Ambassador says Nkomo long on bonhomie poor on substance


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United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan failed to pin down Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo who was also the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front chairman on the progress or way forward on the inter-party talks with the Movement for Democratic Change.

Nkomo said fast-tracking the talks could be hazardous. When told by the ambassador that this could equally apply to land redistribution, Nkomo said there were no formalised structures in place yet.

There were teams on both sides seeking to define structures that would eventually permit issues to be collated. He stressed that this should be the central focus of the dialogue. A merger of the MDC and ZANU-PF should not be the focus.

Nkomo said that it would be necessary to address root causes and not dwell on the symptoms, as in the past.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1782, MINISTER OF STATE NKOMO ON INTERPARTY TALKS: HASTE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1782

2003-09-11 07:14

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

110714Z Sep 03

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001782

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF, A/S KANSTEINER AND PDAS SNYDER; AF/S FOR

DELISI AND RAYNOR

NSC FOR SENIOR DIRECTOR FRAZER

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/11/2008

TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID ZI

SUBJECT: MINISTER OF STATE NKOMO ON INTERPARTY TALKS: HASTE

MAKES WASTE

 

REF: A) HARARE 1711 B) PRETORIA 4820

 

Classified By: DCM REWHITEHEAD DUE TO 1.5 (B) AND (D).

 

1. (c) Summary. The Ambassador met with Minister of State

for Special Affairs John Nkomo on September 10 as a follow up

to last month’s meeting (ref a). The talks centered on

HIV/AIDS programs, the role of NGOs in distributing

humanitarian food assistance, the status of interparty

dialogue, and a snippet on ZANU-PF internal mechanisms.

Nkomo was long on bonhomie but short on substance. His take

on interparty dialogue — there is no hurry here — was not

reassuring. We should consider how we can best use the South

Africans to prod the GOZ to speed up its go-slow approach to

political reconciliation. End summary.

 

—————

Mopane Junction

—————

 

2. (sbu) Nkomo kicked off the meeting by expressing GOZ

appreciation for the USG’s “mildly positive” statement on the

recent mayoral and urban council elections. The Ambassador

responded that our goal for any statement is objectivity. He

turned the conversation to Mopane Junction, a popular

USAID-funded radio serial dealinig with HIV/AIDS issues that

was peremptorily taken off the air by the Ministry of

Information (MOI) two months ago. The Ambassador reported

that there were positive indications that the MOI would

relent and resume Mopane Junction broadcasts in October.

Nkomo said that strong support from the Minister of Health

had turned the tide and commented that “the troubled waters”

had complicated this issue, referring to an embassy press

release critical of the MOI decision. The Ambassador replied

that we had taken a patient approach to the MOI decision and

had gone public only as a last resort. The important thing

was that the program would be back on the air. Nkomo

assented.

 

———————

Humanitarian Food Aid

———————

 

3. (sbu) The Ambassador recounted the meeting (ref a) in

which Minister of Labor and Social Welfare July Moyo had

assured House staffer Malik Chaka that there would be no

changes in food distribution procedures this year. Moyo had

passed similar assurances to WFP/UNDP in separate meetings.

It was a fact, however, that the written policy from his

ministry did not say this. We had also received reports of

NGOs being “strongly warned” about their field activities.

WFP was presently negotiating an MOU with the ministry, and

we hoped that it would reflect a continued central role for

NGOs that respected the need for distributing food on an

impartial basis.

 

4. (sbu) Nkomo replied that President Mugabe had repeatedly

assured WFP Director James Morris that food distribution

would be impartial. He added the caveat that some NGOs had

in the past not respected “understandings” with the

government. They hired representatives with their own

agendas who were not always properly behaved. The Ambassador

said that in practice food distribution on the ground so far

looked like last year’s. We hoped that it would remain so.

Nkomo asked that the donors report when and where problems

crop up — the GOZ could be of help. The Ambassador agreed

that we should work together to assure that no local

government official or individual NGO employee deviates from

the criteria of providing food to those who most need it.

 

——————-

Interparty Dialogue

——————-

 

5. (c) The Ambassador recalled reassuring statements Nkomo

had made (ref a) on the dialogue, a comment that sent Nkomo

into a convoluted circumlocution, the bottom line being that

“fast-tracking can be hazardous.” The Ambassador observed

that this could well be said of the land redistribution

exercise. Nkomo pressed on that he had explained to the

Ambassador that there was not yet in place any formalized

structures. There were teams on both sides seeking to define

structures that would eventually permit issues to be

collated. He stressed that this should be the central focus

of the dialogue; an MDC/ZANU-PF merger should not be the

focus.

 

6. (c) Nkomo continued that it would be necessary to address

root causes and not dwell on the symptoms, as in the past.

Pre-eminent issues should be brought to the forefront. He

noted that the constitution was under debate by both sides

and stated that this was a proper starting point. The

Ambassador asked if the mechanism for transition to a

government operating under a new constitution would be one

constitutional issue under examination. Nkomo dithered,

noting that general elections were only a year away,

obviating the need to focus on transition arrangements. The

Ambassador replied that the elections were in fact scheduled

for 2005. Nkomo said that in addition to discussing the

constitution, the dialogue would ideally result in

identifying and correcting past abuses. He was encouraged by

new laws that explicitly recognized the existence of the

opposition. The atmosphere was much improved, In fact, he

expansively noted, when the environment came right, he

suspected that neither side would find that there was much to

talk about. The Ambassador asked Nkomo what the timing for

all this might be. Nkomo dithered further and concluded that

the constitution was a good starting point.

 

———————–

Developments in ZANU-PF

———————–

 

7. (sbu) The Ambassador queried Nkomo on the significance of

announced internal ZANU-PF elections in advance of the

December party congress: party districts in September,

district coordinating committees in October, and provincial

level elections in November. (Note. One independent

newspaper optimistically attempted to portray these as a

prelude to Mugabe’s retirement in the near future. End

note.) Nkomo explained these as an upward cascade that would

eventually lead to the election of the most senior officials,

including the party presidency. Nkomo noted that major

migrations within Zimbabwe have wreaked havoc with local

party structures. The upcoming elections would rectify this.

Presidential Secretary Willard Chiwewe and an MFA official

backstopped Nkomo; the DCM accompanied the Ambassador.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

8. (c) We score Nkomo 9.8 on form and 2 on substance. His

comments, unfocused as they were, seemed to confirm MDC

President Morgan Tsvangirai’s concerns, reported septel, that

ZANU-PF is in no hurry to press ahead with the interparty

dialogue. We are getting hints from numerous ZANU-PF sources

that 2005 is the soonest that any significant change might

take place. This is obviously not acceptable from either an

economic or a social point of view. We believe that it would

be worthwhile to suggest to the South Africans in our

pre-UNGA consultations (ref b) the need for them to prod the

GOZ to move much more expeditiously toward meaningful

dialogue with MDC as the best way to break the political

impasse.

SULLIVAN

 

(22 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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