Government living in fantasyland

The United States embassy accused the government of manipulating figures when the Zimbabwe Central Statistics Office reported that exports rose in 2003 to hit Z$2.3 trillion, or over 20 times the 2002 figure of Z$110.7 billion because this fantastic growth was not adjusted for hyperinflation.

In reality the country had recorded a 40 percent drop in exports to the United States and Europe.

The embassy said the media assertions on trade were just the latest prop in Information Minister Jonathan Moyo's Potemkin Zimbabwe.

Fantastical claims in recent months included increases in tourist arrivals in 2003 over 2002 and that Zimbabwe accounted for over 40 percent of SADC tourism.

“Most tourist sites are empty and SADC also offers South Africa and Mauritius- both very popular destinations for Europeans and others.

“The government of Zimbabwe hopes to dampen public dismay over the economic free fall and economic implosion over the past four years.

“ZANU-PF wishes to re-shape its image and prove that land reform has been successful in the run up to parliamentary elections currently scheduled for March 2005.

“Although the glowing portrayals are unlikely to stem the despair of most Zimbabweans, there is no sign that ZANU-PF is ready to gear-down its ‘good  news everywhere’ propaganda machine,” the embassy said.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE984, GOZ FANTASY STATS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE984

2004-06-14 10:25

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

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

UNCLAS HARARE 000984

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

STATE FOR AF/S

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

 

E. O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: SENV EAID BTIO EINV ECON PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: GOZ FANTASY STATS

 

 

1.   (SBU) Summary: The June 10 edition of the

GOZ-controlled Herald reports that exports increased in

2003 over 2002 despite all signs to the contrary. End

summary.

 

2. (SBU) Zimbabwe Central Statistics Office (CSO)

reports that Zimbabwe exports rose in 2003 to hit $2.3

trillion, or over 20 times the 2002 figure of $110.7

billion (unadjusted for two years of hyper inflation)

This, despite the tax on exporters through having to give

25% of their forex earnings at the official rate of Z$824

to US$1 rather than the most recent auction rate-

Z$5349.85 to US$1. In addition, according to U.S. and

European import statistics, Zimbabwe experienced a

dramatic 40+ percent drop in exports to the U.S. and EU

from 2002 to 2003. The article also claims $1.5 trillion

export earnings in the first four months of 2004. At the

same time, the Herald reports that tobacco exports

(formerly Zimbabwe's single largest export crop) are

down.

 

3. (SBU) The Herald announced that the Zimbabwe

Tourist Authority is planning Chinese language classes

and has hired Chinese translators for the tourism

industry. This follows the GOZ professed expectation that

Chinese tourists to Zimbabwe will increase and offset the

sharp decline in Western tourist arrivals since the

beginning of fast track land reform.

 

4. (SBU) Comment: GOZ is manipulating data from the

once respected CSO. The export statistics are unadjusted

for inflation and touted as a sign of economic recovery.

Yet, with two years of hyperinflation in the high triple

digits, the figures actually represent a slow down in

exports. In fact, tobacco production is now back to 1952

levels and cotton will, for the first time anyone can

remember, overtake tobacco as the country's number one

export crop this year.

 

5. (SBU) Comment cont'd: GOZ media assertions on

trade are just the latest prop in Information Minister

Jonathan Moyo's Potemkin Zimbabwe. Fantastical claims in

recent months include increases in tourist arrivals in

2003 over 2002 and that Zimbabwe accounts for over 40% of

SADC tourism. Most tourist sites are empty and SADC also

offers South Africa and Mauritius- both very popular

destinations for Europeans and others.

 

6. (SBU) Comment cont'd: GOZ hopes to dampen public

dismay over the economic free fall and economic implosion

over the past four years. Zanu-PF wishes to re-shape its

image and prove that land reform has been successful in

the run up to parliamentary elections currently scheduled

for March 2005. Although the glowing portrayals are

unlikely to stem the despair of most Zimbabweans, there

is no sign that Zanu-PF is ready to gear-down its "good

news everywhere" propaganda machine.

 

Whitehead

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