MDC sought “continued” US Support


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Movement for Democratic Change secretary Welshman Ncube, secretary for foreign affairs Priscilla Misihairabwi- Mushonga, youth chairman Nelson Chamisa, Job Sikhala and secretary for economic affairs Tendai Biti, asked a visiting congressional delegation that had come to inspect the effects of the government crackdown on illegal settlements for “continued” US support saying Operation restore Order had weakened the government.

When asked why Zimbabweans were simply not rising up in protest, Sikhala said he had tried to organize peaceful resistance in his constituency of St. Mary’s ,part of the mammoth high density suburb of Chitungwiza, but this had failed because of overwhelming government intimidation.

Misihairabwi said that in many countries people had put up with decades of repression before reaching a critical moment where resistance was possible. The MDC realized it had to build up a level of confidence within the people for them to reach that critical moment.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 05HARARE976, STAFFDEL SIMPKINS ENGAGES ON RESTORE ORDER

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE976

2005-07-15 07:34

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000976

 

SIPDIS

 

AF FOR DAS T. WOODS

AF/S FOR D. MOZENA, B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR ECON EFIN SOCI ZI VIP

SUBJECT: STAFFDEL SIMPKINS ENGAGES ON RESTORE ORDER

 

REF: (A) HARARE 928 (B) HARARE 760

 

Classified By: Charge d’affaires a.i., Eric T. Schultz under Section 1.

4 b/d

 

——–

Summary

——–

 

1. (C) On a visit to assess and discuss the effects of

Operation Restore Order, Majority Staffer Gregory Simpkins

and Minority Staffer Pearl-Alice Marsh from the House of

Representatives International Relations Committee (HIRC)

traveled to Harare and Bulawayo, July 2-6. The staffdel saw

first hand the devastation in former settlements and

high-density suburbs. In meetings with government officials,

they expressed outrage over the human rights violations

surrounding Restore Order. In his meeting with them,

Minister for State Security Didymus Mutasa took credit for

the operation, expressed no remorse at the plight of its

victims, and showed no interest in reengagement with the U.S.

Reserve Bank (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono said the operation

had been carried out without proper consultation but had his

support. He desired engagement from the West in restoring

Zimbabwe,s economy.

 

2. (C) In meetings with opposition and civil society, the

staffdel expressed the warmly welcomed message that the

United States was aware of their struggle and continued to

support their efforts. MDC officials emphasized the need for

continued U.S. support, including encouraging Nigeria and

South Africa to increase pressure on Mugabe. They said that

Operation Restore Order had created unrest within ZANU-PF but

that the time might not be right for Zimbabweans to rise up

in peaceful protest. However, the MDC was taking steps to

ready the people for that moment. Bishops Trevor Manhanga

and Patrick Mutume said that the churches were trying not to

be political but that all deplored Operation Restore Order

and were speaking out about it. The staffdel suggested to

the Bishops, the MDC and others in the opposition that it was

important to engage with U.S. religious leaders, especially

African-Americans. They added that Congressman Payne might

consider a trip to Zimbabwe in the near future. End Summary.

 

—————

Staffdel Agenda

—————

 

2. (C) In Harare, the staffdel met with Government officials

Didymus Mutasa and Gideon Gono and several MDC officials.

They spoke with Jonathan Moyo (septel). They met with

Catholic Bishop Patrick Mutume and Evangelical Bishop Trevor

Manhanga. They spoke with UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka

and other UN officials (ref A). The staffdel also attended a

number of other meetings and events. They attended a church

service the Fountain of Hope Church, an evangelical church,

and met with congregants afterwards to discuss with citizens

the U.S. interest in Zimbabwe. They visited Porta Farm, a

settlement area on the outskirts of Harare that had been

destroyed by Operation Restore Order. They spoke with

businesswomen in Harare and University of Zimbabwe Economics

professor Tony Hawkins about the effects of Operation Restore

Order on the economy. They attended a roundtable discussion

with human rights and HIV/AIDS NGOs about the human effects

of Restore Order. They also spoke with reporters from the

Daily Mirror, the Standard, and ZimOnline.

 

3. (C) In Bulawayo (septel), the Staff Delegation met with

activists from Women of Zimbabwe Arise! (WOZA) and MDC MP

David Coltart. They also visited a church providing

assistance to the displaced and one of the destroyed

settlements, escorted by officials from World Vision.

