US funded SW Radio


The United States funded the supposedly independent radio station SW Radio which broadcasts from London according to a cable released by Wikileaks but it does not disclose how much the station got.

SW Radio was one of the examples of sensitive assistance that the United States gave to Zimbabwean organisations which it said it was not going to name because proposed legislation in Zimbabwe made it illegal for democracy and human rights non-governmental organisations to receive foreign assistance.

The cable, however, said two-thirds of the US democracy and governance assistance to Zimbabwe fell in this category.

The cable listed examples of sensitive assistance as that for Voice of America, the Solidarity Centre which supported the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and the State University of New York parliamentary capacity building programme.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2005-01-27 12:25

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

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












E.O. 12958: N/A





REF: A. 04 STATE 267453


C. 04 HARARE 2035


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Zimbabwe Report for the 2004-2005

edition of Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: the U.S.

Record, is found in paragraphs 2 through 14. Due to the

sensitive nature of U.S. assistance in Zimbabwe, few specific

activities were included. Additional material, which is not

for publication, appears in paragraphs 15 and 16. END



2. (U) The Government of Zimbabwe,s human rights record

remained poor and it continued to commit abuses. Since its

disputed victories in 2000 parliamentary and 2002

presidential elections, the ruling Zimbabwe African National

Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has pursued repressive

policies designed to restore its dominant position in the

country. In the process, it has ignored the rule of law and

the welfare of its citizens. In the run-up to parliamentary

elections in the spring of 2005, which it is determined to

win, the regime has closed independent newspapers, harassed

opposition and civil society activists and passed repressive

legislation. Instances of political violence did, however,

decline in 2004 compared to previous years and government

officials issued statements that political violence would not

be tolerated, a potentially significant departure from

rhetoric in past pre-election periods. In addition, and

under regional and international pressure the regime did

start to provide the opposition with more democratic space

early in 2005. However, in the last week of January 2005,

government harassment of the opposition and civil society

increased; the government,s intentions and future actions

remain unclear.


3. (U) In recent months, Parliament passed a spate of

repressive legislation, including a bill that restricts

non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and bans foreign

funding for NGOs engaged in human rights or governance, and a

bill that the President recently signed imposing harsh

criminal penalties on journalists for not registering.

Although the ruling party has embarked on modest electoral

reforms, these reforms fall short of complying with the

Southern African Development Community (SADC) standards for

free and fair elections, and the Government continues to bar

the opposition from access to the state media. The only

independent daily newspaper remains closed, and the

Government closed a semi-independent daily. Independent

weeklies and a semi-independent daily continue to operate.

Zimbabwean civil society remains a vibrant force in the

country, despite ever-greater restrictions.


4. (U) Instances of judicial integrity can be found such as

the acquittal of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai on charges

of treason. Nevertheless, instances of political

manipulation of the judicial system by the ruling party

remain commonplace, and the Government ignores the decisions

of the courts when it is in its perceived interest to do so.


5. (U) The Government continued to use the state media to

denigrate Western, especially U.S. and U.K., criticisms of

human rights violations as a neocolonial effort to quash

Zimbabwe,s sovereignty. However, the Government,s

anti-Western rhetoric moderated during the last half of 2004,

one of several signals that the regime wanted to reduce

Zimbabwe,s international isolation and to seek international

assistance in restoring its economy.


6. (U) The U.S. human rights strategy in Zimbabwe focuses on

supporting efforts to further open democratic space.

Resolving Zimbabwe,s political turmoil is necessary for

improvement of its human rights situation. The United States

continues to communicate to the ruling party the importance

of improving the political situation, including cessation of

human rights abuses. U.S. financial and travel sanctions on

key Zimbabwean officials expanded to additional ruling party

and government officials. Statements by U.S. officials

received prominent coverage in the government-controlled and

quasi-independent local media. U.S. diplomats emphasized in

substantive contacts with government and party officials the

importance of reducing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The

Embassy widely circulated its human rights-related reports

among civil society, Government, and party officials.


7. (SBU) Although the ruling party maintains its monopoly on

the Executive branch, other institutions, including

especially parliament and the courts, also exert influence on

the political landscape and the Embassy continues to engage

with them. Moreover, civil society, the political

opposition, and the media also still serve to balance the

regime,s power, and the United States supports their

activities. In order to bring pressure on the regime, U.S.

diplomats also continued to engage other governments,

particularly those of the Southern African Development

Community, on issues of governance and human rights in



8. (U) In response to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, the

United States gathered information about cases of alleged

abuses, and U.S. diplomats interviewed victims of political

violence. U.S. diplomats maintained a visible presence at

significant events, such as trials, including the treason

trial of Morgan Tsvangirai, the President of the opposition

Movement for Democratic Change. U.S. officials observed

parliamentary by-elections and the pre-election environment

in contested areas. The Department sponsored a Zimbabwean on

a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship to study human rights law.


