Where Gono got the money to pay the IMF

Bulawayo business consultant Eric Bloch told United States embassy officials that central bank governor Gideon Gono sourced the US$120 million that he paid the International Monetary Fund in August from 37 separate sources in a complicated deal applying various exchange rates and terms for later access to foreign currency.

He said three “non-eastern” embassies provided US$27 million; 11 international NGOs, US$36 million; and 23 companies, US$57 million.

Hippo Valley was one of the companies but Bloch said it provided the funds voluntarily.

Hippo Valley said it was forced to surrender US$2.8 million from its foreign currency account on trumped up charges of exchange regulations violations.

The United States embassy said Bloch's take on the source of the IMF payment largely contradicted its and other embassies’ reports of alleged central bank misappropriation of company foreign currency accounts, adding “we are frankly sceptical”.

 

Full cable:


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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1446

2005-10-20 15:13

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 03 HARARE 001446

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN

TREASURY FOR J. RALYEA, B. CUSHMAN

PASS USTR FOR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON AND ERIC LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2009

TAGS: ECON EFIN ETRD PGOV PHUM PREL ZI MDC

SUBJECT: VIEWS FROM BULAWAYO

 

REF: A)HARARE 1269 B)HARARE 1405 C)HARARE 1421

 

Classified By: Ambassador Chris W. Dell for reason 1.4 b/d

 

-------

Summary

-------

 

1. (C) Zimbabwe Desk Officer and PolOff visited Bulawayo,

Zimbabwe's second largest city, October 14 and 15. Eric

Bloch, a local economist, detailed his insider's

understanding that the GOZ had sourced its US$120 million

arrears payment to the IMF solely through "voluntary"

payments. In discussing the on-going debate over the

impending Senate elections, opposition Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary for Legal Affairs David

Coltart and MDC Bulawayo Mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube both

stated the need for the party to identify and remove

infiltrators and opportunists to survive. Businessman and

exporter to the U.S. Jyotirdhar Laxmidas suggested that local

industry could not survive another three years of economic

decline. End Summary

 

--------------------------------------------- ------------

Local Economist on Payment to the IMF, South African Loan

--------------------------------------------- ------------

 

2. (C) Bloch, a self-described friend of Reserve Bank of

Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono, and member of Gono,s

RBZ Advisory Committee, said 37 separate sources

"voluntarily" provided the $120 million arrears payment to

the IMF in late August (Ref A) in a complicated deal applying

various exchange rates and terms for later access to foreign

currency. Bloch claimed he had seen the names and amounts:

three "non-eastern" embassies (US$27 million), 11

international NGOs (US$36 million), and 23 companies (US$57

million). Bloch confirmed that Hippo Valley Estates was one

of the sources, and maintained the company had provided the

funds voluntarily. (Note: Hippo Valley Estates declared in a

public notice in September that the RBZ had forced/forced it

to surrender US$2.68 million from its foreign currency

account on trumped up charges of exchange regulations

violations. The RBZ did approve embassies with an offer to

pay a 40 percent "bonus" on forex exchanged at the GOZ's

official rate and we cannot rule out that some may have taken

up the offer.)

 

3. (C) Citing various GOZ and SAG sources close to, but not

necessarily involved in, the loan negotiation between the two

countries, Bloch said Mugabe had rejected the SAG's initial

12 political conditions. Mugabe had subsequently sought help

from China, Dubai, and Iran, but had come out virtually empty

handed. Mugabe then went back to the South Africans and got

some of the conditions (unspecified) dropped. However,

negotiations were still stalled over some of the remaining

political conditions, including: dropping all charges against

MDC President Tsvangirai; negotiations with the MDC on a

political solution that would guarantee Mugabe,s freedom

from prosecution, synchronize the Parliamentary and

Presidential elections, and create a national unity

government that would oversee internationally monitored

elections.

 

4. (C) Bloch claimed the South Africans were also pressing

for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate Operation Restore

Order and wanted compensation for seized South African-owned

farms. If the GOZ breached the terms of the agreement, South

Africa was threatening a travel ban on all GOZ Ministers and

Deputy Ministers as well as all ZANU-PF Politburo and Central

Committee members. In addition, South Africa had negotiated

with Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia to impose the

same travel ban.

 

-----------------------------------

Local MDC Leaders on Senate Impasse

-----------------------------------

 

5. (C) Coltart said the MDC must either shed its pro-GOZ

infiltrators and other opportunists or split in two and

disappear. He suggested that some of Morgan Tsvangirai's top

advisors had been compromised. Ndabeni-Ncube expressed a

similar opinion. Coltart said he was incredulous at

Tsvangirai's reaction to the National Council's vote to

 

SIPDIS

participate in the election. He had expected Tsvangirai to

state his opposition but then abide by the decision. The

largely minority Ndebele population of Bulawayo and the two

Matebeleland provinces had worked hard to get rid of ZANU-PF

politicians and did not want them back by default. While

there were compelling reasons not to participate, the party

had to respect the National Council's decision.

Ndabeni-Ncube agreed, noting that the Matabeleland provinces

were going forward with candidate selection.

 

6. (C) Coltart added that Tsvangirai's attempt to override

the party's decision had shaken his faith in the man as a

leader and made him wonder whether Tsvangirai himself had

somehow been compromised. When pressed on this point,

however, he quickly backed away saying "I still have faith in

Morgan". Ndabeni-Ncube said that the MDC leader had lost

credibility; he suggested Tsvangirai would end up alone if he

tried to overrule the will of the majority. (Comment:

Outside of Matableland, the majority of MDC supporters appear

to favor a boycott, which we believe could give Tsvangirai

the upper hand in the argument over whether his actions are

democratic.)

 

---------------------

Business Leader Blues

---------------------

 

7. (C) Laxmidas of TAG International, a clothing manufacturer

that exports to the U.S., cited his own factory,s experience

as proof that Bulawayo industry could not wait out another

three years for economic conditions to improve. His factory

was operating at 40 percent capacity and would have reduced

its workforce from 220 in 2002 to 66 by January 2006. That

said, he noted that he had recently met with some Cape Town

businessmen who were contemplating local property acquisition

at fire sale prices in preparation for the post-Mugabe

period.

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

8. (C) Bloch's take on the source of the IMF payment largely

contradicts our and other Embassies reports of alleged RBZ

misappropriation of company foreign currency accounts and we

are frankly skeptical. We are also skeptical with regard to

Bloch's information on South Africa's loan conditions. We

would love to believe SAG conditions include Mugabe's

departure, but doubt Mbeki would go so far to force change in

Zimbabwe.

 

9. (C) Coltart and Ndabeni-Ncube's assertions of infiltration

within the MDC are not new and their take on Tsvangirai's

"anti-democratic" behavior is self-serving and partly a

reflection of the MDC's ability to compete successfully

against ZANU-PF in Matebeleland. The reality is that MDC

participation would give legitimacy to a powerless and

temporary body created to help solve ZANU-PF's own internal

power struggle, and in which the MDC would be lucky to win 15

seats. However, the bulk of those seats would be in

Matabeleland and would be won by Coltart and Ndabeni-Ncube,s

political allies. Reports in today's Financial Gazette claim

that 10 of 12 provincial party structures under pressure from

the grassroots, as well as the ZCTU, have now come out in

favor of Tsvangirai's call for a boycott, demonstrating the

extent to which he is in touch with popular sentiment and

conversely the isolation of the other MDC elites.

DELL

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