US assessment of inclusive government after one year in office


The United States remained convinced that there would be no real change until there was an election that would bring a reform government to power.

That was its assessment of the inclusive government after its first year in office but two more years have passed since then.

The Movement for Democratic Change which it always considered as the junior partner in the government, though it won the 2008 elections, however, insisted that the West should not look at benchmarks or single events as signs of progress but at the continuing process of change.

But the United States embassy insisted: “Fundamental, institutional change, however, will be dependent on two things: new elections that result in a government dedicated to reform — the earliest that could happen would be 2011, but it is likely elections will not take place until 2012 or 2013 — and the development of enduring institutional structures that are the true underpinnings of a representative democratic society.”


Full cable:

Viewing cable 10HARARE107, Zimbabwe: Measuring Progress

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID






2010-02-19 08:42

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare



DE RUEHSB #0107/01 0500842


R 190842Z FEB 10











C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 08 HARARE 000107




E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/19


SUBJECT: Zimbabwe: Measuring Progress


CLASSIFIED BY: Charles Ray, Ambassador, State, EXO; REASON: 1.4(D)










1. (C) The coalition government is now one year old. As the U.S.

examines further engagement with Zimbabwe, post would like to

suggest the Hague Principles agreed to in late 2007 as benchmarks

for examining progress, and we offer our evaluation of progress

from that time until the present. The Hague principles are: 1)

Full and equal access to humanitarian assistance; 2) Commitment to

macroeconomic stabilization in accordance with guidance from

relevant international agencies; 3) Restoration of the rule of law,

including enforcement of contracts, an independent judiciary, and

respect for property rights; 4) Commitment to the democratic

process and respect for human rights, including a commitment to

freedom of expression, freedom of print and broadcast media,

freedom of assembly, and freedom of association; 5) A commitment to

timely elections held in accordance with international standards,

and in the presence of international election observers. It would

be misleading, however, to look strictly at static benchmarks. As

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his party continue to tell us,

what counts is the continued process to open democratic space in

Zimbabwe, not day-to-day headlines that mask seemingly sustainable

achievements.   Finally, given significant gridlock in government

resulting from the inconvenient marriage between ZANU-PF and MDC-T

(MDC-M’s role is increasingly insignificant), real change is

impossible until there is an election that brings a reform

government to power. END INTRODUCTION.












2. (SBU) A group of bilateral donors and international agencies

met in the Hague on October 2, 2007 and agreed on a

principles-based approach to reengagement with the government of

Zimbabwe.   At that time, SADC was facilitating talks between the

parties regarding the holding of elections. President Robert

Mugabe pushed for elections in 2010. An agreement was ultimately

reached to hold elections in March 2008. The run up to the

elections was mostly free of the violence and intimidation that had

characterized earlier elections. With some exceptions, the MDC

factions were allowed to campaign throughout the country and hold

rallies. Repressive laws, such as the Public Order and Security

Act (POSA), were not used for the most part to stifle freedom of

assembly. Zimbabweans were allowed access to humanitarian

assistance during this period. ZANU-PF, confident of victory,

permitted a relatively fair election, and the result was that the

MDC factions gained a majority in parliament, Morgan Tsvangirai won

an official plurality of the presidential vote (ZANU-PF fraud

likely prevented him from winning a majority) and a run off

presidential election was set for June. From April until the June

27 election, ZANU-PF unleashed its repressive machinery. Over 200

people were killed, thousands were beaten, and political space was

completely closed. In June, to make its point, the government

suspended NGO operations, curtailing the ability of many to provide

humanitarian assistance.




