Embassy said arrest of Kuruneri was not the answer


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The United States embassy said the arrest of Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri for externalising foreign currency was not the answer to the country’s problems because he was a moderate who had spoken against a proposal by hardliner Minister of Agriculture Joseph Made.

Kuruneri was charged with externalising foreign currency after it emerged he was building a R30 million house in Cape Town and had a Canadian passport when the country’s laws prohibited dual citizenship.

“We are concerned about the selective enforcement of the Foreign Exchange Control Act,” the United States embassy said. “Using it to bring down one of many allegedly corrupt ministers does not make the legislation or the GOZ’s tactics less repressive.”

“If Kuruneri deserves sanction or prosecution, it is probably for graft and abuse of privilege rather than foreign investment. ….By GOZ cabinet standards, Kuruneri was a relative moderate who even spoke out publicly last year against a proposal from hard-line Agricultural Minister Joseph Made.

“Now he is the latest victim in the GOZ’s clumsy attempt to demonstrate that forex speculation destroyed the economy and that the Government is weeding out corruption.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE702, GOZ Forex Crusade Snags Finance Minister

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE702

2004-04-26 09:04

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 000702

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECON EINV PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: GOZ Forex Crusade Snags Finance Minister

 

Ref: 03 Harare 2140

 

1. (SBU) Summary: With the detention of Finance Minister

Chris Kuruneri over the weekend, the GOZ’s witch hunt

against foreign exchange externalizers reached a new

level. Kuruneri is the GOZ’s latest pretext for blaming

the country’s economic demise on parallel market trading

and foreign accounts, rather than its own policies. End

Summary.

 

2. (SBU) For over a month, the South African Sunday Times

has been embarrassing the GOZ by reporting of Kuruneri’s

new 8-bedroom R$ 30 million beachfront Cape Town getaway.

This has put the Finance Minister in the surreal position

of defending himself against a repressive Foreign

Exchange Control Act that his ministry helped create, but

that he – and nearly every affluent Zimbabwean – has

violated. Ostensibly, the GOZ is charging Kuruneri not

because he acquired millions of U.S. dollars through

graft, bribe or other corruption, but because he invested

in a foreign country without subjecting funds to official

exchange. Underscoring the heavy-handed nature of the

weekend imprisonment, the GOZ is also charging Kuruneri

with the benign offense of possessing a Canadian

passport. (GOZ law does not recognize dual nationality.)

 

3. (SBU) Comment: We are concerned about the selective

enforcement of the Foreign Exchange Control Act. Using

it to bring down one of many allegedly corrupt ministers

does not make the legislation or the GOZ’s tactics less

repressive. If Kuruneri deserves sanction or

prosecution, it is probably for graft and abuse of

privilege rather than foreign investment. While nearly

every Zimbabwean motorist relied on black market fuel

last year, the Government similarly imprisoned political

enemies for purchasing fuel outside official (at the

time, nonexistent) channels. By GOZ cabinet standards,

Kuruneri was a relative moderate who even spoke out

publicly last year against a proposal from hard-line

Agricultural Minister Joseph Made (ref). Now he is the

latest victim in the GOZ’s clumsy attempt to demonstrate

that forex speculation destroyed the economy and that the

Government is weeding out corruption.

 

Sullivan

 

(36 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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