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Goche refused US offer for a Mugabe exit package

Labour Minister and close Mugabe confidante Nicholas Goche refused a Mugabe exit package that was offered by United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGhee, 19 days before the 2008 elections.

According to a cable released by Wikileaks, McGhee made the offer on 10 March 2008 and spoke in “direct language”.

He said the United States was willing to assist President Robert Mugabe…”now”…to achieve a dignified departure.

“If Mugabe lost the election, he would be exposed to prosecution for his past misdeeds. He could talk to the US, make plans to leave, and protect himself,” the cable said.

Goche said the situation was under control. Mugabe was going to win the election and there would be no run off. Any changes in the ZANU-PF leadership would be at the December 2009 party congress.

Goche said there had always been cracks in ZANU-PF but the party continued to be viable.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE197, AMBASSADOR PRESSES MUGABE EXIT WITH MUGABE

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE197

2008-03-12 14:09

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO2751

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0197/01 0721409

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 121409Z MAR 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2575

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1806

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1931

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0510

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1208

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1565

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1987

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4418

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1058

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000197

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL,

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2018

TAGS: PREL PGOV ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR PRESSES MUGABE EXIT WITH MUGABE

CONFIDANTE

 

REF: HARARE 85

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) The Ambassador on March 10 told Nicholas Goche, a

Mugabe confidante who is Minister of Public Service, Labor

and Social Welfare, that Zimbabwe was in a transition, and

that the U.S. was willing to help Mugabe achieve a smooth

exit from office. A supremely confident Goche pushed back,

stating that Mugabe would win the upcoming election without a

runoff. The time to talk to the U.S. would be after the

election. Goche said there would be a change in leadership

— but at the ZANU-PF conference in December 2009. Goche

dismissed the Ambassador’s suggestion that change was

necessary to deal with a reeling economy. Zimbabwe’s mineral

wealth would allow it to repay its international debts and

reengage with international financial institutions, and an

increase in farm productivity would support an

inflation-busting program. On election observation, Goche

said he had pushed for independent international observers,

but the Foreign Ministry had decided not to allow them.   END

SUMMARY.

 

———————

ZIMBABWE’S TRANSITION

———————

 

2. (C) Speaking in direct language, the Ambassador averred

that Zimbabwe was in a transition that would result in

Mugabe’s exit from office. Noting that the U.S. had a firm

policy on Zimbabwe, he stated that we would be willing to

assist Mugabe — now — to achieve a dignified departure. If

Mugabe lost the election, he would be exposed to prosecution

for his past misdeeds. He could talk to the U.S., make plans

to leave, and protect himself.

 

3. (C) Goche declined to follow-up on the Ambassador’s

offer. He agreed that Zimbabwe was in a transition, but

argued that a ZANU-PF change in leadership would occur at the

ZANU-PF Congress in December 2009. Mugabe would not lose the

election and there would be no runoff. His support was as

strong as ever, particularly in the rural areas. Goche

continued that elections were ward-based where ZANU-PF

structures were strong. As for cracks in ZANU-PF, Goche said

this had always been the case, but the party continued to be

viable.

 

4. (C) Goche was dismissive of Simba Makoni. Makoni had

never run for office before, he did not have his own

constituency, and any votes he received would be at the

expense of the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai. This was good for

ZANU-PF. He added that Dumiso Dabengwa’s defection to Makoni

was insignificant. Dabengwa had run for parliament in 2005

and pulled few votes; he had little support in Matabeleland.

Goche concluded the discussion of the elections by saying

that the situation was “under control.”

 

—————

U.S. PRINCIPLES

—————

 

5. (C) The Ambassador stressed that reengagement would be

based on Zimbabwe’s compliance with our principles, including

free and fair elections, return to the rule of law, and

observation of human rights. Goche interrupted the

Ambassador — rule of law and human rights were just a

euphemism for returning land to the whites. Zimbabwe wanted

 

HARARE 00000197 002 OF 002

 

 

to be treated like other countries, and not worse. Why, he

asked rhetorically, was the U.S. treating Zimbabwe this way

when Zimbabwe had cooperated with the U.S. in such countries

as Liberia, Somalia and Angola.

 

6. (C) When the Ambassador noted the importance of economic

reform, Goche responded that Zimbabwe had large mineral

resources, particularly diamonds and platinum. These

resources would be used to pay off international and

bilateral debts. He maintained that Zimbabwe was in the

process of increasing agricultural productivity; increased

productivity would allow Zimbabwe to tackle its inflation

problem.

 

——————————

A NOTE ON ELECTION OBSERVATION

——————————

 

7. (C) Referring to his previous conversation (Ref) with

Goche in which Goche said he would push Mugabe for

independent election observers, the Ambassador told Goche he

was disappointed this had not materialized. Goche replied

that he also was disappointed. He had made the case but the

Minister of Foreign Affairs had nixed the idea.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

8. (C) Goche’s supreme confidence that Mugabe will win the

election may be due to two factors: 1) confidence in

ZANU-PF’s ability to rig the elections and the results; and

2) the absence of additional ZANU-PF defections to Makoni.

During the meeting, Goche cryptically mentioned that we would

understand Mugabe’s strength when we learned who had visited

with the president earlier in the day. An intermediary later

told us that Goche, prior to the meeting with the Ambassador,

had met with Mugabe. Mugabe told Goche that earlier he had

met with Solomon Mujuru who had pledged his loyalty.

 

9. (C) Makoni would definitely be helped by additional

high-level endorsements. It is a measure of Mugabe’s

residual strength and the fear he inspires that important

officials who are rumored to support Makoni have not come

out. A number of sources have told us that despite Mujuru’s

pledge to Mugabe, Mujuru continues to support Makoni and will

make this support public a few days before the election.

Dumiso Dabengwa confirmed to the Ambassador (Septel) that

Mujuru remains solidly behind Makoni.

 

10. (C) We continue to believe, along with independent

Zimbabwean analysts, that Mugabe would not win a free and

fair election. We are skeptical, however, that he can be

defeated in a rigged election. The wild card is the

familiarity of the Makoni people with the rigging process and

the fact that many ZANU-PF electoral officials may be Makoni

supporters. The Makoni organization’s efforts to reduce

rigging, combined with the hoped for vigilance of the

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and MDC and Makoni

polling agents at polling stations, should make Mugabe’s task

more difficult.

 

MCGEE

(27 VIEWS)

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