US embassy cable - 01HARARE1055

INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION DELEGATION VISIT BOLSTERS ZIMBABWEAN LEGAL COMMUNITY

Identifier: 01HARARE1055
Wikileaks: View 01HARARE1055 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2001-03-19 15:33:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PHUM PGOV KJUS 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.

191533Z Mar 01


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2019

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FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8459
INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001055 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
PARIS FOR WILLIAMS 
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL. 03/14/11 
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, KJUS, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT:  INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION DELEGATION VISIT 
BOLSTERS ZIMBABWEAN LEGAL COMMUNITY 
 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  01055  01 OF 03  191536Z 
CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL IRVING.  REASONS: 1.5 
(B) AND (D). 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1.  (C) IN A WEEK-LONG VISIT TO ASSESS THE CURRENT STATE OF 
ZIMBABWE'S JUDICIARY, AN INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION 
DELEGATION MET WITH PRESIDENT MUGABE AND MEMBERS OF HIS 
CABINET AS WELL AS PROMINENT MEMBERS OF THE LEGAL 
COMMUNITY, INSIDE AND OUTSIDE GOVERNMENT.  IN A FRANK 
THREE-AND-A-HALF HOUR MEETING WITH PRESIDENT MUGABE, 
DELEGATION MEMBERS EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT ESCALATING 
CRITICISM OF THE JUDICIARY.  THE PRESIDENT INSISTED THAT A 
FEW INCIDENTS DID NOT MEAN THE RULE OF LAW HAD BEEN 
ABANDONED AND REITERATED HIS VIEW THAT THE LAND ISSUE DID 
NOT BELONG IN THE COURTS BECAUSE IT IS A POLITICAL ISSUE. 
TENSIONS WERE APPARENT AMONG JUDGES ON THE HIGH COURT, WHO 
MADE IT CLEAR THEY RARELY MET TO EXCHANGE VIEWS.  JUDGE 
PRESIDENT (AND ACTING SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE) GODFREY 
CHIDYAUSIKU STATED UNEQUIVOCALLY THAT HE WOULD NOT 
RECOMMEND THE FORMING OF A SPECIAL TRIBUNAL TO INVESTIGATE 
MISCONDUCT BY SUPREME COURT OR HIGH COURT JUDGES, AS NO 
BASIS EXISTED FOR IT.  THE U.S. MEMBER OF THE DELEGATION 
DESCRIBED MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY 
AFFAIRS PATRICK CHINAMASA AS A "LIAR OF EXTRAORDINARY 
ABILITY" AND SAID HE AND INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY MINISTER 
JONATHAN MOYO WERE BIRDS OF A FEATHER.   THE DELEGATION 
PLANS TO ISSUE A REPORT SOON, AND THE IBA INTENDS TO 
PROVIDE FOLLOW-ON SUPPORT TO THE LAW SOCIETY OF ZIMBABWE. 
THE IBA VISIT, WHICH RECEIVED EXTENSIVE COVERAGE IN THE 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  01055  01 OF 03  191536Z 
LOCAL MEDIA, PROVIDED A SIGNIFICANT BOON TO MEMBERS OF THE 
JUDICIARY AND THE LEGAL COMMUNITY GENERALLY, WHICH HAD 
GROWN WEARY AND DISHEARTENED UNDER THE GOVERNMENT'S 
CONTINUING ATTACKS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
DELEGATION 
---------- 
 
2.  (U) A DELEGATION REPRESENTING THE INTERNATIONAL BAR 
ASSOCIATION (IBA) -- COMPRISING SEVEN DISTINGUISHED JUDGES 
AND LAWYERS FROM INDIA, NAMIBIA, ST. LUCIA, SOUTH AFRICA, 
THE UNITED KINGDOM, AND THE UNITED STATES -- VISITED 
ZIMBABWE THE WEEK OF MARCH 12 TO REVIEW THE STATE OF THE 
JUDICIARY, INCLUDING ALLEGATIONS OF THREATS AGAINST MEMBERS 
OF THE BENCH.  ON MARCH 19, THE AMERICAN MEMBER OF THE 
DELEGATION -- U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE ANDRE DAVIS -- AND THE 
IBA'S EXECUTIVE-DIRECTOR -- MARK ELLIS -- BRIEFED CHARGE, 
POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF, AND USAID'S DEPUTY MISSION 
DIRECTOR ON THE VISIT. 
 
