Kutama spared from food ban because of Mugabe’s son


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Kutama, the school next to President Robert Mugabe’s rural home and where he went to school, was spared from the food ban on non-governmental organisations because his son was also going to school there.

The head of the school had approached the provincial governor for Mashonaland West and told him that the ban on food assistance from non-governmental organisations would result in the closure of the school.

The governor authorised an exception to permit food assistance to the school.

At the time some 1.3 million people were reported to be in need of food assistance.

In Gweru the Catholic relief agency, CAFOD, had been forced to bury two tonnes of food because it had been spoiled.

The organisation had not been able to distribute the food because Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front youths were intimidating CAFOD employees.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE754, ZIMBABWEAN HUMANITARIAN CRISIS WORSENING AS BAN

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE754

2008-08-28 15:11

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO1358

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0754/01 2411511

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 281511Z AUG 08 ZDS TO ALL NUM SVCS

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3351

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2239

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2359

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0889

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1636

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1992

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2413

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4845

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1508

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000754

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR G. GARLAND

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

DCHA/AA FOR MIKE HESS

AFR/AA FOR KATE ALMQUIST AND FRANKLIN MOORE

AFR/SA FOR ELOKEN, LDOBBINS, JKOLE

DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, ACONVERY, TDENYSENKO, LMTHOMAS

DCHA/FFP FOR JBORNS, JDWORKEN, LPETERSON, ASINK

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC EAID PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEAN HUMANITARIAN CRISIS WORSENING AS BAN

REMAINS IN PLACE

 

REF: HARARE 503

 

HARARE 00000754 001.2 OF 004

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——–

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (SBU) The Mugabe government continues to deny

nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary

organizations (PVOs) access to 1.3 million at-risk

Zimbabweans to provide food, water, seed, fertilizer, and

hygienic support. Currently, less than 300,000 people are

receiving assistance, and record-low harvest levels this

season may expose up to 5 million Zimbabweans to a severe

food crisis if the ban remains in place. Additionally, the

absence of seed in advance of seasonal rains may mean that

the next harvest is as bad or worse and lack of nonfood

assistance in the rainy season will increase the risk of

cholera and other diseases. While there are large stockpiles

of supplies in South Africa and Zimbabwe, the supply backlog

is forcing donors to reconsider the utility of sending

additional aid to Zimbabwe. Some NGOs have been able to

conduct discrete workaround operations with the consent of

local officials, though these groups still routinely face the

threat of violence from war veterans and you

th brigade members. END SUMMARY

 

—————————-

Vast Majority of Aid Blocked

—————————-

 

2. (U) The overwhelming majority of humanitarian aid

intended to assist 1.3 million desperate Zimbabweans

continues to be blocked by the ban on NGO and PVO activities

instituted in June by Nicholas Goche, the Minister of Public

Service, Labour and Social Welfare (MPSLSW) (reftel). These

activities include the distribution of food-based assistance,

as well as seed, fertilizer, hygienic support, and

infrastructure projects. A recent assessment of one district

in Manicaland by the World Food Program highlighted the

severity of the situation. According to the study, 38

percent of households had not consumed any cereal over the

previous 7 days, while 61 percent of households had eaten

only one meal a day. An additional indicator of the

worsening situation was that a majority of households had now

turned to selling livestock to purchase food.

 

——————————————— —

Low Harvests and the Approach of Planting Season

——————————————— —

 

3. (U) Persistent shortages of seed, fertilizer, and other

agricultural inputs brought about by the ban and the economic

crisis in Zimbabwe have led to record-low harvest totals this

year. A recent UN Crop and Food Supply Assessment warned

that this would expand to 5 million the number of Zimbabweans

needing assistance before the next crop is harvested.

 

4. (U) Additionally, the approach of Zimbabwe’s rainy season

threatens to exacerbate the impact of the ban due to the

inability of NGOs to distribute seed. At a meeting on August

26 between poloff and C-SAFE country representatives from

CARE International, Christian Relief Services and World

Vision, Edward Brown of C-SAFE said that if the ban was not

 

HARARE 00000754 002 OF 004

 

 

immediately lifted, aid organizations would be unable to

distribute seed in September prior to the rains, and rural

community farmers would miss an entire crop. Furthermore,

USAID officials have warned that if rains begin in October

without the distribution of soap and other sanitary items,

cholera and diarrheal disease will be widespread. Timing for

the resumption of aid is critical as it will take NGOs an

estimated 6 weeks to scale up operations to full capacity.

 

—————————————–

Meanwhile, Food Supply Sits in Warehouses

—————————————–

 

5. (U) The ban is leading to bulging stockpiles of food,

seed, fertilizer, and hygienic supplies in Durban, South

Africa, as well as in warehouses throughout Zimbabwe. Fambai

Ngirande, a spokesperson for the NGO coalition Nango, said in

a recent article in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian on-line

newspaper, that a portion of those stores were rotting and

would be unfit for distribution even if the ban were lifted.

