General Solomon Mujuru, who had been piling up pressure on President Robert Mugabe to step down and even gave him an ultimatum two weeks before the 2008 elections, suddenly turned around after the elections and gave no hint at all that he had had differences with Mugabe.
According to a cable by United States ambassador James McGee who met Mujuru on 10 April, although embassy officials had reliable reports that Mujuru tried to move Mugabe out of the presidency and that he backed Simba Makoni in the presidential election, “Mujuru in this meeting gave no indication of a rift with Mugabe”. Instead, “he played the role of a senior ZANU-PF stalwart”.
The presidential election results had not been released but parliamentary elections, which saw the Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change win one more seat than Mugabe’s party had been announced.
According to the cable just released by Wikileaks, Mujuru even argued that there had been voter fraud which had worked against the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
The General was dodgy on whether Mugabe was willing to leave office if he was assured of a safe exit by the United States government but he was adamant that Mugabe would not leave on a promise to lift sanctions alone.
“Mujuru said Mugabe would not agree to this; sanctions had been imposed while Mugabe was president, he felt personally responsible, and his sense of honour required that they be removed while he was still president.”
He, however, refused to divulge under what conditions Mugabe might be willing to leave office saying the ambassador should ask him after a meeting the following week.
The ambassador said embassy officials had been trying “for several months” to arrange a meeting with Mujuru and had been told by intermediaries that Mujuru was reluctant to meet with them because of the sensitivity of the political situation.
Viewing cable 08HARARE310, AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH GENERAL SOLOMON MUJURU
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SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH GENERAL SOLOMON MUJURU
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a meeting with the Ambassador on April
10, General Solomon Mujuru gave no hint of his commonly-known
differences with President Robert Mugabe, and little
indication that Mugabe would consider stepping down. He
acknowledged that sanctions (understood to be targeted and
international financial institution (IFI) prohibitions on
lending to Zimbabwe) are a major irritant to Zimbabwean
officials. Mujuru suggested the best way to engage in
dialogue with a view toward political and economic reform and
normalization of relations between Zimbabwe and the West
would be through SADC. On the elections, he expected the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce results
within the next couple of days. He maintained there had been
irregularities in vote tabulation, but blamed this on the ZEC
rather than the MDC. END SUMMARY.
A Mugabe Exit and Sanctions
¶2. (C) The Ambassador told Mujuru that transition was
important and that Mugabe should now become an elder
statesman. The U.S. was willing to assist; if Mugabe left
power, we would say the right things about Mugabe’s service
to his country, to the extent possible assist with his
safety, and lift sanctions against him. Mujuru asked whether
we would do the same for other government officials and
high-ranking military personnel. The Ambassador replied
¶3. (C) Mujuru then expressed the hurt and indignity of
sanctions. He and others felt like they were in a cage
looking out, while the West was looking at them through a
window. The sanctions also hurt financially; Mujuru said he
had a relative that had over USD 7 million frozen in the U.S.
With the removal of sanctions, Mujuru said, anything could
be discussed. (COMMENT: Mujuru said he meant sanctions to
include both targeted sanctions and IFI restrictions on
support for Zimbabwe. It was clear from the tenor of his
remarks, however, that he and other officials were more
focused on targeted sanctions which tie up their assets and
prevent them from traveling to the West. END COMMENT.)
¶4. (C) The Ambassador queried as to whether Mugabe would
agree to leave office with a promise that sanctions would
then be lifted. Mujuru said Mugabe would not agree to this;
sanctions had been imposed while Mugabe was president, he
felt personally responsible, and his sense of honor required
that they be removed while he was still president.
¶5. (C) The Ambassador then asked Mujuru whether there were
any circumstances under which Mugabe would voluntarily leave
office. Mujuru responded that there was a meeting next week
(presumably including Mujuru and Mugabe) and the Ambassador
should ask him after that meeting.
SADC Best Hope for Mediation
¶6. (C) The Ambassador asked Mujuru whether statesmen such as
Kofi Annan or Colin Powell could play a useful role in
talking to Mugabe. Mujuru responded that while Mugabe had
respect for them and other elders, such as former Tanzanian
President Mkapa and former Mozambique President Chissano,
SADC would be the best possible mediator in trying to open a
dialogue on transition. Specifically, he said Tanzanian
President Kikwete, as head of the African Union, was well
placed. He believed that Mugabe would be disposed to listen
HARARE 00000310 002 OF 002
On Elections and a Government of National Unity
¶7. (C) Mujuru said that ZANU-PF would be amenable to a
government of national unity (GNU), but not one headed by
Tsvangirai. Mujuru said he had nothing against
Tsvangirai–in fact he had met with him last week–but
Tsvangirai was junior to Mugabe and others. (COMMENT:
Mujuru seemed to be saying that any GNU would have to be
headed by ZANU-PF with the MDC and Tsvangirai as junior
partners. END COMMENT.)
¶8. (C) Mujuru averred that voter fraud to the detriment of
ZANU-PF had occurred during the election. He blamed it on
ZEC polling supervisors, however, and not the MDC. A recount
might be necessary. He suggested that in a runoff election
the Army should supervise voting as it was a professional and
independent body. The Ambassador commented that if the
integrity of the election process was the issue, independent
observers, for example from the Carter Center, could play an
important role. Mujuru agreed.
¶9. (C) The Ambassador noted that since the election we had
received reports of intimidation and violence in rural areas.
Mujuru called this a “lie.” Nobody had been hurt in the
election–“How can they say these things now.” He stated
there would be a runoff and it would be fair. He expected
the ZEC to release the results of the March 29 presidential
election within the next couple of days.
¶10. (C) Although we have reliable reports that Mujuru tried
to move Mugabe out of the presidency late last year and that
he backed Simba Makoni in the presidential election, Mujuru
in this meeting gave no indication of a rift with Mugabe. He
played the role of a senior ZANU-PF stalwart. Nevertheless,
his suggestion that SADC become more directly involved was at
least an implicit recognition that a transition must occur
which would result in Mugabe leaving power.
¶11. (C) We have been trying for several months to arrange a
meeting with Mujuru and have been told by intermediaries that
Mujuru was reluctant to meet with us because of the
sensitivity of the political situation. This meeting was
facilitated by a business contact who told us that Mujuru
initially declined the meeting. Although the substance of
the meeting broke no new ground, the fact that he agreed to
the meeting, and said he would welcome future meetings, may
be an indication that he is genuinely interested in a
transition and feels that the U.S. can play a role.
Interestingly, he said it was appropriate to talk to the
Americans, but he would not talk to the British. END COMMENT.