Nicholas Ncube disappoints US embassy officials


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Former permanent secretary for Finance Nicholas Ncube, who was described by the United States embassy as a “dependable and solid embassy interlocutor for over a decade”, was a big disappointment when the embassy tried to solicit how his ministry was doing from him.

The embassy accused him of mimicking what his boss, Simba Makoni, had done during his recent visit to Washington.

“On the Finance Ministry’s operations and domestic economic conditions Ncube, to our disappointment, fed us a straightforward version of the government line,” the embassy said.

“He boasted that government January receipts were above budget, partially due to the very hefty fee increases they have been pushing across the board (from speeding tickets to birth certificate fees to photocopies for the public).

“He further claimed that total government spending was ‘good’ and even proclaimed that the Defence ministry was within its budget, despite the 50 percent cut (in real terms) it suffered in the 2001 budget.”

But the embassy was happy about one thing. Ncube had listened to their comments closely and they had no doubt he was going to communicate the message both to the management at his ministry and to the oral network of his government colleagues.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 01HARARE750, THE FINANCE PERMSEC FEEDS US THE GOVERNMENT

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE750

2001-02-14 14:08

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.

 

141408Z Feb 01

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTO9318

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00750 141406Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   ACQ-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00 CTME-00

DINT-00 DODE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00

EXIM-01 E-00     FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00   FRB-00   H-01

TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00   ITC-01   LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00

AC-01   NSAE-00 OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00

ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   SSO-00   SS-00   STR-00   T-00

USIE-00 FMP-00   PMB-00   DSCC-00 DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00

SAS-00   SWCI-00   /010W

——————C59423 141406Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8226

NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

USDOC WASHDC

DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000750

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF, AF/S, AF/EPS, EB/IFD/ODF, EB/TPP/ODC

TREASURY FOR ED BARBER, AND BARAK HOFFMAN

USDOC FOR 2037/ERIC HENDERSON

STATE PASS USTR/RWHITTAKER

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY

PARIS FOR BISA/WILLIAMS

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00750 141406Z

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/05/11

TAGS: ECON EFIN PREL PINR ZI

SUBJECT: THE FINANCE PERMSEC FEEDS US THE GOVERNMENT

LINE

 

 

CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D’ AFFAIRES EARL IRVING, REASON

1.5 (B), (D)

 

REF: 00 HARARE 6566

 

1. (C) ON FEBRUARY 13 NICHOLAS NCUBE, PERMANENT

SECRETARY – MINISTRY OF FINANCE, PAID A CALL ON US AT

 

SIPDIS

OUR INVITATION TO DISCUSS ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL

DEVELOPMENTS, AND THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP. WE KNOW

NCUBE WELL, AS HE HAS BEEN A DEPENDABLE AND SOLID

EMBASSY INTERLOCUTOR FOR OVER A DECADE THROUGHOUT HIS

STRING OF GOVERNMENT POSITIONS. IN THIS VEIN NCUBE

SAT DOWN AND ASKED, “WHAT DO YOU THINK OF US?” CHARGE

INFORMED HIM FRANKLY AND DIRECTLY OF THE VERY SERIOUS

CONCERNS WE HAVE FOR THE MULTITUDE OF NEGATIVE

DEVELOPMENTS OCCURRING WITH DIRECT GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

AND BACKING. WE ADVISED HIM THAT TOLERANCE THRESHOLDS

ARE BEING OVERWHELMED, AND THAT SIMULTANEOUS ATTACKS

ON THE JUDICIARY, THE INDEPENDENT PRESS AND THE

LEADERSHIP OF THE OPPOSITION PARTY ARE CAUSING SEVERE

DAMAGE TO ZIMBABWE’S STANDING AND NATIONAL CHARACTER.

NCUBE TOOK OUR MESSAGE IN WITH LITTLE OR NO REBUTTAL

AND ADMITTED THAT HIS COUNTRY HAS EXCEEDINGLY GOOD AIM

WHEN IT COMES TO SELF-INFLICTED WOUNDS.

