Vice-President Joseph Msika and party chairman John Nkomo told former Masvingo Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front supremo Eddison Zvobgo that the only solution to Zimbabwe’s crisis was for President Robert Mugabe to go.
Politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said party members had been informally discussing ways to ease Mugabe out and he personally thought that setting up an education foundation which he would head might be acceptable to Mugabe.
Ghana’s ambassador to Zimbabwe said Mugabe was ready to go provided he could get a successor who would protect him and his financial assets and Emmerson Mnangagwa was his favourite.
All these scenarios came up 10 years ago, barely four months after Mugabe had been re-elected president for a six-year term.
Reports said there was a growing realisation then that Zimbabwe was in a very deep hole and that Mugabe’s departure from the scene was a necessary precondition for the policy changes required for an economic turnaround and a restoration of political stability.
According to Eddison Zvobgo, Msika and Nkomo had acknowledged to him that Zimbabwe’s precipitous economic crisis was inextricably linked with the country’s political impasse.
Ghana’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Kwasi Baah-Boakye, told United States embassy officials that Mugabe was beginning to explore the possibility of stepping down but he was concerned about finding a successor who could effectively protect him and his financial assets.
Baah-Boakye’s source had told him that Speaker of Parliament and ZANU-PF Secretary for Administration Emmerson Mnangagwa would be Mugabe’s preferred candidate, and that Mugabe was determined to engineer a succession scenario which preserved the ruling party’s hold on power.
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told an embassy official that a way must be found for “easing Mugabe out”. He said the politburo had not yet taken a position on Mugabe’s retirement but many of his colleagues had been discussing it informally among themselves.
Ndlovu said that any exit package would have to immunise Mugabe from prosecution for past misdeeds and safeguard his financial resources.
Ndlovu speculated that, perhaps, creation of a well-endowed educational foundation with Mugabe at its head might be a sufficiently attractive lure into retirement because such a foundation would preserve Mugabe’s prestige by providing a healthy income and allowing him to travel widely, while working on an issue he cared about.
Viewing cable 02HARARE1637, ZANU-PF DISSATISFACTION WITH MUGABE GROWING
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001637
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
PARIS FOR CNEARY
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/12/2012
SUBJECT: ZANU-PF DISSATISFACTION WITH MUGABE GROWING
Classified By: Political Section Chief Matt Harrington.
Reasons: 1.5 (B) and (D).
¶1. (C) Awareness appears to be growing among senior ruling
party officials that they have dug Zimbabwe into a very deep
hole, and that extricating themselves from it will be next to
impossible so long as Robert Mugabe remains at the helm.
They agree that an exit package for Mugabe would have to
include immunity from prosecution, protection of financial
assets, and perhaps a role or position that confers prestige.
It is not clear that Mugabe is prepared to leave, although
we have heard from one source that he is beginning to
consider retirement options, and not clear that those in the
party increasingly dissatisfied with his leadership have the
capacity or courage to nudge him out. End Summary
Increasing anxiety within ZANU-PF
¶2. (C) There appears to be a growing realization among some
of those in the ruling party’s senior ranks that Zimbabwe is
in a very deep hole and that Mugabe’s departure from the
scene is a necessary precondition for the policy changes
required for an economic turnaround and a restoration of
political stability. According to Eddison Zvobgo, a founding
member of ZANU-PF and a former member of both the Cabinet and
party Politburo, Vice-President Msika and ZANU-PF Chairman
John Nkomo had recently acknowledged to him that Zimbabwe’s
precipitous economic crisis is inextricably linked with the
country’s political impasse. Msika and Nkomo reportedly
recognized that the only solution is for Mugabe to go.
Noting that Mugabe and other GOZ officials have repeatedly
stated that the fast track resettlement program will have
been concluded by mid-August, Zvobgo held out a remote hope
that Mugabe would use this opportunity to declare victory and
announce his retirement. At the very least, Zvobgo thought
the GOZ could be in for a shock when ZANU-PF MPs representing
rural areas return after the legislative break, having seen
how badly members of their communities have been affected by
the food shortages and general economic decline.
Mugabe goes, but ZANU-PF stays
¶3. (C) Ghana’s well-connected High Commissioner to Zimbabwe,
Kwasi Baah-Boakye, relayed to the Ambassador that Ghanaians
linked to the First Family (through Mugabe’s first wife,
Sally) had told him Mugabe is beginning to explore the
possibility of stepping down. According to Baah-Boakye,
Mugabe is concerned about finding a successor who can
effectively protect him and his financial assets.
