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What the US ambassador said about Zimbabwe for the US president’s report

Zimbabwe was an unattractive destination for investment for both foreigners and Zimbabweans alike because it paid lip service to Marxist economic principles but increasingly used ideology to mask growing corruption according to the United States ambassador James McGee.

McGee said this in his input for the United States president’s report on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act which Zimbabwe was not eligible for.

AGOA was aimed at promoting trade between African countries and the United States by giving them preferential treatment.

Zimbabwe did not qualify for AGOA because of reasons related to political pluralism, economic reform, corruption, rule of law, and human rights.

McGee said that the government, dominated by President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party since independence, continued to resort to brute force to perpetuate its rule.

The opposition and civil society operated in an environment of state-sponsored intimidation and violence.

Unlawful killings and politically motivated abductions occurred.

Security forces used arbitrary arrest and detention, excessive force, and torture to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation

.

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE203, Zimbabwe input for 2008 President’s report on AGOA

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08HARARE203

2008-03-14 10:58

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4952

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0203/01 0741058

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 141058Z MAR 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2583

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000203

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O.12958: N/A

TAGS: ETRD AGOA ZI

SUBJECT: Zimbabwe input for 2008 President’s report on AGOA

 

 

RE: STATE 20082

 

1. Status: Not eligible, largely for reasons related to political

pluralism, economic reform, corruption, rule of law, and human

rights.

 

2. Market Economy/Economic Reform/Elimination of Trade Barriers:

The government pays lip service to Marxist economic principles but

has increasingly used ideology to mask growing official corruption.

Zimbabwe is an unattractive investment destination for most

foreigners and Zimbabweans alike. The IMF estimates the

government’s budget deficit at more than 60 percent of GDP

(including quasi-fiscal activities), and predicted that inflation

would end 2007 at 150,000 percent, which it indeed reached according

to reliable private sector estimates. The Reserve Bank’s decision

to fix the exchange rate despite the country’s hyperinflation has

undermined what is left of the country’s export sector and caused

foreign exchange scarcity, fueling a parallel foreign exchange

market. Zimbabwe’s IMF voting rights remain suspended and the

government has shown no political will to implement the

comprehensive package of macroeconomic and structural reforms

required for their restoration and to regain eligibility for IMF

technical assistance and lending. The country is not servicing its

large external debt and is falling further into arrears.

 

3. Political Pluralism/Rule of Law/Anti-Corruption: The

government, dominated by President Robert Mugabe and the ruling

ZANU-PF party since independence, continued to resort to brute force

to perpetuate its rule. The opposition and civil society operated

in an environment of state-sponsored intimidation and violence.

Unlawful killings and politically motivated abductions occurred.

Security forces used arbitrary arrest and detention, excessive

force, and torture to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

Elections in 2002 and 2005 were neither free nor fair as the

government and the ruling ZANU-PF party, which controls the

electoral machinery, used violence, intimidation and vote rigging to

affect the outcomes. The government’s assault on human rights and

democracy increased significantly during the year despite a regional

initiative to improve Zimbabwe’s political environment for

presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008. Security forces

and ruling party supporters targeted political opposition party

leaders in a brutal and systematic campaign to dismantle opposition

structures. Government voter registration and education efforts

were woefully inadequate. The opposition’s access to the media and

rights to freedom of association and free speech were curtailed.

Government efforts to influence and intimidate the judiciary have

seriously eroded independence and undermined the rule of law.

Senior government officials and police have willfully defied court

orders that are not politically acceptable to the ruling party. The

government and ruling party have closed independent news media in

recent years. Corruption in government is endemic. The government

has redistributed expropriated commercial farms to the ruling party

elite and granted them privileged access to foreign exchange and

fuel. The government-appointed Anti-Corruption Commission,

established in 2005, has yet to register any notable

accomplishments. The government prosecutes individuals selectively,

focusing on those who have fallen out of favor with the ruling party

and ignoring transgressions by favored elite. Lengthy pretrial

detention is also a problem.

 

4. Poverty Reduction: The government maintains several programs

that ostensibly provide food or basic services to the poor.

However, the programs are grossly under-funded and their

implementation is often influenced by politics, with areas

represented by the opposition disadvantaged. Moreover, the

government’s economic policies have caused most Zimbabweans to grow

progressively poorer. Human development indicators that were once

among the best in sub-Saharan Africa have deteriorated sharply.

Zimbabweans will face acute food shortages again this year.

 

5. Labor/Child Labor/Human Rights: The government lacks the

commitment and resources necessary to enforce labor standards

effectively. It frequently uses repressive laws and intimidation to

limit workers’ right to organize and hold labor union meetings. The

government continued to harass the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions

(ZCTU), the country’s largest trade union, and its leadership. In

September 2006, police arrested and severely beat several senior

leaders of ZCTU for their role in planning a peaceful demonstration.

In September 2007, police arrested three ZCTU members for

distributing flyers about a labor action and reportedly beat them.

On February 19, 2008, ZANU-PF supporters abducted nine members of

the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), a ZCTU

affiliate, during a peaceful demonstration in Harare. The group was

taken into the ZANU-PF Harare province headquarters and severely

assaulted for more than an hour with clenched fists, booted feet,

and iron rods. Their assailants accused them of supporting main

opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Police later

picked up the PTUZ members from the ZANU-PF offices and took them to

the Harare Central Police station before eventually taking them to

the hospital for medical attention. Police charged several PTUZ

members with “criminal nuisance.” The government has taken steps to

marginalize the traditional unions and the formal labor dispute

resolution mechanism. There have been attempts to supplant

 

HARARE 00000203 002 OF 002

 

 

legitimate labor leaders with hand-picked supporters. Zimbabwe has

ratified all eight core ILO Conventions. In October 2007, the

Ministry of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare signed a

Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO to collaborate on a

multi-phased program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child

Labor, which was expected to address child labor issues and the

implementation of ILO Convention 182, including activities

pertaining to the prevention of child labor and the protection of

working children. However, the government’s commitment to

children’s rights and welfare remains weak. Children work in

agriculture, street vending, and as domestic servants. There are

reports that an increasing number of girls are involved in

prostitution, especially in border towns. Primary education is not

compulsory, free, or universal for any children, and an increasing

number of Zimbabwean children have fallen out of the education

system. The government continues to evict citizens forcibly and to

demolish homes; and it uses repressive laws to suppress freedom of

speech, press, assembly, movement, and association. Security forces

arbitrarily arrested and detained journalists, demonstrators, and

religious leaders and reportedly tortured members of the opposition,

union leaders, and civil society activists. There were also reports

of unlawful killings and politically motivated kidnappings.

 

MCGEE

 

(5 VIEWS)

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