2002-10-25 08:11:00
Embassy Harare
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 002342 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2012


Classified By: Political Officer Kimberly Jemison. Reasons 1.5(b) and

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 002342



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2012


Classified By: Political Officer Kimberly Jemison. Reasons 1.5(b) and

1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador and Political Officer visited
Midlands province October 17 and 18 to meet with USAID, CDC,
and WFP beneficiaries, NGO and UN staff, and GOZ officials.
Against the backdrop of the HIV/AIDS, land, and food crises
gripping the country, Midlands province seems to be the model
of moderation and cooperation. Government, community,
business, and NGO leaders are working together to tackle the
HIV/AIDS and food issues in a relatively peaceful and orderly
manner. The visit to Midlands also illustrated the internal
contradictions in the Zanu-PF leadership and the enourmous
pressures on those who would take a moderate course. END


2. (U) Ambassador and Political Officer visited Midlands
province October 17 and 18 to meet with USAID, CDC, and WFP
beneficiaries, NGO and UN staff, and GOZ officials. The
overarching concerns of the people we met were the HIV/AIDS
and food security crises. (NOTE: Midlands has been held up
as the model province in the government land redistribution
exercise. On the morning of October 17, BBC Radio
interviewed a white, commercial and newly resettled, black
farmer in a highly favorable report on the land
redistribution in Midlands. A few weeks prior to our visit,
the GOZ showed off the land redistribution in theis province
to a group of African Ambassadors. END NOTE.)

3. (U) In a meeting with Cephas Msipa, provincial governor of
Midlands, Ambassador and PolOff learned about his efforts at
land redistribution in his province. Msipa said unlike some
of his colleagues, he was resisting the call to take more
land from the whites and that he personally had taken far
less land himself than the law allowed. He also added that
he had sought to resolve land disputes amicably and that the
land exercise in Midlands had brought blacks and whites
together and forced them to get to know one another. In

fact, the white farmers in Midlands were helping the newly
resettled farmers with their crops to minimize the reduction
in crop production. The Ambassador asked if lack of seeds or
the cost of seeds would be a problem for next season,s
agricultural production to which Msipa replied that inputs in
general would be a problem. Communities were pooling their
resources to buy seeds so seed acquisition was not a problem.

4. (C) Msipa claimed that his, along with Vice President
Joseph Msika, Social Welfare Minister July Moyo, also the
ZANU-PF Chairman for Midlands, and Speaker of Parliament
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is from the Midlands, was the voice
of moderation regarding the land issue among the party elite.
(See REFTEL for Mnangagwa,s comments on land redistribution
in Midlands.) Msipa said he had successfully stopped the
acquisition of the dairy farms, arguing that to seize the
farms would adversely affect milk production. (NOTE: There
is currently a milk shortage in the country. END NOTE.) He
also claimed to have convinced national authorities to delist
a successful game lodge in Midlands, although the owners have
not received confirmation of this.

5. (C) Governor Msipa said that Zimbabwe's political impasse
was profound. ZANU-PF leaders recognized that President
Mugabe needed to retire, but were anxious that a ZANU-PF
succession be secured. He sharply criticized Ministers
Jonathan Moyo and Ignatius Chombo, ministers of information
and local government respectively, and cited a &wildcat8
committee promoted by Chombo, which had visited Midlands and
sought to force nature conservancy owners off their land in
contradiction to national policy on nature conservancies
recently agreed by Vice President Msika and Tourism Minister
Francis Nhema. Governor Msipa said he had intervened to
expel this committee and get the necessary political backing
for his position. Regarding the MDC, Msipa claimed he had
been generally able to ensure amicable dealings with the MDC,
although Mberengwa MDC activist Sekai Holland was a difficult
character. (COMMENT: We agree with his characterization of
Holland. END COMMENT.) He claimed that MDC was running real
risks if it embarked on adventurous courses like mass action,
given its likely penetration by the Central Intelligence
Organization (CIO).


