Makoni defends land reform


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Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni defended Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and said donors should “forget about how or why we got where we are”.

Speaking at a meeting organised by United Nations Development Programme resident representative Victor Angelo to discuss the food crisis in Zimbabwe, Makoni acknowledged that disturbances on farms were partly responsible for the food crisis but said there was no benefit to be derived from “re-hashing old issues”.

“We must work within the current reality,” he said.

Two other ministers who had been invited to the meeting Labour and Social Welfare Minister July Moyo and State Security Minister Nicholas Goche did not turn up for the meeting.

Goche was chairman of the maize import task force.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE1270, MAY 23 U.N.-SPONSORED DIALOGUE WITH FINANCE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1270

2002-05-28 14:51

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 HARARE 001270

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

AIDAC

 

STATE FOR AF/S FOR KRAFT AND DELISI

 

BRUSSELS FOR USEU

 

USAID/W FOR AFR/SA POE, WILLIAMS AND COPSON; AFR/SD FOR

WHELAN; DCHA/FFP FOR PETERSEN, SKORIC AND BRAUSE; BHR/OFDA

FOR BRYAN, HANDAGLE AND MARX

GENEVA PLEASE PASS TO UNOCHA, IFRC

 

ROME PLEASE PASS TO FODAG

 

NAIROBI PLEASE PASS TO USAID/REDSO/FFP AND OFDA/ARO

 

PRETORIA PLEASE PASS TO USDA

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EAID PREL PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: MAY 23 U.N.-SPONSORED DIALOGUE WITH FINANCE

MINISTER MAKONI ON FOOD POLICY

 

REF: (A) HARARE 1141, (B) 01 HARARE 3753

 

THIS MESSAGE IS UNCLASSIFIED BUT SENSITIVE AND NOT SUITABLE

FOR INTERNET DISSEMINIATION.

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. ON MAY 23, UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (UNDP)

RESIDENT COORDINATOR (RESREP) J. VICTOR ANGELO HOSTED AN

“INFORMAL” MEETING WITH SENIOR-LEVEL GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE

(GOZ) OFFICIALS, REPRESENTATIVES OF MOST RESIDENT MISSIONS

OF THE ORGANIZATION OF ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT

(OECD), AND SELECTED REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE SOUTHERN

AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY (SADC) AND G-77 COUNTRIES TO

DISCUSS POLICY CONSTRAINTS PREVENTING AN EFFECTIVE RESPONSE

TO ZIMBABWE’S SERIOUS FOOD CRISIS. ALTHOUGH THREE GOZ

MINISTERS WERE INVITED TO THE MEETING, ONLY FINANCE AND

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (MOF) MINISTER SIMBA MAKONI SHOWED UP.

 

 

2. FOLLOWING A BRIEF INTRODUCTION BY RESREP ANGELO, MINISTER

MAKONI PROCEEDED TO PROVIDE A SUMMARY REPORT OF THE CURRENT

COUNTRY SITUATION AND THE PLANNED GOZ RESPONSE. A

“DIALOGUE” ON POLICY ISSUES RELATED TO THE CRISIS AND

RESPONSE FOLLOWED. WHILE MINISTER MAKONI MADE A VALIANT

STAB AT DEFENDING OFTEN INDEFENSIBLE GOZ POLICIES, THE

MEETING UNDERSCORED PAST AND PRESENT GOVERNMENT PROBLEMS IN

WORKING WITH DONOR COUNTRIES. MAKONI’S GOOD INTENTIONS

ASIDE, THE MEETING PROVIDED LITTLE REASSURANCE THAT THERE IS

SUFFICIENT GOZ POLITICAL WILL TO ADDRESS THE SERIOUS ISSUES

SURROUNDING FOOD SECURITY IN A TIMELY AND EFFECTIVE MANNER.

SEPARATE, FOLLOWING CONVERSTIONS WITH RESREP ANGELO PROVIDED

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON HOW THE UN HOPES TO KEEP THE

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE ON TRACK. END SUMMARY.

