Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo is named as one of the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front hardliners who were either enriching themselves from the government’s interventionist policies way back in 2003 or were unwilling to put pressure on Mugabe to make a change.
Chombo was named together with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo by Standard Chartered Bank chief executive, Washington Matsaira, who was also president of the Zimbabwe Bankers’ Association. Chombo was Minister of Public Works.
Matsaira told United States ambassador Joseph Sullivan that the hardliners- or President Robert Mugabe’s inner-circle “hawks”- were refusing to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar because they were enriching themselves by accessing the US dollars at the official exchange rate.
He said their unwillingness to press Mugabe for change was very frustrating and had led to decision-making paralysis.
“The banker sees unmotivated teachers and bribe-hungry policemen with an audacity unthinkable just 5 years ago,” embassy officials say in a cable released by Wikileaks on 19 February 2003.
“The brain-drain is so severe that it is no longer possible to fill certain professional positions at Standard Chartered in spite of the country’s high unemployment.”
Viewing cable 03HARARE337, Leading Banker Fears Decision Paralysis
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 000337
STATE FOR AF/S AND AF/EX
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR 2037 DIEMOND
PASS USTR ROSA WHITAKER
TREASURY FOR ED BARBER AND C WILKINSON
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
¶E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Leading Banker Fears Decision Paralysis
Ref: a) Harare 111 b) Harare 244
¶1. (SBU) Summary: Unless the GOZ modifies its economic
policies, the Bankers’ Association President believes its
once-formidable infrastructure will be irreparably
damaged. End summary.
¶2. (SBU) Standard Chartered Chief Executive and Zimbabwe
Bankers’ Association President Washington Matsaira told
Ambassador Sullivan that President Mugabe’s inner-circle
“hawks” are subverting the Tripartite Agreement (septel)
as well as the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries’
(CZI) proposal to devalue the Zimdollar for exporters
(ref a). Hardliners — Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo and Public Works Minister Ignatius
Chombo — are either still enriching themselves from the
GOZ’s interventionist policies (often accessing U.S.
dollars at the official rate) or unwilling to press
Mugabe to make a change. This has led to decision-making
paralysis, particularly frustrating because CZI’s
leadership believed it had convinced all the key players
of the need to devalue. Matsaira said a group of
exporters even persuaded the GOZ to allow a one-time
parallel market exchange US$ 25 million last month,
seeming admission that the official rate is untenable.
There has been no further positive sign from government.
¶3. (SBU) Matsaira notices increasing infrastructure and
even moral decay in Zimbabwe, symptoms of the economic
crisis that may become permanent by the year’s end. An
every-man-for-himself dictum is taking grip of a society
that once exalted community. The banker sees unmotivated
teachers and bribe-hungry policemen with an audacity
unthinkable just 5 years ago. The brain-drain is so
severe that it is no longer possible to fill certain
professional positions at Standard Chartered (in spite of
the country’s high unemployment). Indigenous fuel
companies clandestinely send their supply of heavily-
subsidized fuel to neighboring countries. In sum,
Matsaira thinks Zimbabwe is gradually being “Zaire-ized,”
a reference to Mobutu Sese Seko’s misrule in today’s
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
¶4. (SBU) Matasaira’s somber observations parallel those
that lower-grade local employees shared with us a few
weeks ago (ref b). Zimbabweans surprise themselves with
their own growing contempt for laws and social-norms, one
step in the country’s rapid metamorphism.