(This does not refer to USG food.) According to the UN’s

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, donors

are taking notice of the aid ban and reconsidering the

utility of sending additional aid to Zimbabwe. Some supply

ships scheduled to arrive in Durban in the coming months risk

being diverted to other exposed populations. C-SAFE’s Brown

also highlighted that the ban would cost the Zimbabwean

people 20,000 metric tons of food aid, as USG food aid levels

allocated to C-SAFE partners are being reduced from 53,000 to

33,000 metric tons in 2009. The foregone aid has an

estimated valu

e of $14 million dollars.

 

——————————————— ———–

NGOs Face Violence and Intimidation, Attempt Workarounds

——————————————— ———–

 

6. (SBU) A trickle of aid continues as NGOs lobby and

receive ad hoc permission to resume operations from some

sympathetic provincial and district officials in regions

throughout the country. Most of this aid is in the form of

school-based feeding programs that tend-although not

exclusively-to occur in MDC-supportive areas. Even in these

areas aid workers face continued intimidation and violence.

CARE International Country Director Stephen Vaughan told

poloff that war veterans and youth brigade members routinely

ignore these local authorizations and threaten to burn

humanitarian vehicles or tell aid workers to “return to

Harare.” A positive recent development is that HIV/AIDS

assistance has resumed at nearly 100 percent of normal

operations.

 

7. (C) The Papal Nuncio to Zimbabwe told us on August 28

that employees of Catholic aid organization CAFOD were forced

to bury 2 tons of food aid that had spoiled at their Gweru

warehouse. CAFOD had been unable to distribute the food

because local ZANU-PF youth groups were intimidating

employees and using threats of violence to enforce the ban.

 

8. (C) Not surprisingly, an exception to the ban was made

for a school in Chinhoyi where one of Mugabe’s sons studies

and where Catholic relief organizations were providing food.

According to the Papal Nuncio, when the ban went into effect

on June 4, the head of the Marist college in Kutama (where

President Mugabe studied) approached the provincial governor

 

HARARE 00000754 003 OF 004

 

 

and explained that banning food assistance would result in

the school’s closure. This was sufficient cause to convince

the governor to authorize an exception to the ban to permit

food assistance to the school.

 

———————————————

Aid Groups’ Take on ZANU-PF’s Ban Motivations

———————————————

 

9. (C) At the August 26 C-SAFE meeting, representatives from

CARE International, Christian Relief Services and World

Vision argued that the Zimbabwean Government’s long reliance

on using food as a political tool made the government

intensely distrustful of any international aid organization’s

stated motivations. Vaughan suggested that there was a

prevailing fear within ZANU-PF that food distribution, if

allowed, would only create a dependency on international aid

groups that would further undermine ZANU-PF’s authority.

This fear and mistrust is heightened because the GOZ is aware

that the US donates 72 percent of all food aid and was

demonstrated by Mugabe’s statement at the convening of

Parliament on August 26 that the West was using food aid as a

tool of regime change.

 

—————————————–

MDC and NGO Strategies to Relieve the Ban

—————————————–

 

10. (C) MDC Agricultural Secretary Gwarazimba told USAID

officers on August 27 that MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti

expressed interest in raising the humanitarian access issue

at the first session of Parliament and calling the permanent

secretaries of MPSLSW and the Ministry of Agriculture to

account for the regime’s blockage of humanitarian assistance.

 

 

11. (SBU) In addition, NGOs and PVOs are increasing their

advocacy by issuing a common statement on behalf of over 100

agencies, and are finalizing a presentation to convey the

overall impact of the ban in the realms of food, agricultural

recovery, nutrition/child protection, and water/sanitation to

parliamentarians and representatives of both parties. NGOs

also plan to step-up their advocacy efforts to neighboring

countries. C-SAFE representatives identified several

alternative delivery mechanisms they are considering to

increase distributions despite the ban. These include

providing take away dry rations through school-based feeding

programs, increasing participation of government and

parliamentarians during food distribution activities, and

allowing beneficiaries to come to warehouses to receive food

to circumvent the ban on field activities.

 

———————————————

The Regime Also Profiting from Aid Activities

———————————————

 

12. (C) The Mugabe regime may be motivated to maintain the

presence of NGOs in Zimbabwe because virtually all

Zimbabweans employed by NGOs receive their salaries in

foreign currency and are taxed at just over 50 percent. At

an NGO forum on June 11, USAID officials were told this

amounts to between one and two million dollars per month in

revenue to the government. Unless NGOs choose to reduce

personnel, the government will continue to earn this income

even as the ban prohibits staff from distributing

 

HARARE 00000754 004 OF 004

 

 

humanitarian assistance.

 

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

13. (SBU) Despite repeated assurances that the ban would be

lifted, including an agreement to do so in the July 21 MOU,

the GOZ has not taken any positive action. It is important

that the MDC do a better job of publicly highlighting this

issue, and that the international/donor community likewise

raise the profile of this looming humanitarian disaster.

While ZANU-MDC negotiations command attention, millions of

Zimbabweans are at risk. END COMMENT

MCGEE

(61 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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