US embassy cable - 08HARARE492

AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH GIDEON GONO

Identifier: 08HARARE492
Wikileaks: View 08HARARE492 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2008-06-06 14:52:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO3227
OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0492 1581452
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 061452Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2999
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2034
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2155
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSUTR] NK*{FISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1297
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000492 
 
SIPDIS 
 
AF/S FOR S. HILL 
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU 
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS 
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS 
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/06/2018 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, ASEC, PHUM, ZI 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH GIDEON GONO 
 
REF: 07 HARARE 795 
 
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d) 
 
1.  (C) Gideon Gono, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe 
(RBZ), told the Ambassador on June 4 that President Robert 
Mugabe has prostate cancer that has metastasized and, 
according to doctors, will cause his death in three to five 
years.  According to Gono, Mugabe's doctor had recommended he 
cut back on his activities.  (NOTE:  Gono told us last year 
that Mugabe was ill and that his doctor had urged him to step 
down immediately. Mugabe had told his doctor, according to 
Gono, that he would leave office after the election (reftel). 
END NOTE.) 
 
2.  (C) Gono acknowledged the ongoing violence and said he 
was appalled.  It was "brother against brother and sister 
against sister" for political purposes.  An uncle had even 
been the victim of ZANU-PF thugs. 
 
3.  (C) Turning to the economy, Gono said the GOZ was rapidly 
going broke.  It was desperate for hard currency to pay its 
expenses.  His attempt to devalue by introducing the "willing 
seller, willing buyer" mechanism was not working. 
 
4.  (C) The Ambassador raised the recently imposed 
restrictions on CARE and other NGOs.  Gono said the 
government's rationale was based on its belief that NGOs were 
distributing food on a political basis to garner MDC support, 
and that NGO purchases of grain was driving up the price to 
the detriment of the GOZ's Grain Marketing Board.  The 
Ambassador replied this was nonsense and stressed the 
humanitarian crisis that could result from the GOZ's actions. 
 Gono promised to take up the matter with Minister of Labor 
and Social Welfare Nicholas Goche or facilitate a meeting 
between the Ambassador and Goche.  (NOTE:  On June 5, the day 
after the Ambassador's meeting with Gono, Goche announced the 
suspension of activities of all NGOs and PVOs.  The 
announcement was not restricted to organizations engaged in 
humanitarian work.  END NOTE.) 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
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5.  (C) Given Mugabe's health, and the desire of many within 
ZANU-PF that he step down because of the state of the 
economy, it is likely the latest date Mugabe will stay in 
office, assuming he wins on June 27, is December 2009.  This 
is when ZANU-PF will hold its scheduled Congress to re-elect 
officers.  It is also quite possible that after a June win, 
ZANU-PF will begin the succession game resulting in a 
departure for Mugabe earlier than December 2009. 
 
6.  (C) COMMENT CONTINUED:  As always, Gono in his meeting 
with the Ambassador attempted to portray himself above the 
fray -- aware of the perfidious activity of ZANU-PF but not 
responsible for it.  We continue to hear reports, however, 
that Gono plays an integral role in the Joint Operation 
Command (JOC) responsible for running the country. 
Furthermore, Gono as Governor of the RBZ, has been able to 
keep the economy running through his monetary machinations, 
including the printing of money.  That said, he remains a 
useful contact to facilitate approaches to the GOZ in times 
of crisis, such as the detention of our diplomats on June 5 
(septel).  END COMMENT. 
 
McGee 

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