Britain told Finance Minister Tendai Biti, two months after the formation of the inclusive government, that he should push the government of national unity to operate according to the agreements made if he wanted to win the confidence of the international community so that Zimbabwe could get aid.
According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Biti was told this on April 30, 2009 by British Foreign Secretary David Milliband and Foreign Office Minister for Africa Lord Mark Malloch-Brown. He met the two separately with Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United Kingdom Gabriel Machinga.
Biti had told the two ministers that Zimbabwe was spending about US$100 million a month and planned to carry out a major review of the central bank but the country needed more than humanitarian assistance.
He even offered to set up a multi-donor trust that would be “safe and transparent” for the international community and suggested that embassies in Harare could hold development funds from which the government of Zimbabwe could request payment for priority projects.
Biti conceded to the two ministers that the inclusive government was not functioning in accordance with all the agreements that had been made but argued that progress was being made.
Some of the progress was that there was peace and stability in the country now, a budget had been produced, inflation had fallen, food was now readily available and civil servants were back at work. The only damper was that farm seizures and media restrictions continued to impede progress.
Malloch-Brown told Biti that it was not for outsiders to impose their requirements on the inclusive government but for the GNU to be “rigorous in its own scrutiny”. The GNU needed to establish for itself a timeline and roadmap for recovery that would satisfy the requirements of international financial institutions.
Such a move, the British minister said, would win the international community’s confidence for re-engagement.
BITI’S APRIL 30 MEETINGS IN LONDON
Ref ID: 09LONDON1077
Date: 5/7/2009 11:48
Origin: Embassy London
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 001077 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR AF/S E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2019 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, EAID, ZI, UK SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE: BITI’S APRIL 30 MEETINGS IN LONDON Classified By: Political Counselor Richard Mills, reasons 1.4 (b/d).
Zimbabwean Minister of Finance Tendai Biti met with UK Foreign Secretary Miliband and Foreign Office Minister for Africa Lord Malloch-Brown separately on April 30. Biti described the Spring IFI meetings in Washington as “helpful,” gave an overview of the economy and the Government of Zimbabwe’s fiscal position, discussed the GNU’s “progress,” and expressed his desire to move forward with Article 8 (and later Article 96) talks to normalize relations with the EU, according to FCO Zimbabwe Desk Officer Fiona Robertson. Both Miliband and Malloch-Brown congratulated Biti on the progress thus far, but encouraged Biti to push for the Government of National Unity (GNU) to operate according to the agreements made. Malloch-Brown noted that it was not for outsiders to impose their requirements on the GNU, but for the GNU to be “rigorous in its own scrutiny.” The GNU, he suggested, needed to establish its own roadmap for recovery. Biti agreed, noting that it would likely help rally U.S. support, which he characterized as “reticent about engagement,” according to Robertson. Miliband underscored that more needed to be done until “full international engagement would be possible.” End summary.
2.(C) Zimbabwean Minister of Finance Tendai Biti, accompanied by Zimbabwean Ambassador to the UK and ZANU PF supporter Gabriel Machinga met separately with UK Foreign Secretary Miliband and Foreign Office Minister for Africa Lord Malloch-Brown on April 30. According to FCO Zimbabwe Desk Officer Fiona Robertson, similar themes emerged in both meetings. Spring IFI Meetings ——————-
3.(C) Biti said the meetings on the margins of the Spring IFI meetings in Washington had been “helpful.” He had received “supportive” messages. He had been assured efforts would be made to restore Zimbabwe’s voting rights and had received guidance on how to deal with the GoZ’s USD 1.1 billion in arrears to the African Development Bank and the World Bank. The IMF, Biti had been told, would consider at its May 4 meeting the GoZ’s request for technical assistance, which would focus on reforming central banking structures, parastatals, public management systems, and utilities. Biti understood, however, that the meeting would be the beginning of a long process, possibly longer than a year, toward full IFI re-engagement, culminating he hoped in settlement of arrears and provision of new finance. The Zimbabwean Economy ———————-
4.(C) Biti reported the GoZ’s monthly expenditure was approximately USD 100 million. He planned to carry out a major review of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to pare down its powers, put a cap on borrowing, and remove its right to issue foreign currency. Biti said resources remained extremely limited and argued that more than humanitarian assistance was vital. Biti understood it would be a long and complex process for Zimbabwe to receive World Bank International Development Association (IDA) status. He offered that a multi-donor trust fund would be a “safe and transparent” mechanism for the international community and also suggested that Embassies in Harare could hold development funds, to which the GoZ could request payment for priority projects. The GNU ——-
5.(C) Biti conceded that the Government of National Unity (GNU) was not functioning in accordance with all of the agreements that had been made, but argued that “progress” was being made. There was generally peace and stability in Zimbabwe; the Short Term Emergency Recover Program (STERP) had produced a budget; inflation had fallen and food was available; and civil servants were at work. Farm seizures and media restrictions, however, impeded progress, and the international community was right to continue raising these issues.
6.(C) Both Miliband and Malloch-Brown congratulated Biti on the progress thus far, but encouraged Biti to push for the GNU to operate according to the agreements made. Malloch-Brown noted that it was not for outsiders to impose their requirements on the GNU, but for the GNU to be “rigorous in its own scrutiny.” The GNU needed to establish for itself a timeline and roadmap for recovery that would LONDON 00001077 002 OF 002 satisfy IFI requirements. Such a move on the GNU’s part would win the international community’s confidence for re-engagement, Malloch-Brown suggested. Biti agreed, noting that it would likely help rally U.S. support, which he characterized as “reticent about engagement,” according to Robertson. Miliband underscored that more needed to be done until “full international engagement would be possible.” EU and Regional Engagement ————————–
7.(C) Biti told Miliband and Malloch-Brown that he looked forward to further discussions on normalizing relations with the EU, identifying Article 8 talks that lead to Article 96 procedures as a desirable step. Biti said he had recently had good discussions with EU Commissioner Michel, who Biti understood was likely going to invite him to Brussels for the May 18 EU meeting. Biti also noted that GNU Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai plans to visit Europe in June. Malloch-Brown affirmed that the UK would take a leading role in the EU and working with SADC to support Zimbabwe. Malloch-Brown said he had already spoken to the newly elected government in South Africa about assistance for Zimbabwe. He welcomed the South African and Botswanan support to the GNU and suggested Biti could request international assistance in purchasing electricity bought from Mozambique and South Africa. Visit London’s Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX TOKOLA