Nhema does not have political wherewithal


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United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Tom McDonald wrote off Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema as one of those new ministers in government who had no political wherewithal or personality to effect real change in President Robert Mugabe’s new cabinet.

Nhema was one of the Young Turks brought into the government to try to address challenges that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was facing following its near defeat by the nine-month old Movement for Democratic Change in the 2000 parliamentary elections.

McDonald said though Nhema had spent 11 years in the United States and Canada and was still learning the ministerial ropes, he stuck closely to the government script on land reform.

“Nhema asked questions and appeared interested in learning the US position on a variety of issues. We suspect that with his relative youth, Western education and working experience in the banking industry, Nhema is fully aware of the linkages between government-motivated political violence and economic decline,” the ambassador said.

“However, he is still too new to the current government to go out on a limb. In any case, Nhema does not appear to have the political wherewithal or personality to affect any real change in cabinet, and we do not expect him to wield much influence in the Zimbabwe government any time soon.”

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 00HARARE4767, AMBASSADOR CALLS ON NEW ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

00HARARE4767

2000-08-29 11:37

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

291137Z Aug 00

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ5875

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 04767 01 OF 03 291137Z

ACTION AF-00

 

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DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00

TEDE-00 INR-00   VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00 OES-01   ACE-00

SSO-00   SS-00   USIE-00 EPAE-00 IIP-00   DSCC-00 DRL-02

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——————7F28EB 291138Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6951

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 004767

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF, AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH

LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/29/05

TAGS: PGOV PINR SENV EIND EAID ZI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON NEW ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

FRANCIS NHEMA

 

REF HARARE 4695

 

CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR TOM MCDONALD, REASON 1.5 (B),

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 04767 01 OF 03 291137Z

(D)

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: ON AUGUST 24, AMBASSADOR MCDONALD PAID

AN INTRODUCTORY VISIT TO NEW MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT

AND TOURISM FRANCIS NHEMA, WHO IS ONE OF THE YOUNGEST

MEMBERS OF THE NEW CABINET. HAVING SPENT MOST OF THE

LAST 11 YEARS IN THE U.S. AND CANADA, NHEMA GENERALLY

SEES THE U.S.-ZIMBABWE RELATIONSHIP IN A POSITIVE LIGHT.

STILL LEARNING THE MINISTERIAL ROPES, HE ACKNOWLEDGED

THE EFFECTS OF THIS YEAR’S POLITICAL VIOLENCE ON

ZIMBABWE’S TOURISM INDUSTRY, BUT HAD ONLY THE GOVERNMENT

LINE TO OFFER ON LAND REFORM. ALTHOUGH ASSOCIATED WITH

THE YOUNGER GENERATION, NHEMA DOES NOT YET APPEAR TO

HAVE THE POLITICAL WHEREWITHAL OR PERSONALITY TO AFFECT

ANY REAL CHANGE IN CABINET. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) THE AMBASSADOR, ACCOMPANIED BY POLOFF AND

USAIDOFF, PAID AN INTRODUCTORY VISIT TO NEW MINISTER FOR

ENVIRONMENT AND TOURISM FRANCIS NHEMA. NHEMA IS ONE OF

THE NEW YOUNG BLOODS IN CABINET, AND, AS HE TOLD US, IS

THE SECOND-YOUNGEST MEMBER AFTER YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

MINISTER BORDER GEZI. THE SOFT-SPOKEN NHEMA INFORMED

THE AMBASSADOR THAT THIS IS HIS SECOND POSTING IN THE

ENVIRONMENT MINISTRY, WHERE HE WORKED IN THE 1980S AS A

SPECIAL ADVISOR TO THE VENERABLE VICTORIA CHITEPO (WIDOW

OF LIBERATION WAR HERO HERBERT CHITEPO), THEN

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER.

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 04767 01 OF 03 291137Z

————————————

U.S.-ZIMBABWE RELATIONSHIP UNCHANGED

————————————

 

3. (C) THE AMBASSADOR BEGAN THE DISCUSSION BY ASKING

NHEMA HOW HE ASSESSES THE U.S.-ZIMBABWE RELATIONSHIP.