 

——————

Mutasa on Restore Order and International Relations:

Leave Us Alone

——————

 

4. (C) Minister for State Security (and fifth-ranking

Politburo member) Didymus Mutasa proudly told the staffdel in

his office on July 5 that he was among those principally

responsible for the GOZ decision to move forward with

Operation Restore Order. He showed no remorse for the

suffering the operation had caused. Recounting familiar

purported justifications, he said the operation was

necessitated by illegal activities (money-changing,

prostitution, robbery) stemming from areas of illegal

construction and asserted that the operation had been

successful in stemming the national crime rate. He dismissed

reports of hundreds of thousands displaced and claimed “only

40,000″ had lost their homes. Questioned about court rulings

that aspects of Restore Order were illegal, he said that the

courts could do what they wanted, the government would do

what it wanted. The operation would continue and the West

was welcome to work with the GOZ on reconstruction efforts.

 

5. (C) The staffdel stressed that Restore Order had set back

prospects for improved bilateral relations in the wake of the

GOZ’s relatively peaceful administration of elections in

March. Queried about GOZ views on bilateral relations with

the United States, Mutasa said he was not interested in

engaging with the USG or in soliciting any bilateral

assistance. He asserted that the USG consistently applied a

double standard to Zimbabwe that was evidence of its intent

to effect regime change. Why did the USG speak out about

dead babies in Zimbabwe and not about the “tens of thousands

of babies” it had “murdered” in Iraq? The GOZ wanted only

two things from the USG: more honest public statements about

Zimbabwe and to be left alone. He said he would welcome the

opportunity to explain Zimbabwe to Americans but did not care

to be removed from the travel sanctions list. The GOZ

understood the USG perfectly but the USG did not understand

the GOZ; in that vein, he invited the staffdel to visit his

farm so they could learn more for themselves. He said he was

polite to them only because they were black and despite the

fact that they were tools of President Bush. The staffdel

stressed that the United States was not implacably opposed to

ZANU-PF; its concerns revolved around process, not

personalities or choosing parties.

 

6. (C) Responding to the staffdel’s questions about growing

African concern about Zimbabwe and the reported visit of an

AU envoy, Mutasa claimed that African governments

increasingly were being bought off by America and Britain,

who were out to destroy all governments that came from

liberation movements. In particular, the GOZ had “no regard”

for the Nigerians, who were largely responsible for crime in

Zimbabwe and the need for Restore Order. The regime would

listen to SADC, which remained staunchly behind the GOZ

(except perhaps Botwsana, he allowed), but not the rest of

Africa.

 

——————————————— ——-

Gono: Central Bank Still Seeking Re-Engagement

——————————————— ——-

 

7. (C) In a rambling presentation in his office on July 5,

Reserve Bank (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono told the staffdel

that Restore Order had been undertaken without adequate

consultation, notice, or “communication of vision.” The GOZ,

especially the RBZ, was remedying that now as his bi-monthly

meetings with “all stake-holders” attested. For its part,

the RBZ was supportive of Restore Order, in part to steer

informal economic activity toward the formal sector and in

part because it could not be seen to condone corruption. The

staffdel reiterated Restore Order’s negative ramifications

for any prospective Zimbabwean rapprochement with the West

and urged that it be ceased.

 

8. (C) Asked by the staffdel how the country would recover

economically and at what cost, Gono recounted familiar

measures advanced in his May monetary policy statement, such

as export subsidies and concessionary loans in the

agricultural sectors (ref B), and purported

confidence-building measures (grandly named new “operations”

that are thin on details and resources) in the wake of

Restore Order. The RBZ was deploying highly-paid staff

throughout the country to work with provincial governors and

to be his “eyes and ears.” He shared a copy of his five-page

charge to them, which instructed them on comportment but said

nothing about their objectives. Gono emphasized that

restoring Zimbabwe’s economy was a mammoth task that

ultimately would require international reengagement; he

intended to build a platform to support that reengagement.

The staffdel noted that the GOZ’s execution of economic

policy seemed at odds with Gono’s often more orthodox,

market-oriented rhetoric. In response to staffdel inquiries

about his rumored attempted resignation, he stressed he would

never resign but would never refuse to be fired either.

 

——————————–

MDC Seeks Continued U.S. Support

——————————–

 

9. (C) On July 5, MDC MPs Welshman Ncube (also party

Secretary-General), Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (party

 

SIPDIS

Secretary for Foreign Affairs), Nelson Chamisa (party Youth

 

SIPDIS

Wing Chair), Job Sikhala, and Tendai Biti (party Secretary

for Economic Affairs), asked for continued U.S. support and

said Operation Restore Order had weakened the government.

There was rising internal unrest within the ruling ZANU-PF

party, linked to the succession struggle but also a result of

the government,s crackdown on the poor, which was unpopular

with many in the party. Misihairabwi claimed that a third

faction was forming within ZANU-PF that intended to draft

former Finance Minister Simba Makoni to challenge the Mujuru

and Mnangagwa factions for party leadership.

 

10. (C) Simpkins asked why the people of Zimbabwe were not

rising up in protest. MP Job Sikhala said he had tried to

organize peaceful resistance in his constituency of St.

Mary,s (part of the mammoth high density suburb of

Chitungwiza) but that it had failed in the face of

overwhelming Government intimidation. Misihairabwi noted

that in many countries people had put up with decades of

repression before reaching a critical moment where resistance

was possible. The MDC realized it had to build up a level of

confidence within the people for them to reach that critical

moment. The MDC was working on reshaping its approach to the

regime and was planning unspecified measures to step up

democratic resistance. The MDC continued to need external

support but Zimbabweans had to step up and take action and

learn from peaceful uprisings in other countries.

 

11. (C) Simpkins said that Operation Restore Order was

clearly systematic abuse and he did not understand why the

international community, especially Africa, did not challenge

Mugabe. The MDC MPs responded that SADC could only be

effective in pressuring Mugabe to change if South Africa,s

position on Zimbabwe changed. Ncube said there was genuine

unhappiness about Zimbabwe in other SADC countries but that

they would follow South Africa,s lead. He said that, while

he understood other strategic interests governed U.S.

relations with these countries, the U.S. should use its

influence with South Africa and Nigeria to put more pressure

on Zimbabwe. He said it was also important for the U.S. to

continue to support democratic elements in Zimbabwe. Chamisa

singled out support for Voice of America as key. The group

said that Western governments had been too timid in their

criticisms of misgovernance in Africa because leaders like

Mugabe would always play the racial card. Marsh agreed that

the twin specters of colonialism and racism had neutralized

criticism of the GOZ in the Congressional Black Caucus. She

said that the African-American community in the U.S. would be

outraged by the staffdel,s report and that there was a need

for the opposition and civil society to better engage that

community, especially African-American religious leaders.

She added that Congressman Payne was reconsidering a trip to

Zimbabwe.

 

——-

Bishops

——-

 

12. (C) On July 5, the staffdel met with Bishops Patrick

Mutume (Catholic) and Trevor Manhanga (Evangelical), who

spoke about Operation Restore Order and the role of religious

institutions in dealing with the country,s political

turmoil. Marsh said she had hoped that, after the flawed but

improved March elections, the GOZ would next move toward

reconciliation with civil society and the opposition and did

not understand the GOZ,s motives. The Bishops said that the

Government,s actions in Operation Restore Order were showing

people that the Government could target anyone, not just

white farmers. Mutume said the churches had tried not to be

political but that the Catholic Church had started issuing

pastoral letters protesting the operation. Manhanga said

Mugabe was not quite ready to attack the churches directly

but that it was clear he wanted to control them as evidenced

by the NGO bill, which would classify churches doing

humanitarian work as NGOs and subject them to the same

intense scrutiny as human rights NGOs. They said that Mugabe

was not easily subject to influence from outsiders but that

the churches, shuttle diplomacy might eventually work on

someone who had influence with Mugabe. The staffdel

emphasized the need for the Bishops to reengage with

religious leaders they had previously met in the United

States and offered their support in making those

reconnections.

 

——–

Comment

——–

 

13. (C) The staffdel,s meetings with ruling party and

opposition officials and civil society offered a window into

the activities and motives of Zimbabwe’s key political

players. Meetings with government officials underscored that

the GOZ remains apparently uninterested in reengagement with

the U.S. on political issues, despite interest by Gono and

others in the ruling party (who remain uninclined to speak

out) in rapprochement with the West. Civil society and

opposition officials enthusiastically received the

staffdel,s message that the U.S. was aware of the plight of

ordinary Zimbabweans and had not given up on them.

 

14. (U) The StaffDel did not have the opportunity to clear

this message.

SCHULTZ

(10 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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