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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
01HARARE2042 2001-06-29 10:31:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Harare
Cable title:  

THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE TIGHTENS THE POLITICAL NOOSE

Tags:   PGOV PHUM ZI 
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291031Z Jun 01


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTO4761

PAGE 01        HARARE  02042  291028Z 
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                  ------------------FF2D3A  291029Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9206
INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 002042 

SIPDIS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: DECL. 06/26/11
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ZI
SUBJECT: THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE TIGHTENS THE POLITICAL NOOSE

REF: HARARE 1987

CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 HARARE 02042 291028Z

CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES AUBREY HOOKS. REASONS: 1.5
(B) AND (D).

MOYO'S REMARKS, CONTROVERSIAL AS ALWAYS
---------------------------------------



1. (U) ON JUNE 25, INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO ANNOUNCED
THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE WILL SOON PROHIBIT NGOS, CHURCHES,
AND AID AGENCIES FROM CONDUCTING VOTER EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS.
ACCORDING TO MOYO, THE GOZ IS DEVISING A POLICY THAT WILL PERMIT
ONLY THE GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED ELECTORAL SUPERVISORY COMMISSION
AND POLITICAL PARTIES TO CARRY OUT VOTER EDUCATION EFFORTS.

REACTION


--------------------------





2. (U) NOT SURPRISINGLY, THE NGO COMMUNITY HAS REACTED ANGRILY TO
MOYO'S ANNOUNCEMENT. A GROUP OF 15 CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS ISSUED A
STATEMENT INSISTING IT WAS THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO INFORM
VOTERS ABOUT ELECTORAL LAWS AND THEIR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES.
IN THEIR STATEMENT, "THE GROUPS REJECT UNRESERVEDLY ANY
ALLEGATIONS THAT THE VOTER EDUCATION PROVIDED BY CIVIC GROUPS IS
PARTISAN AND CALL ON THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY TO
RETRACT THIS UNSUBSTANTIATED AND MALEVOLENT ALLEGATION. THE
GROUPS WILL TAKE ALL MEASURES TO DEFEND THEIR LEGAL AND SOCIAL
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITY TO INFORM AND EDUCATE THE PUBLIC." THE
LEGAL RESOURCES FOUNDATION (LRF) IS AN INFLUENTIAL, WELL-RESPECTED
NGO WHICH RUNS A NUMBER OF LEGAL AID CLINICS AROUND THE COUNTRY
AND IS ONE OF THE MANY ORGANIZATIONS ENGAGED IN VOTER EDUCATION
ACTIVITIES. IN A STRONGLY-WORDED PRESS RELEASE ON JUNE 27, THE
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 HARARE 02042 291028Z
LRF ASSERTED THAT ANY LAW WHICH PURPORTED TO PREVENT CIVIC GROUPS
FROM CONDUCTING VOTER EDUCATION PROGRAMS WOULD BE OVERTURNED BY
THE COURTS. THE LRF EMPHASIZED THAT NGOS AND CHURCHES HAVE LONG
SPONSORED NON-PARTISAN CIVIC AND VOTER EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN
ZIMBABWE AND SHOULD CONTINUE TO DO SO. A JUNE 29 EDITORIAL IN THE
INDEPENDENT "DAILY NEWS" SLAMMED MOYO'S ANNOUNCEMENT: "OF ALL THE
MANY PARANOID MEASURES THE GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN IN ITS FUTILE
ATTEMPT TO STOP THE FIERCE WINDS OF POLITICAL CHANGE THAT HAVE
BEEN BLOWING ACROSS THE COUNTRY SINCE THE REJECTION OF THE
FRAUDULENT DRAFT CONSTITUTION IN FEBRUARY LAST YEAR, NONE HAS BEEN
QUITE SO GLARINGLY UNDEMOCRATIC AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS THIS ONE."

COMMENT


--------------------------





3. (C) DURING THE TWENTY-ONE YEARS SINCE INDEPENDENCE, CIVIL
SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS HAVE BEEN THE PRINCIPAL IMPLEMENTERS OF
VOTER EDUCATION. THEY HAVE FOCUSED ON TECHNICAL/PROCEDURAL ISSUES
SUCH AS THE IMPORTANCE OF REGISTERING TO VOTE AND VERIFYING THAT
ONE'S NAME IS ON THE VOTERS ROLL; THE MECHANICS OF MARKING ONE'S
BALLOT AND PLACING IT IN THE BOX; AND EMPHASIS ON THE SECRECY OF
THE BALLOT. THESE EFFORTS HAVE BEEN CRUCIAL IN ELEVATING THE
AWARENESS OF CITIZENS ABOUT THEIR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES, A
PREREQUISITE FOR THE CONSOLIDATION OF DEMOCRACY. IT IS NOT
SURPRISING, THEREFORE, THAT ZANU-PF INTENDS TO ASSERT ITS CONTROL
OVER THIS EXERCISE, AS IGNORANCE HAS PROVEN TO BE THE RULING
PARTY'S BEST WEAPON IN ITS ATTEMPTS TO CLING TO POWER. THE
PROVISION OF VOTER EDUCATION BY NEUTRAL ORGANIZATIONS THREATENS
ZANU-PF'S MOST EFFECTIVE CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES, PARTICULARLY IN
RURAL AREAS: BEATING OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS, THREATENING THEM WITH
VIOLENCE IF THEY DO NOT VOTE FOR THE RULING PARTY, AND TELLING
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 HARARE 02042 291028Z
CITIZENS THE PARTY IS ABLE TO DETERMINE FOR WHOM THEY CAST THEIR
BALLOTS.



4. (C) MOYO'S WILLINGNESS TO ALLOW POLITICAL PARTIES TO CONDUCT
VOTER EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS UNDERMINES HIS EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS HAVE BEEN TOO PARTISAN IN THEIR EFFORTS. MOYO
LIKELY ASSUMES, HOWEVER, THAT THE BAN ON FOREIGN FUNDING OF
POLITICAL PARTIES WILL, IN PRACTICAL TERMS, MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR
THE OPPOSITION MDC TO FILL THE VOID LEFT BY NGOS. WE EXPECT THAT
CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS WILL FIERCELY RESIST THE GOZ ON THIS ISSUE
AND IGNORE A BAN IF NECESSARY, BUT A GOVERNMENT PROHIBITION WILL
MAKE IT EXTREMELY DIFFICULT FOR SUCH GROUPS TO OPERATE,
PARTICULARLY IN RURAL AREAS. AS THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
EXPECTED IN EARLY 2002 APPROACHES, WE HAVE NO DOUBT THAT ZANU-PF
WILL COME UP WITH OTHER CREATIVE MEASURES DESIGNED TO MAINTAIN ITS
HOLD ON POWER.

HOOKS

CONFIDENTIAL

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