US embassy cable - 01HARARE1247

ZIMBABWE PARLIAMENT BECOMES RULING PARTY'S LATEST TOOL IN CORNERING THE OPPOSITION CONFIDENTIAL

Identifier: 01HARARE1247
Wikileaks: View 01HARARE1247 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2001-04-05 17:45:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM ECPS KDEM 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     PTQ4440

PAGE 01        HARARE  01247  01 OF 03  051740Z 
ACTION AF-00    

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                  ------------------DBFE7A  051741Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8588
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001247 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER 
LONDON FOR CGURNEY 
PARIS FOR BWILLIAMS 
NAIROBI FOR TPFLAUMER 
USAID FOR AA/AFR VDICKSON-HORTON, AFR/SA CPALMA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/05/11 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, ECPS, KDEM, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE PARLIAMENT BECOMES RULING PARTY'S 
LATEST TOOL IN CORNERING THE OPPOSITION 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  01247  01 OF 03  051740Z 
 
REFS: A) HARARE 1222, B) HARARE 1209, C) HARARE 932 
 
CLASSIFIED BY CHARGEQ'AFFAIRES EARL M. IRVING FOR 
REASONS: 1.5 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY: THE RULING ZANU-PF IS TAKING A 
DIFFERENT TACK IN ITS CAMPAIGN TO CLAMP DOWN ON THE 
OPPOSITION BY FORCING THROUGH PARLIAMENT LEGISLATION 
THAT AIMS TO RESTRICT OPPOSITION ACTIVITIES.  IN AN 
EXTRAORDINARY SESSION ON APRIL 3-4, ZANU-PF 
PARLIAMENTARIANS SUSPENDED THE LEGISLATURE'S OWN 
STANDING ORDERS TO PASS THE BROADCASTING SERVICES BILL 
AND THE POLITICAL PARTIES FINANCE BILL INTO LAW OVER THE 
STRENUOUS OBJECTIONS OF THE OPPOSITION AND AT LEAST ONE 
ZANU-PF MP.  THE BROADCASTING SERVICES ACT LIMITS 
BROADCASTING LICENSES TO ONE PRIVATELY-OWNED RADIO AND 
ONE TELEVISION STATION.  THE POLITICAL PARTIES FINANCE 
ACT PROHIBITS FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR POLITICAL 
PARTIES.  OTHER BILLS BEFORE PARLIAMENT, INCLUDING THE 
CITIZENSHIP OF ZIMBABWE AMENDMENT AND THE LABOR 
RELATIONS AMENDMENT, WILL TRY TO FENCE IN OTHER 
TRADITIONAL OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS, NAMELY WHITES AND 
UNIONISTS.  ALTHOUGH THIS NEW ELEMENT OF ZANU-PF'S 
CAMPAIGN STRATEGY IS CERTAINLY MORE LAWFUL THAN ITS 
PREVIOUS TACTICS, IT COULD POTENTIALLY BE MORE 
DEVASTATING TO THE OPPOSITION THAN ANY INTIMIDATION 
CAMPAIGN.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C) IN AN EXTRAORDINARY SESSION WHICH BEGAN ON APRIL 
3 AND LASTED UNTIL 3AM ON APRIL 4, ZANU-PF 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  01247  01 OF 03  051740Z 
PARLIAMENTARIANS VOTED TO SUSPEND THE LEGISLATURE'S OWN 
STANDING RULES AND ORDERS TO PASS THE RESTRICTIVE 
BROADCASTING SERVICES BILL AND THE POLITICAL PARTIES 
FINANCE BILL INTO LAW.  THE VOTE TO SUSPEND THE RULES 
WAS UNUSUALLY RAUCOUS AND LOUD (POLOFF WAS INTERVIEWING 
THE DEPUTY CLERK, HELEN DINGANI, IN HER OFFICE NEXT TO 
THE CHAMBER AT THE TIME), AS DEPUTY SPEAKER MADZONGWE 
ASKED THE MPS TO VOTE BY DIVISION, I.E. STAND ON ONE 
SIDE OF THE CHAMBER OR THE OTHER.  THE PROCEEDINGS TOOK 
NEARLY AN HOUR.  BASED ON THE MOTIONS TO SUSPEND PUT 
FORTH BY LEADER OF THE HOUSE (AND JUSTICE MINISTER) 
PATRICK CHINAMASA, THE DEPUTY CLERK TOLD POLOFF THAT IT 
WAS CLEAR ZANU-PF WAS TRYING TO "BULLDOZE" THE TWO BILLS 
THROUGH PARLIAMENT.  THE SUSPENSION OF THE RULES ALLOWED 
NO DEBATE ON THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE'S (PLC) 
ADVERSE REPORTS THAT DECLARED BOTH BILLS 
UNCONSTITUTIONAL.  ALL THREE READINGS, THE DEBATE, AND 
VOTING TOOK PLACE IN THE SAME SESSION, WHICH IS NORMALLY 
NOT PERMITTED.  ZANU-PF MP AND PLC CHAIR EDDISON ZVOBGO 
WAS SO DISGUSTED WITH THE PROCEEDINGS THAT HE LEFT THE 
CHAMBER, APPARENTLY SO THAT HE WOULD NOT BE FORCED TO 
VOTE AGAINST HIS PARTY OR HIS OWN ADVERSE REPORT. 
 
3.  (C) DURING THE SESSION, THE HOUSE VOTED TO REJECT A 
SECOND ADVERSE REPORT ON THE BROADCASTING BILL SUBMITTED 
BY THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE (PLC).  THE 
COMMITTEE, WHICH COMPRISES TWO ZANU-PF MPS AND ONE MDC 
MP (ONLY TWO MEMBERS OF THE PLC CAN VOTE BECAUSE THE 
THIRD MEMBER IS NOT A LAWYER), HAD EARLIER SUBMITTED AN 
ADVERSE REPORT CALLING THE LICENSING REGULATIONS UPON 
WHICH THE BILL WAS BASED UNCONSTITUTIONAL (SEE REF B). 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  01247  01 OF 03  051740Z 
ACCORDING TO THE APRIL 4 EDITION OF THE GOVERNMENT- 
CONTROLLED "THE HERALD," IT IS THE FIRST TIME SINCE 
INDEPENDENCE THAT THE RULING PARTY HAS REJECTED ADVERSE 
REPORTS SUBMITTED BY A PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE.  LAST 
WEEK, PARLIAMENT VOTED TO SUSPEND THE STANDING ORDERS TO 
CUT DOWN THE TIME ALLOTTED FOR THE PLC TO SUBMIT ITS 
REPORT ON THE POLITICAL PARTIES FINANCE BILL FROM 26 
DAYS TO FOUR DAYS, ACCORDING TO PRISCILLA MISIHAIRABWI- 
MUSHONGA, THE MDC MP FOR GLEN NORAH.  THE BLATANT 
SUSPENSION OF THE RULES THIS WEEK AND LAST PERMITTED 
ZANU-PF TO RAM THROUGH THE BILLS BEFORE PARLIAMENT 
ADJOURNED FOR A FOUR-WEEK BREAK ON APRIL 5, AND BEFORE 
THE BROADCASTING REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTED BY PRESIDENT 
MUGABE LAST YEAR EXPIRE ON APRIL 12 (REF A). 
 
4.  (C) THE MAJOR PROVISIONS OF THE BROADCASTING 
SERVICES ACT ALLOW THE LICENSING OF ONE NATIONAL RADIO 
SERVICE AND ONE NATIONAL TELEVISION SERVICE INDEPENDENT 
OF ANY PUBLIC BROADCASTER (I.E., THE ZIMBABWE 
BROADCASTING CORPORATION).  HOWEVER, THE ACT STIPULATES 
THAT A SEPARATE SIGNAL CARRIER LICENSE IS REQUIRED (THE 
BROADCASTERS CANNOT BROADCAST WITHOUT THE SIGNAL 
CARRIER) AND CANNOT BE ISSUED TO THOSE WHO HOLD THE 
BROADCASTING SERVICE LICENSES.  THE EFFECT IS, ACCORDING 
TO A COPY OF THE LEGAL COMMITTEE'S ADVERSE REPORT ON THE 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ4441 
 
PAGE 01        HARARE  01247  02 OF 03  051741Z 
ACTION AF-00 
 
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                  ------------------DBFE83  051741Z /38 
O 051745Z APR 01 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8589 
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE 
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 03 HARARE 001247 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER 
LONDON FOR CGURNEY 
PARIS FOR BWILLIAMS 
NAIROBI FOR TPFLAUMER 
USAID FOR AA/AFR VDICKSON-HORTON, AFR/SA CPALMA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/05/11 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, ECPS, KDEM, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE PARLIAMENT BECOMES RULING PARTY'S 
LATEST TOOL IN CORNERING THE OPPOSITION 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  01247  02 OF 03  051741Z 
 
BILL, TO REQUIRE THE BROADCASTERS TO ENTER INTO A 
TRANSMISSION AGREEMENT WITH THE SIGNAL CARRIER LICENSEE, 
WHO, IN ALL PROBABILITY, WILL BE A PERSON OR 
ORGANIZATION WITH CLOSE TIES TO ZANU-PF OR THE 
GOVERNMENT.  (COMMENT: TECHNICALLY, IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE 
FOR ONE OF ZIMBABWE'S CELLULAR TELEPHONE COMPANIES TO BE 
THE SIGNAL CARRIER FOR THE RADIO BROADCASTER.  HOWEVER, 
BECAUSE OF THE CELLULAR COMPANIES' CONNECTIONS TO THE 
OPPOSITION, THIS IS NOT LIKELY TO OCCUR.  END COMMENT.) 
IN ADDITION, THE MINISTER OF INFORMATION WILL HAVE THE 
FINAL STAMP OF APPROVAL ON ISSUING ALL LICENSES, AND 
WILL BE ABLE TO REVOKE THE LICENSES UNDER BROADLY- 
DEFINED CIRCUMSTANCES.  THE GOZ WILL BE ABLE TO SAY THAT 
ZIMBABWE ALLOWS INDEPENDENT BROADCASTERS, AND FREE 
SPEECH, BUT IN PRACTICE IT WILL MAINTAIN CONTROL OF ALL 
THE BROADCASTING OPERATIONS IN THE COUNTRY, UNDERMINING 
THE NOTION THAT ANY NEW BROADCASTERS WILL BE TRULY 
INDEPENDENT. 
 
5.  (SBU) THE POLITICAL PARTIES FINANCE ACT IS 
POTENTIALLY MORE SERIOUS IN HOW IT WOULD LIMIT 
OPPOSITION FUNDING AS WELL AS INDIRECT ASSISTANCE, SUCH 
AS TECHNICAL TRAINING.  THE ACT OUTLAWS THE RECEIPT OF 
FOREIGN DONATIONS BY POLITICAL PARTIES, INCLUDING FROM 
ZIMBABWEAN CITIZENS LIVING ABROAD.  FOR ANYONE FOUND 
VIOLATING THE ACT, IT PROVIDES A FINE EQUIVALENT TO THE 
AMOUNT OF THE DONATION OR 100,000 ZIMBABWE DOLLARS 
(ABOUT US$1,000), WHICHEVER IS GREATER.  THE ACT ALSO 
ALLOWS THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE TO ISSUE REGULATIONS 
GOVERNING THE TRACKING AND ACCOUNTING OF POLITICAL PARTY 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  01247  02 OF 03  051741Z 
DONATIONS.  THE ACT, WHICH REPLACES THE POLITICAL 
PARTIES FINANCE ACT OF 1992, STILL STIPULATES THAT THE 
MINISTER OF JUSTICE CAN REJECT A PARTY'S APPLICATION FOR 
GOVERNMENT FUNDING, EVEN IF IT IS ENTITLED TO FUNDING 
BASED ON THE NUMBER OF VOTES IT RECEIVED IN THE LAST 
GENERAL ELECTION.  SINCE THE OPPOSITION MDC HAS TO DATE 
RECEIVED MUCH OF ITS FUNDING FROM FOREIGN SOURCES, THE 
ACT WILL UNDOUBTEDLY MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR THE MDC 
TO RAISE MONEY. 
 
6.  (C) DAVID COLTART, MDC MP FOR BULAWAYO SOUTH, TOLD 
POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF APRIL 5 THAT THE MDC WILL 
CHALLENGE THE LEGALITY OF THE POLITICAL PARTIES FINANCE 
ACT IN THE COURTS.  OF PARTICULAR CONCERN IS THE ACT'S 
STIPULATION THAT FOREIGN DONATIONS THROUGH THIRD PARTIES 
(INCLUDING NGOS) ARE NO LONGER PERMITTED, HE STATED. 
THE STIPULATION IS SUFFICIENTLY BROAD TO PUT A 
STRANGLEHOLD ON CIVIL SOCIETY, MUCH OF WHICH IS INVOLVED 
IN DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNANCE ISSUES.  COLTART POINTED OUT 
THAT THE NEW LAW DOES NOT PROHIBIT LOANS TO POLITICAL 
PARTIES, AND HE IS INVESTIGATING HOW THE MDC AND NGOS 
COULD TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS LOOPHOLE.  THE MDC MP 
PROFESSED THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS LIKELY TO APPLY THE LAW 
SELECTIVELY, AND WILL IGNORE ZANU-PF VIOLATIONS.  ALSO 
OF CONCERN IS A REPORT THAT ZANU-PF IS DRAFTING A BILL 
THAT WOULD BAN ALL FOREIGN FUNDING OF NGOS--A MOVE THAT 
WOULD QUICKLY SHUT DOWN MOST OF ZIMBABWE'S INCREASINGLY 
VIBRANT AND DIVERSE CIVIL SOCIETY.  IF ZANU-PF PERSISTS 
IN ITS PURSUIT TO INDIRECTLY OUTLAW SOURCES OF 
OPPOSITION SUPPORT, THE EFFECT WILL BE TO DRIVE THE 
OPPOSITION UNDERGROUND, COLTART OPINED. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  01247  02 OF 03  051741Z 
 
7.  (SBU) OTHER BILLS BEFORE PARLIAMENT COULD ALSO 
HINDER THE OPPOSITION.  A PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE 
CITIZENSHIP OF ZIMBABWE ACT SEEKS TO CLOSE A LOOPHOLE IN 
THE LAW THAT ALREADY PROHIBITS ZIMBABWEAN CITIZENS FROM 
HOLDING DUAL CITIZENSHIP.  THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT WOULD 
REQUIRE HOLDERS OF TWO PASSPORTS TO RENOUNCE THEIR 
CITIZENSHIP OF THE FOREIGN COUNTRY ACCORDING TO THE LAWS 
OF THAT COUNTRY IF THEY ARE TO REMAIN ZIMBABWEAN 
CITIZENS.  (NOTE: THE CURRENT LAW STIPULATES THAT DUAL 
CITIZENS MUST RENOUNCE THEIR CITIZENSHIP ONLY ACCORDING 
TO THE LAWS OF ZIMBABWE.  IN A TEST CASE LAST DECEMBER, 
THE SUPREME COURT RULED IN FAVOR OF A ZIMBABWEAN WHO 
ALSO HELD A BRITISH PASSPORT.  THE REGISTRAR-GENERAL HAD 
REFUSED TO RENEW HER ZIMBABWEAN PASSPORT EVEN THOUGH SHE 
HAD RENOUNCED HER BRITISH CITIZENSHIP ACCORDING TO THE 
LAWS OF ZIMBABWE.  ALTHOUGH WE ARE NOT LAWYERS, THE NEW 
BILL'S EXTRATERRITORIAL PROVISIONS MAY BE DIFFICULT TO 
ENFORCE AND MAY NOT STAND UP TO A COURT CHALLENGE.  END 
NOTE.)  THE PROPOSED AMENDMENT WOULD REDUCE THE PERIOD 
THAT A DUAL CITIZEN CAN LEGALLY COMPLY FROM ONE YEAR TO 
SIX MONTHS.  THE PRIMARY TARGET OF THE AMENDMENT IS THE 
APPROXIMATELY 30,000 WHITES WHO HOLD BOTH ZIMBABWEAN AND 
BRITISH PASSPORTS.  THE GOVERNMENT IS CLEARLY BANKING 
THAT MOST OF THESE DUAL CITIZENS WILL CHOOSE TO RETAIN 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ4443 
 
PAGE 01        HARARE  01247  03 OF 03  051741Z 
ACTION AF-00 
 
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      OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00 
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                  ------------------DBFE91  051741Z /38 
O 051745Z APR 01 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8590 
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE 
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 03 OF 03 HARARE 001247 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER 
LONDON FOR CGURNEY 
PARIS FOR BWILLIAMS 
NAIROBI FOR TPFLAUMER 
USAID FOR AA/AFR VDICKSON-HORTON, AFR/SA CPALMA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/05/11 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, ECPS, KDEM, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE PARLIAMENT BECOMES RULING PARTY'S 
LATEST TOOL IN CORNERING THE OPPOSITION 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  01247  03 OF 03  051741Z 
 