Baah-Boakye’s source said Speaker of Parliament and ZANU-PF
Secretary for Administration Emmerson Mnangagwa would be
Mugabe’s preferred candidate, and that Mugabe is determined
to engineer a succession scenario which preserves the ruling
party’s hold on power.
¶4. (C) Politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu confirmed some of
this account in a July 12 conversation with political section
chief, whom he told that a way must be found for “easing
Mugabe out.” Ndlovu said the Politburo had not yet taken a
position on Mugabe’s retirement, although he implied many of
his colleagues have been discussing it informally among
themselves. Asked whether Mugabe was aware of such
discussions, Ndlovu said he thought not. He agreed that any
exit package would have to immunize the President from
prosecution for past misdeeds and safeguard his financial
resources. Ndlovu speculated that, perhaps, creation of a
well-endowed educational foundation with Mugabe at its head
might be a sufficiently attractive lure into retirement.
Such a foundation could preserve Mugabe’s prestige by
providing a healthy income and allowing him to travel widely,
while working on an issue he cares about. Ndlovu had not yet
discussed this idea with anyone else, but he thought it
important that he and other ruling party insiders be prepared
to offer Mugabe an appealing alternative to the Presidency,
when the appropriate moment arises.
War Veterans Becoming Expendable?
¶5. (C) Meanwhile, tensions appear to be rising between the
Government and its shock troops for the last two years —
members of the National Liberation War Veterans Association
(NLWVA). War veteran leaders have criticized the takeover of
a number of commercial farms — occupied by war veterans for
up to two years under the fast track resettlement program —
by senior ZANU-PF politicians, and have expressed displeasure
with increasingly paltry pensions, and health and education
benefits. In addition, some appear concerned at recent moves
to reduce the influence of key war veterans within ruling
party structures. The NLWVA’s national secretary for
security, Mike Moyo, released a ferocious letter on July 12
calling ZANU-PF political commissar Elliot Manyika “a
confirmed coward,” questioning his liberation war
credentials, and accusing him of trying to purge the ruling
party of war veterans.
¶6. (C) Although growing dissatisfaction among members of
this group appears to constitute a potentially significant
source of pressure on the Mugabe regime, a prominent
liberation war fighter who now leads an organization of war
veterans determined to play a positive role in building
democratic institutions dismissed the NLWVA’s capacity to
create trouble for the Government. Wilfred Mhanda of the
Zimbabwe Liberators Platform told us that the war veterans
who have served on the front lines of the GOZ’s campaign of
intimidation during the past two years have now outlived
their usefulness and are being cut loose. Since their
numbers are relatively few, they can be easily controlled by
GOZ security forces. Mhanda noted the July 9 conviction of
NLWVA secretary for projects Andrew Ndlovu on corruption
charges dating back to 1998, and he predicted that the GOZ
would now allow long-standing criminal cases against other
senior war veterans to proceed.
Impact of Targeted Sanctions
¶7. (C) At the conclusion of his conversation with political
section chief, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu produced a letter he had
recently received from AF Assistant Secretary Kansteiner
banning his travel to the United States. He expressed
serious concern that he had been included on our targeted
sanctions list, insisting that he had been a voice of
moderation in the party, had been open with us about some key
developments in the party, and had three U.S. citizen
children living in the United States. He said that he would
henceforth be inaccessible to us and would remain so as long
as his name remained on the list.
¶8. (C) The depth of Zimbabwe’s economic and political crises
is finally beginning to sink in with even some of the harder
line elements of ZANU-PF, as is the realization that major
policy reversals are necessary to put things back on track,
policy reversals that are unlikely so long as President
Mugabe remains at the helm. Among insiders, there is a
growing perception of Mugabe as a serious liability, but it
is not at all clear whether anyone has the capacity or
gumption to push him out. If Mugabe is beginning to explore
retirement options, as Baah-Boakye’s sources suggest, we have
no doubt that he will require an exit package containing the
elements described in paras 3 and 4, and will try to foist on
the party a successor of his choosing. On the latter point,
Mugabe is constrained by the constitution, which requires the
holding of an election within 90 days of an incumbent
president leaving office.