Some unnamed government ministers wrote to the South African power company Eskom and oil company Sasol demanding a cut on all business deals between Zimbabwe and South Africa because they operated businesses that could act as middlemen- one of the cables released by Wikileaks says.
The cable dispatched by former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Tom McDonald on 8 September 2000 says this information was provided to embassy officials by the Managing Director of the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe Gideon Gono.
At the time CBZ was the last resort the government turned to when it needed hard currency and Gono was the “go-to” man.
Gono was irritated that he was being sidelined in oil deals since a cabinet reshuffle which saw former Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi become Mines and Energy Minister.
Sekeramayi had , however, finally turned to Gono “in desperation” and Gono had travelled to South Africa to arrange lines of credit.
Gono said he was told By Eskom and Sasol officials that “more than one Zimbabwe minister and a few other notables from north of the border” had already sent letters to Eskom and Sasol requesting a cut on all new energy deals between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Embassy officials said Gono’s information was highly credible and if this story came out in the media, there would be a public outcry which could put strong pressure on Sekeramayi to resign.
Viewing cable 00HARARE4999, NEW TALE OF CORRUPTION IN ZIMBABWE'S ENERGY
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
081114Z Sep 00
PAGE 01 HARARE 04999 081116Z
INFO LOG-00 NP-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 COME-00 INL-00 DODE-00
DOEE-00 DOTE-00 DS-00 EB-00 FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00
TEDE-00 INR-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 OES-01 ACE-00
SSO-00 SS-00 TRSE-00 EPAE-00 DSCC-00 DRL-02 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 /004W
——————82ED3B 081116Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7043
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 004999
STATE FOR AF, AF/S
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH
LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/05
SUBJECT: NEW TALE OF CORRUPTION IN ZIMBABWE'S ENERGY
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR TOM MCDONALD, REASON 1.5 (B),
PAGE 02 HARARE 04999 081116Z
¶1. (C) AMBASSADOR MCDONALD ATTENDED A DINNER SEPTEMBER
7 WITH A VARIETY OF RESIDENT AMBASSADORS AND A FEW
ZIMBABWEANS, DURING WHICH GIDEON GONO (PROTECT),
MANAGING DIRECTOR OF COMMERCIAL BANK OF ZIMBABWE (CBZ),
REPORTED A CREDIBLE STORY ABOUT NEW GOVERNMENT
MALFEASANCE IN THE ENERGY SECTOR. BEFORE MUGABE
APPOINTED HIS NEW CABINET IN JULY, GONO HAD BEEN THE
GOVERNMENT'S GO-TO MAN ON FINDING NEW SOURCES OF FUNDING
FOR ZIMBABWE'S DWINDLING FUEL SUPPLIES. GONO, A ZANU-PF
STALWART AND FRIEND OF MUGABE, WAS THE PRINCIPAL
NEGOTIATOR OF A KUWAITI/EUROPEAN BANKS OIL CREDIT LINE
EARLIER THIS YEAR DURING THE BEGINNING STAGES OF THE
FUEL CRISIS. CBZ IS ALSO OFTEN THE LAST RESORT BANK TO
WHICH THE GOVERNMENT TURNS WHEN A PARTICULARLY ACUTE OR
ELEVENTH HOUR HARD CURRENCY PAYMENT MUST BE MADE.
¶2. (C) AN IRRITATED GONO REPORTED, HOWEVER, THAT SINCE
THE CABINET RESHUFFLE HE HAS BEEN SIDELINED ON OIL DEALS
IN FAVOR OF NEW MINES AND ENERGY MINISTER SIDNEY
SEKERAMAYI, HIS STAFF, AND OFFICIALS OF THE ZIMBABWE OIL
PARASTATAL NOCZIM. APPARENTLY OUT OF DESPERATION,
SEKERAMAYI RECENTLY CALLED GONO FOR HELP IN RETAINING
AND TRYING TO EXPAND LINES OF CREDIT FROM SOUTH AFRICA'S
ELECTRICITY AND OIL PARASTATALS. GONO INFORMED THE
AMBASSADOR AND A FEW OTHERS AT THE DINNER PARTY THAT AS
A RESULT, HE TRAVELED TO SOUTH AFRICA IN THE LAST WEEK
TO UNDERTAKE THESE CREDIT NEGOTIATIONS ON BEHALF OF THE
ENERGY MINISTRY AND NOCZIM. WHILE THERE, GONO LEARNED
FROM ESKOM AND SASOL OFFICIALS THAT "MORE THAN ONE
PAGE 03 HARARE 04999 081116Z
ZIMBABWE MINISTER AND A FEW OTHER NOTABLES FROM NORTH OF
THE BORDER" (GONO DID NOT NAME NAMES, ALTHOUGH
PRESUMEDLY ONE IS SEKERAMAYI) HAD ALREADY SENT LETTERS
TO ESKOM AND SASOL REQUESTING A CUT OF ALL NEW ENERGY
DEALS BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA AND ZIMBABWE BECAUSE THEY
OPERATED PERSONAL BUSINESSES THAT COULD ACT AS
MIDDLEMEN. GONO DID NOT PROVIDE ANY FURTHER DETAILS OF
THE REQUEST OR PRODUCE THE LETTERS. CHARITY NZENZA
(PROTECT), UNDERSECRETARY FOR THE MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA
IN ZIMBABWE'S MFA, WAS AGHAST AT GONO'S DISCLOSURE AND
LAMENTED THAT IT WAS OFFICIALS LIKE THOSE WHO CAUSED HER
TO WAIT IN LONG PETROL QUEUES WITH OTHER AVERAGE
ZIMBABWEANS. SHE SAID "WE ARE NOT STUPID; THE PUBLIC
KNOWS WHAT IS GOING ON."
¶3. (C) COMMENT: GIVEN HIS HISTORY AS THE GOZ'S ENERGY
POINT MAN AND HIS VISIBLE DISPLEASURE AT BEING CUT OUT *
OF THE LOOP, GONO'S STORY APPEARS HIGHLY CREDIBLE TO US.
THE TALE IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE GOZ LEADERSHIP'S
GROWING DETERMINATION TO GET WHILE THE GETTING IS STILL
POSSIBLE. IF THIS STORY EVER FINDS ITS WAY INTO THE
MEDIA, THE PUBLIC OUTCRY WOULD BE ENORMOUS, WITH
SEKERAMAYI COMING UNDER VERY STRONG PRESSURE TO RESIGN.
WE ALSO STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT ANALAGOUS CASES OF
CORRUPTION AND PROFITEERING EXIST AT MANY OF THE OTHER
PARASTATALS, WITH A NUMBER OF CABINET OFFICIALS, TOP
RULING PARTY OFFICIALS, AND POLITICAL APPOINTEES ON THE
TAKE AT PUBLIC EXPENSE.
PAGE 04 HARARE 04999 081116Z