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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
02HARARE2689 2002-11-25 12:08:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Harare
Cable title:  

FURTHER DEVELOPMENT ON DETENTION OF US/UN STAFF IN

Tags:   PREL ODIP EAID ASEC ZI UN 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002689 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF, AF/S, OI/UN, AND DS
NSC FOR SENIOR DIRECTOR FRAZER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/26/2007
TAGS: PREL ODIP EAID ASEC ZI UN
SUBJECT: FURTHER DEVELOPMENT ON DETENTION OF US/UN STAFF IN
MELFORT

REF: A) HARARE 2529 B) HARARE 2628 C) 2624

Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY DCM REWHITEHEAD DUE TO 1.5 (B) AND (D).



1. (c) Summary. The November 15 detention of a U.S.
diplomat, a UN officer, and two Zimbabwean nationals (ref a)
continues to reverberate. Following Ambassador's meeting
with the MFA (ref b), GOZ official also met with UNDP Deputy
Resident Representative after the latter submitted a note of
protest parallel to the one submitted by us. The meeting,
during which the UN threatened to scale back activities if
security issues cannot be resolved, received equally slanted
coverage in the GOZ press. The GOZ appears unwilling to take
the necessary punitive action against the "war veterans"
responsible for the detention and had instead embarked on a
strategy of obfuscation and disinformaton that has further
damaged its credibility and strained its relations with the
diplomatic corps. The EU and some African colleagues have
expressed displeasure with the GOZ's instruction that
henceforth diplomats must notify the MFA before traveling
outside of greater Harare. We see this as something of a
side-show and remain convinced that forcing the GOZ to face
up to its responsibilities is far more important, especially
should this occur in broader United Nations Security Council
(UNSC) discussions of the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
End Summary.



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UN Faces Off Against the GOZ


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





2. (c) On November 21, in the wake of a meeting between the
U.S. and GOZ diplomats, MFA Europe and Americas Director Joey
Bihma also met with UNDP Deputy Resrep Bernard Mokam at
Bihma's request. According to Mokam, the encounter was
considerably tougher than our session. Bihma complained
about the tone of the diplomatic note of protest that the
UNDP submitted following the Melfort incident and blamed the
visiting diplomats for provoking the incident. Mokam in turn
warned that if the security issue is not resolved, the UN
would have no choice but to heighten its security posture,
limit travel of staff to the field, and as a result reduce or
curtail some programs. He also warned that GOZ inaction on
assuring the security of diplomats would have an adverse
impact on overall donor support for Zimbabwe. Following the
encounter, Mokam expressed particular displeasure with GOZ
press coverage of the meeting, specifically the Herald's
allegation that Mokam had admitted that the UN had failed to
inform the GOZ, as required by (non-existent) MFA circular
note D61, prior to the visit in Melfort. The UN sent a
follow-up diplomatic note objecting to the statements
attributed to GOZ officials in the Herald report and
providing a detailed summary of the meeting, for the record.



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


Covering Their Tracks, Poorly


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





3. (c) The GOZ approach to the Melfort incident is clearly
one of misdirection. Instead of disavowing the actions of
the war vets involved, and taking punitive action against
them, the GOZ has attempted to shift the blame. In doing so,
GOZ officials have resorted not so much to disinformation as
outright lies, and increasingly damaged what little
credibility they have left. On November 22, most members of
the diplomatic community received MFA circular (secular,
according to the GOZ press) note D61. The note claims to be
a reminder of an earlier note that required all diplomats to
notify (as opposed to request permission) 48-hours before
traveling more than 40 kilometers beyond greater Harare.
This "reminder" presumably refers to the June 22 circular
(secular) note cited in GOZ press coverage of our meeting, a
note that in fact was never sent. No one in the diplomatic
corps received such a note in June (although the British
received a similar note in September). The note, which was
clearly rushed out the door to support the alleged existence
the earlier non-existent note, is sloppily written. If does
not clarify exactly who must notify, nor whether this refers
to official travel. Attempts by various diplomats to clarify
these points with the MFA have engendered contradictory
responses.



4. (c) Not surprisingly, the GOZ's clumsy approach has
provoked a mixture of smiles and frowns from the donor
community. A number of our colleagues have pointed out that
Melfort lies within 40-kilometers of greater Harare, thus
having obviated the then non-existent need to inform before
visiting. Charges of the U.S./UN group throwing food out the
window of their car and filming the ensuing food fight has
also inspired considerable mirth. The EU and other
diplomats, however, have expressed disbelief and ire at the
GOZ's latest blundering. There is a move afoot to send the
acting dean of the diplomatic corps, the Zambian High
Commissioner, to protest the notification requirement and
request clarification on exactly what it means. Later today,
the far more serious issue of failing to take the necessary
steps to protect diplomats risks becoming the central point
of discussion in a meeting at UNDP between the donors and the
GOZ.



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


COMMENT: Next Steps


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





5. (c) While we think reciprocal restrictions on Zimbabwean
diplomats in Washington and New York might be in order at the
appropriate moment, we think it important first to define
clearly just who is being restricted and how, particularly
since U.S. diplomats have far more at stake than Zimbabwe's
tiny diplomatic staff, and more importantly, to keep the
focus on GOZ responsibility to ensure protection and
diplomatic privileges rather than let the GOZ change the
subject to a dispute over travel restrictions. Several of
our diplomatic colleagues are also anxious to give our
African colleagues an opportunity to convince the GOZ to
abandon its position. We also note that the notification
requirement does not constitute GOZ permission to travel,
which we would strongly protest, and is little more than a
paperwork exercise. The GOZ failure to protect diplomats
involved in humanitarian actions is an altogether different
and more serious matter. We continue to believe that the
best approach to the Melfort incident, and similar problems,
would be to package this within a UNSC special session on the
humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. In that context, the GOZ
would find is very difficult to hide its failure to respect
its responsibilities behind the usual veil of obfuscation and
untruth

SULLIVAN