Zimbabwe had laws regulating everything and anyone could be prosecuted for anything if someone put his mind to it, the World Food Programme country director for Zimbabwe Felix Bamezon said.
He said Zimbabwe had retained laws and regulations of both the British colonial and the Ian Smith regimes.
“They have a law regulating nearly everything,” he said.
While these laws did not seem to be applied to the very top people, those below the top knew that they could be prosecuted for almost anything if someone decided to do it.
Viewing cable 10HARARE68, AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH WFP REPRESENTATIVE TO
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Classified By: Ambassador Charles A. Ray for reasons 1.4 (b) (d).
Â¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The WFP experienced a decline in the number
of people receiving food aid in Zimbabwe in 2009, but expects
to see an increase in 2010 because of drought conditions.
The WFP Director also worries about post-World Cup conditions
when xenophobic actions against Zimbabweans in South Africa
could generate a reverse flow of Zimbabweans. END SUMMARY.
Â¶2. (U) Ambassador met with World Food Program (WFP) Country
Director and Representative Felix M. Bamezon at his office on
January 28. A native of Togo, Bamezon served in Chad, the
DRC, WFP’s U.S. office, and WFP headquarters before coming to
Zimbabwe just under a year ago.
Â¶3. (U) Bamezon said that in 2009, WFP provided food aid to 5
million Zimbabweans. Aid is currently being provided to only
1.4 million, but he expects a sharp increase because of the
drought and the affect it will have on the maize crop. He is
already seeing increases in people requesting aid. He also
worries that after the World Cup concludes there will be a
xenophobic backlash against Zimbabweans in South Africa,
which could cause a reverse flow of Zimbabweans that will
affect the numbers of people in need of food assistance.
(NOTE: USG support accounted for approximately 62 percent of
WFP’s 2009 feeding programs. END NOTE.)
Â¶4. (U) According to Bamezon, ZANU-PF ministers and MPs have
often tried to influence delivery of food as a way to reward
party supporters and punish opponents, but WFP has resisted
their efforts. Grudgingly, ZANU-PF has allowed the program
to continue. MDC officials, even though they recognize that
food delivery to rural areas can influence voting patterns,
have resisted the temptation to interfere, and simply monitor
where the food goes.
Â¶5. (C) Corruption in Zimbabwe is endemic, Bamezon said.
When the Zimbabwe Defense Force (ZDF) was deployed to the
DRC, units engaged openly in smuggling from their area of
operation. He said it was clear to him when he was serving
in the DRC as WFP country director that ZDF corruption
occurred with the complicity of the DRC leadership, and
appeared to be on orders from higher-ups in ZDF or the
Government of Zimbabwe. When the ZDF redeployed to Zimbabwe,
however, the smuggling stopped, unlike with Rwandan forces
who continue to smuggle from their former area of operations
through proxies. The Zimbabwean corruption, said Bamezon, is
less blatant than some other countries in the region, like
the DRC. DRC officials abroad have no “sense of honor” he
said. When he was WFP country director in Chad, for
instance, the DRC ambassador there approached him and asked
for several hundred thousand dollars to “pay his staff.”
After Bamezon informed him that he could not do this, the man
never spoke to him again.
Â¶6. (U) One of the unique things Bamezon notices about
Zimbabwe is that the country has retained the laws and
regulations of both the British colonial and the Ian Smith
regimes. “They have a law regulating nearly everything,” he
said. While these laws don’t seem to be applied to the very
top people, those below the top know that almost anything
Qtop people, those below the top know that almost anything
they do can be prosecuted if someone takes a mind to do it.
Â¶7. (C) Bamezon said that although WFP has not been involved
with the Malawians in Zimbabwe as a distinct group, he is
aware of their plight and the negative potential of the large
number here that are stateless. ZANU-PF punishes them, he
said, because they are seen as collaborators with the white
farmers and former colonial masters. The GOZ routinely
refuses to allow them to be registered for food aid and
denies them identification documents. This is also, he said,
out of fear that with documents they will be able to vote and
will swell the roles of opposition voters. It is strange, he
mused, that the Zimbabweans would so maltreat these people
when they protest so vehemently about South African treatment
of the illegal and legal Zimbabweans in their midst.
Â¶8. (C) BIO NOTE: Bamezon is a low key, but forceful
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international organization representative, who tries to
maintain an even-handed approach to the government here. His
wife and children are U.S. citizens who live in New Rochelle,
NY, and he plans to retire there after this tour of duty.
END BIO NOTE.