Central bank governor Gideon Gono, claiming to be a messenger of President Robert Mugabe, pleaded with United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell for 90 minutes that Zimbabwe wanted better relations with the United States.
Dell said the United States was open to better relations but Zimbabwe needed to first move beyond rhetoric and take concrete steps that demonstrated that real change was under way.
He said Zimbabwe could start by allowing the Daily News to resume publication, revoke – or at least not enforce – the NGO law and invite impartial international observers to oversee the 2005 parliamentary elections.
Gono admitted that he had failed to convince Mugabe to kill the NGO legislation, which he estimated could cost the economy 10 000 jobs.
He said Mugabe was very upset by US criticism of the bill and now felt he had no choice but to sign it since to do otherwise would be seen to be caving in to external pressure.
Dell said Mugabe could return the bill to Parliament on a technicality and blame it all on its author Patrick Chinamasa who was already in trouble over the Tsholotsho meeting that had opposed Mugabe’s choice of Joice Mujuru as vice-president.
Viewing cable 04HARARE2052, GIDEON GONO: ZIMBABWE,S WOULD-BE KINGMAKER?
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002052
STATE FOR AF/S
USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2014
SUBJECT: GIDEON GONO: ZIMBABWE,S WOULD-BE KINGMAKER?
Classified By: Classified by Ambassador Christopher
¶W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) Reserve Bank (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono, claiming to
be speaking on behalf of President Mugabe, told the
Ambassador that Mugabe wanted better relations with the U.S.
The Ambassador responded that the U.S. welcomed these
overtures, but that we needed to see real changes that
matched the rhetoric. On the economy, Gono shared a copy of
the letter the GOZ had sent to the IMF (faxed to AF/S) and
implored the U.S. to support another six-month reprieve when
the International Monetary Fund (IMF),s Executive Directors
vote on Zimbabwe,s compulsory withdrawal in late-January.
The Ambassador responded that the GOZ would again need to
demonstrate real commitment to improved economic management
and as a first step should make an authoritative public
statement along the lines of the letter. Gono also took
credit for the demise of Information and Publicity Minister
Jonathan Moyo and claimed that due to his influence with
Mugabe, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa might also soon be
fired. End summary.
¶2. (C) In a 90-minute session with the Ambassador, Gono
claimed to have been sent to see the Ambassador as
“messenger” from Mugabe. He insisted Mugabe sought
rapprochement with the U.S. The Ambassador responded that
we were open to better relations but that the GOZ needed to
first move beyond rhetoric and take concrete steps that
demonstrated real change was underway. As specific areas
where the GOZ could take immediate action, the Ambassador
cited allowing the banned Daily News to resume publication,
revoking – or at least not enforcing – the NGO law and
inviting impartial international observers to oversee
March,s parliamentary elections.
¶3. (C) Gono admitted he had failed to convince Mugabe to kill
the NGO legislation, which the RBZ had estimated could cost
the economy 10,000 jobs and several hundred million U.S.
dollars of inflows. He said Mugabe had been very upset by
U.S. criticism of the bill and now felt he had no choice but
to sign it since to do otherwise would be seen to be caving
in to external pressure. The Ambassador responded that
Mugabe could always return it to Parliament on a technicality
and then, if it were true that its author Chinamasa was in
trouble and possibly losing both his job and his place with
the Politburo, use it as a reason to fire Chinamasa thus
disposing of two problems at one time. While not responding
directly, Gono showed marked interest in this idea.
Gono pleads for another six months at IMF
¶4. (C) Gono urged the U.S. to support a further six-month
deferral on Zimbabwe,s compulsory withdrawal from the IMF
when it comes before the Executive Directors in late-January.
He dismissed as &misunderstandings8 the IMF,s and GOZ,s
widely conflicting 2005 forecasts for the economy. In that
regard, he gave the Ambassador a Dec. 10 letter from acting
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa to IMF Managing Director
Rodrigo Rato assuring more assertive action to repair the
economy. Reaching well beyond Gono,s Oct. 28 monetary
statement and Murerwa,s Nov. 25 budget speech, the letter
promises to reduce broad money (M3) growth from 220 to 80
percent by Dec 2005, eliminate the Z$824:US$ exchange rate
(largely a surrender requirement for exporters) and raise
quarterly IMF arrears payments to US$5 to 9 million in March.
In addition, Gono said he would also prevent a proposed 270
percent pay increase for civil servants and partly liberalize
¶5. (C) The Ambassador responded that the U.S. was still
considering its stance on compulsory withdrawal, but said
Zimbabwe,s case would be strengthened if it took decisive
and unequivocal steps to begin implementing the commitments
in the letter. In view of the short time available before
the January board meeting, a possible first might be for the
GOZ to commit itself publicly at an authoritative level to
the sort of sound economic policies it had referenced in the
Conspiring against the conspirators
¶6. (C) Gono told the Ambassador that Mugabe had complained
that a banker close to Gono had acted disloyally and
bankrolled the Tsholotsho meeting. Gono responded that the
unnamed banker had mistakenly believed that Mugabe’s close
assocations with Mnangagwa and Moyo meant that the President
supported their plans at Tsholotsho. In this manner, Gono
said he told Mugabe that these politicians had taken
advantage of the President,s perceived support. &You are
not aware of the credibility that comes with association,8
Gono said he told Mugabe. By having spent four hours at the
wedding of Mnangagwa,s child, Mugabe conveyed the false
impression to the ZANU-PF faithful that the Speaker was his
&heir apparent.8 Likewise, Information Minister Moyo,s
frequent visits to the President had conveyed the false
impression that he was speaking on behalf of Mugabe,
including when he organized the Tsholotsho meeting. Gono
predicted Mugabe would not include Moyo in the new Politburo,
which he expected the President to announce this Friday.
Without a Politburo seat, Gono speculated that Moyo could not
plausibly continue as the GOZ,s official spokesman. Gono
confirmed that many in ZANU-PF were &fed up with Jonathan
and his approach,8 and supported his ouster. GOZ moderates
were increasingly supporting the Daily and Sunday Mirror,
which Gono claimed was open to all viewpoints (N.B. and in
which Gono reportedly has a large financial stake).
¶7. (C) Gono also postulated that Chinamasa,s influence was
waning and that Mugabe might exclude the Justice Minister
from the new Politburo, in part a result of Gono,s own
efforts to undermine Chinimasa. The RBZ Governor explained
he had &no sympathy8 for Chinamasa after he turned down the
UN Development Program,s election assistance offer. The
Ambassador noted that he had sought a meeting with Chinimasa
for several months and just last week, suddenly, had received
the meeting. Gono responded that it was sometimes a good
thing to see people like Chinimasa get &wounded.8 He added
that Mugabe also expressed displeasure with Local Governments
Minister Chombo and Foreign Minister Mudenge, and that both
of them could be on their way out as well.
¶8. (C) Gono’s considerable ego and ambition sometimes make
it difficult to distinguish the degree to which he is
speaking for Mugabe from the self-serving spin he puts on
events. Nonetheless, this is the latest and perhaps
strongest indication to date of the GOZ’s growing interest in
rapprochement with the United States and the Ambassador used
it to lay down a strong marker that we expect the GOZ to take
the first steps. With respect to Gono, he clearly has
designs on still higher office. The bulk of the conversation
was about politics regardless of the fact that as RBZ
Governor, Gono,s writ is confined largely to economics. In
fact, he works to protray himself as having a much larger
role and great sway over Mugabe, albeit on an informal basis.
It is hard to say just how far Gono,s ambitions go but he
certainly aims as far as Prime Minister should that position