3.  (C) ELLIS REPORTED THAT THE IBA HAD DECIDED TO SEND THE 
TEAM, ON VERY SHORT NOTICE, AFTER IT BECAME CONCERNED ABOUT 
ESCALATING THREATS AGAINST THE JUDICIARY.  THE IBA 
EXECUTIVE-DIRECTOR EMPHASIZED THAT THE DELEGATION CAME TO 
ZIMBABWE DETERMINED TO ASSESS THE SITUATION OBJECTIVELY AND 
TO LET ITS SUBSEQUENT REPORT SPEAK FOR ITSELF.  DURING ITS 
WEEK IN ZIMBABWE, THE SEVEN-MEMBER TEAM MET WITH MORE THAN 
100 PEOPLE, INCLUDING SUPREME COURT AND HIGH COURT JUDGES, 
THE LAW SOCIETY OF ZIMBABWE AND MANY OF ITS MOST PROMINENT 
MEMBERS, INCLUDING IN BULAWAYO, AND SENIOR GOVERNMENT 
OFFICIALS, INCLUDING PRESIDENT MUGABE, MINISTER FOR 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  01055  01 OF 03  191536Z 
JUSTICE, LEGAL, AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS PATRICK 
CHINAMASA, MINISTER FOR INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY JONATHAN 
MOYO, AND ATTORNEY-GENERAL ANDREW CHIGOVERA.  THE 
DELEGATION WAS CONFIDENT IT HAD HEARD THOROUGHLY FROM ALL 
SIDES AND THAT IT WAS LEAVING WITH A VERY GOOD SENSE OF THE 
CURRENT STATE OF THE JUDICIARY IN ZIMBABWE. 
 
MEETING WITH PRESIDENT MUGABE 
----------------------------- 
 
4.  (C) ACCORDING TO ELLIS, THE DELEGATION HAD A VERY FRANK 
EXCHANGE OF VIEWS IN A THREE-AND-A-HALF HOUR MEETING WITH 
PRESIDENT MUGABE ON MARCH 16.  ALTHOUGH THERE CLEARLY WERE 
DISAGREEMENTS, BOTH SIDES FREELY EXCHANGED THEIR VIEWS AND 
MUGABE DID NOT SEEM TO MIND WHEN HE WAS REPEATEDLY 
INTERRUPTED BY MEMBERS OF THE DELEGATION.  THE DELEGATION 
PARTICIPANTS EXPRESSED THEIR CONCERNS ABOUT ESCALATING 
ATTACKS -- BOTH RHETORICAL AND PHYSICAL -- ON MEMBERS OF 
THE JUDICIARY.  MUGABE, ELLIS SAID, ARGUED THAT A FEW 
SPECIFIC INCIDENTS SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED AS EVIDENCE 
THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ZIMBABWE DOES NOT OBSERVE THE RULE 
OF LAW.  THE PRESIDENT ALSO REITERATED THE GOVERNMENT'S 
VIEW THAT LAND IS A POLITICAL, NOT A LEGAL ISSUE, AND BY 
IMPLICATION THAT IT IS INAPPROPRIATE FOR THE COURTS TO 
WEIGH IN ON THE FAST TRACK RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM. 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2018 
 
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P 191533Z MAR 01 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8460 
INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY 
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 03 HARARE 001055 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
PARIS FOR WILLIAMS 
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL. 03/14/11 
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, KJUS, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT:  INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION DELEGATION VISIT 
BOLSTERS ZIMBABWEAN LEGAL COMMUNITY 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  01055  02 OF 03  191537Z 
 