THEIR BRITISH CITIZENSHIP, THUS RENDERING THEM 
INELIGIBLE TO VOTE IN THE UPCOMING PRESIDENTIAL 
ELECTION.  ZIMBABWE'S WHITE POPULATION OVERWHELMINGLY 
FAVORS THE MDC.  THE AMENDMENT HAS BEEN TABLED, AND WAS 
GAZETTEQON MARCH 23, WHICH MEANS IT WILL NEXT GO TO THE 
LEGAL COMMITTEE FOR CONSIDERATION. 
 
8.  (SBU) THE LABOR RELATIONS BILL, ONCE PASSED INTO 
LAW, WOULD HAVE THE EFFECT OF LIMITING THE ABILITY OF 
ZIMBABWE'S UNIONS TO ENGAGE IN STAYAWAYS OR OTHER LABOR 
ACTIONS, THEREBY WEAKENING ANOTHER KEY SOURCE OF 
OPPOSITION SUPPORT.  (SEE REF A FOR DETAILS OF THE 
BILL'S PROVISIONS.)  THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE 
ALSO ISSUED AN ADVERSE REPORT ON THE LABOR RELATIONS 
BILL, CALLING MANY PROVISIONS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. 
ACCORDING TO THE DEPUTY CLERK OF PARLIAMENT, THE BILL IS 
LESS OF A PRIORITY FOR THE GOVERNMENT, AND MAY BE HELD 
OVER UNTIL THE FINAL TWO-WEEK MEETING OF PARLIAMENT IN 
MAY OR THE SECOND SESSION, WHICH DOES NOT BEGIN UNTIL 
LATE JUNE OR JULY. 
 
9.  (C) COMMENT: ZANU-PF HAS RIDDEN ROUGHSHOD OVER 
OPPOSITION MPS IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS TO PUSH THROUGH A 
LEGISLATIVE AGENDA THAT IS CLEARLY AIMED AT SHRINKING 
THE OPPOSITION'S POLITICAL SPACE IN ZIMBABWE.  ALTHOUGH 
ZANU-PF MPS FOLLOWED THE LETTER OF PARLIAMENTARY 
PROCEDURE, THEY BLATANTLY DISPENSED WITH ALL SENSE OF 
FAIR PLAY OR PRETENSION OF PURSUING NATIONAL INTERESTS 
IN FAST-TRACKING IMPORTANT LEGISLATION THAT DESERVED 
MORE CAREFUL SCRUTINY AND DEBATE.  THE ZANU-PF 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  01247  03 OF 03  051741Z 
DELEGATION'S UNPRECEDENTED REJECTION OF SEVERAL ADVERSE 
REPORTS WITHOUT ALLOWING ANY ATTEMPT TO AMEND THE BILLS 
IN QUESTION DEMONSTRATES ITS ARROGANT BELIEF THAT IT 
KNOWS WHAT IS BEST FOR THE COUNTRY AND THAT THE 
OPPOSITION HAS NO MEANINGFUL ROLE.  THE RESULT IS THAT 
THE OPPOSITION AND OTHER VOICES OF DISSENT WILL FIND 
THEMSELVES MORE FENCED IN THAN EVER.  EVEN THOUGH ALL 
THE BILLS COULD BE CHALLENGED ON CONSTITUTIONAL GROUNDS, 
THE RESOURCES FOR THE OPPOSITION TO DO SO ARE QUICKLY 
DRYING UP, WHICH IS PROBABLY PART OF THE GOVERNMENT'S 
INTENT IN PURSUING A MORE LEGAL STRATEGY THAT WILL 
RESTRICT FUNDING FOR MDC COURT CHALLENGES.  AS TENDAI 
BITI STATED IN PARLIAMENT ON APRIL 4, "IT IS MORALLY 
WRONG FOR ZANU-PF TO USE ITS UNLAWFUL MAJORITY TO PUSH 
THESE BILLS THROUGH.  THE REPRESSIVE LEGISLATION SHOWS A 
MARKED DIFFERENCE OF APPROACH TOWARD MORE FASCISM."  END 
COMMENT. 
 
IRVING 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 

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