One of President Robert Mugabe’s renowned loyalists, Josiah Hungwe, was removed from the United States sanctions list because he provided Washington with useful information, it has emerged.
US officials in Harare said Hungwe was not on Washington’s Special Designated Nationals’ List which includes President Mugabe and his top lieutenants in both government and Zanu PF.
But the former governor yesterday insisted his name was still on the sanctions lists saying he had written evidence to that effect, despite the American Embassy in Harare saying he nolonger appears on the blacklist.
President Mugabe and senior Zanu PF officials were slapped with the punitive measures for their alleged role in undermining democracy in Zimbabwe.
US officials in Harare reportedly campaigned to have the former governor for Masvingo removed from the list of those blacklisted by the US administration.
Hungwe is the Senator for Chivi–Mwenezi, Masvingo Province.
While reviewing the list after the March 2005 general elections, US embassy officials in Harare suggested that Hungwe be removed from the sanctions list because “he has provided the Embassy with useful information in the past”.
The US officials said Hungwe was also now on the “outs” within Zanu PF.
A US diplomatic cable dispatched from Harare on July 11, 2005 entitled “Zimbabwe sanctions – suggestions and deletions”, read: “Embassy suggests that we take this opportunity to remove certain names from our existing visa sanctions list.
“Several individuals have died and others no longer appear to meet the criteria laid out in the Presidential Proclamation of February 22, 2002.
Since the visa sanctions list is not public information, we would suggest only publicly disclosing that some unspecified names were deleted and only telling the individuals privately that they have been removed.”
On suggesting those who should be deleted from the list, the cable read: “Josiah Hungwe, ex-Masvingo Provincial Governor who has provided the Embassy with useful information in the past. He is also on the outs within Zanu PF after the December 2004 Party Congress.”
The US diplomats suggested that the name of Ruthmae Hungwe, whom they said was the wife of Josiah Hungwe, be deleted from the list.
But Hungwe disputed the contents of the cable, saying: “That is not true. I am on the current list and have been there since 2000. The State Department wrote to me a letter on 27 February 2000 and another on 1st October 2000 repeating the same thing.”
He added: “The point of the matter is that I never spoke to them (US diplomats). The latest I know is that I am on the list.”
The diplomats also suggested that former Finance minister Christopher Kuruneri and former Labour minister July Moyo be removed from the sanctions list.
“Christopher Kuruneri, ex-Finance Minister, currently being prosecuted for dual citizenship and externalisation of foreign currency,” read the cable.
“July Moyo, ex-Minister of Social Welfare, Labou, and Public Works’ who worked constructively with the Embassy and NGOs while Minister and is currently suspended from the party.”