3. (SBU) Mugabe was declared the winner of the June election which

took place even though Tsvangirai pulled out when it became evident

a couple of weeks before that many of his supporters were afraid to

vote. In July 2008, SADC-sponsored negotiations between the

parties began. Mugabe was forced to the negotiating table for two

reasons: He lacked legitimacy, as even his SADC friends refused

to recognize his victory; and the economic situation, marked by an

inflation rate then in the billions, was unsustainable. The Global

Political Agreement (GPA) was reached in September, but

ZANU-PF-sponsored violence continued during negotiations, and in

October security forces began a series of abductions of MDC-T


HARARE 00000107 002 OF 008



officials and civil society activists, including Jestina Mukoko. A

number of these individuals were in custody even after the new

government was formed in February 2009.




——————————————— —————


Full and Equal Access to Humanitarian Assistance


——————————————— —————




4. (SBU) Continuum of humanitarian access:




A)     NGO field activities banned (June-August 2008)




B)     NGOs permitted to operate but closely monitored and

controlled, and subject to threat (April-June 2008)




C)     NGOs generally permitted to operate but some reports of

disruptions, other harassment (September 2008-present)




D)     Completely unimpeded humanitarian access




5. (SBU) Although ZANU-PF continues to allege that NGOs and

donors are involved in politics, since the lifting of the NGO ban

in August 2008, humanitarian access to vulnerable populations has

been generally good. International and local NGOs have generally

been able to move freely and deliver services unimpeded during a

period of increased programming. (NOTE: There have been isolated

reports of discrimination against MDC-T members in the distribution

of food assistance. END NOTE.) Work permits and operational

agreements have been processed. The government has put into place

a policy and process of donor coordination that remains slow but

generally reflects international standards.




6. (SBU) Organizations such as the International Organization for

Migration and UN High Commissioner for Refugees continue to

encounter government sensitivities regarding populations of

displaced farm workers, and a an unknown number of undocumented

people from other countries; most notably Malawi, but in general

are able to gain access to them and provide assistance. A

significant milestone was the August 2009 Joint GOZ-Donor IDP





7. (SBU) Regular crop assessments have been conducted. Food and

cash transfer programs during the hungry season have proceeded

without political interference.




8. (SBU) The Ministry of Health’s collaboration with the World

Health Organization and other donors to manage H1N1 in Mutare and

its swift response to suspected cholera cases in Chipinge in

September reflects an improvement in delivery and transparency.




——————————————— ———–


Commitment to Macroeconomic Stabilization


——————————————— ———–


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9. (SBU) Continuum of macroeconomic stabilization




A)     Complete lack of fiscal and monetary discipline, controls on

foreign exchange (November 1997-January 2009)




B)     Fiscal and Monetary discipline, confidence in

sustainability of policy limited by political factors (February





C)     Fiscal and monetary discipline, policy commitment





10. (SBU) Following hyperinflation that reached over a trillion

percent, Zimbabwe introduced a multi-currency system at the end of

January, 2009 and the Zimbabwe dollar almost immediately became a

relic of the past. The resulting end of inflation has resulted in

a significant measure of macroeconomic stability. Expectations of

inflation are minimal, there is no fiscal deficit to speak of, and

the economy is growing (though slowly) for the first time in more

than a decade.




11. (SBU) Macroeconomic stability is sustainable provided MDC-T

continues to control the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank

of Zimbabwe is held in check and not allowed to undermine the

banking system. To move beyond stabilization to recovery and

long-term growth, Zimbabwe needs a lower risk profile (to attract

commercial credit and investment) and multilateral concessional

loans (to resolve the GOZ’s debt crisis and put the public sector

back on its feet). Neither of these things will happen until new

elections give Zimbabwe a government able to make credible policy







Restoration of the Rule of Law






12. (SBU) Continuum of Rule of Law




A)     Judiciary completely compromised, political arrests

frequent, property rights not protected (2005-May 2009)




B)     Judiciary compromised but occasionally rules against the

state, political arrests occasional, property rights not protected

(June 2009-present)




