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Business tries to engage Mugabe

The heads of eight large business corporations launched the Business Initiative in Zimbabwe to build dialogue with President Robert Mugabe’s government hoping to win the President’s trust by underwriting projects that he approved of.

The business leaders had declared that: “we in the business community cannot stand by while 90 percent of the population sinks below the poverty datum line”.

They planned to set aside 0.35 percent of their revenue to assist small entrepreneurs.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 02HARARE2361, Business Community Tries to Engage Mugabe

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE2361

2002-10-30 02:59

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 002361

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

USDOC FOR 2037 DIEMOND

PASS USTR ROSA WHITAKER

TREASURY FOR ED BARBER AND CWILKENSON

USAID FOR MAJORIE COPSON

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: EFIN ECON ETRD ZI

SUBJECT: Business Community Tries to Engage Mugabe

 

Sensitive but unclassified. Not for Internet posting.

 

1. (U) Summary: The heads of 8 large corporations in

Zimbabwe are banking that their new association can engage

the Government of Robert Mugabe in a non-threatening manner

and help the country stave off deeper recession. End

Summary.

 

Will Mugabe listen?

——————–

2. (SBU) In funding Business Initiative Zimbabwe (BIZ), the

company chiefs have declared that “we in the business

community cannot stand by while 90 percent of the population

sinks below the poverty datum line.” This is the business

community’s most organized effort to build a dialogue with

the Mugabe government. Founders hope to win the President’s

trust by underwriting numerous projects that he approves of,

such as a young farmers program. (Member corporations agree

to pledge .35 percent of revenue to assist small

entrepreneurs.) Ultimately, they seek to leverage any good-

will into restored influence with the GoZ.

 

Comment

——-

3. (SBU) Given the GoZ’s distrust of the private sector and

entrenched statist mindset, this is a tough sell. After a

recent two-day Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries

symposium where business leaders gently challenged

government ministers, the GoZ had the CZI head dismissed.

Furthermore, it does not help that some BIZ members

represent British multinationals. However, the CEOs of

Standard Chartered and Anglo American, both prominent black

Zimbabweans, have told us they see little to gain through

confrontation. BIZ founders, a collection of Zimbabwe’s

most prominent movers-and-shakers, have tried unsuccessfully

for months to secure a meeting with Mugabe. Meanwhile, they

hope to recruit Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa as an

honorary board member. BIZ already includes several

Zimbabwe-owned companies, such as PG, and members want to

add a couple dozen more. Standard Chartered CEO Washington

Masaira, the first BIZ chairman, told us the organization

will strive to be assertive but unthreatening – a very fine

line coming from reps of Western corporate interests in

today’s Zimbabwe. Masaira is not confident he will succeed,

but believes this may be the business community’s last

chance to help salvage what’s left of Zimbabwe’s economy.

 

Sullivan

(3 VIEWS)

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