Nguni said he could turn around the agricultural sector in six months


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Silvester Nguni, the former Cottco boss, said he would turn around the country’s agricultural sector in six months if he was appointed Minister of Agriculture in the new government.

Nguni was Minister of Economic Development at the time but said that his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party was going to allow the Movement for Democratic Change to introduce economic reforms in the new government because it had recognised that it was incapable of tackling the problem on its own.

Asked about his highest priority economic reform, Nguni called for immediate elimination of all the price distortions that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had introduced.

He said central bank governor Gideon Gono too powerful, too political, and “part of the problem”.

Nguni asked the United States government not to berate Zimbabwe but to encourage and react faster and publicly to positive developments.

He stressed that ZANU-PF was no longer a monolith and asked the US to support “change elements” in the party so that “anti-change elements” could see that it differentiated among the political players.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE965, ZIMBABWE: ECONOMIC MINISTER PAINTS HIMSELF AS

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08HARARE965

2008-10-27 15:29

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5714

PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0965/01 3011529

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 271529Z OCT 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3618

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2109

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2380

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2500

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1776

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2131

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2556

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4984

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1649

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000965

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

AF/EPS FOR ANN BREITER

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND E.LOKEN

TREASURY FOR D. PETERS

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2018

TAGS: ECON PGOV PREL ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE: ECONOMIC MINISTER PAINTS HIMSELF AS

 

REFORM-MINDED

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) ZANU-PF Minister of Economic Development Sylvester

Nguni in a meeting with emboffs on October 20 saw no evidence

of policy shifts in ZANU-PF and suggested that the ruling

party would eventually surrender economic policy to MDC in a

face-saving move out of desperation. He asked for rapid

donor assistance to buoy the reform process, and for the USG

to appreciate and reward progress that ZANU-PF had made in

the past year on the political front. Emphasizing that

ZANU-PF was no longer monolithic, he asked for support for

“change elements” in the party and contended that more

ruling-party members wanted change than favored the status

quo. While generally well-regarded across party lines as a

right-thinking businessman, Nguni has no track record of

positively influencing policy during his tenure in the

economic or agriculture ministries. END SUMMARY.

 

—————————————

No Evidence of Policy Shifts in ZANU-PF

—————————————

 

2. (C) Nguni opened his remarks to polecon chief and deputy

on the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe by

stating that he was a “minister in transition,8 and would

speak on his own, not government’s, behalf. (NOTE: Nguni was

re-elected to Parliament this year in the rich agricultural

district of Mhondoro-Mubaira in Mashonaland West province.

END NOTE.) He proceeded to say that he saw no evidence of

policy shifts in ZANU-PF, or any indication of clarity on the

economic front. He suggested that ZANU-PF, in a face-saving

move under a Government of National Unity (GNU), would allow

the MDC to introduce economic reforms, recognizing that the

ruling party was incapable of tackling the problems on its

own.

 

—————————

A Plea for Donor Assistance

—————————

 

3. (C) On the political front, in his view political reform

could no longer be stopped, but it could be delayed. He

feared the MDC could allow the negotiations to drag on to the

point that the process was overtaken by “other events”

(unnamed) and the MDC lost everything. Pointing out the

chasm in policy differences between the parties, he said the

first Cabinet meeting under a GNU would tell all about the

ability of the government to function effectively. The

Cabinet had a tradition of consensus-based decision making,

which would present an immediate challenge to the new mix of

policy makers.

 

4. (C) Nguni commented on the desperate economic situation

and estimated that about 40 percent of the households in his

constituency received remittances amounting to the equivalent

of about US$100/month. He asked how quickly the donor

community could provide assistance, without which, he

contended, recovery would be slow and uncertain. We replied

that reengagement was dependent on demonstration of political

and economic reform.

 

HARARE 00000965 002 OF 002

 

 

 

—————————————

RBZ Governor Gono “Part of the Problem”

—————————————

 

5. (C) Asked about his highest priority economic reform,

Nguni called for immediate elimination of all the price

distortions that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had

introduced. He called RBZ Governor Gono too powerful, too

political, and “part of the problem.” Prodded about what

ministry he would like to head in a new government, he

asserted that he could turn the agriculture sector around in

six months as its minister.

 

——————————————— ——

A Call for Support for “Change Elements” in ZANU-PF

——————————————— ——

 

6. (C) On U.S.-Zimbabwe relations, Nguni called the shift in

ZANU-PF thinking in the past year &huge8 and progress on

the political front significant. Never before had the two

parties sat down to negotiate. He asked the USG, in

response, not to berate Zimbabwe, rather to encourage and

react faster and publicly to positive developments. He

stressed that ZANU-PF was no longer a monolith and asked for

our support of “change elements” in the party so that

“anti-change elements” could see that the USG differentiated

among the political players. He denied that ministers were

under instruction not to meet with USG officials, but

acknowledged that many ZANU-PF officials were afraid to meet

with western diplomats. His closing message to emboffs was

that more ZANU-PF members wanted change than wanted the

status quo. (NOTE: Nguni, who served as Deputy Minister of

Agriculture under Joseph Made before becoming Economic

Minister, is a Specially Designated National. He is also on

the EU and Australian sanctions lists. END NOTE.)

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) Minister Nguni would clearly like the USG to regard

him as one of the “change elements” in ZANU-PF. Having

adeptly managed the privatization of the Cotton Marketing

Board in the early 1990s, he is widely regarded as an astute

and pro-market businessman with a deep understanding of the

agriculture sector. His name comes up invariably as a

potential ZANU-PF Minister of Agriculture who would be

acceptable to MDC. But his track record of reform in

government is as good as invisible. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

 

(12 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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