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Most ZANU-PF leaders see a president when they look in the mirror

Father Fidelis Mukonori, a confidant of President Robert Mugabe, told United States embassy officials that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leadership around Mugabe lacked the political clout, intelligence, experience or vision to lift Zimbabwe out of the hole they had dug.

Ambition was their central motive and most of Zimbabwe’s misgovernance stemmed from their pursuit of individual interest at the complete expense of public interest.

The party’s elite were increasingly consumed with the presidential succession and many of them saw a possible president when they looked in the mirror.

Mukonori said Mugabe was digging in out of fear and mistrust and was at a loss over how to preserve his legacy.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 06HARARE42, MUGABE CONFIDANT FLOATS TRIAL BALLOON

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE42

2006-01-12 15:40

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1025

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0860

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1042

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RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0665

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1097

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3420

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0858

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1489

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1240

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC//DHO-7//

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000042

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

AFR/SA FOR E. LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: MUGABE CONFIDANT FLOATS TRIAL BALLOON

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) In a January 10 meeting with Ambassador, Father

Fidelis Mukonori, Zimbabwe’s senior Jesuit and a confidant of

Robert Mugabe, recommended western re-engagement, including a

secure “way out” for Mugabe. The Ambassador responded he

would be open to discussing with GOZ leaders the post-Mugabe

reforms needed for re-engagement — in confidence if they so

desired. He added that the presence of some of the current

leadership in a post-Mugabe government would make

re-engagement far more difficult. Mukonori agreed the

transition was underway, said the most objectionable ZANU-PF

leaders would not survive politically, and promised to

consider arranging private meetings. He also recounted his

successful efforts against the education bill and his efforts

to broker a GOZ-UN compromise over temporary shelter for the

victims of Operation Murambatsvina. End Summary.

 

————————

A Call for Re-engagement

————————

 

2. (C) In a discussion at the Embassy, Mukonori told the

Ambassador that the ZANU-PF leadership around Mugabe lacked

the political clout, intelligence, experience or vision to

lift Zimbabwe out of the hole they had dug. Ambition was

their central motive and most of Zimbabwe’s misgovernance

stemmed from their pursuit of individual interest at the

complete expense of public interest. Moreover, the party’s

elite were increasingly consumed with the presidential

succession and many of them saw a possible president when

they looked in the mirror. For his part, Mukonori said

Mugabe was digging in out of fear and mistrust and was at a

loss over how to preserve his legacy. This myopia and vacuum

of leadership would thwart any prospects for national

turnaround left to itself.

 

3. (C) Under the circumstances, Mukonori continued, Western

re-engagement offered the best prospect to break the logjam

of systemic misgovernance. He expressed concern that the

West might be drifting into its own myopia on Zimbabwe,

essentially abandoning the country over the venality of its

leadership despite the deepening need of its innocent people.

He likened the ruling party leadership and its public to a

hungry tiger with a baby in its clutches. He urged the West

not to shoot the tiger for fear of killing the baby.

Instead, throw the tiger some meat, enticing him to release

the baby. Mukonori asked whether the USG and the UK couldn’t

develop a “joint approach” to Zimbabwe, arguing that Mugabe

was serious last August when he said he would rather talk to

Tony Blair than Morgan Tsvangirai.

 

————————————

Ambassador on Price of Re-engagement

————————————

 

4. (C) In response, the Ambassador reiterated USG commitment

to Zimbabwe as exemplified by its generous humanitarian

assistance. The USG was prepared to do more, but not as long

as Zimbabwe’s leader uniformly rejected all international

overtures – a la UN U/S Egeland’s recent visit – as an

imperialist conspiracy. Moreover, the Ambassador said

Mugabe’s line on Tony Blair was little more than a diversion

from the real issues confronting Zimbabwe. What real value

could there possibly be in such a dialogue when Zimbabwe’s

real problems began at home and not in London, as Mugabe was

 

HARARE 00000042 002 OF 003

 

 

fond of asserting. Mukonori said he understood the point.

The Ambassador underscored the difficulty of even

establishing a common ground for engagement, given the ruling

party’s obsession with the past and refusal to countenance

discussion of Zimbabwe’s real problems.

 

5. (C) The Ambassador said that for the USG to engage more

deeply Mugabe-ism would have to go, including especially the

more violent of the current leadership. In addition, the

remaining leadership would have to acknowledge its

misgovernance, its need for international support, and begin

needed reforms. The Ambassador added that the transition to

a post-Mugabe era seemed already to have begun, as evidenced

by the growing succession struggle, and that as part of that

process we were open to meeting with members of the

leadership — in confidence if they so desired, as long as it

was understood from the outset that any potential

re-engagement would necessarily be conditioned on real

political and economic reform. He suggested that Mukonori

could use his good offices to arrange such meetings.

 

6. (C) Mukonori agreed with the Ambassador that Zimbabwe

already had a foot in the post-Mugabe era, rendering the

octogenarian leader increasingly irrelevant to the country’s

future. He added that the people would never acquiesce to

Mugabe’s replacement by any of the worst ZANU-PF aspirants

and he promised to give the matter further thought and get

back to the Ambassador on arranging confidential meetings

with elements of the leadership that might be pen to

discussing the future.

 

——————————————— ——–

Lobbying the GOZ on Education Bill, Temporary Shelter

——————————————— ——–

 

7. (C) Mukonori also related his successful lobbying efforts

in derailing a destructive education bill and his efforts to

counter GOZ intransigence on donor-provided emergency

temporary shelter. He said it had taken him five months to

defeat the education bill. He had avoided direct

confrontation with the bill,s author, Education Minister

Aeneas Chigwedere. Instead he had lined up parents,

teachers, MPs and other ministers and had then approached

Vice President Mujuru and convinced her the bill would be a

disaster.

 

8. (C) Mukonori said by the time he talked to the President

directly, reaction against the bill and Chigwedere had become

intense and Mugabe had already been of the view that the bill

was “crap”. Castigated at a cabinet meeting by Mugabe for

endorsing the bill’s submission to the parliament in the

first place, ministers sheepishly maintained Chigwedere had

not shared the bill’s details. In subsequent negotiations

with the GOZ over details, Mukonori held firm, resulting in

the eventual excision of provisions subjecting private school

personnel and fee matters to GOZ control.

 

9. (C) Mukonori said he was using similar tactics to try to

broker a compromise between the UN and the GOZ on temporary

shelter for the victims of Murambatsvina. He said Local

Government and Housing Minister Chombo had a personal stake

in the GOZ’s hostile approach given his central involvement

in the operation. In addition, Mugabe had concerns about the

type of shelter provided by donors. Mukonori suggested he

was making progress in getting the President to take a more

receptive view and had been able to outmaneuver Chombo on

several occasions, though the matter continued to be debated

within the GOZ.

 

——-

 

HARARE 00000042 003 OF 003

 

 

Comment

——-

 

10. (C) Mukonori’s advice on re-engagement may have been a

GOZ trial balloon of sorts, though probably not from Mugabe

himself. But he was more likely acting on his own and his

initial approach reflected a certain naivete in arguing for

an unconditional gesture of good will from the international

community to Mugabe and his cronies. The Jesuit is close to

Mugabe and also to the Mujurus and other senior GOZ

officials. We are skeptical that a more engaging posture on

our part would prompt Mugabe to confront the country’s deep

political and economic problems more sensibly. However,

post-Mugabe, real reform becomes possible, and this is the

time to begin laying out our position and conditions. In

that regard, Mukonori’s stature and connections make him a

potentially useful messenger to the GOZ elite on the price of

re-engagement.

DELL

(7 VIEWS)

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