assistance in restoring its economy.
¶6. (U) The U.S. human rights strategy in Zimbabwe focuses on
supporting efforts to further open democratic space.
Resolving Zimbabwe,s political turmoil is necessary for
improvement of its human rights situation. The United States
continues to communicate to the ruling party the importance
of improving the political situation, including cessation of
human rights abuses. U.S. financial and travel sanctions on
key Zimbabwean officials expanded to additional ruling party
and government officials. Statements by U.S. officials
received prominent coverage in the government-controlled and
quasi-independent local media. U.S. diplomats emphasized in
substantive contacts with government and party officials the
importance of reducing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The
Embassy widely circulated its human rights-related reports
among civil society, Government, and party officials.
¶7. (SBU) Although the ruling party maintains its monopoly on
the Executive branch, other institutions, including
especially parliament and the courts, also exert influence on
the political landscape and the Embassy continues to engage
with them. Moreover, civil society, the political
opposition, and the media also still serve to balance the
regime,s power, and the United States supports their
activities. In order to bring pressure on the regime, U.S.
diplomats also continued to engage other governments,
particularly those of the Southern African Development
Community, on issues of governance and human rights in
¶8. (U) In response to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, the
United States gathered information about cases of alleged
abuses, and U.S. diplomats interviewed victims of political
violence. U.S. diplomats maintained a visible presence at
significant events, such as trials, including the treason
trial of Morgan Tsvangirai, the President of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. U.S. officials observed
parliamentary by-elections and the pre-election environment
in contested areas. The Department sponsored a Zimbabwean on
a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship to study human rights law.
¶9. (U) The United States disseminated information in order to
counter Government propaganda. The Embassy provided access
to information through the Public Affairs Section and other
vehicles and supported efforts to increase public debate.
USAID provided support to local citizen groups and local
authorities to improve transparency and municipal service
delivery. A USAID-funded program to strengthen Parliament
has resulted in increased debate in Parliament and stronger
participation by the committees in amending legislation
drafted by the Executive. The United States hosted a
Zimbabwean on a Humphrey Fellowship to study independent
media and two Zimbabwean journalists on an International
Visitors Program on the role of non-governmental
organizations in press freedom. The Embassy sponsored six
other International Visitors on programs related to human
rights, democracy, and leadership and two others on the role
of civil society.
¶10. (U) To encourage respect for the rights of women,
children, minorities, and people with disabilities, USAID and
the Democracy and Human Rights Fund (DHRF) supported programs
by NGOs on a wide variety of social welfare issues. A DHRF
grant helped furnish a center for victims of rape, abuse, and
domestic violence who are pursuing legal action. The
Embassy,s Public Affairs Section sponsored teleconferences
with speakers from the U.S. and audiences of Zimbabwean women
on women,s rights and women coalition building and brought
in an American judge to engage jurists and activists on
¶11. (U) In support of religious freedom, the United States
widely disseminates relevant reports on religious rights, and
U.S. officials privately and publicly emphasize concern
regarding intimidation and harassment of religious officials
who are critical of the Government. The United States
supports efforts by religious leaders to sustain dialogue to
resolve Zimbabwe,s political situation.
¶12. (U) The United States funded a Solidarity Center program
to support workers rights. The program was aimed at
assisting trade unions in Zimbabwe respond to and represent
their members, interests.
¶13. (U) The United States promoted efforts by the Government
to combat trafficking in persons. U.S. officials met with
government representatives to convey U.S. interest in the
issue and promote cooperation and sharing of best practices.
U.S. officials widely disseminated relevant reports and
participated in local and regional meetings to address the
¶14. (U) The return of a stable political environment that
respects the rule of law and allows democratic institutions
to function is crucial to improving the human rights
situation in Zimbabwe. The United States must support and
sustain democratic elements and institutions in Zimbabwe to
build the base for democratic change in the future. U.S.
efforts are key to creating an atmosphere that enables
political participation and gives voice to those who call for
an end to human rights abuses.
¶15. (SBU/NOFORN) In addition to the activities mentioned in
the foregoing paragraphs, which are suitable for publication,
the United States engaged in other sensitive assistance,
which cannot be published publicly. The passage by
Parliament and likely signing of the NGO Act (ref B) makes it
illegal for democracy and human rights NGOs to receive
foreign assistance so we need to be circumspect about
mentioning specific assistance to affected groups. The
Government remains sensitive about assistance of any type to
certain groups and could use our assistance to crack down on
these groups. Roughly two-thirds of the democracy and
governance assistance the United States gives to Zimbabwe
falls into this category. As the largest and most visible
donor in Zimbabwe, U.S. actions send messages to other donors
about what is feasible and appropriate in Zimbabwe. Our
robust support to civil society, democratic forces, and some
national institutions signal the continuing importance and
viability of such assistance.
¶16. (SBU/NOFORN) Examples of sensitive assistance include the
Voice of America and Shortwave Radio Zimbabwe, which
provides alternatives to the state-run radio.
AFL-CIO,s Solidarity Center, which supports the
independent labor union, ZCTU.
The State University of New York,s parliamentary
capacity building program, which has enhanced debate in
parliament and helped develop a functioning committee system;
Parliament remains the only public venue for debate and an
opportunity for both ZANU-PF and MDC legislators to exercise
independence from the executive branch. (Ref c)
The democratic local government program, which supports
the effectiveness and responsiveness of municipal
governments, many of them opposition-controlled.
The strategy discussed in our country report above depends on
the continued funding of these sorts of activities.
¶17. (U) List of USG-funded human rights and democracy
programs of $100,000 will be by septel.