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Waiting for Mugabe to go

Coca-Cola Communications Director Sherree Gladys Shereni told United States embassy officials that no economic or social reforms would take place in Zimbabwe while President Robert Mugabe was still in power.

She said as a proud man who never admitted making mistakes, Mugabe was incapable of seeing the fault in his own policies and had led the country further and further down the wrong path.

He was so insulated from the people that he was unaware of the scale of suffering.

Shereni, who is a Zimbabwean, said the Central Intelligence Organisation had told him that the people were unhappy in the 1990s but he had responded by shouting them down.

The country’s great hope was that dissension within ZANU-PF over succession would open up political space in the country.

She said the party was divided along ethnic and tribal lines with Joyce Mujuru and her husband on one side and Emmerson Mnangagwa on the other.

Shereni said the people would prefer Mujuru to Mnangagwa but the party was now so hated that no ZANU-Pf candidate would win a truly free and fair election.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 05HARARE938, COCA-COLA REPRESENTATIVE OFFERS A CANDID PERSONAL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE938

2005-07-08 09:19

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 02 HARARE 000938

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN

TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW

PASS USTR FOR FLORIZELLE LISER

STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

USDOL FOR ROBERT YOUNG

 

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

TAGS: EINV ECON PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: COCA-COLA REPRESENTATIVE OFFERS A CANDID PERSONAL

VIEW OF ZIMBABWE,S FUTURE

 

Classified By: Charge d’affaires Eric T. Schultz a.i. for reason 1.4 d

 

——–

Summary

——–

 

1. (C) Coca-Cola Communications Director Sherree Gladys

Shereni told the CDA on July 7 that Coca-Cola had resolved a

payment dispute with its main Zimbabwe distributor and would

continue providing Coke syrup to the country. Coca-Cola

remained committed to the country long-term but she said she

had advised them that economic conditions were unlikely to

improve any time soon. As a &Zimbabwean8 she confided that

no change would come without President Mugabe,s departure

from power. Zimbabweans, fear of the regime prevented them

from rebelling, therefore the country,s great hope was that

the presidential succession would tear ZANU-PF apart and open

political space in the country. Joyce Mujuru and Emmerson

Mnangagwa were the main contenders but neither could win a

free and fair election given the degree to which the party

was now hated. End Summary.

 

——————————————— ——–

Coke Sees Long-Term Potential but Short-Term Problems

——————————————— ——–

 

2. (C) Shereni told the CDA that Coca-Cola remained committed

to the Zimbabwean market. The company believed the country

had long-term economic potential and that eventually

conditions would improve. Moreover, the Reserve Bank of

Zimbabwe (RBZ) had solved the company,s biggest problem when

it had agreed to provide local bottler Delta Beverages with

$1 million in foreign exchange per month to pay off its debts

for Coca-Cola syrup and to finance additional imports. As a

result the total debt had been reduced from $4 million to a

little over $2 million since April.

 

3. (C) That said, Shereni agreed with the CDA that economic

conditions in Zimbabwe were unlikely to improve in the near

term given current government policies and that the unlikely

prospect that they would change for the better any time soon.

Moreover, she suggested that RBZ Governor Gono had been

given latitude before the elections because ZANU-PF needed

someone to keep the economy going, but with a two-thirds

parliamentary majority, the party no longer needed Gono,s

stewardship and he was n his way out.

 

——————

Waiting for Mugabe

——————

 

4. (C) In that regard, Shereni offered her opinion “as a

Zimbabwean” (and a highly educated one who started her

professional life in the RBZ in the 1980s) that no economic

or social reforms could take place with Mugabe still in

power. As a proud man who never admitted mistakes, Mugabe

was incapable of seeing the fault in his own policies and had

led the country further and further down the wrong path. She

said the problems had really begun in the 1980s when

corruption first became a factor in the government.

Mugabe,s refusal to embrace fiscal discipline had further

exacerbated the situation, especially the 1997 budget that

had caused the first economic crash. Finally, his disdain

for real democracy, that had ZANU-PF stalwarts calling it in

&intensive care8 as early as 1989, was the final key factor

in the country,s deterioration.

 

5. (C) Shereni said Mugabe was now so insulated from the

people that he was unaware of the scale of suffering. The

CIO had told him the people were unhappy in the late 1990s

and Mugabe had responded by shouting them down. When the

elections of 2000 had proven them right, Mugabe had taken

vengeance on the people who had opposed him. He was deeply

unpopular as was his party even with rural voters who only

voted for him out of fear. They had seen how ZANU-PF had

dealt with &collaborators8 and other opponents during the

liberation struggle with summary executions and would not

stand up to the government. For most Zimbabweans, &peace8

meant avoiding government terror.

 

6. (C) Shereni said how Mugabe stepped down and how much

longer he stayed in power would have a profound effect on the

country,s future. The country,s great hope was that

dissension within ZANU-PF over the succession would open up

political space in the country. The party was deeply divided

along tribal lines, both intra-Shona (Zezerou versus Karanga)

and inter-tribal (Ndebele versus Shona), and the war veterans

were deserting it. The party was also divided between

supporters of the two main candidates to succeed Mugabe:

Joyce Mujuru (with her husband Solomon behind her), a

Zezerou, and Emmerson Mnangagwa, a Karanga. Shereni said the

population would probably prefer Mujuru to Mnangagwa, but

that the party was now so hated that no ZANU-PF candidate

could win a truly free and fair election.

 

———————-

Not Waiting For Africa

———————-

 

7. (C) Shereni said African leaders had failed to criticize

Mugabe because of the skeletons in their own closets. They

were afraid that their domestic opponents would use their

criticism of Mugabe against them. In addition, Zimbabwe was

even now relatively better off than most African countries

(though falling fast) and African leaders used this to

rationalize their silence. Shereni also recounted a

conversation she had with former Mozambican President

Chissano on a recent flight from South Africa in which he

vehemently argued against a superpower (i.e. the U.S.)

telling an African leader when it was time to leave.

Chissano had said that Mugabe should be allowed to determine

on his own when he wanted to leave power. However,

independently, Shereni had heard rumors about the UN asking

Chissano to present Mugabe with an exit-package.

 

——–

Comment

——–

 

8. (C) Shereni’s bleak and honest assessment is

representative of Zimbabwe’s educated elite, especially its

enterprising business people. They are keenly aware of

everything that is wrong with the country but are resigned to

the reality that nothing will change as long as Robert Mugabe

is in power. Instead they continue with what has become an

exhausting struggle to keep their businesses alive within the

dysfunctional parameters set by a control-obsessed

government. In a sense their struggle is mirrored in the

daily struggle of poor Zimbabweans to physically survive in

the face of an uncaring and often hostile regime. Shereni,s

account confirms the pervasiveness of intimidation and

despondency throughout Zimbabwean society, from rural

residents to captains of industry. But it also offers a ray

of hope in that it also confirms that all layers of society

are increasingly united against the regime, whose base of

support has narrowed to the military, the police, and the

CIO.

SCHULTZ

(60 VIEWS)

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