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John Nkomo of little value to Mugabe

Vice President John Nkomo was of little value to President Robert Mugabe because he was “unquestionably loyal to Mugabe” and had no support from Matebeleland.

The subject was raised after the death of Vice-President Joseph Msika and who was going to replace him.

According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks it was obvious that Mugabe would replace Msika with someone from Matebeleland. Though there were several candidates like Obert Mpofu, Cain Mathema and Simon Khaya Moyo, Nkomo appeared the obvious choice.

But the cable said: “He would be of little help in boosting ZANU-PF support in future elections. Nkomo also reportedly suffers from prostate cancer for which he receives treatment in South Africa. He would be a safe choice for Mugabe in the short term, but he offers little longer term reward.”

On the other hand Dumiso Dabengwa, a former ZANU-PF politburo member who had left the party to resuscitate the old ZAPU, offered high risk but potentially significant benefits.

“He was the head of ZIPRA intelligence before independence and had a collaborative relationship with General Solomon Mujuru who headed ZANLA, the military wing of ZANU-PF,” the cable says.

“Dabengwa is prominent in Matabeleland and could offer the possibility of strengthening ZANU-PF in that area,” But “Mugabe would also have other reasons to distrust Dabengwa’s loyalty. Dabengwa is close to Solomon and Joice Mujuru, Mugabe’s primary intraparty rivals, and he has a strong relationship with South African president Jacob Zuma who is a Mugabe critic.”

The cable said ZANU-PF politics was opaque, primarily because one man made the decisions and rarely tipped his hand to others.

“Since Mugabe is primarily concerned about himself and wants to stay in office indefinitely, the most likely pick — because it’s the safest pick for him personally — is Nkomo. But we don’t underestimate Mugabe’s ability to surprise. He could work out a deal with Dabengwa, choose the junior and lightly-regarded Mpofu, or do something unforeseen.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE643, MSIKA’S DEATH AND HIS SUCCESSOR

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE643

2009-08-06 15:47

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6513

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0643/01 2181547

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 061547Z AUG 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4790

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2973

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3089

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1518

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2352

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2719

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3137

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5580

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2267

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000643

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B.WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/06/2019

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI PINR

SUBJECT: MSIKA’S DEATH AND HIS SUCCESSOR

 

Classified By: CDA Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——————————————

Vice President Msika’s Death Made Official

——————————————

 

1. (SBU) Zimbabwe’s long-serving Vice President, Joseph

Msika, died of liver and kidney failure the morning of August

5, 2009, according to the State media. (NOTE: The GOZ

officially announced August 6 that Msika had died on August

5; we learned from sources that he actually died on August 4.

END NOTE.) Msika had suffered several serious strokes

during the past few years, had not been seen in public since

March 2009, and was no longer a significant political force

within ZANU-PF. He was 85 years old at the time of his death

and had been the country’s vice president since succeeding

Joshua Nkomo in 1999. Msika was also a founding member of

the PF-ZAPU independence party and a signatory to the 1987

Unity Accords that merged PF-ZAPU into ZANU-PF. In addition

to his position as vice president, Msika, along with

President Robert Mugabe, Vice President Joice Mujuru, and

ZANU-PF Chairperson John Nkomo, was a member of the ZANU-PF

ruling presidium The ZANU-PF politburo met after his death

and granted him “hero” status and a place in the National

Hero’s Acre.

 

——————————————— –

The Battle for Succession and Mugabe’s Dilemma

——————————————— –

 

2. (C) The decision on who will replace Msika, although

theoretically made by the politburo, is Mugabe’s. In keeping

with the historical precedent maintained since the 1987 Unity

Accords, Mugabe is almost certain to fill the vacancy with an

Ndebele. Additionally, he will seek to name an individual

who will be loyal to him and, with an eye to the next

election, can help rebuild the party in Matabeleland. His

task is made difficult by the paucity of Ndebele leaders with

national stature. Publicly known figures such as Minister of

Mines Obert Mpofu, Ambassador to South Africa S. K. Moyo, and

Bulawayo Governor Cain Mathewa are generally considered light

weights. The leading contenders would appear to be John

Nkomo and Dumiso Dabengwa.

 

3. (C) Nkomo, who is almost 76 years old, is a long-standing

member of ZANU-PF. Originally a member of PF-ZAPU and a

one-time head of ZIPRA, the military arm of PF-ZAPU, Nkomo

was an enthusiastic supporter of the Unity Accord. In

addition to being Chair of ZANU-PF, Nkomo was Speaker of

Parliament from 2005 to 2008 and has held various ministerial

positions. He is unquestionably loyal to Mugabe. Because of

this loyalty, however, he enjoys little support in

Matabeleland which probably explains his decision not to

stand for a parliamentary seat in the 2008 elections. He

would be of little help in boosting ZANU-PF support in future

elections. Nkomo also reportedly suffers from prostate

cancer for which he receives treatment in South Africa. He

would be a safe choice for Mugabe in the short term, but he

Qwould be a safe choice for Mugabe in the short term, but he

offers little longer term reward.

 

4. (C) Dabengwa, who is 69, offers high risk but potentially

significant benefits. He has a complicated history with

Mugabe. He was the head of ZIPRA intelligence before

independence and had a collaborative relationship with

General Solomon Mujuru who headed ZANLA, the military wing of

ZANU-PF. In 1982 the Mugabe administration charged Dabengwa

with treason, alleging he was part of a PF-ZAPU effort to

overthrow the government. After being acquitted, he was

detained for four years under emergency measures. After

release and rehabilitation, he served as Minister of Home

Affairs between 1992 and 2000. He ran for Parliament in 2000

but lost to MDC stalwart Gibson Sibanda. He lost again in

 

HARARE 00000643 002 OF 002

 

 

2005. Dabengwa was a member of the ZANU-PF politburo until

the spring of 2008 when he announced his support of Simba

Makoni for president. This year, he became interim head of a

reconstituted ZAPU.

 

5. (C) Dabengwa is prominent in Matabeleland and could offer

the possibility of strengthening ZANU-PF in that area. His

electoral defeats — almost certainly a result of his long

and close association with ZANU-PF which is blamed for the

Gukuruhundi massacres in the 1980s in Matabeleland — calls

this into question. Further, since he announced his support

for Makoni, he has criticized Mugabe for being too old to

effectively lead ZANU-PF and the country, and has attacked

ZANU-PF as corrupt. Mugabe would also have other reasons to

distrust Dabengwa’s loyalty. Dabengwa is close to Solomon

and Joice Mujuru, Mugabe’s primary intraparty rivals, and he

has a strong relationship with South African president Jacob

Zuma who is a Mugabe critic. For his part, in the event an

offer were made by Mugabe, Dabengwa would have to leave the

party that he recently started. He would also have to take

into account the reality that the Ndebele have historically

been marginalized in ZANU-PF and that Mugabe might keep the

wraps on him should he rejoin the party, even in the position

of vice president.

 

——————

And the Winner is?

——————

 

6. (C) ZANU-PF politics are opaque, primarily because one

man makes the decisions and rarely tips his hand to others.

Since Mugabe is primarily concerned about himself and wants

to stay in office indefinitely, the most likely pick —

because it’s the safest pick for him personally — is Nkomo.

But we don’t underestimate Mugabe’s ability to surprise. He

could work out a deal with Dabengwa, choose the junior and

lightly-regarded Mpofu, or do something unforeseen. A more

remote possibility is that Mugabe will scrap the Unity Accord

and choose a Shona vice Ndebele as Msika’s replacement. To

do so, however, would be to give up completely on electoral

support from Matabeleland and to give up any pretense of

ZANU-PF as a national party. On balance, it is unlikely that

Msika’s death will affect the current political situation.

Mugabe will continue to cling to power and control his party,

and the party will continue to drag its feet on the Global

Political Agreement.

 

DHANANI

(39 VIEWS)

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