5.  (C) INTERESTINGLY, ELLIS REPORTED THAT THIS MEETING HAD 
BEEN ARRANGED ONLY WITH THE LAST MINUTE INTERVENTION OF 
SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI, WHO HAD BEEN URGED TO 
WEIGH IN WITH MUGABE BY DELEGATION MEMBER GEORGE BIZOS. 
MUGABE TOLD THE GROUP THAT HE HAD ONLY HEARD ABOUT THEIR 
VISIT THE NIGHT BEFORE.  (NOTE: THE IBA WROTE A LETTER TO 
MINISTER CHINAMASA IN MID-FEBRUARY INFORMING HIM OF THE 
INTENDED VISIT AND SEEKING A MEETING WITH HIM, AND 
CHINAMASA ACCEPTED IN WRITING THE FOLLOWING DAY.  END 
NOTE.)  THE PRESIDENT APPEARED VIGOROUS AND ALERT, AND 
JOKINGLY DISMISSED RECENT RUMORS ABOUT HIS HEALTH. 
ALTHOUGH ACCOMPANIED BY MINISTERS CHINAMASA AND MOYO, 
MUGABE DID VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE TALKING ON THE GOVERNMENT 
SIDE, WHICH, ACCORDING TO ELLIS, APPEARED TO MAKE THE TWO 
MINISTERS VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. 
 
HIGH COURT 
---------- 
 
6. (C) ONE OF THE TEAM'S MOST INTERESTING MEETINGS, ELLIS 
RECOUNTED, HAD BEEN WITH THE JUDGES OF THE HIGH COURT, 
INCLUDING JUDGE PRESIDENT (AND ACTING SUPREME COURT CHIEF 
JUSTICE) GODFREY CHIDYAUSIKU.  CHIDYAUSIKU SAID THE IBA WAS 
WELCOME TO MEET WITH JUDGES SEPARATELY BUT IT WAS BIZOS, 
AGAIN, WHO SAID NO, THANKS.  THE INTERNAL TENSION IN THIS 
GROUP WAS OBVIOUS, AND IT QUICKLY BECAME CLEAR THAT ITS 
PRIMARY SOURCE WAS CHIDYAUSIKU HIMSELF.  SEVERAL JUDGES 
EXPRESSED THEIR APPRECIATION FOR THE MEETING, SAYING IT 
PROVIDED A FORUM FOR THE HIGH COURT'S MEMBERS TO TALK TO 
ONE ANOTHER.  THE CLEAR IMPLICATION WAS THAT THESE 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  01055  02 OF 03  191537Z 
COLLEAGUES RARELY, IF EVER, GATHERED TO SHARE VIEWS. 
CHIDYAUSIKU REPORTEDLY SINGLED OUT THE COURT'S WHITE JUDGES 
FOR CRITICISM, SAYING THEY ACTED LIKE WHITE JUDGES, NOT 
ZIMBABWEAN JUDGES, AND MADE NO ATTEMPTS TO INTEGRATE INTO 
THE COMMUNITIES THEY SERVE.  ACCORDING TO JUDGE DAVIS, ONE 
DELEGATION MEMBER -- CHIEF JUSTICE SIR DENNIS BYRON FROM 
THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT -- DELIVERED 
IMPASSIONED AND ARTICULATE REMARKS ON THE SPECIAL ROLE OF 
THE CHIEF JUSTICE IN MAINTAINING THE INTEGRITY AND 
INDEPENDENCE OF THE COURT AND IN BEING AN ADVOCATE FOR THE 
MEMBERS OF THE BENCH.  JUDGE DAVIS COMMENTED THAT THE 
REMARKS APPEARED TO HAVE HAD A POWERFUL IMPACT ON 
CHIDYAUSIKU. 
 