C)     Judiciary somewhat independent, infrequent political

arrests, property rights somewhat protected




D)     Independent judiciary, no political arrests, property rights





13. (SBU) This is perhaps the most problematic area. On the

positive side, there are no political detainees, with the possible

exception of three MDC members charged with the alleged murder of a


HARARE 00000107 004 OF 008



ZANU-PF councilor in Banket . Politically motivated prosecutions

have greatly decreased. There are occasional judicial judgments

against the State. For example, the Supreme Court recognized that

Jestina Mukoko had been tortured by state agents and ruled that her

case should be stayed, effectively dismissing it. A High Court

Judge ruled that the Zimbabwe Minerals Development Corporation and

its partners had illegally taken over claims in Chiadzwa belonging

to African Consolidated Resources. On the negative side, farm

invasions have continued to take place, some accompanied by

violence, and neither government ministers nor the police have made

sufficient efforts to stop this lawlessness. In fact, invasions

are treated as political rather than legal matters. In a similar

vein, when the SADC Tribunal ruled against the government in a case

brought by white commercial farmers, the Minister of Justice, with

typical pettifoggery, argued that Zimbabwe had not bound itself to

the Tribunal. Although prosecutions have declined, police continue

to arrest demonstrators, particularly members of Women of Zimbabwe

Arise (WOZA).




14. (C) The biggest obstacles to Rule of Law are institutional.

Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa is close to Mugabe and is a

political partisan rather than an independent lawyer. Similarly,

the Attorney General carries ZANU-PF’s water. He has been

responsible, albeit with guidance from Chinamasa and others, for

political prosecutions. He is personally prosecuting Roy Bennett

in a case where there is clearly insufficient evidence; Mugabe has

made it clear Bennett cannot be sworn in as deputy minister of

agriculture unless and until he is acquitted. The Chief Justice of

the Supreme Court is a Mugabe acolyte who replaced the former chief

justice after he was forced to resign in 2001 by war veterans who

threatened him and by Chinamasa who said he could not guarantee his

safety. Most judges are compromised by having received farms from

the government. Police independence supposedly depends on

oversight from the Ministry of Home Affairs. But this ministry,

which has ZANU-PF and MDC-T co-ministers, is heavily influenced by

the ZANU-PF minister and ZANU-PF bureaucracy, including the

permanent secretary. And the commissioner of police, who is

supposed to report to the Ministry, does not. He sits on the Joint

Operations Committee, which formulates and implements policy, with

leaders of the military who are loyal to Mugabe. The military is a

power unto itself, and is not subject to civilian control, other

than perhaps to Mugabe. The military was responsible for a rash of

killings and beatings in the Chiadzwa diamond fields in 2008 and





15. (C) Until the top officials charged with justice and law and

order responsibilities are replaced, and there is a commitment to a

credible and internationally recognized legal framework, it is

unlikely that we will see much additional progress in Rule of Law.

And it is unlikely these officials will change until there is a new

government. (COMMENT: A budgetary process that allows adequate

compensation for judges, according to Finance Minister Biti in a

conversation with a visiting CODEL, would also aid in

re-establishing the independence and credibility of the judiciary.

Currently, when lawyers are appointed to the bench, they suffer a

decline in income that makes them susceptible to bribes and

coercion. END COMMENT) The National Security Council, whose

membership includes the president, prime minister, and service

chiefs, met for only the second time this month since the formation

of the government. As noted the JOC continues to function, and

there is no evidence that transparent civilian control of the

military will occur any time soon. With respect to land reform,

nobody, including the MDC, has called for a reversal. But it is

evident that land reform has benefitted primarily high-level

ZANU-PF and military officials, and not those for whom it was

intended. The GPA calls for a land audit as a prerequisite to

eliminating multiple farm ownerships and more equitable

distribution. So far, ZANU-PF has obstructed efforts for an audit,

either on the basis that there is no money to fund it, or with the

fatuous argument, made by the Minister of Agriculture to the

Ambassador (Ref), that until sanctions are lifted land inputs are

unavailable, land cannot be developed to its potential, and it is

therefore impossible to assess its true value for purposes of an



HARARE 00000107 005 OF 008



——————————————— ———————-



Commitment to the Democratic Process and Human Rights


——————————————— ———————-





16. (SBU) Continuum of human rights




A)     Ruling party holds on to power at all costs, human rights

ignored, national independent media restricted, international

journalists banned (2002-September 2008)




