in Stories

Gono says Mugabe wanted to retire after 2008 victory

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono told United States embassy officials that there was pressure on President Robert Mugabe to step down before the 2008 elections but he argued that he would stay on to deliver a Zimbabwean African National Union-Patriotic Front victory and he also wanted to outlast former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda.

According to one of the cables released by Wikileaks, Gono told embassy officials on 1 September 2007 that Mugabe had been told by his personal physician to step down on health reasons but he said he could not do so because he wanted to deliver victory to his party.

“He agreed with Tony Blair on one thing–the time to step downwas after leading one’s party to victory, thereafter givingit time to consolidate before the next election. He did not want to have led the party for much of his life and then seeit get defeated after his departure,” the cable says.

Mugabe and British prime Minister Tony Blair were sworn enemies.

Mugabe also argued that there was too much infighting within his party so he could not leave especially since one of his deputies, Joseph Msika was not well. Ironically there was wide speculation that he had bulldozed Joyce Mujuru to vice-President so that she could take over.

Gono also said Mugabe wanted to outlast Kaunda who had served 27 years.

The cable also says Gono used the meeting to market himself “both as an economic reformist and as a political leader.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07HARARE795, GONO ON MUGABE’S FUTURE, ECONOMY

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

07HARARE795

2007-09-05 10:32

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO8388

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0795/01 2481032

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 051032Z SEP 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1840

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1686

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1558

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1690

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0331

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0956

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1319

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1747

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4165

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1517

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2180

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0811

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1907

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000795

 

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: 07/09/2012

TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON ZI

SUBJECT: GONO ON MUGABE’S FUTURE, ECONOMY

 

REF: A. A) HARARE 692

 

B. B) PRETORIA 2210

C. C) HARARE 771

 

Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Glenn Warren under 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) President Robert Mugabe has been urged by those

closest to him to leave office, according to Gideon Gono,

Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, in a meeting with

Charge on September 1. In particular, Mugabe’s personal

physician advised him to step down immediately to preserve

his health. Mugabe demurred, citing current party

infighting, his desire to lead a united ZANU-PF to a credible

victory next year, and his desire to surpass ex-Zambian

president Kenneth Kaunda’s term in office. He told his

physician, however, that he would leave after the election.

 

2. (C) Gono also used our meeting to burnish his

credentials, both as an economic reformist and as a political

leader. He noted his advocacy of a free market approach to

solve Zimbabwe’s economic problems and his opposition to the

recent price control policy. He also described personal ties

with government security forces and the opposition.

Expressing admiration for the U.S., he urged the U.S. to seek

out enlightened Zimbabwean leaders and support them. End

Summary.

 

3. (C) The almost two-hour meeting with Gono took place in a

private conference room. Gono was unaccompanied. He entered

the room after we arrived and left before we did, an apparent

effort not to be seen in the company of U.S. officials.

 

————————————–

Mugabe Urged by Intimates to Step Down

————————————–

 

4. (C) Gono told us he had broached Mugabe’s retirement with

him by suggesting the country needed his memoirs. Mugabe

responded with a litany of reasons as to why he did not wish

to step down now:

–Vice-President Msika was not well.

–There was currently significant infighting within ZANU-PF.

He agreed with Tony Blair on one thing–the time to step down

was after leading one’s party to victory, thereafter giving

it time to consolidate before the next election. He did not

want to have led the party for much of his life and then see

it get defeated after his departure.

–There had been questions about his legitimacy, and he

wanted to put those to rest through an election victory next

year.

–Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda had left office

after 27 years. He wanted to exceed this, which meant

staying on until next year. (Note. Gono thought Mugabe felt

a personal rivalry with Kaunda since Kaunda had supported

ZAPU. End Note.)

 

5. (C) In a hushed voice, Gono then told us Mugabe’s

personal physician from Malaysia was now living in Harare,

close to Mugabe. He said he (Gono) alone was part of health

discussions with Mugabe and the physician. The physician had

urged Mugabe to step down immediately; continuing as

president would be dangerous to his health. Mugabe had

resisted and asked him to keep him going until next year’s

 

HARARE 00000795 002 OF 004

 

 

elections. The physician agreed on condition that Mugabe

leave office right after the election. Mugabe agreed.

 

6. (C) Noting that the most important confidantes in a

person’s life were one’s spouse, lawyer, banker, doctor, and

priest, Gono, who was once Mugabe’s personal banker,

indicated he knew that all wanted Mugabe to leave office. He

specifically mentioned he had been involved in discussions

with Mugabe’s lawyer to set up Mugabe’s retirement on his

farm, and on his will. (Note: Father Fidelis Makoni,

long-time Mugabe confidante and confessor, told us two months

ago he thought Mugabe had been in office too long and he

would subtlely suggest this to him (Ref B) End Note.)

 

————————–

Kofi Annan Could Also Help

————————–

 

7. (C) Referring to potential efforts by African leaders to

pressure Mugabe (Ref B), Gono said Mugabe did not respond

well to his peers. Gono thought, however, Mugabe would

listen to Kofi Annan. Gona had contacted Annan, and was

trying to arrange a meeting for the two. Gono thought Annan

could be helpful in Mugabe eventually leaving office, but

would not be able to persuade him to leave before elections.

 

——————

Seeking to Impress

——————

 

8. (C) Shortly after arriving and exchanging pleasantries,

as if on cue, the phone rang. In the ensuing conversation,

Gono spoke of an article in that morning’s The Herald on new

regulations that would ban raising wages, rents, prices, and

school fees based on increases in the consumer price index

except as permitted by the National Income and Pricing

Commission (Commission), and would remove from various

ministries the power to set government fees and tariffs and

place such power with the Commission. Identifying his

interlocutor during the conversation as the Minister of

Economic Development, Gono protested he had not been informed

of the new regulations and exclaimed, “If you don’t reverse

this, we’re going under.” He also stated he would not be

subject to the actions of Obert Mpofu, Minister of Industry

and International Trade and also Price Commission Chair).