 

————-

INTRODUCTION

————-

 

3. OF THE THREE MINISTERES INIVTED BY UNDP RESREP J. VICTOR

ANGELO TO THE “INFORMAL” MAY 23 MEETING ON FOOD IDSSUES ONLY

MOF MINISTER SIMBA MAKONI SHOWED UP. PERMANENT SECRETARY

(PMS) MUSEKA OF THE MINISTRY OF PUBLIC SERVICE, LABOR AND

SOCIAL WELFARE (M/SW) REPRESENTED MINSITER JULY MOYO; AND

MINISTER OF STATE SECURITY, NICHOLAS GOCHE, INVITED IN HIS

CAPACITY AS CHAIRMAN OF THE MAIZE IMPORT TASK FORCE, FAILED

TO SHOW UP DESPITE ANGELO’S EXPECTATION THAT HE WOULD BE

THERE. GOCHE’S ASSISTANT DID ARRIVE MID-MEETING TO SILENTLY

REPRESENT HIS MINISTER’S INTERESTS, IN THE LATTER’S ABSENCE.

END NOTE.

 

——————–

GOZ SITUATION UPDATE

——————–

 

4. FOLLOWING AN INTRODUCTION BY RESREP ANGELO, WHO STRESSED

THE CLOSED NATURE OF THE MEETING TO PROMOTE “FRANK”

DISCUSSION, MINISTER MAKONI THANKED THE DONOR COUNTRIES

PRESENT FOR ASSISTANCE PROVIDED TO DATE IN RESPONSE TO

ZIMBABWE’S HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. NOTING THAT THIS WAS THE

THIRD SUCH MEETING ON THIS SUBJECT SINCE THE LAUNCH OF THE

U.N.’S HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE RELIEF PROGRAMME (HARP) FOR

ZIMBABWE IN DECMEBER 2001 (REFTEL B) THE MINISTER PROCEEDED

TO PROVIDE A SUMMARY REPORT OF THE CURRENT COUNTRY SITUATION

AND THE GOZ RESPONSE. HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDED:

 

A. TO DATE, THE GOZ HAS APPROVED A TOTAL OF 400,000 METRIC

TONS (MT) OF MAIZE IMPORTS, OF WHICH APPRXIMATELY 240,000 MT

HAS BEEN PURCHASED, WITH SOME 200,000 MT PROCURED FROM SOUTH

AFRICA. FOREIGN EXCHANGE SHORTAGES HAVE IMPEDED THE

COMPLETION OF THESE PROCUREMENTS, WITH MINISTER MAKONI

NOTING THAT “WE ARE STILL TRYING TO FIND THE FUNDS” FOR THE

REMAINDER OF THESE COMMERCIAL PURCHASES.

 

B. APPROXIMATELY 140,000 MT (OF 240,000 MT) OF MAIZE

PROCUREMENTS HAVE ARRIVED IN COUNTRY TO DATE, WITH

DELIVERIES SUFFERING SERIOUS DELAYS DUE TO “BOTTLENECKS”

THROUGHOUT THE FOOD IMPORT AND DISTRIBUTION TRANSPORT CHAIN,

E.G., INSUFFICIENT RAIL CAPACITY, AND INSUFFICIENT DOMESTIC

TRUCK TRANSPORT RESOURCES, BOTH FROM THE BORDER TO GRAIN

MARKETING BOARD (GMB) DEPOTS AND FROM THE DEPOTS TO THE

FINAL DISTRIBUTION SITES. MAKONI SAID THAT THERE WAS “TALK

ABOUT” MOBILIZING ADDITIONAL PRIVATE TRANSPORT CAPCITY TO

OVERCOME THESE CONSTRAINTS.

 

C. THE NATIONAL CROP FORECASTING COMMITTEE ESTIMATED 600,000

MT OF MAIZE PRODUCTION THIS YEAR, LEAVING A 1.2 MILLION MT

DEFICIT (FOR PROJECTED HUMAN CONSUMPTION). HE NOTED,

HOWEVER, GOVERNMENT CONCERNS ABOUT THE RELIABILITY OF THIS

ESTIMATE, SINCE “THE SYSTEM” HAD NOT YET ADJUSTED TO ACCOUNT

FOR THE CHANGED AGRICULTURAL SITUATION, ESPECIALLY MAIZE

PRODUCTION ON THE NEWLY RESETTLED “FAST-TRACK” LANDS. HE

ALSO NOTED THAT FINAL FIGURES WERE EXPECTED BY END-MONTH.

NOTE: FEWSNET HAS ALREADY PROVIDED A FINAL FIGURE FOR TOTAL

MAIZE PRODUCTION OF 500,000 MT — 100,000 MT LESS THAN

MINISTER MAKONI’S ESTIMATE, WHICH WAS BASED ON THE CROP

ASSESSMENT CONDUCTED TWO MONTHS AGO. THE JOINT FOOD AND

AGRICULTURAL ORGANIZATION AND WORLD FOOD PROGRAM FOOD AND

CROP ASSESSMENT MISSION (REFTEL A) CONCLUDED EARLIER THIS

MONTH SUPPORTES THE FEWSNET FIGURE. END NOTE.

 

D. THE MINISTER PROCEEDED TO OUTLINE CURRENT GOZ PLANS FOR

ADDRESSING THIS SITUATION THROUGH AN AMBITIOUS PROGRAM

TARGETING 7.8 MILLION ZIMBABWEANS FOR FOOD ASSISTANCE OVER

18 MONTHS. THE MAJOR PROGRAM COMPONENTS WOULD INCLUDE CASH-

FOR-WORK (Z$1,500/HOUSEHOLD/MONTH) FOR THE ABLE-BODIED,

TARGETED FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS FOR THE ELDERLY AND DISABLED,

AND SUPPLEMENTARY FEEDING PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN UNDER FIVE

YEARS OF AGE (TWO KILOGRAMS (KG.) OF “NUTRIMEAL” FOR EACH

CHILD PER MONTH) AND THREE KG/CHILD/MONTH FOR SOME OF THE

MOST NEEDY CHILDREN UNDER NINE YEARS OF AGE.

 

E. STATING THAT FOOD IMPORT REQUIREMENTS FOR THIS PROGRAM

WOULD COST Z$31 BILLION OVER 12 MONTHS FROM THE BEGINNING OF

THIS CALENDAR YEAR (DECEMBER 2001), MAKONI NOTED THAT ONLY

Z$20.7 BILLION WOULD BE REQUIRED FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS

CALENDAR YEAR (TO DECEMBER 2002), ALLOWING FOR THE

FUNDS/TIME WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN ACCOUNTED FOR SINCE

JANUARY. NOTE: THESE FIGURES ARE MUCH LOWER THAN THOSE

FROM AN APRIL GOZ DRAFT STRATEGY PAPER, WHICH PROJECTED

Z$102 BILLION FOR FOOD REQUIREMENTS OVER 18 MONTHS. END

NOTE. THE MINISTER ADDED THAT THE GOZ WAS REVIEWING HOW TO

FIT THESE REQUIREMENTS INTO THE CURRENT YEAR’S BUDGET.

ACKNOWLEDGING THAT INTERNATIONAL DONOR SUPPORT WOULD BE

REQUIRED, HE GAVE THE DISTINCT IMPRESSION THAT THE MAJORITY

COULD BE MET FROM THE GOVERNMENT BUDGET, IN COMBINATION WITH

THIS YEAR’S HARVEST. HE CONCLUDED THAT NEXT YEAR’S FOOD

REQUIREMENTS WOULD BE INCLUDED IN NEXT YEAR’S BUDGET

(OCTOBER/NOVEMBER, AND WOULD DEPEND ON THE FINAL CROP

PRODUCTION ESTIMATE, NEXT YEAR’S RAINFALL, AND OTHER SALIENT

FACTORS.