B)     Ruling party negotiates potentially significant power

sharing, human rights ignored, national independent media

restricted, international journalists banned (September

2008-February 2009)




C)     Ruling party enters into coalition government, cedes

positions but holds on to power, human rights violations continue

but become less frequent, national independent media restricted,

some international journalists permitted to return (February





D)     Coalition government functioning with imperfect but

significant power sharing, few human rights violations, some

prosecutions of violators, new media authority authorizes

independent media (possible to achieve in short term)




E)     GPA fully implemented with real power sharing, and the

potential for periodic transfer of power based on free and fair

elections, constitutional revision on track with popular

participation, no impunity for human rights violators, freedom of

print and broadcast media




17.   (SBU) Political violence has greatly decreased since the

signing of the GPA, and in particular during the last year. There

is less political intimidation, although we continue to receive

reports from some rural areas that ZANU-PF supporters are exerting

pressure on villagers to support the party’s position in the

constitutional process. Although POSA, which has been used to

restrict freedom of assembly, has not been repealed, political

space has increased. MDC-T has held rallies around the country and

has traveled to areas it could not have a couple of years ago.

(NOTE: We have reports from several areas of MDC-T members being

arrested, and quickly released, for trying to organize in

connection with the constitutional process. They were not abused

and it is unlikely the State will prosecute them. Additionally,

efforts by a theatre group to perform a play promoting national

reconciliation were obstructed by ZANU-PF authorities in some

venues in Mashonaland. END NOTE.) An MDC-T MP has introduced a

bill in Parliament to repeal POSA. Although passage of the bill is

unlikely given Mugabe’s veto power, the fact of its introduction is

an important step.




18. (SBU) Weekly independent newspapers continue to publish and

international news organizations such as the BBC and Al Jazeera

have been allowed to operate openly, even after broadcasting

reports critical of ZANU-PF. A Media Commission that will inter

alia license print media has been formed but not yet officially

established. The functioning of the Commission and licensing of

independent daily papers would be important steps in establishing

freedom of expression.   There is considerable criticism of ZANU-PF

in the independent Zimbabwean press, although the recent defamation


HARARE 00000107 006 OF 008



charges brought against distributors of the Zimbabwean for

allegedly falsely reporting on a meeting involving ZANU-PF

strongman Emmerson Mnangagwa demonstrate limitations on freedom of

the press.




19. (SBU) Parliament, which until 2008, was mostly a rubber stamp

for Mugabe, has a fragile MDC majority and has begun to operate in

an independent and sometimes bipartisan way. Co-chairs from the

three political parties head the process to draft a new

constitution. Parliamentary committees have begun to exercise

oversight functions. For example, the Portfolio Committee on Mines

and Energy, chaired by a ZANU-PF MP, has been calling witnesses to

investigate government actions in Chiadzwa.




——————————————— ———————-



Commitment to Elections Held in Accordance with International



——————————————— ———————-





22. (SBU) Continuum of commitment to elections




A)     Elections stolen blatantly, including through violence and

intimidation (2002, June 2008)




B)     Election results manipulated but not successfully stolen

(March 2008)




C)     Independent election committee named (could be achieved





D)   Voter rolls audited and cleansed




E)     Unfettered voter education permitted




F)     International election observers invited




G)     Free and fair elections held




20. (SBU) According to the GPA, a new constitution was to be

drafted and submitted to a referendum within 18 months of the

formation of the government (February 2009). Although not

specified in the GPA, it was understood that elections would take

place after the adoption of the new constitution which would

presumably address the timing and process of new elections. The

constitutional process is proceeding fitfully and behind schedule,

but it is proceeding.




21. (SBU) More important than scheduling elections are

institutions and an environment that will permit fair elections.

