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Biti described Mugabe as bosom buddy, lambasted Mnangagwa

Finance Minister Tendai Biti said although there were three outstanding “toxic” issues within the Global Political Agreement, President Robert Mugabe was very cooperative and acted as a “bosom buddy”.

There were, however, continuing challenges to the transitional government and reform by Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front hardliners led by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, on whom Biti laid blame for ongoing land seizures.

“They (the service chiefs) have killed for him,” Biti said, “and they have to kill this thing (the transitional government).”

Biti said this during a visit to the United States in April 2009 where he was trying to persuade Washington to bail out Zimbabwe.

He said three “toxic” issues still cast a cloud over the transition and masked some of the progress made to date.

These toxic issues included recurring violent farm seizures, continued politicised detentions, and the failure to appoint Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett as deputy Agriculture Minister.

Recalling the case of the Solidarity movement in Poland, Biti suggested it would be cheaper for the US and other donors to provide resources to Zimbabwe now in order to guarantee a successful transitional government rather than to rescue a country that could fall back into economic collapse.

The US said it would only move beyond humanitarian assistance when it had proof of concrete actions and progress by the government of Zimbabwe.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09STATE45149, UNDER SECRETARY BURNS’ APRIL 24, 2009

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09STATE45149

2009-05-04 19:43

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Secretary of State

O R 041943Z MAY 09

FM SECSTATE WASHDC

TO AMEMBASSY HARARE IMMEDIATE

INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

AMEMBASSY LONDON

C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 045149

 

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2019

TAGS: OVIP PREL ZI

SUBJECT: UNDER SECRETARY BURNS’ APRIL 24, 2009

CONVERSATION WITH ZIMBABWE FINANCE MINISTER TENDAI BITI

 

Classified By: AF Acting A/S Phillip Carter, Reasons: 1.5 B & D.

 

 

1. (U) April 24, 2009; 12:15 pm; State Department.

 

2. (C) Summary: Finance Minister Biti, who was in

Washington for meetings with the World Bank and IMF, had a

courtesy call with U/S Burns on April 24. In their

discussion of the transition government, Biti noted that much

work remains to be done by the Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ)

in the areas of rule of law, property rights, and freedom of

press. He stressed, however, that Zimbabwe is in transition,

and that life is improving for the people. U/S Burns

recognized the challenges facing Biti and members of the

opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and thanked

Biti for his dedication. Burns reaffirmed that USG funding

decisions will depend on progress on democracy and rule of

law. End Summary.

 

3. (C) U/S Burns recognized the challenges facing Biti and

the transitional government and stressed our desire to see

progress on rule of law. He noted the skepticism in

Washington regarding the commitment of President Robert

Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party to genuine reform. In response,

Biti acknowledged two major sets of outstanding issues

(established in the September 2008 Global Political

Agreement, GPA):

 

–Equitable and shared (ZANU-PF and MDC) appointment of key

government officials, including ambassadors, governors, and

permanent secretaries of ministries; and replacement of the

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor and Attorney General;

and

 

–Follow-through on needed reforms, including modification of

draconian media and association laws and concrete steps on

drafting a new constitution.

 

Biti recognized three “toxic” issues casting a cloud over the

transition and masking some of the progress made to date.

These toxic issues include recurring violent farm seizures,

continued politicized detentions, and the failure to appoint

MDC Treasure Roy Bennett as Deputy Agriculture Minister.

 

4. (C) Biti stressed that Zimbabwe is genuinely in

transition, with relative peace and stability and far less

violence than in recent memory. “Things are better, doors

have been opened,” he opined. He called attention to Finance

Ministry progress on reigning in hyperinflation, initial

reforms at the RBZ, and operating from a realistic budget.

He admitted to understanding U.S. reluctance to offer new

assistance (beyond humanitarian), given concerns over money

falling into the hands of Mugabe and his cronies,

specifically the hard-line military chiefs who strongly

oppose the transitional government. Recalling the case of

the Solidarity movement in Poland, Biti suggested it would be

cheaper for the U.S. and other donors to provide resources to

Zimbabwe now, in order to guarantee a successful transitional

government, rather than to rescue a country that could fall

back into economic collapse.

 

5. (C) Regarding inter-party dialogue and co-governance,

Biti noted that Mugabe’s public tone has been largely

conciliatory in recent weeks. He stated that some progress

had been attained in the April 21 and 23 Mugabe-Morgan

Tsvangirai meetings with GPA negotiators. Biti referred to a

recent meeting he had with Mugabe in which the latter was

cooperative and acted as if a “bosom buddy.” But he worried

about continuing challenges to the transitional government

and reform by ZANU-PF hardliners led by Defense Minister

Emmerson Mnangagwa, on whom Biti laid blame for ongoing land

seizures. “They (the service chiefs) have killed for him,”

Biti said, “and they have to kill this thing (the

transitional government).”

 

6. (C) U/S Burns closed the meeting by expressing our strong

desire to be able to move beyond humanitarian assistance if

we had proof of concrete actions and progress by the GOZ.

Biti pledged to do a better job at publicizing progress,

including via the PM’s new website.

 

7. (SBU) Participants:

 

U.S.

 

Under Secretary Burns;

Sarah Takats, P;

Brian Walch, AF/S (notetaker).

 

Zimbabwe

 

Tendai Biti, Minister of Finance;

Eria Hamandishe, Advisor.

 

 

CLINTON

(35 VIEWS)

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