 

5. PMS MUSEKA FOLLOWED MINISTER MAKONI, BRIEFLY ELABORATING

ON THE CURRENT SERIOUS CONSTRAINTS THE PROGRAM WAS FACING,

SUCH AS THE “ACUTE TRANSPORT PROBLEM” (INSUFFICIENT CAPACITY

AND/OR FUNDS TO HIRE TRUCKS), STAFFING CONSTRAINTS (BOTH FOR

FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS AND CASH-FOR-WORK PROGRAMS), FUNDING

CONSTRAINTS (LIMITING THE “POPULAR” CASH-FOR-WORK PROGRAM,

AND NOTING SEVERAL INSTANCES WHERE PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS HAD

NOT BEEN PAID FOR COMPLETED WORK). MUSEKA ALSO NOTED THE

INADEQUACY OF OLD AND UNRELIABLE CENSUS DATA, WHICH MADE

PROGRAM DESIGN AND TARGETING DIFFICULT. THE PERMSEC ALSO

NOTED THE GROWING PROBLEM OF DISPLACED FARM WORKERS BECAUSE

OF THE ON-GOING FAST-TRACK LAND REDISTRIBUTION EXERCISE.

 

——————

“POLICY DIALOGUE”

——————

6. RESREP ANGELO OPENED THE FLOOR FOR QUESTIONS. THE

FOLLOWING ISSUES WERE RAISED: FOOD DISTRIBUTION “PROBLEMS”;

PARTISAN DISTRIBUTION OF RELIEF ASSISTANCE; THE

COMMICATIONS/DIALOGUE “GAP” BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND DONOR

COUNTRIES; PRIVATE SECTOR AND NGO PARTICIPATION IN THE

CRISIS; THE IMPACT OF PRICE CONTROLS AND THE EXCHANGE RATE

ON THE PROVISION OF FOOD RELIEF; THE IMPACT OF THE FAST-

TRACK EXERCISE ON THE CURRENT FOOD/AGRICULTURAL SITUATION;

CLARIFICATION OF THE COUNTRY FOOD SITUATION; FOOD

TRADE/SALES/MARKETING RESTRICTIONS; (COMMERCIAL) FARMING

ASSURANCES/SECURITY; PRICE CONTROLS; THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE

REGIME; AND RESTRICTIONS ON THE IMPORT AND DISTRIBUTION OF

FOOD COMMODITIES CONTAINING GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS

(GMO). THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR NOTED THAT 10,00 MT OF

AMERICAN MAIZE WERE DIVERTED TO OTHER SOUTH AFRICAN

COUNTRIES BECAUSE OF ZIMBABWE’S FAILURE TO WAIVE GMO

RESTRICTIONS. HE STATED THAT CONTINUATION OF GMO

RESTRICTIONS WOULD SEVERLY LIMIT USG ABILITY TO HELP.

 

7. MAKONI RESPONDED BY DENYING KNOWLEDGE OF A COMMUNICATION

GAP, CITING PAST INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP MEETINGS ON THIS

SUBJECT, AND ASSURING DONORS OF HIS CONTINUING WILLINGNESS

TO MEET AT ANY TIME TO DISCUSS THE ISSUES NOTED ABOVE WITH

DONOR COUNTRY REPRESENTATIVES.

 

8. ON THE ISSUE OF POLITICAL DISCRIMINATION IN FOOD/RELIEF

PROGRAMS, THE MINISTER STATED THAT HE HAD HEARD ALLEGATIONS

BUT WAS UNAWARE OF ANY ACTUAL INCIDENTS OF SUCH ABUSE. HE

SAID THAT SPECIFIC INFORMATION (NAMES, NUMBERS, LOCATIONS,

ETC.) WOULB BE NEEDED TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM; GENERAL

ALLEGATIONS WERE NOT USEFUL. HE STRESSED THAT LOCAL NGOS,

TRADITIONAL LEADERS, AND OTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROGRAM

IMPLEMENTATION HAD NOT REPORTED SUCH INCIDENTS IN RESPONSE

TO HIS OWN HOME-DISTRICT QUERIES ON THE ALLEGATIONS. THIS

INFORMATION LED HIM TO QUESTION THE EXTENT OF THIS PROBLEM –

– HE UNDERSCORED THAT THIS TYPE OF ABUSE IS NOT SOMETHING

THAT HAPPENS IN ZIMBABWEAN SOCIETY, IN THAT IT IS CULTURALLY

UNACCEPTABLE (A SINGULARLY CURIOUS STATEMENT, FROM OUR POINT

OF VIEW). HOWEVER, HE WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT ANY PROBLEM SO

