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Makoni says ZANU-PF politburo is dysfunctional

Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, who was a member of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front politburo, said the top political organ was dysfunctional.

He said members of the politburo marched lockstep behind President Robert Mugabe when his feelings were known or quarrelled to no resolution whenever the President was silent.

Makoni said Mugabe’s proclivity to remain above most frays and to let his subordinates “slug it out” on many issues was central to the party’s dysfunctional policy-making atmosphere.

He gave the fracas between party information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira and Jonathan Moyo over the President’s Sky News interview as an instance in which Mugabe should have spoken definitively and squelched publicised internecine squabbling.

Makoni said that discussions in the politburo generally were “polite and correct” but occasionally got “brisk.” It usually depended on whether the President’s feelings on a topic were known.

If they were, there was little meaningful debate; if they weren’t, discussion could get more heated. Anybody who could be portrayed as straying at all from generally accepted party principles, though, risked being cast as a “sell-out”, which was “very unhealthy” for the party.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE1018, POLITBURO MEMBER ON RULING PARTY INTENTIONS,

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE1018

2004-06-18 10:34

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 001018

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR LAROIAN, MRAYNOR

NSC FOR AFRICA DIRECTOR D. TEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/17/2009

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM EFIN EINV ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: POLITBURO MEMBER ON RULING PARTY INTENTIONS,

CONSTRAINTS

 

REF: (A) HARARE 988 (B) HARARE 959 (C) HARARE 958 (D)

HARARE 882

 

Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: ZANU-PF Central Committee member Simba

Makoni told the Ambassador on June 17 that GOZ efforts to

reach out to the international community, including

international financial institutions, were not a compelling

priority for the ruling party. The party leadership would

not accept any measures that could begin to level the

election playing field meaningfully regardless of

implications for foreign relations. Makoni suggested that

Reserve Bank President Gideon Gono would be unable to go as

far as he wanted with economic reforms before scheduled March

parliamentary elections. He described the politburo as a

dysfunctional policy-making organ in which members marched in

lockstep behind President Mugabe when his feelings were known

or quarreled to no resolution whenever the President was

silent. Makoni also shared observations on the GOZ’s posture

on the media and on HIV/AIDS. END SUMMARY.

 

Media, HIV/AIDS

—————

 

2. (C) Meeting in Makoni’s private business office, the

former finance minister and the Ambassador opened their

discussion with an exchange on foreign broadcasts into

Zimbabwe. Makoni asserted that VOA’s Studio 7 was broadly

pro-MDC but generally factual in its reporting.

Acknowledging that he was a regular listener, he said many in

the ruling party were relaxed about free information access

and trusted in people’s ability to sift the wheat from the

chaff. Others were not, though, and he confirmed that

Kindness Paradza’s interview with Studio 7 was a principal

source of his trouble. (Note: Paradza’s Tribune newspaper

was shut down last week and he faces expulsion from the

party; ref A. End note.) He observed that most party

members avoided contact with the international press but that

some, like Party Information Secretary Nathan Shamuyarira and

External Relations Secretary Didymus Mutasa, were unafraid.

Alluding to the disingenuousness of official media channels,

Makoni confided that senior party members often joked

privately about the absurdity of GOZ propaganda, such as

projections of a 2.4 million MT grain harvest this year.

 

3. (C) The Ambassador acknowledged the constructiveness of

President Mugabe’s speech opening the National HIV/AIDS

Conference June 16, especially with regard to the importance

of a multi-sectoral approach. He underscored the contrast

between the tone and substance of that address and the

continued combative posture of Information Minister Jonathan

Moyo, who was responsible for terminating USG-funded

HIV/AIDS-related public education initiatives.

 

4. (C) Makoni asserted that effecting a multi-sectoral

approach was “not impossible” but that a “wheel for

mobilization” did not exist in Zimbabwe. Nonetheless, the

National AIDS Council structure was beginning to operate down

to the ward level and home-based initiatives were gaining

momentum. Grass roots criticism that funds were not making

it to the needy were getting aired effectively. (Note: ZBC

has been covering such complaints publicly this week,

implicitly placing blame on NGOs rather than GOZ structures.

End note.) Responsible NGOs were trying to separate

themselves from the bureacuracies implicated in such

inefficiencies and would continue to play a vital role. As

for the Information Minister, Makoni asserted that Moyo was

unaware of such priorities or did not care, and that he and

some others were always prepared to find political messages

where none existed.

 

Economic Policy to Remain Inadequate

————————————

 

5. (C) Turning to economic policy, Makoni said that Reserve

Bank Governor Gideon Gono recognized that steps already taken

were insufficient to induce re-engagement by the

international community, including the international

financial institutions. According to Makoni, monetary policy

was going in the right direction but fiscal policy “was not

there.” Pressure would build for even more public largesse

in the run-up to the scheduled March parliamentary election.

Getting the land productive once again was critical, but the

government still lacked a workable plan. What rules and

plans existed were not being followed. Much had to be done

to restore the investor confidence necessary to revive trade

and industry but “nobody has the heart to do it, especially

not before March.” He concluded that we would continue to

see “drift, words, but no action” until after elections.

 

Re-election Trumps Re-engagement as Priority

——————————————–

 

6. (C) Responding to Makoni’s reference to possible

re-engagement with the West, the Ambassador emphasized that

the party faced real choices. In order to re-engage

economically, it would have to first show meaningful progress

on the political front. In particular, the election playing

field would have to be leveled now if Zimbabwe were to have

any hope of conducting elections that would be considered

free and fair next year. Without free and fair elections,

re-engagement would be impossible.

