US embassy cable - 00HARARE3106

EDUCATION MINISTER DECLINES TO PUBLICLY CONDEMN POLITICAL VIOLENCE AGAINST TEACHERS

Identifier: 00HARARE3106
Wikileaks: View 00HARARE3106 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2000-06-09 11:16:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM EAGR PINR ZI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ5379

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                  ------------------61020E  091113Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6259
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 003106 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/09/2010 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KDEM, EAGR, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: EDUCATION MINISTER DECLINES TO PUBLICLY CONDEMN 
POLITICAL VIOLENCE AGAINST TEACHERS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH 
 
LONDON FOR PFLAUMER 
 
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  03106  01 OF 02  091112Z 
DEPARTMENT PASS TO USTR FOR ROSA WITAKER 
 
CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL OFFICER MAKILA JAMES, REASONS 
1.5 (B) AND (D). 
 
REFTEL: HARARE 3094 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY: IN CONTINUING DIALOGUE WITH SENIOR 
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ON PRE-ELECTION ISSUES, ON JUNE 7 
THE AMBASSADOR AND POLOFF CALLED ON THE MINISTER OF 
EDUCATION, SPORTS AND CULTURE, GABRIEL MACHINGA.  IN 
RESPONSE TO THE AMBASSADOR'S CONDEMNATION OF THE 
TARGETING OF TEACHERS FOR POLITICAL ATTACKS, THE 
MINISTER CONCEDED THE BRUTALITY OF THE ASSAULTS ON 
EDUCATORS BUT PROFESSED AN INABILITY TO STOP IT THROUGH 
PUBLIC STATEMENTS.  MINISTER MACHINGA SAID HE PREFERRED 
TO DEAL QUIETLY WITH THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND AND HAD 
GONE TO SOME OF THE MOST TROUBLED SPOTS TO NEGOTIATE A 
SOLUTION.  MACHINGA ATTRIBUTED MUCH OF THE VIOLENCE TO 
EXTREME POLITICAL TENSIONS AND SOCIOLOGICAL STRESS IN 
THE RURAL AREAS WHERE TEACHERS, WHO ARE GENERALLY SEEN 
AS THE POSITIVE CHANGE ELEMENTS, ARE ENCOURAGING A 
TRANSFORMATION THAT THE COMMUNITIES ARE NOT YET READY 
FOR.  IN ANY EVENT, MACHINGA INDICATED THAT THE 
SITUATION WAS BEST ADDRESSED INDIVIDUALLY AND NOT 
"GLOBALLY," AS EACH CASE OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE AGAINST 
TEACHERS HAD UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES TO BE CONSIDERED.  THE 
EDUCATION MINISTER, LIKE THE HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER, FEEL 
POWERLESS TO INTERFERE WITH THE STATE-ORCHESTRATED 
VIOLENCE COMING FROM SENIOR ZANU-PF OFFICIALS, BUT ARE 
NOT PREPARED TO COMMIT POLITICAL SUICIDE TO DENOUNCE IT. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  03106  01 OF 02  091112Z 
END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C) DURING A CORDIAL MEETING WITH EDUCATION MINISTER 
MACHINGA, THE AMBASSADOR PROBED WHY SO LITTLE WAS BEING 
DONE BY SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS TO STOP THE VIOLENT 
ATTACKS AGAINST TEACHERS, WHICH HAD RESULTED IN SEVERAL 
DEATHS, WIDESPREAD BEATINGS, DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTIES, 
GENERAL INTIMIDATION, AND FORCED CLOSURE OF SCHOOLS AND 
TRANSFERS OF TEACHERS.  ADDITIONALLY, THE AMBASSADOR 
NOTED THAT TWO-THIRDS OF OUR PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS, WHO 
NORMALLY WORK IN RURAL SCHOOLS, HAVE HAD TO LEAVE THE 
COUNTRY BECAUSE OF THE INSTABILITY AND ATTACKS AGAINST 
TEACHERS.  MINISTER MACHINGA, WHO HAS A REPUTATION FOR 
BEING A DECENT AND HARD-WORKING MINISTER, ACKNOWLEDGED 
THAT THERE WAS WIDESPREAD VICTIMIZATION OF TEACHERS, 
PRIMARILY IN THE RURAL AREAS.  HE EXPLAINED THIS 
DEVELOPMENT AS A RESULT OF THE PREDOMINANT LEADERSHIP 
ROLE TEACHERS HAD IN THOSE COMMUNITIES AND THE THREAT 
THEIR OPEN INVOLVEMENT IN POLITICS, PARTICULARLY IN 
SUPPORT OF THE OPPOSITION, POSED TO ZANU-PF AND MANY 
PRO-RULING PARTY VILLAGERS. THE MINISTERS CLAIMED MANY 
YOUNG TEACHERS DO NOT IDENTIFY WITH THE LIBERATION 
STRUGGLE TO THE EXTENT OF THE OLDER NATIONAL LEADERSHIP 
AND HAVE ACTIVELY SUPPORTED POLITICAL CHANGE IN THEIR 
CLASSROOMS.  SIMILARLY, RURAL BUSINESS PEOPLE AND 
MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS HAVE EQUALLY BEEN TARGETED AS 
COMMUNITY LEADERS WHO ARE OUT OF STEP WITH THE PEOPLE IN 
THEIR AREAS OR THE RULING PARTY POSITION, MACHINGA 
OPINED.  AGAINST THIS POLITICAL BACKGROUND, "THERE IS A 
LIMIT TO WHICH THE MINISTRY CAN ENGINEER AN ATMOSPHERE 
THAT IS SOILED," MACHINGA ASSERTED. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  03106  01 OF 02  091112Z 
 
