Government more receptive to criticism from business than MDC


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The government was more receptive to criticism from the business sector than from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change because the business sector was seen as apolitical, United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell said.

He said this after a meeting between embassy officials and Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries vice-president Florence Sachikonye.

Sachikonye said the CZI was seeking a meeting with President Robert Mugabe because he had last met the business organisation six years before.

The CZI was working closely with central bank governor Gideon Gono not because it agreed with his policies but because he was the only government official with a chance of improving the business climate.

Sachikonye, who said she relied on buying foreign currency from the parallel market because she had failed to get any from the auction system, dismissed Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and Industry and Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi as Mugabe’s “yes men”.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE1681, Business Seeks to Rebuild Govt Ties

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1681

2004-10-07 09:15

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 001681

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/S

USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

 

SENSITIVE

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECON EAGR ETRD EINV PGOV ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: Business Seeks to Rebuild Govt Ties

 

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for Internet posting.

 

Ref: Harare 1347

 

1. (SBU) Summary: The Confederation of Zimbabwe

Industries’ (CZI) top female official berated the GOZ’s

trade-unfriendly policies and general economic

mismanagement. However, she expressed hope that

President Mugabe would send the business community a

positive signal either by meeting face-to-face with CZI

leaders or by allowing a serious succession discussion at

the ruling ZANU-PF’s December congress. End summary.

 

2. (SBU) Econoff met Oct 1 with incoming CZI Vice

President Florence Sachikonye, the first woman voted into

a senior office of the country’s preeminent business

association. Owner of a chain of Harare’s top clothes

boutiques, Sachikonye related her own frustration as an

importer. Since the Reserve Bank (RBZ) introduced its

currency auctions in January, Sachikonye’s firm has

failed each time at buying U.S. dollars through this lone

official channel. Like many importers, she has had to

source foreign exchange through the illegal parallel

market. Nonetheless, Sachikonye complies with the GOZ’s

apparel tariffs, including 65 percent duty plus Z$

250,000 (US$ 45)/kg. She complained that a single pair

of men’s shoes can weigh one kilogram, pushing duty well

beyond 100 percent. Sachikonye added that her clothes

compete against smuggled – and hence duty-free – Chinese-

made apparel. She worries that GOZ customs officials

will start asking her to explain her source of foreign

exchange as her containers enter the country.

 

3. (SBU) In her capacity as the new CZI VP, Sachikonye

hopes she will be able to arrange a meeting between

President Mugabe and CZI officials. The last such

encounter took place six years ago. Mugabe has also

declined invitations to address CZI’s annual congress for

the past three years. Sachikonye said CZI will continue

to support RBZ Governor Gideon Gono, not because members

agree with his policies but CZI believes because he is

the only GOZ official with a chance of improving the

business climate. She dismissed other senior GOZ

officials, such as acting Finance Minister Herbert

Murerwa and Industry/Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi,

as Mugabe’s “yes-men.” Finally, she speculated that a

ZANU-PF December congress that addresses presidential

succession would motivate firms to invest in the economy.

 

4. (SBU) Comment: As we observed at the August CZI

Congress (ref), business leaders are more willing than

even a year ago to take GOZ officials to task for poor

policies. Part of the credit for rebuilding this

government-business dialogue goes to Gono and part to

CZI’s outspoken, recently-exited President Anthony

Mandiwanza. Certainly, GOZ officials are more receptive

to criticism from the relatively apolitical business

community than from the opposition, civil society or any

international players. Whether this modest government-

business dialogue can help bring about saner economic

policies is still an open question.

 

Dell

(27 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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