THAT IT COULD BE PROMPTLY. PMS MUSEKA SECONDED MAKONI’S

STATEMENTS, REITERATING THAT IT WAS THE COMMUNITIES

THEMSELVES THAT MADE BENEFICIARY DECISIONS AND IMPLEMENTED

THE PROGRAM. HE ADDED THAT HIS MINISTRY HAD RECEIVED NO

REPORTS OF SUCH ABUSE TO DATE AND, THEREFORE, HE WAS

CONFIDENT THAT “THE SYSTEM IS WORKING WELL.”

 

9. THE MINISTER SUGGESTED THAT THE CONSTRAINTS ON PRIVATE

SECTOR ACCESS AND INVOLVEMENT WERE MORE ARTIFICIAL THAN

ACTUAL, CITING SEVERAL POSITIVE STEPS IN THIS AREA. THESE

INCLUDED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PRIVATE SECTOR TRUST FUND BY

LOCAL BUSINESSES TO ASSIST THE RELIEF EFFORT, AND THE

REMOVAL OF ANY DUTY ON GRAIN IMPORTS (INCLUDING 25 PERCENT

DUTY FOR NON-SADC IMPORTS). HE ADDED THAT THE STATUTORY

INSTRUMENT BANNING PRIVATE SECTOR IMPORTS/SALES OF BASIC

CEREALS WAS, IN REALITY, BEING IGNORED, CITING NUMEROUS

INDIVIDUAL INSTANCES WHERE IMPORT PERMITS HAD BEEN GRANTED

TO PRIVATE SECTOR SUPPLIERS. HE STATED HIS WILLINGNESS TO

CONTINUE TO DEAL FAVORABLY WITH SUCH PRIVATE SECTOR REQUESTS

“PRACTICALLY”, ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS, AS OPPOSED TO

GETTING BOGGED DOWN IN POLITICS BY ATTEMPTING TO CHANGE

FORMAL LEGISLATION OR POLICY ON THIS SUBJECT (WHICH IS

CLEARLY BEYOND HIS POWER TO DO). PRESSED, MAKONI

ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THIS PRIVATE SECTOR RELIEF APPLIED ONLY TO

PRIVATE SECTOR IMPORTS FOR DONATIONS TO THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES

AND HAD NO RELEVANCE TO PRIVATE SECTOR IMPORTS FOR MARKET

SALES, WHICH WERE IMPRACTICAL, GIVEN THE LOW FIXED PRICE FOR

MAIZE MEAL.

 

10. ON THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE RATE, MAKONI LARGELY REITERATED

WHAT WE ALL ALREADY KNEW – WHILE HE WAS ATTEMPTING TO

ADDRESS IT, THIS WAS A DIFFICULT POLITICAL ISSUE WHICH WAS

BEYOND HIS POWER ALONE TO CORRECT. WHILE HE REMAINED

OPTIMISTIC, NO RESOLUTION HAD YET BEEN CONCLUDED ON THIS

ISSUE. THE MINISTER ALSO NOTED HIS CONCERNS REGARDING THE

MEDIA’S TREATMENT OF THESE ISSUES AS ONLY SERVING TO

EXACERBATE PROBLEMS AND MAKE HIS ATTEMPTS TO ADDRESS THEM

MORE DIFFICULT.

 

11. ON THE ISSUE OF PRICE CONTROLS, THE MINISTER REITERATED

THE SAME GENERAL LINE. CITING SEVERAL RECENT INSTANCES

WHERE PRICES ON BASIC GOODS AND SERVICES HAD BEEN ADJUSTED,

HE ENCOURAGED REPORTING/PRESENTATION OF COMMODITY-SPECIFIC

INSTANCES OF PROBLEMS THAT COULD BE DEALT WITH ON A CASE-BY-

CASE BASIS (AS OPPOSED TO FORMALLY CHANGING THE RELEVANT

LAWS OR POLICIES ON THIS SUBJECT). HE EXPRESSED HIS

WILLINGNESS TO ATTMEPT TO DEAL WITH ANY SUCH SPECIFIC

INSTANCES AS EXPEDITIOUSLY AS POSSIBLE.

