in Stories

US embassy said no one is keen on elections

The United States embassy in Harare said way back in August 2009 that Zimbabwe was not likely to hold any elections within the period set under the Global Political Agreement because none of the political parties in the GPA was eager to hold elections.

In a cable released by Wikileaks which was meant for the visiting congressional delegation led by Gregory Meek, the embassy said the most like scenario was a continuing and uneasy coalition between ZANU-PF and the MDC with some economic progress and fitful and limited political reform.

“Real political change would seem possible only after a new election. Neither party, however, seems eager to advance elections which are scheduled under the current constitution for 2013.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE677, SCENESETTER FOR CODEL MEEK’S VISIT TO ZIMBABWE

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE677

2009-08-19 15:04

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6313

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0677/01 2311504

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 191504Z AUG 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4835

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2990

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3105

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1534

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2368

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2735

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3153

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5598

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2283

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 HARARE 000677

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/RSA KMOODY

AF/S FOR B.WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO HOUSE FOR STEPHANE LEBOUDER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: OREP AMGT PREL ASEC PHUM ECON EAID ZI

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR CODEL MEEK’S VISIT TO ZIMBABWE

SEPTEMBER 2-3, 2009

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (SBU) U.S. Mission Zimbabwe welcomes Representative Meeks

and his delegation. Your visit comes at an important period

in Zimbabwe’s history following the entry into government of

the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in February of this

year and is an opportunity to express support for democratic

reform in Zimbabwe and emphasize our expectations of the new

government. While the power-sharing agreement between

President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and the MDC is flawed and fragile,

under the new government the economy has stabilized after a

lost decade and there are signs of political change. Most

noteworthy is that Morgan Tsvangirai is Prime Minister,

something that was virtually inconceivable a year ago, and

the MDC has a majority in Parliament. Also, the process of

drafting a new constitution has begun. Disturbingly,

however, Mugabe and ZANU-PF continue to drag their heels on

full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

MDC governors have not yet been appointed, Deputy Minister of

Agriculture-designate Roy Bennett has not yet been sworn in,

and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono and

Attorney General Johannes Tomana, appointed in violation of

the GPA, remain in office. The Attorney General’s office

under Tomana has selectively prosecuted MDC Members of

Parliament (MPs) in an apparent attempt to weaken the MDC

majority in Parliament. While violence has decreased,

ZANU-PF structures remain in place in parts of the country

and there is intimidation of MDC supporters. Invasions and

disruptions of white-owned farms and wild-animal

conservancies continue.

 

2. (SBU) Investors are showing renewed interest in Zimbabwe

due to the country’s abundant natural resources and

well-educated populace. But so far they are remaining on the

sidelines, concerned about political instability and absence

of investment security. There is no land tenure — title to

land resides in the State and seizure of land is

constitutional — and the government has threatened to

require 51 percent indigenous ownership of businesses in all

sectors.

 

3. (SBU) Donors, especially the U.S., provide large amounts

of humanitarian assistance, but are unwilling to reengage in

direct development assistance to the GOZ until there is

greater compliance with the GPA, particularly an end to human

rights violations and establishment of the rule of law. In

an effort to achieve greater compliance with the GPA,

Tsvangirai and the MDC have appealed to the Southern African

Development Community (SADC) and its current head, South

African President Jacob Zuma. Zuma is scheduled to visit

Zimbabwe for an agricultural show on August 27 at which time

he is expected to hold talks with Mugabe and Tsvangirai. The

SADC Heads of State and Government will meet in Kinshasa

September 7-8. There are reports that Zuma intends to exert

QSeptember 7-8. There are reports that Zuma intends to exert

more pressure on Mugabe than his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki,

but this remains to be seen. Real change appears unlikely

until there are new elections, and this will probably occur

in 2012 or 2013. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————————— –

Despite Flawed Agreement, MDC Joins Government

——————————————— –

 

4. (SBU) Presidential and parliamentary elections took place

on March 29, 2008 and were relatively fair. The Tsvangirai

(MDC-T) and Mutambara (MDC-M) factions of the MDC combined

 

HARARE 00000677 002 OF 006

 

 

won a parliamentary majority. Tsvangirai may have won a

majority in the presidential vote, but after delaying the

announcement of results for almost a month, the Zimbabwe

Electoral Authority announced he was just short of the 50

percent of the vote necessary to claim outright victory. In

the run-up to the June 27, 2008 presidential runoff election,

ZANU-PF unleashed a campaign of violence against MDC

supporters. Tsvangirai ultimately withdrew his name and

Mugabe won a clearly flawed victory.