9. (U) The United States disseminated information in order to

counter Government propaganda. The Embassy provided access

to information through the Public Affairs Section and other

vehicles and supported efforts to increase public debate.

USAID provided support to local citizen groups and local

authorities to improve transparency and municipal service

delivery. A USAID-funded program to strengthen Parliament

has resulted in increased debate in Parliament and stronger

participation by the committees in amending legislation

drafted by the Executive. The United States hosted a

Zimbabwean on a Humphrey Fellowship to study independent

media and two Zimbabwean journalists on an International

Visitors Program on the role of non-governmental

organizations in press freedom. The Embassy sponsored six

other International Visitors on programs related to human

rights, democracy, and leadership and two others on the role

of civil society.


10. (U) To encourage respect for the rights of women,

children, minorities, and people with disabilities, USAID and

the Democracy and Human Rights Fund (DHRF) supported programs

by NGOs on a wide variety of social welfare issues. A DHRF

grant helped furnish a center for victims of rape, abuse, and

domestic violence who are pursuing legal action. The

Embassy,s Public Affairs Section sponsored teleconferences

with speakers from the U.S. and audiences of Zimbabwean women

on women,s rights and women coalition building and brought

in an American judge to engage jurists and activists on

sexual harassment.


11. (U) In support of religious freedom, the United States

widely disseminates relevant reports on religious rights, and

U.S. officials privately and publicly emphasize concern

regarding intimidation and harassment of religious officials

who are critical of the Government. The United States

supports efforts by religious leaders to sustain dialogue to

resolve Zimbabwe,s political situation.


12. (U) The United States funded a Solidarity Center program

to support workers rights. The program was aimed at

assisting trade unions in Zimbabwe respond to and represent

their members, interests.


13. (U) The United States promoted efforts by the Government

to combat trafficking in persons. U.S. officials met with

government representatives to convey U.S. interest in the

issue and promote cooperation and sharing of best practices.

U.S. officials widely disseminated relevant reports and

participated in local and regional meetings to address the



14. (U) The return of a stable political environment that

respects the rule of law and allows democratic institutions

to function is crucial to improving the human rights

situation in Zimbabwe. The United States must support and

sustain democratic elements and institutions in Zimbabwe to

build the base for democratic change in the future. U.S.

efforts are key to creating an atmosphere that enables

political participation and gives voice to those who call for

an end to human rights abuses.


15. (SBU/NOFORN) In addition to the activities mentioned in

the foregoing paragraphs, which are suitable for publication,

the United States engaged in other sensitive assistance,

which cannot be published publicly. The passage by

Parliament and likely signing of the NGO Act (ref B) makes it

illegal for democracy and human rights NGOs to receive

foreign assistance so we need to be circumspect about

mentioning specific assistance to affected groups. The

Government remains sensitive about assistance of any type to

certain groups and could use our assistance to crack down on

these groups. Roughly two-thirds of the democracy and

governance assistance the United States gives to Zimbabwe

falls into this category. As the largest and most visible

donor in Zimbabwe, U.S. actions send messages to other donors

about what is feasible and appropriate in Zimbabwe. Our

robust support to civil society, democratic forces, and some

national institutions signal the continuing importance and

viability of such assistance.


16. (SBU/NOFORN) Examples of sensitive assistance include the


Voice of America and Shortwave Radio Zimbabwe, which

provides alternatives to the state-run radio.

AFL-CIO,s Solidarity Center, which supports the

independent labor union, ZCTU.

The State University of New York,s parliamentary

capacity building program, which has enhanced debate in

parliament and helped develop a functioning committee system;

Parliament remains the only public venue for debate and an

opportunity for both ZANU-PF and MDC legislators to exercise

independence from the executive branch. (Ref c)

The democratic local government program, which supports

the effectiveness and responsiveness of municipal

governments, many of them opposition-controlled.


The strategy discussed in our country report above depends on

the continued funding of these sorts of activities.


17. (U) List of USG-funded human rights and democracy

programs of $100,000 will be by septel.




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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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