 

9. (C) Gono then commenced a lengthy prepared presentation,

calling our attention to highlighted portions of his January

Monetary Policy Statement and April Monetary Policy Interim

Review Statement in which he argued that political expediency

had overridden economic common sense, that hard political

decisions were necessary to right the economy, and that these

decisions must involve movement to a market-based economy,

including the protection of property rights and space for

entrepreneurship. He said he expected soon to convince

Mugabe to allow the exchange rate to depreciate to the UN

rate (now 135,000), and provided Charge with several economic

policy documents he had recently presented to Mugabe (septel).

 

——————

Gono to the Rescue

——————

 

10. (C) Gono related that after a July 6 front-page article

in The Independent detailed his criticism of price controls

and his clash with Minister Without Portfolio Elliot Manyika,

acting chair of the Commission, Mugabe had summoned him.

 

HARARE 00000795 003 OF 004

 

 

Gono had expected Mugabe to fire him; instead the president

told Gono he had been right in his opposition to price

controls. Mugabe also said the security and defense forces

had complained there was no meat for the troops. Feeding the

troops was a national priority; Mugabe asked Gono what he

could do.

 

11. (C) Gono told us that for over a month he supplied the

defense forces with 260 head of cattle from his herd of 1200.

He stopped supplying beef when the Commission taskforce

raided his small abattoir and arrested its operator, and then

went to Gono’s rural home, where he raises chickens. and

accused him (Gono) of hoarding.

 

12. (C) Gono received a letter the day of our meeting from

the Army, which he showed to us, requesting renewed supplies

of beef. According to the letter, the Army had been without

beef for the last three weeks, since Gono ended deliveries.

 

13. (C) Close contact with the defense forces enabled him to

influence policy, Gono averred. He had told the security

forces that the price control policy was a disaster; he

expected his interlocutors to take his message to the Friday

meeting of the Joint Operational Command, Mugabe’s

policy-making body.

 

14. (C) According to Gono, defense forces were planning to

give him a tour of barracks around the country next week. He

proudly showed us a photo album of his last tour with the

military.

 

———————————————

A Pitch for Better U.S.-Zimbabwe Relations…

———————————————

 

15. (C) A somewhat exasperated Gono lamented that he had

stayed on the job not for personal gain but to help his

country. Nevertheless, he had been criticized by those

within his party for arguing against economic controls, for

economic liberalization, and for cooperation with the IMF;

and he had been vilified by the West and had sanctions

imposed on him and his family because of his position with

the government. He appealed for dialogue with the West,

noting that the U.S. had talked with dictators around the

world, including Yasser Arafat.

 

16. (C) While mentioning that he had good ties with the

MDC–whose leaders sometimes called him for advice–Gono

thought their disunity would preclude them from winning next

year’s elections. ZANU-PF would continue to struggle with

the economy, but people would not see the MDC as a viable

alternative.

 

17. (C) Expressing admiration for the U.S., Gono advised

that the U.S. should not paint everyone in ZANU-PF with the

same brush. We should identify those in the party we could

work with and support them.

 

18. (C) Returning to the issue of sanctions, Gono said three

of his children studying in Australia had been placed on the

Australian sanctions list and forced to leave that country.

Nevertheless, he was not bitter and preferred to look to the

future. On the positive side, personal sanctions directed at

him enabled him better to counter assertions that he was an

agent of the West; he now had the modern-day equivalent of

“liberation credentials.”

 

 

HARARE 00000795 004 OF 004

 

 

——————

…And a New Start

——————

 

19. (C) In looking to the future, Gono said it would be a

mistake to talk about the Hague and human rights

prosecutions. “Where do you start,” he asked rhetorically.

To go after generals would destroy the security of the

country. As for genocide, although many mentioned GOZ-Shona

massacres of Ndebele in the 1980s, further back in history

there wereinstances of Ndebele massacres of Shona. Zimbabwe

needed to open a new chapter, Gono concluded.

 

————

I’m Your Man

————

 

20. (C) Gono finished by saying he had talked to us in the

hope that overtures could be made and confidence given to the

people (presumably including himself) that would take

Zimbabwe forward.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

21. (C) Mugabe has appeared composed in recent public

appearances and we have no evidence that he is in ill health.

Gono, however, has a long history with Mugabe, is one of his

closest advisors, and presumably could be privy to

discussions with Mugabe’s physician. Assuming the physician

advised Mugabe to leave office, we don’t know whether this

was because of illness or the stresses of a difficult job on

an almost 84-year old man.

 

22. (C) The assumption within ZANU-PF appears to be that

Mugabe will stand for election in March. The current

infighting is increasingly directed at succession following

elections (Ref C). The question is whether he will actually

step down after a victory. In this regard, Gono’s remarks

are encouraging, although obviously not definitive. The wild

card is the economy. Many Zimbabweans say the current

situation is as bad as it has ever been, and an even

worsening economy could change the political dynamic.

 

23. (C) Gono’s conversation with us, including the revealing

of confidences, his protestations of economic reasonableness,

and his detailing of connections ranging from the military to

the MDC, seemed directed at convincing us he is a man with

whom we can do business. He has been mentioned as a possible

“third way” president, but for now has a constituency of

one–Mugabe. Nevertheless, he appears to be reaching out in

an attempt to position himself for the post-Mugabe era.

DHANANI

(11 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment