US embassy cable - 00HARARE4692

AMBASSADOR CALLS ON NEW FINANCE MINISTER SIMBA MAKONI

Identifier: 00HARARE4692
Wikileaks: View 00HARARE4692 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2000-08-24 14:52:00
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.

241452Z Aug 00


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2693

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ACTION AF-00    

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   ACQ-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  
      SMEC-00  CTME-00  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     FDIC-01  NFAT-00  SAS-00     /011W
                  ------------------7D974C  241455Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6921
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
USDOC WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 004692 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR AF, AF/S, AF/EPS, EB/IFD/ODF, EB/TPP/ODC 
TREASURY FOR ED BARBER, GRACE SONE AND HOFFMAN BARAK 
USDOC FOR 2037/ERIC HENDERSON 
STATE PASS USTR/RWHITTAKER 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH 
LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  04692  01 OF 02  241454Z 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/05 
TAGS: ECON, EFIN, PREL, EAGR, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON NEW FINANCE MINISTER 
SIMBA MAKONI 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR MCDONALD, REASON 1.5 (B), (D) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY: THE AMBASSADOR, ECON AND NEW POL 
OFFICER MADE AN INTRODUCTORY CALL ON SIMBA MAKONI, THE 
RECENTLY APPOINTED FINANCE MINISTER ON AUGUST 22. 
MAKONI (WHOM THE EMBASSY KNOWS WELL) SHARED WITH US 
HIS DETERMINATION TO BE A FORCE FOR POSITIVE CHANGE 
AND PAINTED A NEW PICTURE OF THE POST-ELECTION CABINET 
AS A TEAM GIVEN THE BRIEF BY PRESIDENT MUGABE TO "GET 
ZIMBABWE WORKING AGAIN."  ON THE LAND ISSUE HE TOLD US 
"TO ONLY BELIEVE WHAT WE SEE."  THE NEW MINISTER 
EXPRESSED SERIOUS INTEREST IN THE STATUS AND OUTLOOK 
OF THE ZIMBABWE DEMOCRACY ACT, AND PLEADED FOR 
IMMEDIATE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND CLEAR USG SUPPORT 
GOING AHEAD.  HIS MESSAGE WAS STAND BY US, AND JUDGE 
ZIMBABWE ON ITS DEEDS, NOT ITS RHETORIC.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C) IN AN AUGUST 22 INTRODUCTORY CALL ON NEW 
FINANCE MINISTER SIMBA MAKONI, ACCOMPANIED BY ECON AND 
POL OFFICERS, THE AMBASSADOR DISCUSSED THE TOUGH 
PORTFOLIO AND CHALLENGES FACING THE NEW CABINET 
MEMBER, AND CRITICAL ISSUES ON THE PATH AHEAD.  THE 
COM AND OTHER SENIOR EMBASSY STAFF KNOW MAKONI WELL 
FROM HIS PRIOR PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES AND INTERESTS 
OVER THE YEARS, AND IN THE MEETING MAKONI WAS WARM AND 
STRAIGHTFORWARD WITH US. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  04692  01 OF 02  241454Z 
 
-------------------------------- 
THE WAY AHEAD WITH A NEW CABINET 
-------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) WHEN ASKED HOW HE VIEWED THE WAY FORWARD, 
MAKONI DECLARED THAT DETERMINING WHAT TO DO WAS NOT 
THE CHALLENGE, BUT RATHER WHEN, HOW AND WHETHER TO 
CARRY OUT THE HARD STEPS NECESSARY TO TURN AROUND THE 
DECLINE.  HOW FAR TO PUSH WAS A DELICATE ISSUE, THE 
MINSTER TOLD US, AND HE HAD SPENT MUCH OF THE LAST FEW 
WEEKS (MAKONI HAD BEEN SWORN IN 4 WEEKS PRIOR TO THE 
DAY OF OUR CALL) BEING BREIFED BY SENIOR MINISTRY 
STAFF AND LEARNING IN THE PROCESS THAT THE "JOB IS 
LESS ABOUT FINANCE, THAN IT IS ABOUT POLITICS."   THE 
NEW CABINET, IN MAKONI'S VIEW, CONSTITUTES A TEAM THAT 
HAS BEEN TASKED BY THE PRESIDENT TO GET RESULTS.  HE 
IS DEDICATED TO THIS GOAL, AND TOLD US THAT ZIMBABWE 
IS IN THE TOUGH SPOT OF NEEDING FOREIGN HELP TO GET 
OUT OF ITS PREDICAMENT; BUT AT THE SAME TIME HE KNEW 
THAT HELP WOULD ONLY COME WHEN CLEAR PROGRESS HAD BEEN 
MADE.  "WE WILL START THE CHANGE," HE STATED, "AND YOU 
CAN JUDGE US BY OUR DEEDS AND NOT OUR WORDS.  HOWEVER, 
WE NEED A SOFT BELLY TO LAND ON, AND ASK FOR ANY HELP 
YOU CAN PROVIDE." 
 
4.  (C) CONTINUING IN THIS SAME VEIN THE MINISTER 
STATED THAT THE CRITICAL ISSUE FACING THE GOVERNMENT 
IS TO REIN IN AND ELIMINATE LAWLESSNESS, AND THEREBY 
WIN BACK THE CONFIDENCE AND TRUST OF THE PEOPLE, AS 
WELL AS THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.  ONLY IF THIS IS 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  04692  01 OF 02  241454Z 
DONE CAN NORMALCY RETURN, AND EFFORTS CAN THEN BE MADE 
TO STEM THE ECONOMIC DECLINE.  MAKONI EMPHASIZED THAT 
THERE WERE NO SACRED COWS IN THIS EFFORT.  THE 
DEVALUATION SHOWED THIS AND THE SPENDING CUTS THAT ARE 
TO ENSUE WILL ALSO DEMONSTRATE THIS BY DEED.  MAKONI 
STATED THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS FORMULATING A PLAN TO 
ADDRESS THE RUNAWAY INFLATION RATE, WHICH HE HOPED TO 
HAVE FINALIZED BEFORE THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NEW 
BUDGET LATER THIS YEAR.  HE TOLD US BLUNTLY THAT 
ZIMBABWE WANTED OUT OF THE CONGO, AND THE AMBASSADOR 
ASSURED HIM THAT THE U.S. FULLY SUPPORTED WITHDRAWAL 
AND WAS DOING ALL IT COULD TO ACHIEVE THIS. 
 
-------------- 
THE LAND ISSUE 
-------------- 
 
5.  (C) THE AMBASSADOR ASKED THE NEW MINISTER IF THE 
GOZ WOULD GO AHEAD WITH ITS ANNOUNCED PLANS TO SEIZE 
3,000 COMMERCIAL FARMS BEFORE THE START OF THE RAINY 
SEASON.  MAKONI POINTEDLY REPLIED THAT WE SHOULD "ONLY 
BELIEVE WHAT YOU SEE," CLEARLY IMPLYING THAT THE 
SEIZURES AND RESETTLEMENT MAY WELL FALL SHORT OF THE 
3,000 MARK.  MAKONI FURTHER REMARKED THAT CLARITY WILL 
COME TO THE LAND ISSUE, AS IT IS SOMETHING ALL IN THE 
NATION NEED.  IN A FURTHER ATTEMPT AT REASSURING US, 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ2694 
 
PAGE 01        HARARE  04692  02 OF 02  241454Z 
ACTION AF-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   ACQ-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00 
      SMEC-00  CTME-00  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    SSO-00   SS-00 
      STR-00   T-00     USIE-00  FMP-00   PMB-00   DSCC-00  DRL-02 
      G-00     FDIC-01  NFAT-00  SAS-00     /011W 
                  ------------------7D9751  241455Z /38 
P 241452Z AUG 00 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6922 
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
USDOC WASHDC 
NSC WASHDC 
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 004692 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR AF, AF/S, AF/EPS, EB/IFD/ODF, EB/TPP/ODC 
TREASURY FOR ED BARBER, GRACE SONE AND HOFFMAN BARAK 
USDOC FOR 2037/ERIC HENDERSON 
STATE PASS USTR/RWHITTAKER 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH 
LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  04692  02 OF 02  241454Z 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/05 
TAGS: ECON, EFIN, PREL, EAGR, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON NEW FINANCE MINISTER 
SIMBA MAKONI 
 
MAKONI AGAIN EMPHASIZED THAT THE PRESIDENT'S BRIEF TO 
BOTH HIM AND THE ENTIRE CABINET WAS TO "GET ZIMBABWE 
WORKING AGAIN."  "IF I CANNOT DO THAT JOB, I WILL NOT 
BLAME IT ON THE PRESIDENT, BECAUSE IT WILL BE MY FAULT 
OR THE FAULT OF THE TEAM," HE PASSIONATELY STATED. 
"WE WILL SINK OR SWIM TOGETHER, AND I THINK THIS IS 
STARTING TO BE REALIZED," MAKONI ASSURED US. 
 
6.  (C) IN CLOSING, THE MINISTER ASKED US WITH NOTABLE 
CONCERN ABOUT THE STATUS, IMPACT AND OUTLOOK FOR THE 
ZIMBABWE DEMOCRACY ACT.  THE AMBASSADOR EXPLAINED OUR 
PRESENT DOMESTIC POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT, AND PROVIDED 
AN ASSESSMENT OF WHAT ACTION COULD TAKE PLACE, HOW AND 
WHY.  HE STATED THAT THE EMBASSY SHARED CONGRESS' 
CONCERN ABOUT THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN ZIMBABWE.  WE 
EXPLAINED TO THE FINANCE MINISTER THE KEY ROLE THE 
FOREIGN MINISTER'S UPCOMING VISIT TO WASHINGTON COULD 
PLAY, AND INFORMED HIM THAT WE WERE WILLING TO BRIEF 
THE FOREIGN MINSTER AND OTHER GOZ OFFICIALS BEFORE 
THEIR TRIP.  IN HIS FINAL WORDS THE NEW FINANCE CHIEF 
ASKED IF THERE WAS ANY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE THE UNITED 
STATES COULD PROVIDE ZIMBABWE TO HELP IT THROUGH ITS 
PRESENT DIFFICULT TIMES.  FOREIGN EXCHANGE IS SO 
SHORT, HE EXPLAINED, THAT IT IS A STRUGGLE TO EVEN 
COME UP WITH USD 2 MILLION TO GET SMALL AMOUNTS OF 
FUEL IMPORTED.  ANYTHING WE COULD PROVIDE "THAT'S NOT 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  04692  02 OF 02  241454Z 
TIED TO THE BIG PICTURE" WOULD BE VERY MUCH 
APPRECIATED.  THE AMBASSADOR EXPLAINED THE NATURE, 
AMOUNTS AND LIMITS ON OUR AID TO ZIMBABWE AND LET THE 
NEW MINISTER DOWN GENTLY. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
7.  (C) THOUGH WE KNOW MAKONI FAIRLY WELL, THIS 
INITIAL MEETING IN HIS NEW OFFICES WAS DIFFERENT THAN 
OUR PREVIOUS DISCUSSIONS WHEN HE WAS BUSINESSMAN 
BECAUSE OF THE IMPORTANT POST THE MINISTER HOLDS. 
WHILE MAKONI WAS SCANT ON DETAILS OF THE MINISTRY'S 
POLICIES GOING FORWARD (A FAULT SHARED BY THE 
MILLENIUM ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN), HE WAS HONEST, 
LISTENED CAREFULLY AND MADE HIS PITCH FOR ZIMBABWE 
WITHOUT SUSPENDING CRITICISM OR IGNORING REALITY.  WE 
LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH HIM AND HOPE THAT HIS 
WORDS AND VISION ARE MADE REAL.  THE EMBASSY DOES WANT 
TO HELP THIS MINISTER.  END COMMENT. 
 
MCDONALD 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 

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