7.  (C) THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE, ACCORDING TO JUDGE DAVIS, 
WAS UNAMBIGUOUS IN STATING THAT HE WOULD NOT PERMIT THE 
CONVENING OF A SPECIAL TRIBUNAL TO INVESTIGATE ANY MEMBERS 
OF THE SUPREME COURT OR THE HIGH COURT, AS NONE OF THE 
SITTING JUDGES HAD DONE ANYTHING TO WARRANT SUCH 
DISCIPLINARY ACTION.  ASKED WHETHER HE WAS WILLING TO MAKE 
A PUBLIC STATEMENT TO THAT EFFECT, THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE 
DEMURRED, BUT SAID HE WOULD INCLUDE THAT VOW IN INDIVIDUAL 
LETTERS TO EACH OF THE SUPREME COURT AND HIGH COURT JUDGES, 
AND SAID THE DELEGATION WAS WELCOME TO INCLUDE IT IN THEIR 
FINAL REPORT.  THE CHARGE COMMENTED THAT CHIDYAUSIKU'S 
PROMISE SUGGESTED HE WAS AWARE THAT HIS REPUTATION AS A 
ZANU-PF STOOGE HAD BEEN DAMAGING, AND PERHAPS HE WAS WAKING 
UP TO THE NEED TO ESTABLISH HIS CREDIBILITY AS AN IMPARTIAL 
JURIST. 
 
CHINAMASA AND MOYO 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  01055  02 OF 03  191537Z 
--------- -------- 
 
8.  (C) THE IBA DELEGATION MET SEPARATELY WITH CHINAMASA 
AND MOYO, TWO PEOPLE WHOM DAVIS SAID WERE CUT FROM THE SAME 
CLOTH.  DAVIS DESCRIBED CHINAMASA AS BRIGHT AND GRACIOUS, 
BUT SAID HE WAS A "LIAR OF EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY" AND HAD 
IN THE MEETING DELIVERED A "REMARKABLE PERFORMANCE FOR A 
MINISTER OF JUSTICE."  CHINAMASA'S INSISTENCE THAT COURT 
ORDERS COULD BE IGNORED FOR POLITICAL REASONS WAS 
PARTICULARLY DISTURBING, DAVIS ASSERTED.  ELLIS EXPRESSED 
HIS BELIEF THAT CHINAMASA IS MUCH MORE THAN A MERE 
POLITICAL HACK.  IT WAS ELLIS' VIEW, SHARED BY MANY OF THE 
ZIMBABWEAN LAWYERS WITH WHOM HE HAD SPOKEN, THAT CHINAMASA 
IS THE AUTHOR OF THE GOVERNMENT'S APPROACH ON THE 
JUDICIARY. 
 
9.  (C) DAVIS DESCRIBED INFORMATION MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO 
AS "GOEBBELS REINCARNATED," IN HIS APPROACH BOTH TO 
PROPAGANDA AND TO GOVERNING.  ELLIS COMMENTED THAT BOTH 
CHINAMASA AND MOYO WERE WELL-RESPECTED IN THEIR PREVIOUS 
LIVES, BUT SINCE ASSUMING THEIR CURRENT POSITIONS, 
STRANGELY HAVE BECOME ZANU-PF ZEALOTS. 
 
NEXT STEPS 
---------- 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2022 
 
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P 191533Z MAR 01 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8461 
INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY 
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 03 OF 03 HARARE 001055 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
PARIS FOR WILLIAMS 
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL. 03/14/11 
TAGS: PHUM, PGOV, KJUS, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT:  INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION DELEGATION VISIT 
BOLSTERS ZIMBABWEAN LEGAL COMMUNITY 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  01055  03 OF 03  191537Z 
 
