Central Bank governor Gideon Gono was aware that International Crisis Group analyst Sydney Masamvu, who had worked as a journalist for the Financial Gazette and the Daily News, talked to United States embassy officials in Pretoria and may have misled him to fend off the International Monetary Fund from expelling Zimbabwe out of the organisation.
A diplomatic cable realised by Wikileaks and dispatched from the US embassy in Pretoria on 8 September 2005 acknowledges that Masamvu was indeed an embassy contact but this information should be strictly protected.
When Masamvu told the embassy that he had talked to Gono on 7 September and Gono had told him that Zimbabwe was going to make an additional payment of $50 million to the IMF, the embassy said that though Masamvu had passed on accurate information about Gono in the past, they believed that this time he might have been misled.
Zimbabwe had made a surprise payment of $120 million to the IMF and there were a lot of questions about where it had got the money.
Viewing cable 05PRETORIA3628, GONO SAYS NO ADDITIONAL IMF PAYMENT; SEEKS
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 PRETORIA 003628
DEPT FOR AF/S B. NEULING AND M. TABLER-STONE, EB/IFD, EB/OMA
LONDON, PARIS, BRUSSELS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/07/2015
SUBJECT: GONO SAYS NO ADDITIONAL IMF PAYMENT; SEEKS
REF: PRETORIA 3543 AND PREVIOUS
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Don Teitelbaum
Reasons 1.4(b) and (d)
¶1. (C) Summary: Zimbabwe will not/not make an additional $50
million payment to the IMF before the September 9 Executive
Board meeting, according to Zimbabwe Reserve Bank Governor
Gideon Gono. Gono would like to meet with U.S. officials on
the margins of his IMF consultations in Washington, but
requested that any talks be “very discreet,” suggesting that
he does not have President Mugabe’s approval for the meeting.
South Africa Minister Erwin confirmed publicly September 9
that the “difficult discussions” with Zimbabwe on a potential
South African loan were continuing. Gono said the political
conditions were the sticking point and suggested that the
revival of the ZANU-PF-MDC “compromise constitution” was
Pretoria’s key political condition. Information received
through Embassy source has been accurate in the past, but we
cannot discount the possibility Gono misled source on this
occasion. End Summary.
No Additional IMF Payment
¶2. (C) Zimbabwe Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono told
Embassy contact Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis
Group (strictly protect) September 7 that despite press
reports Zimbabwe will not/not make an additional $50 million
payment to the IMF before the September 9 Executive Council
meeting. (Note: South African newspaper Business Day
reported September 7 and 8 that Gono and Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa planned to “personally take the $50 million
cheque to the IMF,” a payment that would be in addition to
the $120 million Zimbabwe paid on August 29. The article
claimed that the GOZ raised the funds from the “local
exporters’ foreign currency account.” End Note.)
¶3. (C) IMF Resident Representative in South Africa Vivek
Arora (strictly protect), who was a member of the IMF team
that recently visited Zimbabwe, told EconOff September 7 that
he also was not aware of any additional planned payments to
Zimbabwe’s General Resources Account (GRA) at the IMF. Arora
observed that if Zimbabwe did pay all its arrears on its
General Resources Account (i.e., the remaining approximately
$50 million) there would be no legal basis for expelling
Zimbabwe from the IMF. Arora said that last week’s $120
million payment and accompanying macroeconomic policy changes
were probably sufficient to stave off expulsion, but that was
up to the Executive Board. Arora dismissed press speculation
that he took part in the recently-concluded IMF Mission to
Harare to coordinate the IMF and South African Government
plans for Zimbabwe. According to Arora, the IMF team simply
needed another senior official present. He also complained
that “about 70 percent of what appeared in local newspapers
about the IMF mission to Zimbabwe was rubbish.”
Gono Seeks Washington Meetings
¶4. (C) Gono told Masamvu that he would like to meet with
senior U.S. officials during his trip to Washington. (Note:
We understand that Gono departed Harare for Washington the
evening of September 7. End note.) Gono stressed that any
such meeting would have to be “very discreet.” He suggested
meeting the U.S. officials at the IMF, including perhaps the
U.S. Executive Director. Masamvu said that Gono was nervous
about meeting U.S. officials because he did not have the
consent of President Mugabe. Characterizing the Zimbabwean
Ambassador to Washington as a “Mugabe man,” Masamvu said that
Gono feared that the Ambassador might report any unauthorized
Gono meetings to Mugabe.
South Africa Loan Talks Continuing
¶5. (C) Gono confirmed to Masamvu that the Zimbabwe-South
Africa loan discussions were ongoing. He said that there was
agreement on the economic conditions, but the political
conditions remained the sticking point. Gono said that
Pretoria was pushing for a revival of the draft compromise
constitution that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and MDC
Secretary General Welshman Ncube negotiated last year.
Mugabe will appoint a two-member team to negotiate the
political conditions; Finance Minister Murerwa (a “political
lightweight” according to Masamvu) would not be part of the
¶6. (U) In September 7 parliamentary briefings, South African
Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin was quoted in the
press as having said that the “difficult discussions” with
the GOZ on the proposed South African loan were continuing.
Erwin said that Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel and Reserve
Bank Governor Tito Mboweni were taking the lead on the talks.
He suggested that the initiative for the loan now lies with
Harare; the loan “is not something South Africa has to
drive.” Erwin also said “if and when” an agreement is
reached, the SAG would reveal the basic conditions of the
loan, although some elements would be kept secret in the
interest of market security.
¶7. (C) Information from Gono through ICG’s Masamvu has proven
accurate in the past. Gono knows that Masamvu talks to the
U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, and it is possible that Gono misled
Masamvu on the additional $50 million to enhance the “element
of surprise” when he announces the payment at the IMF Meeting
in Washington. Other possibilities are that GOZ officials
floated the $50 million story to undermine lobbying for
Zimbabwe’s expulsion at the IMF, or that Gono is being kept
in the dark about the rumored payment.
¶8. (C) Gono’s report that the South Africans are demanding
the revival of the “compromise constitution” as a political
condition of their loan rings true. Advocate Gumbi told
Ambassador Frazer August 19 that South Africa will push for
the GOZ to accept at least elements of the negotiated
constitution. President Mbeki said that demands are likely
to be couched as “voluntary” moves by the GOZ. The SAG is
painfully aware, however, that the $120 million IMF payment
undermines their leverage in the ongoing loan discussions.