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Gono said Mugabe is weak despite a strong pubic face

Reserve Bank government Gideon Gono told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee that President Robert Mugabe was physically weak despite a strong public face.

He even had difficulty getting out of his chair.

He said vice-President Joseph Msika, who has since died, had told him that he and others wanted Mugabe out by the beginning of September 2008.

Gono, who seemed to be fighting for his own survival, said he was going to be a minister in charge of finance, economic development, and policy formulation in the new government.

He asked for a soft landing if ZANU-PF in-fighting left him outside of government.

Asked why he could not just walk away, Gono said he felt that he had an obligation to continue to work for his family and his country.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE579, AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH GIDEON GONO

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08HARARE579

2008-07-01 15:11

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO7379

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0579/01 1831511

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 011511Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3117

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2106

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2226

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0764

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1503

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1861

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2282

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4713

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1372

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000579

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

STATE PASS TO S/GAC MARK DYBUL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/01/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM EAID ZI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH GIDEON GONO

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) The Ambassador met with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

(RBZ) governor Gideon Gono on July 1. The discussion focused

on GOZ misappropriation of Global Fund money, President

Robert Mugabe’s health, and ZANU-PF politics and plans.

 

—————————-

Global Fund Misappropriation

—————————-

 

2. (C) The Global Fund transferred about US$14 million to

the RBZ in March 2008. Global Fund recipients, including the

National AIDS Council, the Ministry of Health, the Zimbabwe

Association of Church Related Hospitals, and several

U.S.-funded NGOs had subsequently found it difficult to

withdraw funds with requests for withdrawal ignored by the

RBZ.

 

3. (C) The Ambassador confronted Gono and asked him what had

happened to the money. Gono responded that he was

embarrassed, but the funds had been reprogrammed. Some of

the funds had been used for medical purposes; other monies

had been used for other things. Gono said he had no choice

but to deliver the monies when requested by government. He

promised the Ambassador they would be restored within one

week.

 

————————-

Mugabe, Gono, and ZANU-PF

————————-

 

4. (C) Gono said Mugabe was physically weak. Despite a

strong public face, he had difficulty getting out of his

chair.

 

5. (C) Gono told the Ambassador he had talked with

vice-president Joseph Msika who said he and others wanted

Mugabe out as executive president (and possibly in a

ceremonial role) by the beginning of September. Gono added

that in a new government he (Gono) was hoping to be a

minister in charge of finance, economic development, and

policy formulation. He would also become a member of the

ZANU-PF Politburo.

 

6. (C) Trying to hedge his bets, Gono asked the Ambassador

for help in arranging a “soft landing” in the event that

ZANU-PF in-fighting left him outside of government. He said

he wanted to do the “right thing.” The Ambassador suggested

that the right thing might be to walk away now from the RBZ

and the government. Gono responded that he felt an

obligation to continue to work for his family and his country.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) The misappropriation of Global Fund monies is

disturbing. Money was diverted from those who need it most

to, presumably, the ZANU-PF election effort which included

distributing money to youths to harass, beat, abduct, and

kill MDC officials and supporters.

 

8. (C) Gono continues to attempt to cultivate a relationship

with the Ambassador in the hope that the U.S. will support

him if he is in power in a new government or provide him with

a “soft landing” if he ends up outside. He has occasionally

provided us with useful information and has been of

assistance, e.g., when Embassy officials were held up at a

roadblock during a pre-election trip and when an American was

held incommunicado following the March 29 election. He has

 

HARARE 00000579 002 OF 002

 

 

not, however, demonstrated an inclination to help his fellow

Zimbabweans. He is generally considered one of the powers

behind the throne, along with defense forces chief Chiwenga,

police chief Chihuri, air force chief Shiri, prisons chief

Zimondi, and Emmerson Mnangagwa. Without Gono, the economy,

such as it is, would have trouble functioning–primary

evidence is his misuse of Global Fund money to assist the

despicable election effort of ZANU-PF on behalf of Mugabe.

END COMMENT.

 

McGee

(6 VIEWS)

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