President Robert Mugabe is a proud man who never admits mistakes so he is incapable of seeing the fault in his own policies, a Coca-Cola representative said more than a decade ago,
Sherree Gladys Shereni, a Zimbabwean who was Coca-Cola’s Communications Director, told United States embassy officials in Harare that Zimbabwe’s problems had really started in the 1980s when corruption first became a factor in government.
There were two major corruption scandals in the 1980s, the first one being the Paweni drought relief scandal and the other being the Willowvale Motors car scandal.
Shereni said Mugabe’s refusal to embrace fiscal discipline had further exacerbated the situation, especially the 1997 budget that caused the first economic crash.
She said Mugabe’s disdain for real democracy, even when his colleagues said it was in “intensive care” as early as 1989 was the final key factor in the country’s deterioration.
Shereni said Mugabe was so insulated from the people that he was unaware of the scale of suffering.
“The CIO had told him the people were unhappy in the late 1990s and Mugabe had responded by shouting them down. When the elections of 2000 had proven them right, Mugabe had taken vengeance on the people who had opposed him,” she said.
Shereni said Mugabe and his party were now very unpopular and people only voted for him because of fear.
“For most Zimbabweans, ‘peace’ means avoiding government terror,” she said.
She also said African leaders were afraid of criticizing Mugabe because of the skeletons in their own closets.
Besides, even with the economic crisis, Zimbabwe was relatively better off than most African countries.
Below are the first 220 of 626 Wikileaks cables on Mugabe.
Continued next page