President Robert Mugabe denied that he had anything against Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett.
He had been asked by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai why he was refusing to swear in Bennett as deputy Minister of Agriculture.
Mugabe said that he had not sworn in Bennett because he had pending criminal charges.
Two other MDC legislators, Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga, were sworn in though they too had pending charges.
Mugabe remained adamant that Bennett would not join his government until the MDC had to replace him with Seiso Moyo.
Viewing cable 09HARARE360, TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS AMBASSADOR ON GOZ PROGRESS
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000360
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STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/04/2019
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS AMBASSADOR ON GOZ PROGRESS
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told the Ambassador
May 1 that he is reasonably satisfied with the progress of
the new transitional government. Outstanding issues in the
process of being resolved include: governorships, permanent
secretaries and ambassadorships; political detainees; and
farm invasions. The two major remaining unresolved issues
are the status of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor
Gideon Gono and the swearing-in of Roy Bennett as Deputy
Secretary of Agriculture. Tsvangirai also said he is
planning to visit Washington at the beginning of June. END
¶2. (C) Noting that he, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe,
and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara had met several
times in the last couple of weeks, Tsvangirai stated that
most of the outstanding issues had been resolved. Thirteen
(of 30) permanent secretaries had been agreed upon and the
three principals would meet to agree on the remainder.
Mugabe had agreed to a division of governorships, but had
insisted that the outgoing governors be given severance
packages. Tsvangirai said he had found a donor to finance
the packages (he did not say who) and that Mugabe would soon
make an announcement. MDC-T would get five governor
positions and ZANU-PF would either get five or give MDC-M one
position. Ambassadors, according to Tsvangirai, would be
replaced as their tours ended and would be divided between
ZANU-PF and MDC-T.
¶3. (C) Tsvangirai said the most difficult remaining issue
remained Gono. (NOTE: He conceded there was little he could
do about removing Attorney General Johannes Tomana. END
NOTE.) He had talked for over two hours with Gono and told
him he had two options. He could remain in office with his
power stripped while he continued to be vilified around the
country. (According to Tsvangirai, Gono is routinely booed
at rallies, and Zimbabweans from all walks of life hold him
responsible for the worthlessness of their pensions.) Or
Gono could do the honorable thing and leave the RBZ. Gono
countered that he wanted a severance package and assurance
that he would not be prosecuted.
¶4. (C) Minister of Finance Tendai Biti was adamant that Gono
had to leave the RBZ and that the issue should be dealt with
as soon as possible. Tsvangirai said he and Biti intended to
confront Mugabe and tell him that Gono’s exit was essential
to opening up lines of credit.
¶5. (C) Tsvangirai told the Ambassador he had directly raised
with Mugabe his refusal to swear-in Roy Bennett and had asked
Mugabe whether it was due to personal animus toward Bennett.
Mugabe replied in the negative; he said his inaction was
based on the fact that Bennett had pending criminal charges.
(NOTE: Several other ministers including Biti and Minister
of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga
Qof Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga
also have pending charges. END NOTE.)
¶6. (C) Turning to farm invasions, Tsvangirai said Mutambara
had tabled a report with Cabinet, based on his joint
investigation with the Ministers of Home Affairs and Lands
into several recent intrusions. Mugabe, Tsvangirai and their
deputies would discuss the issue. Tsvangirai had proposed a
land audit and the establishment of a commission to deal with
HARARE 00000360 002 OF 002
¶7. (C) Finally, Tsvangirai acknowledged that two political
detainees remained in police custody, after posting bond,
while receiving hospital care. He promised this situation
would soon be sorted out.
¶8. (C) Pointing out that the government was less than
three-months old, Tsvangirai said he was reasonably satisfied
with progress. He had been prepared to give a press
conference last week to denounce progress on outstanding
issues, and then to appeal to SADC. But he was pleased with
his last meeting with Mugabe and believed that all issues
would soon be resolved. Tsvangirai commented that he was
looking forward to visiting Washington at the beginning of
June, but had informed Mugabe his trip was dependent on
sufficient progress on the outstanding issues.
¶9. (C) Tsvangirai has been under pressure from many of his
own officials and from civil society to make more rapid
progress on the outstanding issues. While there may be
agreement in principle on a number of these issues, they are
still not resolved, and there has been little progress on the
major issues of Gono and Bennett. Biti has returned from
Washington and London and informed Tsvangirai that the West
is looking for more, and Tsvangirai no doubt wants to
demonstrate his ability to deliver when he makes his own trip
to the U.S. and UK next in June. For the moment, he believes
he can achieve more by working behind the scenes with Mugabe
than by confronting him. END COMMENT.