Minister of Water Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, a member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, said most of the members of cabinet from the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front were difficult to deal with, but the MDC could work with Environment Minister Francis Nhema and Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi whom he described as moderates.
Nkomo thought political and economic progress would be difficult given ZANU-PF’s intransigence.
The MDC’s goal was to get to free and fair elections, which it was confident it could win, and to provide as many services as possible until then to maintain and gain support.
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SUBJECT: OBSERVATIONS OF MDC MINISTER OF WATER
Classified By: CDA Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (C) Polecon Chief spoke with Minister of Water Sam Nkomo
on March 19. Nkomo is an MDC MP from Matabeleland North and
is the brother of John Nkomo, the ZANU-PF party chairman and
a Minister of State in the president’s office. He offered
observations on the current situation.
¶2. (C) Nkomo said the Ministry of Water, like other
ministries, is “broke.” He is centralizing the purchase of
treatment chemicals to achieve economies of scale and
discounts. Until now, ministers and ZANU-PF insiders have
sold chemicals to the government to their own benefit. He
estimates that a year’s supply of chemicals would be US$28
¶3. (C) Nkomo is a professional accountant and his permanent
secretary, whom he described as competent and hard-working,
has an agricultural background. Many technically qualified
people have left the ministry in the last several years. He
would welcome technical assistance from a water expert to
give him a good overview of Zimbabwe’s water problems and
what is needed to correct them.
¶4. (C) ZANU-PF cabinet members are for the most part set in
their ways and difficult to deal with, according to Nkomo.
He excepted Minister of the Environment Francis Nhema and
Minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi whom he described as
moderates with whom the MDC could work. Nkomo thought
political and economic progress would be difficult given
ZANU-PF intransigence; the MDC’s goal was to get to free and
fair elections, which it was confident it could win, and to
provide as many services as possible until then to maintain
and gain support.
¶5. (C) Nkomo, who has been a strong Tsvangirai supporter,
told us that Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara had been
a positive force in cabinet and had been caucusing with MDC-T
ministers. The other two MDC-M ministers, Welshman Ncube and
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, had not caucused with MDC-T
and had taken a more neutral role in cabinet meetings.
¶6. (C) Turning to ZANU-PF politics, Nkomo said he had spoken
privately recently with Vice President Joice Mujuru, who was
formerly Minister of Water. He said she was critical of
ZANU-PF and supported MDC programs to liberalize the economy
and expand political space. He recounted the cabinet’s
discussion of Minister of Finance Tendai Biti’s downward
revision of the budget which was presented to Parliament
yesterday (Septel). Most ZANU-PF ministers opposed the
revision and wanted to delay consideration by Parliament.
Mujuru supported the MDC position which was ultimately
supported by President Mugabe as well. Nkomo opined that
while Mugabe remains influential, he is constrained by
ZANU-PF hardliners such as Patrick Chinamasa, Nicholas Goche
and the service chiefs.
¶7. (C) Nkomo’s comments on Mujuru tracks with what we have
been hearing. Joice Mujuru has had private contacts with the
Qbeen hearing. Joice Mujuru has had private contacts with the
MDC and she and her husband Solomon would not be sad to see
Mugabe go. (Solomon Mujuru has remained largely on the
sidelines since his unsuccessful attempt to force Mugabe’s
retirement in December 2007.) While there are fissures
within ZANU-PF and the party appears to be weakening, a clean
break by Mujuru and her followers does not appear to be on
the horizon. END COMMENT.
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