Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told diplomats six days before his swearing in that his first order of business would be to replace central bank governor Gideon Gono because he had become a liability who continued to violate laws.
He said the country was on its knees. Education, health and industrial capacity had collapsed.
With the Movement for Democratic Change in government there would be a change in direction and immediate change in the delivery of services.
He said that there were sceptics, both internally and externally, who did not believe the ZANU-PF-MDC marriage would last.
“It will last,” he averred.
Tsvangirai said he had just met President Robert Mugabe and had told him that he was responsible for Zimbabwe’s predicament and his cooperation was necessary to begin to turn the country around.
The United States embassy said while Tsvangirai had priorities and a plan, and believed that there was a collective will for the success of the new government, he was underestimating the obduracy of ZANU-PF.
“Early benchmarks as to whether this government has a chance will be whether Gono is replaced, whether there is repeal of repressive legislation, and whether the media environment is opened up,” the embassy said.
Viewing cable 09HARARE91, TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS ON PLANS, CONCERNS
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/06/2019
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS ON PLANS, CONCERNS
REF: HARARE 85
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) A confident but realistic Morgan Tsvangirai briefed
OECD ambassadors in the late afternoon of February 5
immediately after a meeting with Zimbabwean president Robert
Mugabe and shortly after the House of Assembly had passed
Amendment 19 by a vote of 184-0. He left no doubt that he
will be sworn in on February 11, but was less certain that
all outstanding issues would be resolved by then. Most of
the briefing focused on his plans as prime minister. He
plans to initiate a 100-day plan at the beginning of March,
after consulting with ministers, auditing ministries, and
getting staff in place; priorities are restoring basic
freedoms, humanitarian support, and economic stabilization.
While acknowledging donor support would have to be based on
progress on political and economic reform, Tsvangirai also
said it was important to begin paying civil
servants–military, police, government workers, and
teachers–in forex as soon as possible. Tsvangirai said that
the MDC as part of government must “budget” for ZANU-PF
obstructionism, but he expressed confidence that there was a
“collective will” to make the government work. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Tsvangirai told the Ambassador earlier in the day
(Ref) that Amendment 19 would not be passed until early next
week to exert leverage to resolve other issues before then.
But he announced at the briefing that the Amendment had
passed the House of Assembly earlier in the day by a vote of
184-0. (COMMENT: We take the early passage as a clear
intention on Tsvangirai’s part to be sworn in on February 11,
regardless of the status of other issues. END COMMENT.)
¶3. (SBU) Tsvangirai reiterated (Ref) that the parties had
agreed to a 5-4-1 formula for allocation of governorships.
The party–ZANU-PF or MDC-T–that did not get 5 would be
entitled to an additional minister for state without
portfolio. He hoped there would be early agreement and that
the new governors could be sworn in on February 13 with
¶4. (SBU) The National Security Bill will be presented to
Parliament today, according to Tsvangirai, with passage
expected on February 9.
¶5. (SBU) Discussing abductees, Tsvangirai said “they must be
released.” He added that the Joint Monitoring and
Implementation Committee (JOMIC) would meet on February 7 to
further discuss the issue. JOMIC had already agreed that all
detainees should be released.
¶6. (SBU) Tsvangirai told the group that as prime minister he
had three priorities:
–Restoring freedoms and healing. This includes a process to
draft and enact a new constitution; legislative reform,
including repeal or amendment of repressive legislation; and
liberalizing the media.
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–Humanitarian support. This includes education, health,
food distribution; and, above all, payments to civil
servants–military, police, teachers, and government
workers–in forex by March 1. Tsvangirai did not say where
forex payments would come from.
–Stabilization. The three parties must agree on how to
tackle fundamental economic problems, including
hyperinflation, in order to staunch the bleeding. There must
be consensus on a government that is transparent and honest
and a move away from a culture of entitlement (read ZANU-PF
officials) and impunity.
¶7. (SBU) Commenting that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor Gideon Gono had become a “liability” who continues
to violate laws, Tsvangirai said that his first order of
business will be to replace Gono. He criticized the budget
presented to Parliament last week by Acting Minister of
Finance Patrick Chinamasa, particularly the classification of
diamonds, platinum, and minerals as “strategic reserve
assets” to be overseen by the RBZ. He said that the new MDC
finance minister would have to put forward a reasonable
Managing Expectations and Partners
¶8. (SBU) The country is on its knees, stated Tsvangirai.