10.  (C) ELLIS STATED THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS ASKED FOR TWO 
WEEKS TO SUBMIT WRITTEN DOCUMENTATION OF ITS VIEWS ON THE 
JUDICIARY, AND THE IBA INTENDS TO ISSUE ITS REPORT SOON 
AFTER THAT.  ELLIS DECLINED TO ELABORATE ON THE LIKELY 
SUBSTANCE OF THEIR REPORT, SAYING THAT HE HAD NOT YET HAD A 
CHANCE TO DISCUSS THIS IN DETAIL WITH DELEGATION MEMBERS. 
ONCE THE REPORT IS FINALIZED, IT WILL BE TRANSLATED INTO 
SHONA AND NDEBELE AND DISSEMINATED WIDELY.  THE IBA PLANS 
TO HOLD THREE PRESS CONFERENCES TO ANNOUNCE RELEASE OF THE 
REPORT -- IN LONDON, IN WASHINGTON, AND IN THE REGION, 
PROBABLY IN JOHANNESBURG.  IN ADDITION, ELLIS IS DETERMINED 
TO PROVIDE FOLLOW-UP SUPPORT TO THE LAW SOCIETY OF ZIMBABWE 
(LSZ), WHICH HE SAID CAN PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE IN SUPPORTING 
JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE.  THE LSZ, HE SAID, HAD ALREADY 
PROVEN TO BE AN IMPORTANT AND COURAGEOUS VOICE IN THE FACE 
OF THE GOZ'S ATTACKS ON THE JUDICIARY.  THEY WERE, HE SAID, 
"EXCEEDINGLY IMPRESSED" WITH THE LSZ LEADERSHIP, MENTIONING 
PRESIDENT STERNFORD MOYO BY NAME. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
11.  (C) THE IBA VISIT HAS PROVIDED A WELCOME BOOST TO THE 
SPIRITS OF THOSE IN THE LEGAL COMMUNITY WHO HAVE BORNE THE 
BRUNT OF THE GOVERNMENT'S OFFENSIVE AGAINST THE JUDICIARY. 
AFTER MEETING WITH VIRTUALLY ALL THE KEY PLAYERS INSIDE AND 
OUTSIDE GOVERNMENT, WE BELIEVE THE DELEGATION DEPARTED WITH 
A VERY GOOD UNDERSTANDING OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND THE 
POLITICAL CONTEXT, AND WE WILL BE INTERESTED TO SEE THEIR 
WRITTEN REPORT.  THE GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED PRESS -- WHICH 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  01055  03 OF 03  191537Z 
DEVOTED EXTENSIVE COVERAGE TO THE VISIT -- TRIED TO 
MINIMIZE THE FALLOUT FROM WHAT THEY EXPECT TO BE A CRITICAL 
REPORT, (ERRONEOUSLY) CHASTISING THE DELEGATION FOR 
CONDUCTING A "STAGE-MANAGED," ONE-SIDED ASSESSMENT.  WE 
WERE PLEASED TO HEAR THAT THE IBA PLANS TO FOLLOW UP ITS 
VISIT BY PROVIDING SUPPORT TO THE LSZ AND PERHAPS OTHER KEY 
CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS.  THE PROVISION OF SUCH 
ASSISTANCE AND THE FOSTERING OF CLOSE CONNECTIONS TO 
INFLUENTIAL INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS ARE CRUCIAL STEPS 
IN BOLSTERING NON-PARTISAN GROUPS SUCH AS THE LSZ IN THEIR 
STRUGGLE TO PROTECT DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS. 
 
12.  (C) THE FACT THAT MUGABE SPENT THREE-AND-A-HALF HOURS 
WITH THE DELEGATION IN A GENUINE GIVE-AND-TAKE REVEALS, AT 
THE VERY LEAST, A WILLINGNESS TO ENGAGE WITH ELEMENTS OF 
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY HE BELIEVES ARE INFLUENTIAL. 
THAT SAID, WE ARE NOT AWARE THAT HE MADE ANY COMMITMENTS TO 
HALT THE GOZ'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE JUDICIARY AND, AS 
ALWAYS, WE SHOULD JUDGE HIS GOVERNMENT BY ITS ACTIONS. 
 
IRVING 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 

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