6. (C) Msipa was very concerned about the food situation and
dismayed at the level of obstructionism by his government. He
said that even though politicization of food aid is not
tolerated at the higher levels of government, he knew it was
happening on the ground and was visibly disturbed by this
fact. Msipa seemed excited that we were traveling to his
home district of Zvishavane (we met in the provincial
capital, Gweru) to look at food distribution and asked that
we meet again upon our return to exchange notes. He was
anxious to find out if CARE, one of World Food Program,s
implementing partners, had enough food to distribute and how
things were going. (NOTE: Zvishavane is one of the most food
insecure districts in Zimbabwe. END NOTE.) Msipa said he
was trying to secure additional storage for CARE from Blue
Ribbon Foods Limited, so they can expand relief operations
into the northern districts. Msipa said he had lobbied with
Minister July Moyo to get additional NGOs--including Save the
Children-UK and Africare--registered for food distribution.
He said he had told July Moyo not to believe much of what the
CIO told him about these NGOs.

7. (U) On October 18, Ambassador and Political Officer also
met with the Catholic Bishop of Gweru, Bishop Mugadzi. At
the conclusion of the meeting, Bishop Mugadzi admitted that
he had been nervous about our visit but midway through it he
felt at ease with meeting Western diplomats viewed as
controversial by the authorities. The Bishop said the food
situation was bad in Gweru and among his parishioners but
because of GOZ legislation restricting food imports, the
Catholic Church had not been able to help as they have always
done in the past. The Bishop said the Catholic Church had
been shut out of food distribution but that the government
had no problem with the Church sourcing food as long as it
went through the government's Grain Marketing Board (GMB).
After our meeting, the Bishop seemed reenergized and ready to
try to do something about the food situation in Gweru,
probably through Catholic charities and Catholic Relief


8. (U) We saw a general food distribution and supplementary
feeding in Mutambi village in Mutambi ward, Zvishavane
district. WFP through its implementing partner, CARE, has
been feeding people in Zvishavane since September 2002 but
began operations in Mberengwa in March. The supplementary
feeding was at the local school and served every child in the
ward. Children under 5-years old were served in the morning
and school-aged children were fed in the afternoon.
According to the principal, most students received at least
two meals a day and attendance in school has been very high.
CARE representatives said that while there had been some
problems in Mberengwa around the time of elections, feeding
programs had generally gone well with CARE able to designate
beneficiaries through open meetings, as WFP requires.

9. (U) According to the principal, teachers, nurses, and
other professionals were suffering the most because they did
not qualify for food aid, could not take time off to wait for
corn from the Grain Marketing Board, and could not find corn
to buy. The principal wondered if the GMB could set aside
corn for other working professionals as it does for members
of the uniformed services. (The Governor later told us he
was working to achieve this.)

10. (U) WFP is providing food to 75 percent of the people in
Mutambi. A number of beneficiaries reported that they had
cut down their food consumption to one or two meals a day.
On October 17, WFP was distributing 13 50-kg bags of
whole-kernel yellow corn and 2 cans of vegetable oil for each
member group of 10 families. One 50-kg bag of corn (which
mills to about 33 kg of corn meal) will last a family of five
one month. The remaining 25 percent of the population not
receiving food aid directly (mostly teachers and others with
work in the formal sector) were most likely given food by the
rest of the community. According to the distribution
manager, people from the urban areas have been migrating back
to the rural areas in search of food.


11. (U) The WFP/CARE officials said that when they first
began operations in Midlands, the ruling party tried to
interfere with the ward designation and beneficiary selection
process. According to these officials, local ZANU-PF
officials were not happy with the process and wanted to use
the GOZ-appointed district administrators, who are notorious
for politicizing beneficiary lists, rather than the
traditional leaders. The NGO community prevailed and the
beneficiary selection process described to us seemed very
transparent with the entire community involved in the
process. They said that Governor Msipa had been helpful in
resolving disputes and that the Governor,s efforts to secure
free warehouse space were extraordinary.


