Finance Minister Tendai Biti told United States embassy officials that central bank governor Gideon Gono was a thief because he had misused commercial bank reserves at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
He was briefing embassy officials on the outcome of the Southern African Development Community troika meeting that had been held in Maputo the previous week.
According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks which was dispatched by new US ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray on 10 November 2009, Biti said the troika had given parties to the Global Political Agreement 15 days to resolve outstanding issues. If they failed to reach agreement, South African President Jacob Zuma would begin a 15-day mediation process.
Biti thought that President Robert Mugabe would agree to some of the issues such as the appointment of provincial governors and the swearing in of Roy Bennett, but he was not sure whether Mugabe would agree to the replacement of Gono and attorney-general Johannes Tomana, whom Biti accused of selective prosecutions and being corrupt.
Bennett was the Movement for Democratic Change’s deputy Minister of agriculture candidate but has now been sworn in up to now.
American officials were, however, not as optimistic as Biti but noted that it was now clear that the MDC was not going to leave the government.
“Its ‘disengagement’ was a once-only effort to place pressure on ZANU-PF, and it succeeded in gaining the intervention of SADC and Zuma. But the MDC does not have further leverage, and it is doubtful ZANU-PF will make significant concessions,” the cable says.
Viewing cable 09HARARE894, BITI ON STATE OF PLAY IN ZIM
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5131
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RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3168
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000894
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STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS
NSC FOR SENIOR AF DIRECTOR M. GAVIN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/10/2019
SUBJECT: BITI ON STATE OF PLAY IN ZIM
REF: A. HARARE 885
¶B. HARARE 863
Classified By: Ambassador Charles A. Ray for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (C) Minister of Finance and MDC Secretary-General Tendai
Biti briefed pol/econ chief on last week’s SADC Troika
meeting in Maputo and the MDC’s next steps.
¶2. (C) According to Biti, South African President Jacob
Zuma, who as the SADC process facilitator, joined the SADC
Troika leaders (Guebuza of Mozambique, Mswati of Swaziland,
and Banda of Zambia) in Maputo on November 5, forcefully
urged the Global Political Agreement (GPA) parties to resolve
outstanding issues. Biti said that GPA negotiators (Biti and
Elton Mangoma of MDC-T, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mashonga and
Welshman Ncube of MDC-M, and Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas
Goche of ZANU-PF) and GPA principals (Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai of MDC-T, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara
of MDC-M, and President Robert Mugabe of ZANU-PF) would meet
later this week to discuss these issues. He added that if
the parties were unsuccessful in resolving them within 15
days of the Troika Summit of November 5, Zuma would begin a
15-day mediation process.
¶3. (C) Biti thought that Mugabe would agree to the
appointments of provincial governors and the swearing-in of
Roy Bennett. He was less certain Mugabe would agree to the
replacements of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor
Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana. He was
insistent, however, that they should go. Referring to Gono’s
misuse of commercial bank reserves at the RBZ, Biti said Gono
was a thief. Tomana, through selective prosecutions, had
also been corrupt.
¶4. (C) Acknowledging that sanctions would be an issue in
negotiating with ZANU-PF, particularly in light of the SADC
Communique calling for international sanctions to be lifted
(Ref A) Biti said the MDC would propose formation of a
sanctions committee within the context of the negotiations to
discuss sanctions. The MDC would tell ZANU-PF that it
favored the lifting of sanctions on entities and the repeal
of ZDERA, although it was not yet ready to make these
¶5. (C) We asked Biti what the MDC would do if the SADC
process in the next 30 days did not result in the resolution
of outstanding issues. He replied that the MDC would ask for
a SADC Extraordinary Summit of all SADC members. If this did
not produce results, he said the MDC would consider trying to
dissolve the GPA and have elections scheduled. When we
observed that Mugabe would likely not agree to elections,
Biti agreed and said the MDC would seek further SADC
¶6. (C) The MDC has made clear it is not going to leave
government. Its “disengagement” was a once-only effort to
place pressure on ZANU-PF, and it succeeded in gaining the
intervention of SADC and Zuma. But the MDC does not have
further leverage, and it is doubtful ZANU-PF will make
significant concessions; with pressure from Zuma, however, it
Qsignificant concessions; with pressure from Zuma, however, it
is likely Mugabe will resolve some of the outstanding issues
such as the appointment of MDC provincial governors and
(perhaps) the appointment of Roy Bennett if he is acquitted
in his treason trial now set for November 11.
¶7. (C) The ZANU-PF Congress, held every five years for the
HARARE 00000894 002 OF 002
election of ZANU-PF officials, will take place in early
December. To avoid criticism from hard-liners, it is
doubtful Mugabe will make any concessions until after the
Congress. The bottom line is that we will continue to see
foot-dragging and fitful progress — with the MDC remaining
in government. END COMMENT.