 

5. (SBU) The international community, including SADC

countries, refused to recognize Mugabe’s victory and grant

him the legitimacy he craved. Under pressure from SADC, and

with the economy imploding under inflation that ultimately

reached over a quadrillion percent, Mugabe entered into

negotiations with the MDC. The GPA was signed on September

15, 2008. For Mugabe, a coalition government represented a

way to shift responsibility to the MDC and to gain

legitimacy; for Tsvangirai, it presented an opportunity to

enter government and to stabilize the economy and help badly

affected Zimbabweans.

 

6. (SBU) While lofty in tone — the GPA called for an end to

violence, institution of the rule of law, and power sharing

— the agreement was scant as to detail and Tsvangirai spent

the next five months trying to negotiate with Mugabe as to

the specifics of the new government. During this period of

negotiation, over 30 MDC officials and members of civil

society were abducted, tortured and prosecuted. (NOTE: Even

after the formation of the new government, many of these

people are still being prosecuted, although there is no

evidence to support charges against them. END NOTE.)

Despite few gains in negotiations with Mugabe, in February,

2009 Tsvangirai and the MDC agreed to the passage of

Amendment 19 which incorporated the GPA and paved the way for

the inauguration of MDC officials and the establishment of

the new government in mid-February of this year.

 

—————————–

Political Progress is Slow…

—————————–

 

7. (SBU) Two years ago, it would have been difficult to

conceive that Morgan Tsvangirai would be Prime Minister of

Zimbabwe, that the MDC would have a majority in parliament,

and that the Speaker of the House of Assembly would be from

the MDC. The MDC is now in a position to influence the

political and economic trajectory of Zimbabwe, and Tsvangirai

has been received in the U.S., Europe, and Africa as a head

of government. Nevertheless, ZANU-PF is attempting to

frustrate political progress and the GPA remains unfulfilled.

 

8. (SBU) The GPA called for major appointments subsequent to

its signature to be made by Mugabe as president in

consultation with Tsvangirai. Nevertheless, Mugabe without

consultation appointed Gono as Reserve Bank Governor and

Tomana as Attorney General. Finance Minister Tendai Biti of

QTomana as Attorney General. Finance Minister Tendai Biti of

MDC-T has largely marginalized Gono whose source of power

over the last several years rested in his ability to print

money; with the abandonment of the Zimbabwe dollar and the

usage of foreign currency, principally the U.S. dollar,

Gono’s wings have been clipped. Gono remains a symbol,

however, of economic mismanagement and ZANU-PF patronage.

Tomana has been largely responsible for the selective

prosecution of a number of MDC MPs. This is quite likely

part of a ZANU-PF strategy to weaken and perhaps overcome the

MDC’s parliamentary majority. Tsvangirai and the MDC have

urged Mugabe to comply with the GPA by dismissing both Gono

 

HARARE 00000677 003 OF 006

 

 

and Tomana and replacing them in consultation with

Tsvangirai. There are signs that Mugabe may accede to a

compromise: the replacement of Tomana. Gono is a Mugabe

confidante who knows where the skeletons are buried, and

Mugabe is reluctant to have him on the outside.

 

9. (SBU) Under the GPA, ZANU-PF and the MDC are supposed to

divide governorships, ministerial permanent secretaries, and

ambassadorships. The parties agreed that permanent

secretaries and ambassadors will remain in place and be

replaced proportionally as positions become open. The first

five MDC ambassadors were recently named. An agreement was

reached several weeks ago dividing governorships between the

parties. New governors were to assume their positions the

first of September. Last week, Mugabe reneged on the

agreement; the MDC will appeal to SADC if he fails to comply.

 

10. (SBU) Roy Bennett, the MDC treasurer, returned from

exile after the formation of the new government. He was

appointed to be a Senator and designated by Tsvangirai as the

Deputy Minister of Agriculture. Bennett was arrested and

charged with treason three days after the new government was

formed and released on bail a month later. He is alleged to

have illegally possessed weapons to use against the

government. Bennett’s trial is scheduled for October and

Mugabe has refused to swear him in as deputy minister despite

the fact that other government officials have been sworn in

despite pending charges.