 

12. MAIKONI ACKNOWLEDGED A “DOWNSIDE TO MAJOR AGRARIAN

REFORM” – THE FAST TRACK PROGRAM — IN ZIMBABWE OVER THE

PAST SEVERAL YEARS. HE CONCEDED THAT DISTURBANCES ON FARMS

RESULTING FROM FAST TRACK WERE AT LEAST PARTLY RESPONSIBLE

FOR THE CURRENT FOOD CRISIS. NOTING THAT THE LAND

REDISTRIBUTION PROGRAM WAS NOW ALMOST COMPLETE, HE URGED

ASSISTANCE TO ALL FARMERS — INCLUDING FAST-TRACK RESETTLERS

— TO STIMULATE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION. HE FURTHER URGED

THE DONORS TO “FORGET ABOUT HOW/WHY WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE”,

THAT “WE MUST WORK WITHIN THE CURRENT REALITY,” THAT THERE

WAS NO BENEFIT TO BE DERIVED FROM “RE-HASHING OLD ISSUES”,

AND THAT WE SHOULD, THEREFORE, “GET ON WITH WHAT’S LEFT.”

 

13. ON FARMER SECURITY/ASSURANCES, THE MINISTER NOTED THAT

THE GOVERNMENT WAS ENCOURAGING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN

RESPONSE TO THE GROWING FOOD CRISIS. HE CHARACTERIZED THE

CURRENT FARMING SITUATION AS “IN TRANSITION”, WITH

GOVERNMENT NOW TRYING TO “REGULARIZE” FAST TRACK AND THUS

ENSURE FARM/ER SECURITY. HE STATED HIS BELIEF THAT THE

SECURITY SITUATION ON COMMERCIAL FARMS HAD IMPROVED OVER THE

PAST FIVE WEEKS; BUT ALSO THAT FOR A PROGRAM OF THIS

MAGNITUDE, SUCH ACTIONS TAKE TIME.

 

14. HE ACKNOWLEDGED HAVING HEARD OF THE GMO ISSUE BUT

EXPRESSED IGNORANCE ABOUT THE TECHNICAL SPECIFICS. HE

PLANNED TO CONVENE A MEETING WITH THE BIO-SAFETY BOARD (THE

ENTITY RESPONSIBLE FOR GOVERNMENT POLICY ON GMOS) IN AN

ATTEMPT TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE ISSUE. HE SUGGESTED THAT

ONE POSSIBLE CONCERN WAS THE POTENTIAL IMPACT ON BEEF

EXPORTS TO CERTAIN TRADING PARTNERS (THE EUROPEAN UNION)

FROM GMO-FED LIVESTOCK. NOTE: MISSION/WFP HAS INFORMATION

THAT STRONGLY SUGGESTS THAT GMO-FED LIVESTOCK IS NOT A

SIGNIFICANT ISSUE FOR THE EU/EC. END NOTE. THE MINISTER

EXPRESSED THE NEED FOR ALL STAKEHOLDERS INVOLVED IN THIS

ISSUE TO COORDINATE. WHILE ADMITTING THE GOZ’S ATTENTION TO

THIS ISSUE CAME LATE, HE CONCLUDED WITH “BETTER LATE THAN

NEVER.”