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00750 141406Z

 

2. (C) ON THE FINANCE MINISTRY’S OPERATIONS AND

DOMESTIC ECONOMIC CONDITIONS NCUBE, TO OUR

DISAPPOINTMENT, FED US A STRAIGHTFORWARD VERSION OF

THE GOVERNMENT LINE. HE BOASTED THAT GOZ JANUARY

RECEIPTS WERE ABOVE BUDGET, PARTIALLY DUE TO THE VERY

HEFTY FEE INCREASES THEY HAVE BEEN PUSHING ACROSS THE

BOARD (FROM SPEEDING TICKETS TO BIRTH CERTIFICATE FEES

TO PHOTOCOPIES FOR THE PUBLIC). HE FURTHER CLAIMED

THAT TOTAL GOVERNMENT SPENDING WAS “GOOD”, AND EVEN

PROCLAIMED THAT THE DEFENSE MINISTRY WAS WITHIN ITS

BUDGET, DESPITE THE 50 PERCENT CUT (IN REAL TERMS) IT

SUFFERED IN THE 2001 BUDGET (REFTEL). HOW THIS COULD

BE THE CASE, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE ADDITIONAL

TROOPS SENT TO THE CONGO AFTER THE KABILA

ASSASSINATION, WAS NOT FORTHCOMING FROM THE PERMSEC.

 

3. (C) HE ADMITTED TO DIFFICULTIES IN CARRYING OUT

PRIVATIZATION, CITING AS AN EXAMPLE THE PROCLAIMED

INABILITY OF THE RESPONSIBLE MINISTRY (READ

AGRICULTURE) TO FIND THE SHARE CERTIFICATES NEEDED TO

SELL OFF THE GOZ’S MAJORITY STAKE IN COTTCO (A

PARTIALLY-PRIVATIZED PARASTATAL INVOLVED IN COTTON

PRODUCTION AND SALES). HE LAMENTED THAT THE STOCK

MARKET PRICE WAS DROPPING OF LATE, AND JOKED THAT HE

HAD THREATENED TO MAKE UP ANY LOSSES CAUSED BY THE

DELAY FROM THE MINISTRY’S OWN BUDGET. NCUBE ALSO TOLD

US THAT THE NEW CASH PAYMENT SYSTEM INSTALLATION

(DESIGNED TO PREVENT MINISTRIES FROM SPENDING MORE

THAN THEIR BUDGET ALLOCATION) WAS GOING WELL, WITH

EDUCATION, AGRICULTURE, FINANCE AND THE CENTRAL

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 00750 141406Z

PAYMENTS OFFICE ALREADY ONLINE. COMING UP NEXT WAS

FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENSE AND THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE.

THE FINANCE MINISTRY PLACES GREAT FAITH IN THE ABILITY

OF THE SYSTEM TO CONTROL OVERSPENDING, THOUGH WE WILL

RESERVE OUR JUDGMENT UNTIL WE SEE WHAT COMES OF WELL-

CONNECTED MINISTERS’ VISITS TO THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE,

TO PLEA FOR THAT SPECIAL, EXTRA, ONE-TIME-ONLY

ALLOCATION.

 

4. (C) COMMENT: NCUBE LISTENED CLOSELY AND WE HAVE NO

DOUBT THAT HE WILL COMMUNICATE OUR MESSAGE BOTH TO

MANAGEMENT AT HIS MINISTRY AND TO THE ORAL NETWORK OF

HIS GOVERNMENT COLLEAGUES. HIS BLASE PRESENTATION OF

WHAT CAN ONLY BE CHARITABLY DESCRIBED AS HALF-TRUTHS

WAS A LETDOWN, BUT IT MIMICKED WHAT HIS BOSS, SIMBA

MAKONI, HAD DONE DURING HIS RECENT WASHINGTON VISIT.

WE WILL KEEP THE CHANNELS OPEN, AND WILL ONLY BELIEVE

FISCAL CONTROL SUCCESS WHEN WE SEE IT. END COMMENT.

 

IRVING

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

 

(175 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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