Chombo, Chinamasa raided RBZ: Wikileaks

The latest Wikileaks revelations name Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and political turncoat Jonathan Moyo as some of the Zanu (PF) officials who raided central bank coffers for scarce foreign currency.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo

Their voracious spending spawned the dramatic collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar.

The three were named together with Agriculture Minister Joseph Made by Standard Chartered Bank chief executive Washington Matsaira during a meeting he held with former US ambassador Joseph Sullivan in February 2003.

Chombo was Minister of Public Works at the time.

Matsaira, who was the president of the Zimbabwe Bankers Association at the time, told Sullivan that President Mugabe's inner-circle "hawks" were “subverting the Tripartite Agreement as well as the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries' proposal to devalue the Zimdollar for exporters”.

“Hardliners – Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and Public Works Minister Ignatius Chombo – are either still enriching themselves from the GOZ's interventionist policies (often accessing U.S. dollars at the official rate) or unwilling to press Mugabe to make a change,” Sullivan said in a cable written on 19 February 2003.

According to Matsaira, the resistance by the hardliners to allow a devaluation of the Zimdollar led to decision-making paralysis and the emergence of an every-man-for-himself mentality in the country.

Their actions perpetuated a critical foreign exchange shortage that hit Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2009 and spawned a thriving parallel market during the past nine years that starved the official inter-bank market of funds.

“Matsaira thinks Zimbabwe is gradually being "Zaire-ized,"” said the cable – a reference to Mobutu Sese Seko's misrule in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Zimdollar eventually collapsed in 2009 amid flourishing business by cash barons such as the ministers.

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