Cross said ZANU-PF manipulation of food should be referred to UNSC


The Movement for Democratic Change’s secretary for Economic Affairs Eddie Cross said the government’s manipulation of food deliveries should be referred to the United Nations Security Council as this was a major human rights issue.

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan said though the food shortage in the country and the politicisation of food assistance by the government might be an appropriate matter for the UN Security Council he thought that linking this to human rights might be a more difficult proposition.

Sullivan said though there were numerous confirmed reports of government sourced food being used to buttress the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front’s political fortunes, deliveries of donor food assistance seemed to be working well.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2002-10-31 06:03

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

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 SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 002368









E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2012





Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington. Reasons: 1.5 (

B) and (D).


1. (C) Summary: The MDC’s Economic Affairs Secretary —

Eddie Cross — expressed concern about the Government of

Zimbabwe’s manipulation of food deliveries and pressed for UN

Security Council action on this as a major human rights

issue. The Ambassador suggested that the food shortage and

GOZ’s politicization of food assistance might be an

appropriate matter for UNSC consideration but thought that

linking this to human rights might be a more difficult

proposition. Cross told us that a team of South Africans was

in town exploring options for resolution of the political

crisis, and South Africa’s High Commissioner subsequently

confirmed this account. End Summary.


Manipulation of food



2. (C) In an October 25 meeting with the Ambassador, Eddie

Cross, Economic Affairs Secretary for the Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC), expressed serious concern about

Zimbabwe’s dire food shortage and the Government of

Zimbabwe’s manipulation of it. He claimed that the GOZ has

battened down the commercial supply of food by instituting a

national system of roadblocks to inhibit movement of

foodstuffs. Food cannot be transported from one place to

another, even on a small scale. For instance, a bag of flour

being taken by a friend of his to relatives in rural areas

was confiscated by police at a roadblock, and these sorts of

incidents happen regularly around the country. In addition,

during the recent rural council elections and parliamentary

by-election in Insiza, the ruling party campaigned with bags

of maize, while stating explicitly that those districts that

voted for the MDC would not be fed. The Government sells the

food it procures at a limited number of distribution centers

— manned by Border Gezi militia members — and buyers must

present a ZANU-PF card and proof of residence. Those unable

to produce a ZANU-PF card or who live in a district which

voted for the MDC are not permitted to buy food, Cross

claimed. Governor Cephas Msipa of Midlands Province does not

permit the politicization of aid in his province, but all of

his gubernatorial colleagues do, he continued.


3. (C) Cross declared that the denial of food to hungry

people because of their political affiliation is a serious

abuse of human rights and humanitarian principles. He said

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was considering pressing the UN

Security Council to consider formally the Government’s

manipulation of food as a serious violation of human rights.

Cross suggested that perhaps Kofi Annan could send an

investigative team with the mandate to gather evidence and

report back to the Security Council.


4. (C) The Ambassador noted that there are numerous

confirmed reports of Government-sourced food being used to

buttress ZANU-PF’s political fortunes. Deliveries of donor

food assistance, on the other hand, seem to be working well,

for the most part. He said he had attended many food

distribution events conducted by WFP’s implementing partners,

and he was convinced that beneficiaries are identified in a

fair, transparent manner.   Prior to the WFP suspension of

food deliveries in Insiza, the only serious problem with

international food assistance occurred in the northwestern

town of Binga, where local authorities have blocked

deliveries by NGOs they accused of favoring the MDC. The

Ambassador said we would investigate any allegations of

politicization of donor food assistance, and he encouraged

the MDC also to share specific concerns with WFP and the

relevant NGO. The Ambassador told Cross that an independent

monitoring mechanism was expected to be in place within two

weeks. Cross replied that the MDC is in regular contact with

the UN’s humanitarian coordinator — and UNDP Resrep — in

Zimbabwe, Victor Angelo.


5. (C) Regarding UN involvement, the Ambassador said he was

not sure that another mission to Zimbabwe is the answer.