3.  (C) THE EDUCATION MINISTER, HOWEVER, DISTANCED HIS 
MINISTRY FROM THE VIOLENCE AND PLEDGED HIS CONTINUED 
SUPPORT FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF A HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION 
PROGRAM INTO THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM.  THE 
MINISTER TOOK PRIDE IN NOTING THAT ZIMBABWE WAS A 
PIONEER IN AFRICA IN INTRODUCING SUCH A PROGRAM IN THE 
SCHOOL SYSTEM AND SAID THAT THE RECENT HUMAN RIGHTS 
VIOLATIONS AGAINST TEACHERS WOULD NOT HAVE OCCURRED WERE 
THIS NOT SUCH A POLITICALLY CHARGED TIME IN THE COUNTRY. 
AMBASSADOR MCDONALD RESPONDED THAT THE POLITICAL 
MOTIVATIONS BEHIND THE CURRENT VIOLENCE MADE IT EVEN 
MORE SURPRISING THAT MACHINGA AND OTHERS WERE NOT 
SPEAKING OUT IN SUPPORT OF TEACHERS WHO WERE MERELY 
EXERCISING THEIR RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH. 
 
4.  (C) MACHINGA SAID HE PREFERRED TO QUIETLY RESOLVE 
THE CRISES AT THE MOST TROUBLED SCHOOLS BY GOING TO THE 
COMMUNITIES TO TALK WITH THE TEACHERS AND COMMUNITY 
PEOPLE.  THE MINISTER SAID HE VISITED 30 OF HIS 6,200 
SCHOOLS AND HAD EFFECTED PEACEFUL SOLUTIONS, RESULTING 
IN TEACHERS KEEPING THEIR JOBS OR TRANSFERRING WHERE 
NECESSARY.  MACHINGA DECLINED TO ISSUE ANY PUBLIC 
STATEMENT ARGUING THAT TO DO SO WOULD BE FUTILE.  ANY 
SUCH GLOBAL STATEMENT WOULD ALIENATE PARENTS BY BLAMING 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ5377 
 
PAGE 01        HARARE  03106  02 OF 02  091112Z 
ACTION AF-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00  COME-00 
      DINT-00  DODE-00  DOTE-00  ANHR-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00 
      ED-01    FAAE-00  FBIE-00  VC-00    H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00 
      IO-00    LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  OIC-02 
      OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00 
      SP-00    STR-00   TRSE-00  USIE-00  PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-01 
      DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /011W 
                  ------------------610201  091112Z /38 
P 091116Z JUN 00 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6260 
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
NSC WASHDC 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 003106 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/09/2010 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, KDEM, EAGR, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: EDUCATION MINISTER DECLINES TO PUBLICLY CONDEMN 
POLITICAL VIOLENCE AGAINST TEACHERS 
 
THEM FOR THE VIOLENCE, HE SAID.  MOREOVER, THERE WERE 
OFTEN PERSONAL FEUDS AT ISSUE THAT HAD LED TO THE 
VIOLENCE AND HE NEEDED TO SEPARATE OUT THOSE CASES, THE 
MINSTER ADDED. 
 
