Walter Mzembi, Deputy Minister of Water Resources, told United States embassy officials that opponents to President Robert Mugabe within the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front had “no balls”.
He therefore saw no effective challenge to Mugabe from within the party.
The greatest threat to Mugabe and ZANU-PF was the economy, especially the absence of goods in the shops.
Mzembi was talking to embassy officials after the government’s directive to cut down prices which was a short-lived bonanza for consumers but left supermarket shelves empty.
He said that the parlous state of the economy was the greatest threat to a ZANU-PF victory in upcoming elections.
A divided Movement for Democratic Change presented minimal threat.
Mzembi also said that ZANU-PF had had discussions with the pro-Senate (Mutambara) MDC faction about a coalition.
Viewing cable 07HARARE736, ZANU-PF OFFICIAL ON CURRENT POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2012
SUBJECT: ZANU-PF OFFICIAL ON CURRENT POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC
Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Glenn Warren under 1.4 b/d
¶1. (C) Walter Mzembi, GOZ Deputy Minister for Water
Resources and Infrastructural Development, told polecon chief
that the recent price control policy had been badly
mismanaged and that recovery would be difficult. The parlous
economic situation was ZANU-PF’s greatest enemy in next
year’s elections, but MDC lack of unity greatly improved the
ruling party’s chances. On U.S.-Zimbabwe relations, Mzembi
encouraged greater contact between the Embassy and the
government. End Summary.
¶2. (C) Polecon chief met with Mzembi on August 16. Mzembi
is one of the few GOZ or ZANU-PF officials who has been
willing to talk with us in recent years.
Price Controls a Disaster
¶3. (C) Mzembi said that the GOZ’s recent price control
policy was a precipitous response to former Ambassador Dell’s
prediction in May that the government would fall within
months as a result of inflation, which Dell said could climb
to over one million percent by year’s end. Mzembi thought a
response to spiraling inflation was necessary. In his view,
however, the government should have frozen prices, rather
than roll them back to an arbitrary date, and should have
formulated a comprehensive policy to deal with wholesalers
and producers at the same time.
¶4. (C) Mzembi thought that recovery would be difficult.
While the populist policy had been a short-term boon to
consumers, there were no goods in the pipeline and it would
be uneconomical, given current policies, for producers to
renew production. In the long run, the solution was to let
the law of supply and demand work. But this would require a
change in government policy. Mzembi noted that he was one of
the few within the government willing to challenge economic
Economy a Threat to ZANU-PF…but not the MDC
¶5. (C) Acknowledging that the absence of consumer goods
caused by the price control policy was creating disquiet
among not only urban dwellers, but also the rural population
which has traditionally been ZANU-PF’s base, Mzembi said that
the parlous state of the economy was the greatest threat to a
ZANU-PF victory in upcoming elections. At present, however,
a divided MDC presented minimal threat to ZANU-PF. Mzembi
also said ZANU-PF had had discussions with the pro-Senate
(Mutambara) MDC faction about a coalition. Although there
were currently Ndebele in government, a coalition to include
elected parliamentarians from Matabeleland would increase
ZANU-PF’s strength, according to Mzembi.
¶6. (C) Polecon chief asked Mzembi about opposition to Mugabe
within ZANU-PF, particularly from the Mujuru faction. Mzembi
said internal opponents to Mugabe had “no balls,” and he saw
no effective challenge to the president from within the party.
HARARE 00000736 002 OF 002
¶7. (C) Noting that U.S. policy would not change with the
departure of Ambassador Dell and the arrival of a new
ambassador, polecon chief told Mzembi we would nevertheless
like to expand our contacts with reformist ZANU-PF
parliamentarians and GOZ officials–whatever the
configuration of a post-Mugabe government, some of these
individuals could be involved and it would be useful to know
each other. Mzembi responded that the advent of a new
ambassador might present such opportunities, and he would
sound out some of his colleagues.
¶8. (C) With under nine months until elections, there are
various political cross-currents at play. The Tsvangirai
faction has had talks with the Mujuru faction and the
Mutambara faction has discussed a coalition with ZANU-PF in
general. Both MDC factions continue to talk. While next
March could well result in an election between Mugabe and the
MDC, the dynamic political environment could foster other