Movement for Democratic Change leader and Prime Minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai received his passport on Christmas Day 2008 after a seven month-wait.
Tsvangirai was travelling on an Emergency Travel Document that only allowed him to go to South Africa and Swaziland and was staying in Botswana as a guest of that government.
Botswana said Tsvangirai could stay in the country for as long as he wanted.
Tsvangirai said he was not in exile.
President Robert Mugabe and leader of the smaller faction of the MDC Arthur Mutambara urged Tsvangirai to return home so that they could conclude negotiations for the formation of an inclusive government.
Viewing cable 09HARARE8, ZIM NOTES 01-02-2009
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NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN
TREASURY FOR D. PETERS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN
COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL
SUBJECT: ZIM NOTES 01-02-2009
Topics of the week:
– MDC and Civil Society Activists in Court…
– Next Steps…
– Bob Sent Morgan a Passport for Christmas…
– Wedding Bells Unite Zuma and MDC-M…
– Unproductive Year for Parliament…
– Cholera Response Continues…
– No Drought This Year…
– Miss Tourism Zim Crowned…
– Zimbabwe Not Quite Last In Global Competitiveness…
– Mobile Phone Providers Join The Dollarization Bandwagon…
– CFX Bank Chief Executive Officer Resigns…
– Demand For Zimbabwe Dollars Plummets…
¶2. Price Movements-Exchange Rate
and Selected products
Parallel rate for cash rose twelve-fold to Z$6,000,000,000:US$1
Check rate is steady at Z$10 quadrillion:US$1 against inter-bank
average of Z$5,840,000:US$1
Bread on the parallel market went up to Z$6,000,000,000
Sugar rose twelve-fold to Z$18,000,000,000/2kg
Petrol and diesel rose to Z$7,200,000,000/liter
On the Political/Social Front
¶3. MDC and Civil Society Activists in Court… At least 18 MDC and
civil society activists abducted between late October and
mid-December suddenly appeared in police custody on December 22 and
23 and are now the subject of numerous court cases. Lawyers believe
an additional 14 who remain unaccounted for are also in State
custody. Some are charged with conspiring to recruit and train
armed militias in Botswana and others are charged with recent police
station bombings. On December 24 a High Court judge ordered the
release of most detainees, but the State appealed and the case is
now pending with the Supreme Court. In the High Court on December
31, lawyers for human rights activist Jestina Mukoko urged Justice
Chitakunye to compel the State to investigate and arrest her
captors. State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa urged the Court to
limit details of any investigation on grounds of national security.
In its argument, the State claimed that the Attorney General’s
office is not subject to court directives. Chitakunye will issue a
decision on January 2, and the group of 16 will appear in the
magistrate’s court for a bail hearing (again) on January 5; two were
ordered released on the 30th. Lawyers continue to experience
difficulty accessing abductees in custody. At least nine were
tortured in custody, as confirmed by medical examination late on
December 30. See 08 Harare 1183, 1145, and 1147.
¶4. Next Steps…The MDC is considering strategy and whether and how
to participate in a power-sharing government.
See Harare 006 and 08 Harare 1146.
¶5. Bob Sent Morgan a Passport for Christmas… On Christmas Day,
Morgan Tsvangirai received his passport, after a seven month wait.
Robert Mugabe and MDC-M leader Arthur Mutambara have urged
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Tsvangirai to return to Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai remains outside of
Zimbabwe, for now, but plans to return soon. See Harare 1139 and
¶6. Wedding Bells Unite Zuma and MDC-M… South African’s African
National Congress’s President Jacob Zuma was in Bulawayo on December
27 for his daughter Gugulethu’s marriage to Bongai Ncube, son of
MDC-M Secretary General Welshman Ncube. Gugu’s mother, Zuma’s
ex-wife and current South African Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and officials from both MDC factions and
ZANU-PF also attended the celebration. The happy couple met at the
University of Cape Town, where they are both students. Zimbabwean
Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, dubbed
it the “wedding of the year.”