5.  (C) THE MINISTER ALSO LAMENTED THAT HE DID NOT EVEN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  03106  02 OF 02  091112Z 
HAVE THE RESOURCES TO RESPOND TO WIDESPREAD VIOLENCE AT 
ALL OF HIS SCHOOLS AND THAT, IN MOST CASES, THE POLICE 
COULD ONLY REACH AN AFFECTED AREA A DAY OR SO AFTER THE 
VIOLENCE.  THERE IS ALSO INSUFFICIENT MINISTRY STAFF TO 
PROVIDE COUNSELING TO YOUNG TEACHERS TO HELP PRESERVE 
THEIR JOBS AND SO THESE TEACHERS HAVE OFTEN BEEN 
TARGETED FOR ASSAULT AND FORCED TO FLEE.  NEVERTHELESS, 
THE CABINET DID TAKE A DECISION RECENTLY TO ENSURE THAT 
ANYONE WHO COMMITS A CRIME IS ARRESTED AND PROSECUTED, 
MACHINGA INFORMED.  THE MINISTER CONCEDED, HOWEVER, THAT 
WHILE HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER, DUMISO DABENGWA, WAS 
UNSUCCESSFUL IN HIS EFFORTS TO REMOVE THE WAR VETERANS 
FROM THE COMMERCIAL FARMS, THE POLICE HAVE NOW BEGUN TO 
ARREST PERPETRATORS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE. 
 
6.  (C) MACHINGA SPECULATED THAT TEACHERS WOULD STILL BE 
ALLOWED TO FULFILL THEIR TRADITIONAL ROLE AS ELECTION 
OFFICERS IN THE JUNE 24 AND 25 PARLIAMENTARY VOTING, 
DESPITE VICE PRESIDENT MSIKA'S STATEMENTS TO THE 
CONTRARY.  THE EDUCATION MINISTER SAID HE HAD NOT BEEN 
OFFICIALLY NOTIFIED BY THE MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS 
OFFICE OF THE REGISTRAR GENERAL THAT THERE WOULD BE ANY 
CHANGE.  THE MINISTER SAID HE THOUGHT THAT THINGS WOULD 
RETURN TO NORMAL IN THE COUNTRYSIDE AFTER THE ELECTION 
AS ZIMBABWEANS ARE "PEACE LOVING" AND THERE HAD NOT BEEN 
EXTREME INTER-PARTY VIOLENCE.  MACHINGA THANKED 
AMBASSADOR MCDONALD FOR HIS PERSONAL EXPRESSION OF 
CONCERN ABOUT THE SITUATION OF TEACHERS AND PROMISED TO 
CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATIONS ON THIS ISSUE. 
 
7.  (C) COMMENT: THE EDUCATION MINISTER, LIKE THE HOME 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  03106  02 OF 02  091112Z 
AFFAIRS MINISTER, AND OTHER SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. 
WITH WHOM WE SPOKE ARE EITHER IN DENIAL ABOUT THE LEVEL 
OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE OR IMPOTENT TO 
DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.  MACHINGA APPEARS TO BE ONE OF 
THOSE MINISTERS WHO IS DISTURBED BY THE UGLINESS OF THE 
POLITICAL VIOLENCE, BUT ACCEPTS HIS LIMITATIONS IN THE 
SITUATION, AND IS AFRAID TO PUBLICLY CONDEMN THE 
PERPETRATORS, WHICH LEAD ALL THE WAY BACK TO STATE 
HOUSE.  THE VIOLENCE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE AGAINST RURAL 
TEACHERS MAY LESSEN WITH THE DEPLOYMENT OF INTERNATIONAL 
OBSERVERS, BUT IS LIKELY TO CONTINUE, ALBEIT ON A 
REOUCEO SCALE.  END COMMENT. 
 
MCDONALD 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 

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