Education, health, and industrial capacity have collapsed.
With the MDC in government, Zimbabweans would expect a change
of direction and immediate improvement in the delivery of
services. There would not be an immediate turn around and it
would be up to him and his team to manage expectations.
Tsvangirai was confident that as the government moved
forward, people would realize it was on the right course.
¶9. (SBU) Tsvangirai said donor assistance would be
important. The MDC realized it would have to meet donor
benchmarks to earn confidence in order to receive assistance.
He noted there were skeptics, both internally and externally
who did not believe the ZANU-PF-MDC marriage would last. “It
will last,” he averred, but reiterated that the MDC would
have to earn trust.
¶10. (SBU) Tsvangirai continued that SADC and civil society
had important roles. SADC as the guarantor of the agreement
would have to ensure that the parties carried out their
commitments under the agreement. Civil society should
continue its role as an advocate for democratic reform and
should engage the government and MDC in robust debate on the
“Budgeting” for ZANU-PF
¶11. (SBU) Turning to ZANU-PF and Mugabe, Tsvangirai said he
had just met with the Zimbabwean president. While not going
into detail about the meeting, he said he had told Mugabe
that he was responsible for Zimbabwe’s predicament and his
cooperation was necessary to begin to turn the country
around. He hoped Mugabe would realize that the government
should help the people, but he had to be realistic and
“budget” for ZANU-PF obstructionism. If ZANU-PF violated the
Q”budget” for ZANU-PF obstructionism. If ZANU-PF violated the
September 15 agreement and failed to act responsibly, MDC
would have to expose it in the Cabinet, Council of Ministers,
National Security Council, and to SADC and the world.
Recognizing potential problems, however, with ZANU-PF,
Tsvangirai believed there was a “collective will” to make the
HARARE 00000091 003 OF 003
¶12. (SBU) While ZANU-PF would maintain control of important
ministries; Tsvangirai explained that MDC would have deputy
ministers in the MFA, Defense, Local Government, Agriculture,
Women, and Justice. He joked that as long as targeted
sanctions were in place, the foreign minister would be unable
to travel to the U.S. or Europe, and this responsibility
would fall on the MDC deputy.
¶13. (SBU) Tsvangirai maintained that the MDC was going into
government as a unified party. All the provinces and the
women’s and youth assemblies had been represented in the
National Council meeting where the decision was made.
Thousands of Zimbabweans were outside after the Council voted
and there was a collective sigh of relief. “What next,”
Tsvangirai rhetorically asked, “if we didn’t go into
government.” The MDC now had an opportunity to unlock
ZANU-PF’s grip on power.
100-Day Plan and the future
¶14. (SBU) The MDC is meeting this weekend to formulate a
100-day plan after it enters government. Tsvangirai expected
this to begin in March. In the interim, he said he would
hold a team-building retreat for ministers, audit ministries
to understand their capacity and problems, and put staff in
¶15. (SBU) Tsvangirai said he expected the government to last
for two to two and a half years. At the end of this time,
there should be an environment for democracy and political
space. The ultimate goal was free and fair elections.
¶16. (C) Tsvangirai was confident and measured in his
presentation. While he has priorities and a plan, and
believes there is a “collective will” for success of the new
government, he is, however, likely underestimating the
obduracy of ZANU-PF. Early benchmarks as to whether this
government has a chance will be whether Gono is replaced,
whether there is repeal of repressive legislation, and
whether the media environment is opened up.
¶17. (C) Tsvangirai highlighted his desire to achieve
stabilization by paying public servants in forex as early as
March. Left unsaid was his expectation, despite
acknowledging the MDC must earn donor confidence to receive
developmental aid, that donors would supply this forex.
There is tremendous sympathy for the MDC and a desire to help
it succeed. Our challenge is to adhere–and convince others
to adhere–to our principles of political and economic reform
long enough to ensure that the government is moving in the
right direction, but not so long as to hurt the government’s
chances of success should it measurably move in the right
direction. END COMMENT.