Mugabe didn’t want to be seen as bowing to US pressure


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President Robert Mugabe was not happy with the non-governmental organisations bill and wanted to send it back to Parliament but he could not do so because of the heavy criticism the bill had received from the United States government.

Central bank governor Gideon Gono told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell that Mugabe felt that sending the bill back to Parliament after such strong criticism from the United States government would give the impression that he was bowing down to pressure and would thus compromise Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE2046, GOZ REACTS STRONGLY TO US STATEMENT ON NGO BILL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE2046

2004-12-16 13:49

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.

 

161349Z Dec 04

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 002046

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE, D. TEITELBAUM

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: GOZ REACTS STRONGLY TO US STATEMENT ON NGO BILL

 

REF: HARARE 2003

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

1. (U) On December 14, the government-run Herald newspaper

prominently featured an op-ed piece, “US hypocrisy laid

bare,” attacking the USG for official statements on the NGO

bill recently passed in Parliament (reftel). The feature

asserted that the USG reaction was consistent with its &hard

and punishing stance on Zimbabwe.8 The article, which

accurately quoted from the Department’s statement last week

on the bill, equated the NGO bill with the Patriot Act.

 

2. (U) According to the Herald, USG criticism of the &same

piece of legislation8 as the Patriot Act was tantamount to

an admission that that it was working with NGOs to effect

regime change in Zimbabwe and that the USG’s real objection

was that the NGO bill would stop the funding channel to do

so. The USG was trying to incite a popular uprising in order

to be able to cite political violence when declaring the

March 2005 Parliamentary elections not free and fair. The

piece cited a litany of purported evidence of prior USG

support of regime change and closed with a local academic

urging that Zimbabwe “stop paying attention to what the

Americans say.”

 

3. (C) Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono on

December 14 told the Ambassador that President Mugabe was

unhappy that the US criticized the NGO bill so strongly.

Gono said Mugabe had been considering sending the bill back

to Parliament rather than signing it, a possibility Gono

credited to his own analysis of the economic impact of the

NGO bill, but that Mugabe felt that to do so after such

strong criticism would give the appearance of bowing to

pressure and compromising Zimbabwean sovereignty. The

Ambassador had responded that Mugabe could easily find a

face-saving measure, such as sending the bill back to

Parliament for &technical8 fixes and then letting it die on

the vine.

 

4. (C) COMMENT: The GOZ appears at the highest levels to be

paying close attention to our posture on Zimbabwe. So much

so, in fact, that the GOZ,s public reactions to our

criticisms ensure that a wide audience will note them. Odds

are if the GOZ kept quiet, far fewer Zimbabweans would have

been aware of our objections to the NGO bill. This

counter-productive prickliness in both public and private

underscores the extent to which the regime’s priority is on

firmly reestablishing Mugabe’s legitimacy and the GOZ,s

credibility on the international stage. The reaction to USG

critcism shows both the importance of this leverage and the

limits on its effectiveness. It is a tool that we can wield

to great effect but only by exercising restraint and using it

sparingly to ensure maximum impact.

DELL

 

(12 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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