 

11. (SBU) ZANU-PF structures, used to terrorize and

intimidate MDC supporters in the last election, remain in

place in many rural areas.

 

12. (SBU) Invasions and disruptions of farms and wild-animal

conservancies continue to take place. These actions prevent

harvests and are inimical to tourism which is a key component

of economic growth in Zimbabwe.

 

————————

…But There is Progress

————————

 

13. (SBU) The GPA calls for an 18-month process to draft a

new constitution. This process is being guided by Parliament

and, despite opposition from ZANU-PF (which fears that

completion of a new constitution will be a prelude to early

elections), and elements of civil society (who oppose a

political, as opposed to a civic-led process), it is

proceeding.

 

14. (SBU) The BBC is now operating openly — albeit with

some pressures to self-censor — and there are possibilities

that independent daily newspapers will be allowed to publish

in the coming months.

 

15. (SBU) The MDC is celebrating its 10th anniversary and

has openly held rallies around the country. Last weekend in

Mutare, Zimbabwe’s third-largest city, the party claimed

attendance of 40,000.

 

16. (SBU) The MDC is present in government and in ministries

it controls is establishing policies and taking actions. In

general, it is seen by the public, which has never known

Qgeneral, it is seen by the public, which has never known

post-independence anything but a ZANU-led government, as a

legitimate democratic governing force.

 

————————–

Reversing Economic Decline

 

HARARE 00000677 004 OF 006

 

 

————————–

 

17. (SBU) Zimbabwe’s economy shrank across all sectors

between 1999 and 2008; real GDP is estimated to have declined

by over 40 percent. President Mugabe’s large unbudgeted

payments in late 1997 to agitating veterans of the 1970s

liberation war precipitated the economic decline, and

Zimbabwe’s costly military intervention in the Democratic

Republic of Congo in the late 1990s further destabilized the

economy. The disastrous fast-track land redistribution

exercise that began in 2000 and the implementation of such

wrongheaded policies as draconian price controls led to a

sharp fall in food production and exports. The collapse of

the agricultural sector had a multiplier effect on Zimbabwe’s

largely agriculturally-based manufacturing sector – a second

pillar of the economy. In addition, Zimbabwe’s pariah status

devastated the tourism industry. A fourth pillar of the

economy – the mining sector – failed to take advantage of a

decade of rising commodity prices, being subject, as well, to

misguided pricing, poor foreign exchange policies, and

patronage abuse.

 

18. (SBU) Zimbabwe’s external payments position deteriorated

sharply in the past decade and the rate of inflation spiraled

out of control as the government turned to money creation to

fund its spending. Inflation is estimated to have peaked at

an unprecedented level of 500 quadrillion percent in

September 2008. In late 2008, the Zimbabwe dollar virtually

disappeared from circulation and the pricing of goods and

services shifted to foreign currency.

 

19. (SBU) Formal acceptance of dollarization by the

government in February 2009 finally stopped hyperinflation

overnight and ushered in macroeconomic stability. The

adoption of a cash budget (monthly expenses matching monthly

revenue) by the new government put an end to high deficits

while dollarization provided a strong nominal anchor for the

control of inflation. Upon the new government’s reengagement

with the IMF this year, the Fund approved the provision of

limited technical assistance to Zimbabwe.

 

20. (SBU) While the economy has begun to stabilize, the

systematic and ongoing attack on property rights, and reports

that all companies will be required to have 51 percent

indigenous ownership, have scared off investors. Today

Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa, is a poor

and deeply indebted country with a per capita GDP of less

than US$1/day. The success of the new government’s economic

policies will depend on introducing further far-reaching

reforms that will spur production and attract support from

international donors and investors alike.

 

———————–

Current U.S. Assistance

———————–

 

21. (SBU) The Mission’s current FY 2009 budget level for

Zimbabwe (excluding centrally-funded humanitarian assistance)

is approximately US$66 million. These funds support

Qis approximately US$66 million. These funds support

activities related to democracy and governance, health, and

the start-up of an economic growth program. A supplemental

budget of US$45 million is currently on the Hill to raise the

Mission’s FY 2009 budget to approximately US$111 million.

