Zimbabweans and older ZANU-PF were rejoicing at the detention of Phillip Chiyangwa and James Makamba but the big fish seemed to be getting away with it.
A cable released by Wikileaks said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s much ballyhooed anti-corruption campaign had shut down one large bank and a smattering of marginal institutions while pursuing several hundred individuals.
But though the RBZ had dredged up genuine instances of impropriety and embezzlement, it had mostly acted against holders and facilitators of undeclared foreign accounts and not yet against political leaders.
RBZ investigators had so far raised charges against four significant players: businessmen Philip Chiyangwa and James Makamba as well as Intermarket’s Nicolas Vingirai and Barbican Bank’s Mtuli Ncube.
“Chiyangwa and Makamba were successor generation ZANU-PF upstarts aiming to leverage their political influence into commercial endeavours. Many Zimbabweans – including older ZANU-PF politicos – seemed to rejoice at their imprisonment,” the cable says.
Viewing cable 04HARARE460, The GOZ’s Anti-Corruption Show
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
171022Z Mar 04
UNCLAS HARARE 000460
STATE FOR AF/S AND AF/EX
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER
USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
¶E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: The GOZ’s Anti-Corruption Show
1.(U) Summary: The Reserve Bank’s (RBZ) much ballyhooed
anti-corruption campaign has now shut down one large bank
and a smattering of marginal institutions while pursuing
several hundred individuals. Although the RBZ has
dredged up genuine instances of impropriety and
embezzlement, it has mostly acted against holders and
facilitators of undeclared foreign accounts and not yet
against political leaders. This is part of the RBZ’s
latest and misguided attempt to destroy the parallel
currency market. End summary.
Uneasiness Over Vingirai and Ncube Charges
¶2. (SBU) So far, RBZ investigators have raised charges
against four significant players: businessmen Philip
Chiyangwa and James Makamba as well as Intermarket’s
Nicolas Vingirai and Barbican Bank’s Mtuli Ncube.
Chiyangwa and Makamba were successor generation ZANU-PF
upstarts aiming to leverage their political influence
into commercial endeavors. Many Zimbabweans – including
older ZANU-PF politicos – seemed to rejoice at their
imprisonment. Reactions to charges against Vingirai and
Ncube have been more conflicted. (Intermarket is a large
bank, while Barbican was only launched as a commercial
bank last year.) Both Vingirai and Ncube were founders
and CEOs of their banks, prominent businessmen who served
as role models and financiers for emerging black
entrepreneurs. Those who liked and respected the two
have been pained to see them flee the country.
¶3. (U) In addition, the RBZ has pursued a host of tiny
financial institutions – such as Trust, NMB and ENG – as
well as several hundred individuals. In some cases, the
RBZ seems to have unearthed evidence of malfeasance,
perhaps best epitomized by Chiyangwa’s large collection
of fancy cars. In most cases, however, the RBZ is
charging individuals and financial bodies with
externalization of assets. Ultimately, this is
selective and opportunistic enforcement, since almost
every large business and businessman has dealt in the
parallel market and maintained undeclared foreign
accounts. For example, RBZ Governor Gideon Gono’s own
bank, CBZ, had been a prominent parallel market trader.
¶4. (SBU) The net effect of the RBZ’s energetic anti-
corruption campaign has been negative on two accounts.
First, this economy needs a parallel currency market, at
least until there is sufficient export revenue to fuel
the twice-weekly auctions. By killing the parallel
market while enforcing an overvalued zimdollar at
gunpoint, the RBZ is further damaging the economy by
limiting sharply access to essential foreign exchange.
Second, the RBZ has been too selective in its targeting.
Despite ample evidence of similar “offenses,” authorities
have yet to snare a truly “big fish” such as a cabinet
official or Parliament speaker Emmerson Mnangwagwa.
¶5. (SBU) It is ironic that Barbican’s Ncube was a serious
runner-up to Gono as the new RBZ chief. In a parallel
universe, we have no doubt that RBZ Governor Ncube is
contemplating whether to take a call from fugitive Gono