 

15. AMBASSADOR SULLIVAN’S REQUESTED CLARIFICATION ON THE

CURRENT FOOD SITUATION — INITIALLY, MINISTER MAKONI

APPEARED TO SUGGEST THAT THE NATION’S FOOD NEEDS FOR THE

REMAINDER OF THIS CALENDAR YEAR COULD ADEQUATELY BE MET FROM

GOVERNMENT IMPORTS AND THIS YEAR’S HARVEST (STRONGLY

IMPLYING THAT NO INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE WOULD BE REQUIRED,

AT LEAST OVER THIS PERIOD). HOWEVER, IN RESPONSE TO

SPECIFIC FOLLOW-UP QUERIES ON THIS SUBJECT BY THE BRITISH

HIGH COMMISSIONER, THE MINISTER RETRACTED THIS POSITION,

STATING, “OF COURSE WE WILL NEED INTERNATIONAL/EXTERNAL

ASSISTANCE.” HE HAD APPARENTLY DOUBTED-COUNTED PURCHASES

MADE THIS YEAR, THEREBY MAXIMIZING GOZ RESOURCES.

ADDITIONAL ATTEMPTS TO CLARIFY THE FIGURES SPAWNED

CONFUSION, WITH THE MINISTER FINALLY STATING THAT HE WOULD

NEED TO “REVIEW THE FIGURES”, AND THAT HE WOULD GET BACK TO

THE AUDIENCE WITH THE CORRECT POSITION ON THIS SUBJECT AS

SOON AS POSSIBLE.

 

16. AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE MEETING, THE MALAWIAN HIGH

COMMISSIONER TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO NOTE THE GREATER

REGIONAL NATURE OF THE PROBLEM. SHE HIGHLIGHTED HER OWN

COUNTRY’S DESPERATE SITUATION, CITING ONE PRESS REPORT

INDICATING THAT ONE IN FIVE MALAWIANS WERE UNDER SEVERE

THREAT OF DYING FROM STARVATION. SHE EXPRESSED HER

COUNTRY’S GRATITUDE FOR DONOR ASSISTANCE PLEDGED/PROVIDED TO

DATE, AND ENDORSED THIS TYPE OF CONSULTATIVE EXCHANGE AS THE

ONLY WAY TO PROPERLY ADDRESS A SERIOUS CRISIS OF THIS SCOPE

AND MAGNITUDE.

 

17. AT A PRIVATE LUNCH IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE MEETING,

UNDP RESREP ANGELO ELABORATED ON A FEW OF MAKONI’S REMARKS

AND TOOK ABOARD A FEW SUGGESTIONS FROM THE AMBASSADOR ON

POSSIBLE NEXT STEPS. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CONVERSATION

INCLUDED:

 

— THE AMBASSADOR SUGGESTED THAT IT WOULD BE BENEFICIAL FOR

THE UN TO ORGANIZE FIELD VISITS BY DIPLOMATS AND

INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS TO FOOD DISTRIBUTION SITES, BOTH

TO PUBLICIZE THE SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM AND TO DISCOURAGE ANY

TEMPTATION FOR ANYONE TO MANIPULATE FOOD DISTRIBUTION FOR

POLITICAL ENDS. ANGELO AGREED THAT DIPLOMATIC VISIST WERE

DESIRABLE BUT OPINED THAT JOURNALISTS WOULD BE MORE

COMFORTABLE FENDING FOR THEMSELVES. THE AMBASSADOR STRESSED

THAT IT WAS IMPORTANT THAT THE MEDIA BE ALLOWED TO VIEW THE

SITUATION CLOSE UP.

 

— THE AMBASSADOR STRESSED THAT THE PRESENCE OF INDEPENDENT

MONITORS OF WFP FOOD AID WOULD SERVE TO LIMIT GOZ PARANOIA

AND TAKE A BURDEN OFF THE UN. HE SAID THAT HE WAS CERTAIN

THAT DONOR SUPPORT FOR SUCH AN EFFORT WOULD BE FORTHCOMING.

ANGELO ACCEPTED THAT SGS AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL ACCOUNTING

ORGANIZATIONS WOULD BE WELL PLACED TO TACKLE SUCH AN

ASSIGNMENT.

 

— THE AMBASSADOR POINTED OUT THAT THE CREDIBILITY OF THE

RELIEF EFFORT DEPENDED UPON STRAIGHTFORWARD PRESENTATION OF

THE FACTS, INCLUDING THE CAUSES OF THE PROBLEM. IT WOULD BE

NECESSARY TO PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT FLAWED GOZ POLICIES,

AND NOT JUST DROUGHT, HAD CONTRIBUTED TO THE CRISIS. ANGELO

AGREED.