12. (U) On October 18, Ambassador and Political Officer
visited an impressive local NGO, Midlands AIDS Service
Organization (MASO),a local chief, and the Catholic Diocese
of Gweru to discuss HIV/AIDS. MASO is a CDC grantee and was
established in 1991 to provide training, prevention, home
based care, and orphan care throughout the province. The
visit included a presentation by a youth group and a meeting
with the uniformed services. The Youth Alive Club is for
elementary-aged boys and girls with the goal of educating
them about HIV/AIDS and of developing skills they will need
to delay the age of first sexual encounter and to insist upon
the use of prophylactics. The children performed skits in
which members of their families died from AIDS. (COMMENT:
The fact that this community needs HIV/AIDS-specific clubs
for elementary-aged children is a good indicator of the
severity of the HIV problem in Zimbabwe. END COMMENT.)

13. (U) The Catholic Church in Gweru has HIV/AIDS programs
too. Bishop Mugadzi said the hospitals and clinics in the
province all have AIDS awareness and outreach programs and
the Church allows Youth Alive Clubs in the Catholic schools
as long as they skirt around the condom issue. The Bishop
also said they were able to discuss HIV/AIDS with
parishioners where as a few years ago that was not the case.

14. (U) We also met with Chief Cyprian Malisa, a traditional
chief from Silobela. Chief Malisa was quoted in the
state-run newspaper, The Herald, on September 19 advocating
more open communication about HIV/AIDS and acceptance of
voluntary testing as a way of life. Malisa said he first
noticed an increase in deaths about five or six years ago,
particularly those attributed to TB. He said the symptoms
before death were coughs, swollen legs, and then thinning
out. Malisa claimed that within a 5-km radius from his
house, 2-5 people died per week. Malisa told us he had seen
an increase in women resorting to prostitution because of the
food crisis and he worried about the consequences of this.
He worried that as the food situation deteriorates HIV
infection rates would increase and only viable economic
alternatives would slow the spread of the disease but lack of
money, inputs, and water made economic development difficult.

15. (U) Malisa said AIDS deaths are having a terrible toll on
the community. One of the traditional coping methods
available for widows--that of marrying one,s
brother-in-law--is no longer viable because it is assumed the
widow has AIDS too and will only infect the brother-in-law.
The number of orphans is overwhelming the community and
there has been an increase in street children in Gweru. When
asked whether home based care through MASO was available in
Silobela, Malisa said it existed but was hampered by
transportation problems--everyone must go on foot. He said
bicycles would go a long way towards helping the caregivers.


16. (U) MASO has been working with the uniformed services
(Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Military Academy, Zimbabwe
Prison Services, and Zimbabwe Republic Police) since 1998 to
raise awareness and increase responsibility. In all the
services, representatives reported an increase in awareness
about HIV/AIDS, increased demand for condoms, a decrease in
the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (Air Force
representatives reported a decrease from 21 to 3 percent),an
increase in the willingness to talk about HIV/AIDS, and less
stigmatism. Constraints to further success and program
expansion were the lack of audiovisual equipment (TV, VCR,
projectors),condoms, literature, and medicines. (COMMENT:
According to our MASO guides, the uniformed services were
wary of meeting with us and initially denied the request when
MASO first proposed a meeting. After MASO explained our role
in supporting their projects and the purpose of the meeting,
the uniformed services agreed to meet with us and were very
open about the HIV situation in their respective
organizations. The uniformed services have historically been
very unwilling to discuss HIV/AIDS with the USG sufficiently
for us to be able to work with them. Consequently, we will
explore further the possibility of working indirectly through


17. (U) In most of our meetings the rise in the level of
illegal gold and chrome panning and its effect on the local
community came up and one of the local newspapers had an
article on the topic too. People have been resorting to gold
panning as the economic environment has worsened. None of
our interlocutors thought the rise in gold panning was
helping fuel the HIV/AIDS crisis but doing nothing to help
alleviate the food crisis. WFP representatives said the
youths who are typically engaged in this activity do not
remit payments to their less fortunate relatives but rather
spend it all in town on entertainment and Chief Silobela said
gold panning increased the level of prostitution in the area.


18. (C) The information we learned from Midlands most likely
reflects the situation in the rest of the country--high
HIV/AIDS levels, severe food shortages, and intensified land
redistribution--but it is different in that public, private,
and civic leaders are working together to improve the
situation. The efforts of a strong, respected, moderate
governor have meant less disorder, chaos, disruption, and
political conflict in the region.