THE MINISTER CONSIDERS IT ESSENTIALLY UNCHANGED UNLESS

ONE CONSIDERS THE SUSPENSION OF IMF AND WORLD BANK

SUPPORT. HE CHARACTERIZED IT AS BETTER THAN THE

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE U.K. WHEN ASKED TO EXPLAIN THE

INCREASE IN ANTI-AMERICAN RHETORIC, NHEMA BLAMED MEDIA

BIAS AND THE BRITISH FOR COMING BETWEEN ZIMBABWE AND THE

U.S. ZIMBABWEANS TEND TO LUMP THE U.S. AND U.K.

TOGETHER AS “THE WEST,” SO WHEN THE BRITISH RELATIONSHIP

SUFFERS, THE AMERICAN ONE DOES AS WELL, NHEMA OFFERED.

THE AMBASSADOR ENCOURAGED NHEMA AND OTHER OFFICIALS TO

DISCUSS THEIR DIFFERENCES WITH THE U.S. PRIVATELY AND

NOT IN THE PRESS, TO WHICH NHEMA AGREED.

 

——————

TOURISM SUFFERS…

——————

 

4. (C) THE DISCUSSION TURNED TO TOURISM AND THE EFFECT

THIS YEAR’S POLITICAL VIOLENCE HAS HAD ON THE INDUSTRY.

THE AMBASSADOR STATED THAT DESPITE ZIMBABWE’S MANY

PROBLEMS, AMERICAN VISITORS CONTINUE TO COME TO THE

COUNTRY. HOWEVER, AMERICANS ARE DIRECTED TO FOLLOW THE

STATE DEPARTMENT’S TRAVEL ADVISORY BEFORE PLANNING THEIR

TRIP. THE AMBASSADOR SAID A PUBLIC RELATIONS CAMPAIGN

TO PROMOTE ZIMBABWE TOURISM WOULD NOT BE EFFECTIVE SO

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 04767 01 OF 03 291137Z

LONG AS SQUATTERS CONTINUE TO ILLEGALLY OCCUPY FARMS AND

INTIMIDATE THEIR OWNERS.   THE MINISTER ACKNOWLEDGED,

SOMEWHAT GRUDGINGLY, THAT THERE IS LITTLE HE CAN DO TO

IMPROVE ZIMBABWEAN TOURISM UNTIL THE LAND ISSUE IS

SETTLED. BEFORE THE PROBLEMS DEVELOPED EARLIER THIS

YEAR, PROMOTING ZIMBABWE AS A TOURIST DESTINATION FOR

AMERICANS WAS AN IMPORTANT UNDERTAKING BY THE EMBASSY.

 

——————————

…WHILE LAND REFORM GRINDS ON

——————————

 

5. (C) PARROTING THE GOVERNMENT LINE, NHEMA REITERATED

THAT THE FARM OCCUPIERS WERE TO BE OFF THE FARMS NOT

IDENTIFIED FOR COMPULSORY ACQUISTION BY THE END OF

SEPTEMBER AND THAT FIVE MILLION HECTARES WERE TO BE

REDISTRIBUTED BY DECEMBER. OCCUPIERS ALREADY ON FARMS

DESIGNATED FOR REDISTRIBUTION WOULD BE ALLOWED TO

REMAIN, HOWEVER. ASKED ABOUT THE EVICTIONS OF THE WEEK

OF AUGUST 21 (REFTEL), NHEMA SAID THE POLICE DID NOT

FOLLOW GOVERNMENT POLICY AS THOSE EVICTED DID NOT HAVE

OTHER LAND ON WHICH TO SETTLE. THE AMBASSADOR POINTED

OUT THAT THE GOZ DOES NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES TO RESETTLE

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ5876

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 04767 02 OF 03 291138Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 DOEE-00

DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00

TEDE-00 INR-00   VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00 OES-01   ACE-00

SSO-00   SS-00   USIE-00 EPAE-00 IIP-00   DSCC-00 DRL-02

G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00     /004W

——————7F28FB 291138Z /38

O 291137Z AUG 00

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6952

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 03 HARARE 004767

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF, AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH

LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/29/05

TAGS: PGOV PINR SENV EIND EAID ZI

 

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON NEW ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

FRANCIS NHEMA

 

SO MANY PEOPLE IN SUCH A SHORT TIME. UPHOLDING THE

PRINCIPLES OF THE OWNERSHIP OF PRIVATE PROPERTY AND RULE

OF LAW, IN THE U.S. VIEW, IS ESSENTIAL TO RESTORING

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 04767 02 OF 03 291138Z

INTERNATIONAL DONOR SUPPORT, AND, THUS, ENSURING

ZIMBABWE’S LAND REFORM PROGRAM IS A SUCCESS.

 

6. (C) WHEN ASKED WHY THE GOZ SHOULD NOT REDISTRIBUTE

LAND GIVEN TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND CRONIES OVER THE

YEARS, NHEMA FLATLY DENIED THAT ANY LAND HAD BEEN GIVEN

TO GOVERNMENT MINISTERS, BUT DID NOT RULE OUT THAT

LOWER-LEVEL OFFICIALS HAD RECEIVED FARMS. MOST

PROPERTIES WERE TOO SMALL FOR SENIOR GOVERNMENT

OFFICIALS, NHEMA EXPLAINED, AND EVEN IF THEY DID RECEIVE

FARMS, THEY WERE STILL LEASED FROM THE GOVERNMENT. IF

THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT PROVIDE INPUTS OR TRAINING TO

NEW FARMERS, IS IT NOT SETTING THEM UP FOR FAILURE?

SIDESTEPPING THE ISSUE, THE MINISTER RESPONSED THAT FOR

THE COMMUNAL FARMER, RESETTLEMENT IS “HEAVEN.” ALL HE

WANTS IS LAND. WHAT ABOUT THE URBAN POOR WHO ARE MORE

INTERESTED IN FINDING JOBS THAN OBTAINING LAND? EVERY

ZIMBABWEAN, ESPECIALLY URBAN DWELLERS, DREAM OF RETIRING

TO THEIR HOME AREAS TO FARM THEIR NATIVE SOIL, ACCORDING

TO NHEMA. MORE AND MORE URBAN ZIMBABWEANS ARE APPLYING

FOR COMMUNAL LAND, BUT CANNOT GET IT BECAUSE OF

OVERCROWDED CONDITIONS IN THE COMMUNAL AREAS.

 

——————————–

U.S. HELP ON WILDLIFE PROTECTION

——————————–

 

7. (U) USAIDOFF BRIEFED THE ENVIRONMENT AND TOURSIM

MINISTER ON TWO PROGRAMS OF MUTUAL INTEREST. THE

CAMPFIRE (COMMUNAL AREAS MANAGEMENT PROGRAM FOR

INDIGENOUS RESOURCES) PROGRAM WAS STARTED IN 1989 TO

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 04767 02 OF 03 291138Z

HELP RURAL ZIMBABWEANS CONSERVE THEIR NATURAL RESOURCES

AND ACQUIRE INCOME FROM PROPER GAME MANAGEMENT. THE

PROGRAM IS IN ITS FINAL TWO YEARS OF IMPLEMENTATON AND

MAJOR EFFORTS ARE UNDERWAY TO COMPLETE REMAINING

ACTIVITIES AND OBJECTIVES. THE U.S. HAS PROVIDED $13

MILLION TO THE WIDELY EMULATED PROGRAM SINCE ITS

INCEPTION, AND WILL BE LOOKING FOR CONTINUED GOZ

SUPPORT. REGARDING CITES (CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL

TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF FAUNA AND FLORA), THE

EMBASSY HAS SUPPORTED ZIMBABWE’S ELEPHANT AND IVORY

POLICY. IN ORDER TO CONTINUE THAT SUPPORT, IT IS

IMPORTANT FOR ZIMBABWE TO CONTINUE TO MANAGE ITS

WILDLIFE AND IVORY STOCKS IN A SUSTAINABLE MANNER.

 

—————-

NOT A PLAYER YET

—————-

 

8. (C) COMMENT: STILL LEARNING THE MINISTERIAL ROPES,

NHEMA STUCK CLOSELY TO THE GOVERNMENT SCRIPT ON LAND

REFORM BUT DID ACCEPT, SOMEWHAT GRUDGINGLY, THAT THE

TOURISM INDUSTRY WOULD CONTINUE TO SUFFER UNTIL THE LAND

ISSUE IS RESOLVED. NHEMA ASKED QUESTIONS AND APPEARED

INTERESTED IN LEARNING THE U.S. POSITION ON A VARIETY OF

ISSUES. WE SUSPECT THAT WITH HIS RELATIVE YOUTH,

WESTERN EDUCATION AND WORKING EXPERIENCE IN THE BANKING

INDUSTRY, NHEMA IS FULLY AWARE OF THE LINKAGES BETWEEN

GOVERNMENT-MOTIVATED POLITICAL VIOLENCE AND ECONOMIC

DECLINE. HOWEVER, HE IS STILL TOO NEW TO THE CURRENT

GOVERNMENT TO GO OUT ON A LIMB. IN ANY CASE, NHEMA DOES

NOT APPEAR TO HAVE THE POLITICAL WHEREWITHAL OR

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 04767 02 OF 03 291138Z

PERSONALITY TO AFFECT ANY REAL CHANGE IN CABINET, AND WE

DO NOT EXPECT HIM TO WIELD MUCH INFLUENCE IN THE

ZIMBABWE GOVERNMENT ANY TIME SOON.

 

9. (U) BIO NOTE: FRANCIS NHEMA IS APPROXIMATELY 45

YEARS OLD AND HAILS FROM THE SHURUGWI DISTRICT OF

MIDLANDS PROVINCE. NHEMA WORKED IN THE ENVIRONMENT

MINISTRY BETWEEN 1985 AND 1989 AS A SPECIAL TOURISM

ADVISOR FOR VICTORIA CHITEPO, WHO WAS ENVIRONMENT

MINISTER AT THE TIME. HE THEN WORKED AS A PUBLICIST IN

THE BANKING AND TOURISM INDUSTRIES IN NEW YORK,

WASHINGTON, AND OTTAWA, CANADA UNTIL ABOUT 1996. NHEMA

RETURNED TO ZIMBABWE TO BECOME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE

ZIMBABWE BUILDING SOCIETY (ZBS), THE FIRST INDIGENOUS

FIRM TO PROVIDE MORTGAGES TO LOW-INCOME HOUSING BUYERS.

ALLEGATIONS AROSE IN THE PRESS THAT NHEMA SIPHONED OFF

MILLIONS OF U.S. DOLLARS FROM ZBS FOR HIS PERSONAL USE.

CHARGES OF FRAUD WERE FILED, AND ALL BUT ONE WAS LATER

DROPPED. ONE IS APPARENTLY STILL PENDING. IN 1999, THE

GOVERNMENT BAILED ZBS OUT OF BANKRUPTCY, AND NHEMA LEFT

THE ORGANIZATION. NHEMA RETURNED TO GOVERNMENT IN 2000

AFTER HIS ELECTION TO PARLIAMENT FROM HIS NATIVE

MIDLANDS PROVINCE, AND WAS APPOINTED MINISTER IN JULY.

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ5877

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 04767 03 OF 03 291138Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 DOEE-00

DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00

TEDE-00 INR-00   VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00 OES-01   ACE-00

SSO-00   SS-00   USIE-00 EPAE-00 IIP-00   DSCC-00 DRL-02

G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00     /004W

——————7F28FE 291138Z /38

O 291137Z AUG 00

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6953

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 03 OF 03 HARARE 004767

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF, AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH

LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/29/05

TAGS: PGOV PINR SENV EIND EAID ZI

 

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON NEW ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

FRANCIS NHEMA

 

NHEMA IS MARRIED TO MATADI NHEMA, A DAUGHTER OF THE LATE

VICE-PRESIDENT JOSHUA NKOMO, AND IS A MEMBER OF ZANU-PF.

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 04767 03 OF 03 291138Z

 

MCDONALD

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

(28 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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