 

— ANGELO SAID THAT THE GOZ HAS FINALLY TAKEN THE LID OFF

THE PLIGHT OF FARM WORKERS. A UNDP TEAM IS CURRENTLY IN THE

FIELD ATTEMPTING TO TAKE THE MEASURE OF THIS VERY

COMPLICATED SITUATION. HE HOPED TO HAVE A CLEARER PICTURE

OF NUMBERS, LOCATIONS, AND NEEDS SOON.

 

— ANGELO SAID THAT THE UNSYG HAD MET WITH MUGABE TWICE

DURING MUGABE’S RECENT VISIT TO NEW YORK. THE FIRST MEETING

FOCUSSED ON TECHNICAL/HUMANITARIAN ISSUES, WITH MUGABE

APPEARING LARGELY BLANK ON THE DIMENSIONS OF THE FOOD CRISIS

DESPITE THE FACT THAT NIGERIAN MEDIATOR ADEDEJI HAD GIVEN

HIM A PAPER (DRAFTED BY ANGELO) DESCRIBING THE SITUATION.

MUGABE PAID LIP SERVICE TO RETURNING TO ABUJA, BUT LITTLE

ELSE. THE SECOND MEETING FOCUSED ON THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE

AND WAS SINGULARLY UNPRODUCTIVE. MUGABE FEIGNED SURPRISE

THAT THE INTER-PARTY TALKS, WHICH HE TERMED AS “TECHNICAL,”

HAD COLLAPSED AND SAID THAT THIS INITIATIVE WAS THE CONCERN

OF HIS SUBORDINATES AND THAT HE WAS NOT INVOLVED.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

18. MAKONI MADE HIS USUAL VALIANT EFFORT TO DEFEND OFTEN

INDEFENSIBLE GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND ACTIONS VIS A VIS THE

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. HOWEVER, THE MEETING MOSTLY

UNDERSCORED PAST AND PRESENT GOVERNMENT PROBLEMS IN WORKING

WITH DONOR COUNTRIES INVOLVED. THE RECURRING PROBLEMS OF

RELATIVE PRIORITIES, INTERMINISTERIAL ACCOUNTABILITY, AND

POLITICAL INTRANSIGENCE ALL MANIFESTED THEMSELVES IN VARIOUS

STAGES OF THE PROCEEDINGS. MAKONI HAS NEVER BEEN THE

PROBLEM, NOR THROUGH ANY FAULT OF HIS OWN THE FIX, BUT

DESPITE HIS BEST INTENTIONS THE OUTCOME OF THE MEETING WAS

LESS THAN SATISFACTORY. INDIVIDUAL CASE-SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS

WILL SIMPLY NOT SUFFICE IN ADDRESSING A CRISIS OF THIS

MAGNITUDE, DEMANDS SERIOUS POLICY REFORM ARE REQUIRED. THE

FINANCE MINISTER’S APPARENT CONFUSION OVER ACTUAL COUNTRY

NEEDS AND DONOR REQUIREMENTS WAS PARTICULARLY DISTRESSING IN

THE CONTEXT OF A NATIONAL FOOD CRISIS OF HISTORICAL

DIMENSIONS. IT PROVIDED LITTLE REASSURANCE THAT THE

POLITICAL WILL AND WHEREWITHALL EXIST WITHIN GOVERNMENT TO

ADDRESS THESE SERIOUS POLICY CONCERNS IN A TIMELY AND

EFFECTIVE MANNER. HIS “LET BYGONES BE BYGONES” RHETORIC,

IMPLYING THAT THE DONORS SHOULD SUFFER COLLECTIVE AMNESIA

ABOUT THE ABUSIVE GOZ LAND GRAB PRESENTLY ONGOING, AND GET

ON WITH FORKING OVER TO THE GOZ WHAT IT THINKS IT NEEDS TO

REBUILD THE COUNTRY ANEW IN ITS OWN ZANU-PF IMAGE, MERITS NO

FURTHER COMMENT.

 

SULLIVAN

(18 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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