This funding level, although US$60 million short of the

Mission’s full transition request, would enable the Mission

to begin to implement components of the National Security

Council’s recently-approved transition strategy for Zimbabwe.

In addition to the above funding, the Mission receives

 

HARARE 00000677 005 OF 006

 

 

significant support from USAID’s Bureau for Democracy,

Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/DCHA) for food

and non-food humanitarian assistance and transition support.

To date, FY 2009 funding from DCHA is another US$114 million

– US$94 million from the Office for Food for Peace

(USAID/FFP), US$16 million from the Office of Foreign

Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), and US$4 million from the

Office of Transition Initiatives (USAID/OTI).

 

———————————

Status of GOZ and Donor Community

———————————

 

22. (SBU) Through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF), the donor

community, including the USG, has created a mechanism to

provide technical assistance to progressive-line ministries

and the Office of the Prime Minister to fill critical gaps.

This mechanism is intended to assist overwhelmed ministries

to identify and prioritize critical needs and to advise on

policy reforms. Coordination between the GOZ and the donor

community is at a nascent stage. Much work remains to

improve coordination at all levels and to educate the GOZ on

aid effectiveness principles and standard development

practices.

 

—————————-

U.S. Policy and Reengagement

—————————-

 

23. (SBU) The U.S. and other donors form a very cohesive

front subscribing to a set of principles to guide

reengagement with Zimbabwe to ultimately include

developmental assistance. These principles include:

 

— Full and equal access to humanitarian assistance;

— Commitment to macroeconomic stabilization;

— Restoration of the rule of law, including enforcement of

contracts, an independent judiciary, and respect for property

rights;

— Commitment to the democratic process and respect for

internationally accepted human rights standards; and

— Commitment to timely free and fair elections with

international standards, and in the presence of international

observers.

 

24. (SBU) Access to humanitarian assistance has improved,

the MDC-controlled finance ministry is working to achieve

macroeconomic stabilization, and a constitutional process

called for by the GPA is underway — a new constitution is a

predicate to new elections. Much remains to be done,

however, in the area of human rights and rule of law and the

USG has signaled that greater engagement and developmental

assistance will depend on progress in these areas. In the

interim, and following the guidance of President Obama from

his meeting in June with Prime Minister Tsvangirai, we are

putting in place “humanitarian plus” assistance in the areas

of health, education, and agriculture, including credit

guarantees.

 

 

———–

The Outlook

———–

 

25. (SBU) Tsvangirai has made clear he is committed to

remaining in the government. While he will raise the failure

of Mugabe and ZANU-PF to fully comply with the GPA with South

Qof Mugabe and ZANU-PF to fully comply with the GPA with South

African President Zuma (due to visit Zimbabwe on August 27)

 

HARARE 00000677 006 OF 006

 

 

and with SADC (a SADC Heads of State and Government summit

will take place in Kinshasa in early September), Mugabe is

only likely to give enough to satisfy SADC and Zuma without

relinquishing control of government or acceding to meaningful

reform. Without such reform, the engagement of donors and

the International Financial Institutions is likely to be

limited and economic growth therefore constrained. On the

political front, it was initially assumed that the drafting

of a new constitution would lead to elections in 2010 or

2011. At this point in time, the most likely scenario is a

continuing and uneasy coalition between ZANU-PF and the MDC

with some economic progress and fitful and limited political

reform. Real political change would seem possible only after

a new election. Neither party, however, seems eager to

advance elections which are scheduled under the current

constitution for 2013.

 

——————–

A Note on Your Visit

——————–

 

26. (SBU) Your visit provides an opportunity to demonstrate

U.S. commitment to democratic transition in Zimbabwe. You

will be meeting with President Mugabe, Prime Minister

Tsvangirai, and House of Assembly Speaker Lovemore Moyo and

other parliamentarians. With Mugabe, you will be able to

reiterate the message that the U.S. supports the Zimbabwean

people, but that greater engagement, including assistance,

depends on a demonstration of greater commitment to political

reform and rule of law. With Tsvangirai, you can express

support for his efforts to achieve democratic reform and

encourage him to continue to press for full implementation of

the GPA. With parliamentarians, you can underscore the

importance of drafting a constitution that enshrines

fundamental liberties and contains property guarantees. You

can also emphasize the importance of an independent

legislature.

 

DHANANI

(3 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment