US embassy cable - 00HARARE3637

AMBASSADOR CALLS ON FINANCE MINISTER MURERWA AND HEARS PARTY PLATITUDES ON A TURNAROUND PLAN

Identifier: 00HARARE3637
Wikileaks: View 00HARARE3637 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2000-07-05 13:00:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: ECON EFIN PREL 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.

051300Z Jul 00


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ7156

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ACTION AF-00    

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      DSCC-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /011W
                  ------------------6A5BB7  051257Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6508
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
USDOC WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
DEPTTREAS WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 003637 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR AF, AF/S, AF/EPS, EB/IFD/ODF, EB/TPP/ODC 
TREASURY FOR ED BARBER AND GRACE SONE 
USDOC FOR 2037/ERIC HENDERSON 
STATE PASS USTR/RWHITTAKER 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH 
LONDON FOR PFLAUMER 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  03637  01 OF 02  051257Z 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/05/05 
TAGS: ECON, EFIN, PREL, EAGR, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON FINANCE MINISTER MURERWA AND HEARS 
PARTY PLATITUDES ON A TURNAROUND PLAN 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR MCDONALD, REASON 1.5 (B), (D) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY: IN A JULY 3 MEETING WITH THE FINANCE MINISTER, 
MURERWA TOLD US THAT HALTING ZIMBABWE'S ECONOMIC TAILSPIN WAS THE 
GOVERNMENT'S NUMBER ONE PRIORITY, IN PART AS A RESPONSE TO THE 
STRONG SHOWING OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE RECENT PARLIAMENTARY 
ELECTIONS.  HE COULD NOT PROVIDE US SPECIFICS ON HOW THIS WOULD BE 
CARRIED OUT.  HE ALSO TOLD US THAT WHETHER HE WOULD STAY ON AS 
FINANCE MINISTER WAS STILL IN THE AIR, AND APPEARED TO US TO BE 
READY FOR A CHANGE IN DUTIES.  HE LAMENTED THE RECENT ELECTION 
VIOLENCE, AND MOUTHED THE PARTY LINE THAT THE WHITE FARMERS COERCED 
THEIR WORKERS TO SUPPORT THE MDC.  AT THE HEAD OF FINANCE, IT MAY BE 
TIME FOR A CHANGE.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C) IN A CALL ON FINANCE MINISTER HERBERT MURERWA ON JULY 3, 
ACCOMPANIED BY ECON/COMM CHIEF AND POLOFF, THE AMBASSADOR WAS 
ADVISED THAT ADDRESSING ZIMBABWE'S SEVERE ECONOMIC PROBLEMS WILL BE 
THE GOVERNMENT'S NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.  ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THE MDC'S 
STRONG SHOWING IN THE JUST COMPLETED PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS WAS DUE 
TO THE ELECTORATES BAD ECONOMIC PLIGHT, THE MINISTER STATED THAT THE 
RULING PARTY KNEW THAT "BREAD AND BUTTER ISSUES" ARE PARAMOUNT. 
"THE PARTY PERFORMED POORLY", MURERWA TOLD US, "BECAUSE OF THE 
PROTEST VOTE AND, ESPECIALLY IN MATABELELAND, BECAUSE THE OPPOSITION 
HAD ENCOURAGED AN ETHNIC SPLIT", A DEVELOPMENT THE MINISTER 
LAMENTED.  THE MINISTER WARNED AGAINST THE DANGERS OF FANNING ETHNIC 
TENSIONS IN ZIMBABWE, AND IMPLIED THAT THE RULING PARTY WOULD NOT 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  03637  01 OF 02  051257Z 
TOLERATE ANY SUCH ACTIONS FROM THE NEW OPPOSITION PARTY.  MURERWA 
PROCLAIMED THE SAVING GRACES OF THE LONG-STALLED "MILLENIUM ECONOMIC 
RECOVERY PROGRAM", DECLARING THAT IT WOULD "TACKLE THE ROOT CAUSES 
OF INFLATION, CREATE A BETTER ENVIRONMENT FOR FOREIGN DIRECT 
INVESTMENT, RESOLVE THE LAND ISSUE ONCE AND FOR ALL, AND FULFILL THE 
GOVERNMENT'S GOAL OF CREATING JOBS IN THE URBAN AREAS, ETCETERA, 
ETCETERA."  LIKE THE PLAN ITSELF, THE MINISTER WAS MUM ON JUST HOW 
THESE ADMIRABLE GOALS WOULD BE ATTAINED. WHEN THE POLITICAL OFFICER 
QUESTIONED IF THE GOZ HAD THE ASSETS AND RESOURCES TO EXECUTE AN 
AMBITIOUS LAND PROGRAM AND URBAN JOBS PROGRAM AT THE SAME TIME, THE 
FINANCE MINSTER BEAMED AT US AND DODGED THE QUERY. 
 