¶7. Unproductive Year for Parliament… 2008 was one of the most
unproductive years on record for the Zimbabwean parliament. Just
three bills were passed – all in January. In addition, the House of
Assembly only sat for 13 days, the Senate for 11 days, and no
parliamentary committees have been appointed since August. The GOZ
enters 2009 without a budget, meaning that the government is only
allotted one-third of its 2008 budget – a paltry sum given
hyperinflation – until parliament passes a new budget. The House of
Assembly is due to reconvene on January 20, and the Senate on the
27th. The first order of business will be Constitutional Amendment
¶8. Cholera Response Continues… The epidemic has now affected all
10 provinces and resulted in 31,656 suspected cases and 1,586 deaths
since August. However, some rural cholera treatment centers have not
reported in days or, in some cases, weeks. The USG pledge of US$6.8
million is being rapidly allocated, mostly to NGOs and UN agencies
for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions.
Nevertheless, the government mouthpiece The Herald has portrayed
other donors as more generous and implied the U.S. is not
¶9. No Drought This Year… The Herald reported on December 31 that
Zimbabwe’s major reservoirs are 85% full. Despite this, most urban
areas do not have access to piped water due a number of problems
including lack of chemicals, inadequate pumping capacity and
numerous leaks along the distribution mains, thanks to years of
neglect and under-investment.
¶10. Miss Tourism Zim Crowned… Vanessa Sibanda beat out 29 other
contestants for the title of Miss Tourism Zimbabwe on December 30.
Pageant organizers, the parastatal Zimbabwe Tourism Authority,
reportedly paid Congolese drummer Kanda Bongo Man US$100,000 to
perform at the televised pageant. The event was attended by
numerous ministers, ZANU-PF MPs, and the Presidential Guard.
Sibanda will receive a Mercedes Benz C200 for use during her reign.
On the Economic and Business Front
¶11. Zimbabwe Not Quite Last In Global Competitiveness… According
to the newly released World Economic Forum’s 2008-2009 Report on
Global Competitiveness, Zimbabwe edged out Chad to rank 133 out of
134 countries evaluated.
¶12. Mobile Phone Providers Join The Dollarization Bandwagon…
Zimbabwe’s mobile service providers are now allowed to bill clients
in foreign currency,joining a growing number of businesses charging
or services in foreign exchange. The largest servce provider,
Econet, said this will allow it to xpand coverage and meet growing
foreign obligatios. Calls, however, are expensive, with the
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cheapest mobile phone call running US$0.29 per minute.
¶13. CFX Bank Chief Executive Officer Resigns… The Chief Executive
Officer (CEO) of CFX has resigned in an apparent response to the
Reserve Bank Governor’s decision to dissolve CFX and other banks’
boards following allegations of misconduct that culminated in the
suspension of five banks from the payments system on November 16,
¶2008. The CEO of the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) continues
to be suspended.
¶14. Demand For Zimbabwe Dollars Plummets… The introduction of
shops that sell goods in foreign currency has seen a drastic fall in
demand for Zimbabwe dollars on the once-vibrant parallel market for
foreign exchange. Most people with free foreign exchange see no
reason to change it into Zimbabwe dollars as most goods and services
are now sold in forex even on informal markets. The Zimbabwe dollar
continues to lose value on the parallel market where it is now
trading at Z$6 billion:US$1.
Quote of the Week
¶15. “We should have been the ones who for a very long time occupied
the moral high ground. I’m afraid we have betrayed our legacy.” —
Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking to BBC on December 24 on South
Africa’s role in the Zimbabwe crisis.
¶16. “There is no law in Zimbabwe that allows anybody to grab you in
your night clothes, put you in a car, blindfold you and take you to
undisclosed places for three weeks without your family knowing where
you are.” — Beatrice Mtetwa, defense lawyer for Jestina Mukoko and
other recent abduction victims.