Central bank governor Gideon Gono said his monetary policy statement of May 2005 was a clear indication that Zimbabwe was prepared to play by global economic rules, including honouring bilateral investment agreements and was prepared to negotiate compensation with commercial farmers who had lost land during the land reform programme.
He said the compensation would, however, only be for improvements. His discussion with the Commercial Farmers Union and the Justice for Agriculture had established a baseline figure of US$4 billion in compensation claimed.
He had also successfully argued in favour of inviting back commercial farmers with badly needed skills.
Gono said that the next target of the government crackdown would be on the farms, where the government could not, for instance, allow squatters to take over coffee plantations and tear them up to grow maize to the detriment of the national economy.
He said this was part of a larger government plan to restore agricultural productivity, including through completion of many irrigation projects, as the foundation for rebuilding the economy.
Viewing cable 05HARARE760, GONO LAYS IT ON THICK
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 000760
DEPT FOR U/S BURNS; AF A/S NEWMAN/DAS WOODS; OVP FOR
NULAND; NSC FOR ABRAMS, COURVILLE;
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/27/2015
SUBJECT: GONO LAYS IT ON THICK
Classified By: Classified by Ambassador Dell, reasons 1.4 (b) (d)
¶1. (C) Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono told the Ambassador
June 1 that the GOZ wanted western financial assistance and
better relations with the U.S. and the UK. The GOZ was
prepared to play by global economic rules, including honoring
bilateral investment agreements, and was prepared to
negotiate compensation with commercial farmers who lost land
as a result of GOZ,s land reform policies. The Ambassador
responded that the GOZ,s recent crack down on the informal
economy was sending a different message and that we would
respond appropriately to positive GOZ policy changes )
political as well as economic. That said, we were prepared
to provide food assistance if needed and requested. End
RBZ Monetary Policy
¶2. (C) Gono said the business community might have complained
publicly that the devaluation of the Zimdollar to 9000 was
insufficient but privately they were thanking him (N.B. The
parallel rate has held steady this week at roughly 25,000.
This reflects the lack of trading activity in light of the
government crack down on the informal sector rather than
increased confidence in the Zimdollar.) With the subsidies
he had established, Gono claimed Zimbabwean exporters would
once more be competitive internationally. However, he would
have been able to consider a steeper devaluation if he had
greater reserves or international financial support. To that
end, Gono said his May 19 presentation had a message in it
for the international community, including the IMF, which was
due in Harare next week for Article Four consultations:
Zimbabwe would once more play by the global economic rules.
This meant adhering to bilateral investment agreements, not
just with respect to land but for all investments.
¶3. (C) Gono said it also meant that the GOZ had agreed &in
principle,8 at his instigation, to compensate commercial
farmers who had lost their land as part of the land reform
program. The compensation would be limited to improvements
to the land. His discussions with various farmer,s unions,
including Justice for Agriculture (JAG) and the Commercial
Farmer,s Union (CFZ), had established a baseline figure of
USD 4 billion in compensation claimed. Gono said this would
be the starting point for negotiations, though obviously the
GOZ,s resources were much less. He added that he had also
successfully argued in favor of inviting back commercial
farmers with badly needed skills. In that regard, Gono noted
that the next target of the government crack down would be on
the farms, where the government could not, for instance,
allow squatters to take over coffee plantations and tear them
up to grow maize to the detriment of the national economy.
This was part of a larger GOZ plan to restore agricultural
productivity, including through completion of many irrigation
projects, as the foundation for rebuilding the economy.
Operation Restore Order
¶4. (C) The Ambassador said the U.S. welcomed greater emphasis
on agricultural productivity, which could indeed be the
foundation of economic recovery in Zimbabwe. However, we saw
little evidence that Zimbabwe was embracing global economic
rules or sound economic policies. The events of the past two
weeks, especially the attack on the informal economy, seemed
to us to be courting economic meltdown. Gono said
three-quarters of the cabinet had agreed the day before that
Operation Restore Order had gone too far. He personally felt
that it could have been conducted with &more finesse.8 The
GOZ was now reassessing the importance of the informal sector
and would look for ways to regulate it rather than destroy
¶5. (C) Gono said the GOZ also had a message for the U.S. The
GOZ wanted the U.S. to use its influence with the UK to
facilitate a rapprochement. Zimbabwe wanted to turn a page
in its relations with the UK and let bygones-be-bygones.
Zimbabwe also wanted better relations with the U.S. Gono
said without U.S. support there was no chance that the IMF or
other global financial institutions would provide economic
assistance. The Ambassador responded that U.S. policy was
not based on past events but on current policies and that we
would respond positively to positive changes in GOZ behavior
) political and economic. He added that there was no chance
we would support IMF assistance absent those policy changes;
in fact we would likely vote again in July to expel Zimbabwe
from the organization since the GOZ had not used its two six
month &reprieves8 to embrace a sound approach.
¶6. (C) The Ambassador said regardless of our differences with
the GOZ, the U.S. would respond if Zimbabwe needed food
assistance this year. While we would not play politics with
food, our support was not unconditional. The GOZ would have
to formally ask for assistance at an authoritative level,
though this need not be public. It would also have to be
fully transparent about what was needed, including full
disclosure with respect to stocks and imports. Finally, we
would not allow the GOZ to politicize distribution and would
insist that international NGOS be involved. Gono promised to
relay this to other GOZ officials.
¶7. (C) In an effort to make sense of this meeting, our report
is probably overly coherent. In fact, Gono was rambling,
disjointed and defensive in the hour-long conversation. He
spent most of the time talking about side issues and
irrelevancies, attempting to portray his policies as sound
and effective. They are neither. He also seemed at pains to
distance himself from the excesses of GOZ economic policies,
especially the recent crack down, while still claiming
authorship of those policies and implying that his status as
the preeminent GOZ economic decision maker remains intact.
In fact, he is clearly diminished in stature, especially
compared to Joyce Mujuru, whose presence at his May 19
announcement didn,t mark political support so much as the
new pecking order.