Addressing the food shortage would be an appropriate matter

for the UN, including lack of GOZ cooperation with

international donors, but tying this to human rights would be

a more difficult proposition. Perhaps the UN Security

Council could ask UN agencies to report on the food situation

and invite outside witnesses, the Ambassador suggested.


6. (C) In a separate conversation with political section

chief, MDC MP David Coltart expressed anger at WFP’s

suspension of food deliveries in Insiza two weeks prior to

the October 26-27 parliamentary by-election, after three

metric tons were stolen by ZANU-PF supporters and distributed

to beneficiaries of their choosing. Coltart said the move

ensured that the only food available in the constituency for

two weeks was that provided by the ruling party, which

distributed food at all its campaign rallies. He said WFP

should have, instead, flooded the area with food and been

much more public in its criticism of the Government for

failing to arrest those responsible. Coltart was worried

that failure to resume deliveries in Binga — which have been

stopped since the MDC swept most seats in the recent rural

council elections in late September — while restarting them

in Insiza, shortly after ZANU-PF’s election victory there,

will send the unmistakeable message to rural populations that

voting for the ruling party is the only way of acquiring

food. (Comment: We asked Coltart if he really would have

been happy to have the WFP continue to deliver food in Insiza

when it could not assure it would not be seized.   Coltart is

rightly angry at ZANU-PF’s behavior in Insiza, but his

criticism of WFP is misplaced since flooding Insiza with food

was hardly an option for WFP when its food had been seized.

His points about more public WFP criticism of ZANU-PF’s food

seizure and the importance of resuming food distribution in

Binga have more merit. End Comment.)


South Africans in Town



7. (C) Eddie Cross expressed concern that political

tensions would soon get out of hand and that the MDC would be

unable to control them. He said the South African Government

(SAG) at that moment had “a team” in town trying to broker a

political solution. He said the MDC had rejected the team’s

proposal that the party withdraw its legal challenge of the

presidential election results. Cross claimed that the GOZ

had sought the services of an Indian attorney to represent it

in this case but that he had refused, saying it was

unwinnable.   Cross said the MDC believed a prerequisite to

any political transition must be Mugabe’s retirement. The

party, he said, has told the SAG that, once Mugabe withdraws

from active politics, it would agree to a transition period,

supervised by SADC, that leads to a new election held under

international supervision. The Ambassador replied that that

approach sounded reasonable, but he cautioned that the ruling

party only appears interested in a political solution that

guarantees a ZANU-PF government in perpetuity.





8. (C) Cross’s comment on a South African team took us by

surprise, so we followed up with a couple of key

interlocutors to learn more. Gandi Mudzingwa, Tsvangirai’s

special advisor, confirmed the presence of South African

officials, but he said they were intelligence officers from

President Mbeki’s office here to test the waters for a

possible Mbeki visit. They were not selling particular

proposals, but were clearly probing for possible solutions to

Zimbabwe’s political crisis.   Mudzingwa claimed they had

arranged their own travel here, outside the auspices of the

South African High Commission, and did not meet with GOZ

representatives. In a conversation with the Ambassador,

South Africa’s High Commissioner, Jeremiah Ndou, acknowledged

the presence of the team. He did not offer details on their

identities or home agency — and we did not press him on this

— but said they were in Harare “to see what’s possible.” In

any case, it appears that the South Africans are considering

ramping up their involvement in the search for a lasting

resolution of the political crisis here. We cannot confirm

whether the low-profile team members were indeed intelligence

officers from Mbeki’s office, but Ndou’s reticence to

elaborate on their efforts suggests that they could be. We

would welcome Embassy Pretoria’s perspective on this

interesting development.


9. (C) Cross is right that ZANU-PF has manipulated the food

assistance it provides in a variety of ways to buttress its

support and punish the residents of areas where the MDC is

strong. The delivery of international food assistance is

working very smoothly, with the two major exceptions of Binga

and Insiza. We believe the question of diverting food from

opposition supporters — when more than half of Zimbabwe’s

population is facing famine — is an appropriate issue for

discussion by the UN Security Council, but would defer to

others on whether linking this matter to human rights is the

most effective diplomatic approach.






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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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