 

7. (C) Makoni explained that re-engagement with the West was

a growing interest among some party members but still not a

priority, especially with politicians. The party would

project itself as interested in re-engagement but cast the

West as unwilling to re-engage on terms short of total

ZANU-PF “surrender.” Regarding rumored discussions of

electoral reforms (ref C), Makoni explained that a sense of

triumphalism pervading the party in no way dictated a

leveling of the playing field. Quite the contrary, its

confidence stemmed from its successes in the tainted Zengeza

and Lupane by-elections, which established a blueprint for

success (i.e., intimidation, coercion via chiefs and food

benefits, etc.) sure to be followed in the run-up to March.

Indeed, the party leadership recognized that any relenting on

election fairness issues involved unacceptable risks of

losing control. The Ambassador again urged that the party

take seriously efforts to address electoral imbalances,

without which meaningful re-engagement with the USG and

others would not be possible.

 

ZANU-PF’s Dysfunction

———————

 

8. (C) Makoni said that the ruling party’s significant lack

of “discipline and self-respect” further complicated efforts

at re-engagement. He cited the flap over land

nationalization (ref B) as evidence that the party was

“seriously disjointed” now. He reported that Moyo had

purposely distorted Minister for Special Affairs (and ZANU-PF

Secretary General) John Nkomo’s comments to make him look

 

SIPDIS

bad. He confirmed that Nkomo’s interview had characterized

nationalization as pertaining to compulsorily obtained land

only, but that Moyo had purposely overstated his comments,

only to qualify them later in a way that made Nkomo appear to

be flip-flopping. Makoni observed that Nkomo and Moyo were

from the same district of Tsholotsho and that “a rough edge”

had always separated the two, dating back decades.

 

9. (C) President Mugabe’s proclivity to remain above most

frays and to let his subordinates “slug it out” on many

issues was central to the party’s dysfunctional policy-making

atmosphere. Makoni offered the fracas between Party

Information Secretary Nathan Shamuyarira and Moyo over the

President’s Sky News interview (ref D) as an instance in

which Mugabe should have spoken definitively and squelched

publicized internecine squabbling. Commenting on Tribune

reports of strong words being traded in politburo meetings,

Makoni conceded that he was out of the country (at the World

Economic Forum in Maputo) during the reported meeting, but

that discussions in the politburo generally were “polite and

correct” but occasionally got “brisk.” It usually depended

on whether the President’s feelings on a topic were known.

If they were, there was little meaningful debate; if they

weren’t, discussion could get more heated. Anybody who could

be portrayed as straying at all from generally accepted party

principles, though, risked being cast as a “sell-out”, which

was “very unhealthy” for the party.

 

10. (C) Makoni identified one notable exception to Mugabe’s

general inclination to not tip his hand on any particular

issues. The President had reacted early and definitively

when Jonathan Moyo and others began to cast themselves as

presumptive candidates in the upcoming elections. Mugabe had

emphasized that nobody could short-circuit established

processes and that all candidates would have to be vetted in

accordance with party practices and weather the party’s

primary process. Makoni concluded that the radical Moyo-Made

faction was vocal but necessarily dominant in relation to

other party voices as long as Mugabe played his hand close to

the vest.

 

Election Forecast

—————–

 

11. (C) Makoni concluded that ZANU-PF would genuinely do

better in the upcoming election compared to 2000 and 2002.

The party had support and could generate more support,

especially in urban areas. He implied that the party had

mistakenly lost its links with the working class, links that

could be restored. The President in 2002 had said the party

did not need to intimidate because it had a credible

platform, even for workers. Makoni recognized that most

nationalist movements, including Zimbabwe’s, were largely

borne on the backs of the labor movement, and recalled that

he had urged the party to focus on labor years ago; many

agreed but inadequate action was taken.

 

12. (C) As to campaigning strategy, Makoni conceded that the

party could not make a credible claim to have made the lives

of most Zimbabweans better. Instead of focusing on economic

statistics, the party would have to emphasize that it had

worked out the vexing land redistribution and had a plan —

a la Gideon Gono — to rehabilitate the economy and to

re-establish the country’s place in the world community.

 

13. (C) Makoni confided that he did not intend to run for a

constituency MP slot in the coming election but would

campaign for any ZANU-PF candidate from his district — if

the candidate met to his liking.

 

Comment

——-

 

14. Dismissed as Finance Minister and largely ostracized by

the party leadership for his free-market economic

prescriptions years ago, Makoni lately has been enjoying a

resurrection of sorts. Hailing from Manicaland —

historically home to political opposition figures, including

Morgan Tsvangirai and Edgar Tekere, — Makoni is one of the

ruling party’s most competent technocrats, though he

generally is regarded to lack a political base at the grass

roots. His modest rehabilitation can be attributed in part

to his continued loyalty despite ostracization, the party’s

desire to project a more refined and competent image to the

outside world, and the passage of time. Perhaps more

significantly, he and Defense Minister Sidney Sekeremayi are

the two most prominent “presidential successor candidates”

reputed to be in the faction of retired general Solomon

Mujuru. A Mass Public Opinion Institute poll among putative

successors to Mugabe last year indicated Makoni was the most

popular ZANU-PF figure nationally and the only one to garner

geographically diverse support.

 

15. Makoni’s exposition of ruling party motives and strategy

is consistent with Embassy conclusions that the ruling party

has neither the intention nor the capacity to level the

election playing field or otherwise take measures to

re-engage meaningfully with the USG at this time.

 

SULLIVAN

 

(15 VIEWS)

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