An important step would be the establishment of an independent

electoral commission to set the ground rules and ensure that NGOs

can freely participate in voter education. The leaders of the

parties have agreed on members of the Electoral Commission and


HARARE 00000107 007 OF 008



reportedly on the chair, an independent Zimbabwean judge now

working in Namibia. The Commission has not yet, however been

officially announced. Another important step would be the revision

and cleansing of the voter rolls.   The long-serving Registrar of

Voters is a ZANU-PF stalwart who cannot be expected to assist in

such efforts.   Finally, the presence of international election

observers, before, during, and after the election, is essential.






MDC-T’s View






23. (C) The U.S. and other Western countries tend to look at

benchmarks, or single events, as signs of progress. MDC-T is

concerned less with events than what it sees as a continuing

process of change. Therefore, while it believes the GPA is

deadlocked-Mugabe and ZANU-PF refuse to appoint governors and

remove Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Attorney

General Johannes Tomana-MDC-T leaders in government are able to use

their positions to generate incremental change.   Tsvangirai is

prime minister and, although his powers are limited, he represents

MDC-T and reform-minded Zimbabweans on the world stage. MDC-T and

MDC-M have half the ministries, including the all-important finance

ministry. Gono’s wings have been clipped and the economy

stabilized. In general MDC-T believes that the process is

irreversible-and the longer it can influence the GOZ from the

inside, the more likely democratic gains will persist (COMMENT:

While it is possible that Tsvangirai’s view that the process is

irreversible might be somewhat naC/ve, it does appear sustainable.





24. (C) MDC-T’s strategy is thus two-pronged. It will declare

GPA negotiations deadlocked and push for elections. Realizing this

depends on ZANU-PF taking the same position-under the current

Constitution elections would not be held until 2013-and that

elections may not take place in the near term, MDC-T will seek

additional Western assistance, and seek progress in reengagement

with international financial institutions (IFIs). Accordingly,

MDC-T Minister of Finance Tendai Biti, MDC-T Minister of

Constitutional Affairs Eric Matinenga, and MDC-M Minister of

Education David Coltart, in recent visits to the U.S. have noted

progress made under the coalition government. MDC-T believes that

Zimbabwe’s economy cannot grow significantly without Western and

IFI assistance. If the economy improves, in MDC-T’s opinion, it

will get the credit; if it does not, ZANU-PF will blame MDC-T.






On the Ground






25. (SBU) After the 2008 electoral violence and political

uncertainty, and with continuing economic instability marked by

hyper inflation, the formation of the coalition government was

widely supported by the Zimbabwean people. The large decline in

violence has been particularly welcomed, although, as noted,

ZANU-PF machinery is still in place and there is fear it could be

reactivated. In Harare and other cities, goods are once again

available in stores (although many cannot afford them), gas is

available, and there has been a noticeable increase in traffic.

Unemployment remains incredibly high and unfulfilled expectations

of higher wages by civil servants have resulted in a strike. But

there is still an energy in urban areas that was not present a year

ago, and a sense that people are better off.




26. (SBU) The economic buzz does not exist in rural areas.


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Schools are not functioning, and there is a lack of cash to buy

whatever goods are available. There is a feeling that things are

better, however, if only because the threat of violence has greatly













27. (C) The GPA continues to be a focus of attention among

Zimbabwe watchers, and Gideon Gono and Roy Bennett-and to a lesser

extent Tomana-have become familiar names, symbolic of the deadlock.

But to focus only on them would be to lose sight of the progress

that has been made on the humanitarian, economic, and political

fronts, particularly since March 2008, and in the words of Finance

Minister Biti, to divert energy from the strategic picture. And we

believe we will continue to see more, albeit slow and fitful,

change. Fundamental, institutional change, however, will be

dependent on two things: new elections that result in a government

dedicated to reform — the earliest that could happen would be

2011, but it is likely elections will not take place until 2012 or

2013 — and the development of enduring institutional structures

that are the true underpinnings of a representative democratic

society. END COMMENT.



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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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