------------------------------------ 
WILL HE STAY ON AS FINANCE MINISTER? 
------------------------------------ 
 
3.  (C) ON THE MATTER OF HIS POSSIBLE REAPPOINTMENT, MURERWA WAS 
EXTREMELY CIRCUMSPECT.  (COMMENT: IN RECENT DAYS THE RUMOR MILL HAS 
PLACED GIDEON GONO, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE COMMERCIAL BANK OF 
ZIMBABWE, AT THE HEAD OF THE SUCCESSION LIST; THOUGH THE JOB'S VALUE 
AS A REWARD FOR GONO'S TIRELESS EFFORTS TO SECURE FINANCING FOR THE 
COUNTRY'S FUEL IMPORTS CAN BE QUESTIONED.  THIS IS BECAUSE THE NEXT 
FINANCE MINISTER WILL FACE THE DAUNTING TASK OF HAVING TO PULL 
ZIMBABWE OUT OF A VERY DEEP ECONOMIC HOLE, WITH INFLATION, A SEVERE 
BALANCE OF PAYMENTS IMBALANCE AND A RUNAWAY BUDGET DEFICIT AS THE 
BIGGEST NEAR-TERM CHALLENGES.  END COMMENT.)  MURERWA JOKED THAT 
PERHAPS BECOMING THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, SPORTS AND CULTURE WOULD 
BE PREFERABLE, AS THEN HE COULD AT LEAST VISIT ALL THE COUNTRY'S 
GOLF COURSES. 
 
---------------- 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  03637  01 OF 02  051257Z 
THE PATH FORWARD 
---------------- 
 
4.  (C) ON A MORE SERIOUS POLITICAL NOTE, THE MINISTER DECLARED THAT 
IT WAS TIME FOR HIS COUNTRY TO HEAL ITS WOUNDS AND MOVE FORWARD. 
THE HISTORIC LAND INEQUALITY ISSUE HAD TO BE SOLVED, AND ZIMBABWE 
PUT BACK ON THE PATH TO GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT.  THE AMBASSADOR MADE 
THE POINT THAT THE UNITED STATES COULD HELP ZIMBABWE DEAL WITH ITS 
ECONOMIC MISTAKES, BUT THE GOVERNMENT'S HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATIONS 
INFLICTED ON ITS OWN PEOPLE WERE NOT ACCEPTABLE.  THE ECON OFFICER 
ALERTED THE MINISTER TO THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS OF THE AFRICAN 
GROWTH AND OPPORTUNITY ACT (AGOA), STATING THAT HUMAN AND DEMOCRATIC 
RIGHTS ISSUES, RATHER THAN MARKET AND OPERATING ENVIRONMENT ISSUES, 
WERE NOW MORE PROBLEMATIC FOR ZIMBABWE.  THE MINISTER ASSURED US 
THAT ENHANCING RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES WAS A TOP PRIORITY 
OF HIS GOVERNMENT, AND PROMISED POSITIVE STEPS TO DECISIVELY QUALIFY 
FOR THE BENEFITS OF THE AGOA.  (NOTE: THE MINISTER WAS SURPRISINGLY 
UNINFORMED ABOUT THE PROVISIONS OF THE AGOA DEADLINES, ALTHOUGH HE 
RESPONDED TO ECON/COMM CHIEF'S POINTS ON THE NEED TO ACT QUICKLY TO 
ENSURE THAT ZIMBABWE QUALIFIES THIS FISCAL YEAR.  END NOTE)  ON THE 
DETAILS OF THE LAND REFORM PROGRAM HE TOLD US WE WOULD HAVE TO TALK 
WITH VICE PRESIDENT MSIKA AND THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE.  HE 
FLATLY STATED THAT A DECISION ON DEVALUATION WOULD HAVE TO AWAIT THE 
APPOINTMENT OF A NEW CABINET, WHICH HE EXPECTED TO CONTAIN ABOUT 
HALF NEW FACES.  THE MINISTER CLOSED BY ASSURING US THAT A 
TURNAROUND WAS LOOMING, THOUGH HIS TESTIMONY DELIVERED WITH 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ7965 
 
PAGE 01        HARARE  03637  02 OF 02  051541Z 
ACTION AF-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   ACQ-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00 
      SMEC-00  CTME-00  INL-01   DINT-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  DOTE-00 
      SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    EUR-00   EXIM-01  E-00     FAAE-00 
      FBIE-00  VC-00    FRB-00   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01 
      LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  OMB-01   OPIC-01 
      PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00    IRM-00 
      SSO-00   SS-00    STR-00   T-00     USIE-00  FMP-00   PMB-00 
      DSCC-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /011W 
                  ------------------6A743F  051541Z /45 
P 051300Z JUL 00 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6509 
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
USDOC WASHDC 
NSC WASHDC 
DEPTTREAS WASHDC 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 003637 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR AF, AF/S, AF/EPS, EB/IFD/ODF, EB/TPP/ODC 
TREASURY FOR ED BARBER AND GRACE SONE 
USDOC FOR 2037/ERIC HENDERSON 
STATE PASS USTR/RWHITTAKER 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH 
LONDON FOR PFLAUMER 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  03637  02 OF 02  051541Z 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/05/05 
TAGS: ECON, EFIN, PREL, EAGR, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON FINANCE MINISTER MURERWA AND HEARS 
PARTY PLATITUDES ON A TURNAROUND PLAN 
 
CHARACTERISTIC BONHOMIE, DID NOT SUFFICE TO MAKE US TRUE BELIEVERS. 
 
------------------ 
POLITICAL VIOLENCE 
------------------ 
 
5.  (C) THE MINISTER SAID THE COUNTRY NEEDED TO MOVE FORWARD, AFTER 
ITS RECENT ELECTION SEASON VIOLENCE, AND FOCUS NOW ON ECONOMIC 
RECOVERY.  HE DOWNPLAYED, HOWEVER, THE DEGREE OF VIOLENCE ZIMBABWE 
JUST EXPERIENCED, NOTING THAT SOUTH AFRICA HAS MORE VIOLENCE ON A 
DAILY BASIS THAN ZIMBABWE HAD DURING ITS ELECTION PERIOD.  HE 
CONCEDED THAT THE MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANNGE IS A "NATIONAL 
PARTY" AND HOPED THAT IT WILL WORK WITH THE RULING PARTY TO ADDRESS 
THE COUNTRY'S ECONOMIC PROBLEMS. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
6.  (C) MURERWA APPEARED TIRED BUT RESIGNED AND NOT QUITE SURE OF 
WHERE HE SHOULD HANG HIS HAT AS THE NEWLY REELECTED MP FOR 
GOROMONZI.  THAT HIS BATTERIES ARE LOW IS NO SURPRISE, AND ALTHOUGH 
ONE OF THE MORE DECENT MINISTERS, A NEW FACE IN HIS CHAIR WOULD BE 
WELCOME BY US; PROVIDED THE PERSON IS COMPETENT, OPEN-MARKET 
ORIENTED, AND NOT MERELY A SYCOPHANT OF THE POLITBURO OR PRESIDENT. 
END COMMENT. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  03637  02 OF 02  051541Z 
 
MCDONALD 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 

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