United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell said after the February 2007 cabinet reshuffle, central bank governor Gideon Gono was increasingly acting as the de facto Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
The reshuffle was cosmetic with only Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa losing his job while Agriculture Minister Joseph Made was demoted.
Dell said the firing of Murerwa was a victory for Gono while the replacement of Made with Rugare Gumbo was a consolation for Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“By far the most important change is Murerwa’s firing, primarily because it highlights just how much influence Gono now has with Mugabe,” Dell said in a cable dispatched on 7 February 2007.
“Believing that he has Mugabe’s endorsement to pursue a ‘social contract’ as laid out in his recent Monetary Policy Statement, Gono is increasingly acting as the de facto prime minister and firing Murerwa removes one bitter rival from the equation.”
Viewing cable 07HARARE102, MUGABE RESHUFFLES HIS CABINET–GONO TRIUMPHANT,
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/2012
SUBJECT: MUGABE RESHUFFLES HIS CABINET–GONO TRIUMPHANT,
SUCCESSION POLITICS IN FULL-CRY
REF: HARARE 00080
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d
¶1. (U) Summary. In what the MDC spokesperson termed as
“rearranging the deck of a sinking Titanic,” President Mugabe
yesterday carried out a long-expected cabinet reshuffle.
With the exception of the sacking of Minister of Finance
Minister Herbert Murerwa and the replacement of Minister of
Agriculture Joseph Made, there were no major changes.
Murerwa was the only minister dropped (Made was demoted).
Three new ministers were appointed (one to replace Murerwa,
one to assume an open position, and one as head of a new
ministry) and four others were re-assigned. End Summary.
¶2. (SBU) The most significant change was the replacement of
Murerwa by Samuel Mumbengegwi, formerly Minister of State for
Indigenisation and Empowerment. Murerwa had long been at
loggerheads with Reserve Bank Governor Gideon, a close ally
of Mugabe. Mumbengegwi is the brother of Foreign Minister
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and, like his brother, is considered
close to Mugabe. The Mumbengegwis belong to the Mukaranga
ethnic group, as does Emmerson Mnangagwa, and this move may
have been an attempt by Mugabe to build support from the
Mnangagwa faction. It also signals Gono’s continuing
ascendency as he had long battled with the departed Murerwa
for control of economic policy. Mumbengegwi is considered a
non-entity, unlikely to challenge Gono’s de facto control
over all aspects of the economy.
¶3. (U) Rugare Gumbo, formerly Minister of Economic
Development, replaced Joseph Made as Minister of Agriculture.
Made became Minister of State Agricultural Engineering and
Mechanisation. Much criticism had been leveled at Made as
Minister of Agriculture for falsification of production
statistics which made food distribution difficult, for misuse
of agricultural subsidies, and more generally for presiding
over the rapid decline of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector.
There’s a certain irony in placing Made in charge of
agricultural engineering and mechanization at a time when his
policies as minister have led to an accelerating return to
hand-held tools as the principal means of farming. In
transferring him, Mugabe may have agreed with the Commercial
Farmers Union which thought him corrupt and incompetent.
Gumbo, a prominent war veteran who is extremely loyal to
Mugabe (and who is also a Mukaranga), seems unlikely to
pursue a more sensible approach to agriculture, and Mugabe’s
failure to promote the competent and pragmatic Sylveste Nguni
from vice-minister to minister is another clear indication
Mugabe is not serious about changing course. Nguni was,
however, promoted into the cabinet as Minister for Economic
Development. He is also a Mukaranga.
¶4. (C) Comment: The reshuffle is largely cosmetic, as have
been other recent cabinet reshuffles. Reportedly, few
HARARE 00000102 002 OF 002
individuals outside the cabinet are interested in
appointments, knowing that it would lead to their placement
on ours and the EU,s sanctions lists. By far the most
important change is Murerwa’s firing, primarily because it
highlights just how much influence Gono now has with Mugabe.
Believing that he has Mugabe’s endorsement to pursue a
“social contract” as laid out in his recent Monetary Policy
Statement (Ref), Gono is increasingly acting as the de facto
prime minister and firing Murerwa removes one bitter rival
from the equation. Murerwa was also increasingly aligned with
the Mujuru faction within ZANU-PF, so this is also likely to
be a move to curb their growing power base. In addition,
although Murerwa was no ball of fire, he had managed to
convince the IMF Article IV team during their December visit
that he was at least sincere about the need for reforms. End