in Stories

Mugabe succession elusive

President Robert Mugabe’s Independence Day speech in 2003, in which he encouraged open discussion of the succession issue within ZANU-PF councils, opened the floodgates of speculation.

At the forefront were Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa and former Finance Minister Simba Makoni.

Though Mugabe’s favourite, Mnangagwa could not pass muster with the Ndebele because of his involvement in the Matebeleland massacres of the 1980s. In addition, he was feared and mistrusted by many ZANU-PF insiders, including his arch-rival Solomon Mujuru, for his ruthlessness.

Makoni was the darling of the donors, popular with the more liberal-minded, and acceptable to many in the MDC. But, he came from Manicaland and lacked a broad constituency base in Mashonaland rural areas and was anathema to pro-Mugabe hard-liners for his commitment to reform and his conciliatory political views.

Defence Minister Sidney Sekeremayi had considerable politburo support but suffered from a reputation for personal weakness.

Retired Army General Solomon Mujuru.was widely considered too rough-edged and uneducated to handle the job.

Ambitious Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo was widely disliked in party circles.

Minister of Local Government Ignatius Chombo was from the Zezuru sub-clan and his nomination would spark fierce opposition from the competing Karanga and Manyika sub-clans.

Minister of Special Affairs in the President’s Office John Nkomo could qualify for a prime ministerial or custodial role, but certainly not a strong presidential one.

Old-timers Didymus Mutasa and Nathan Shamuyarira were expected to resist mightily any change from the effective one-party system they had known so long.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1446, MUGABE SUCCESSION ELUSIVE

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

03HARARE1446

2003-07-17 07:55

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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 03 HARARE 001446

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2013

TAGS: PGOV PINR ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: MUGABE SUCCESSION ELUSIVE

 

Classified By: POLITICAL OFFICER KIMBERLY JEMISON FOR REASONS 1.5 B/D.

 

1. (C) Summary. Over the past two months the domestic

written press, both government and opposition, has churned

out a stream of reporting on President Mugabe,s possible

retirement. The local rumor mill has kept pace. Competing

succession scenarios and successor lists have appeared, and

different timelines have been presented. In the final

analysis, however, there appears to be no heir apparent that

does not suffer some disqualifying flaw, and no clear-cut

scenario for when, or under what terms, Mugabe might actually

step aside. As usual, and barring unforeseen actuarial

developments, the decision on where Mugabe goes remains

squarely with Mugabe himself. His willingness to commit to a

fixed timetable for succession is the key to moving beyond

the status quo and bringing the possibility of meaningful

change to Zimbabwe. End summary.

 

2. (C) Mugabe,s April 18 Independence Day speech, in which

he encouraged open discussion of the succession issue within

ZANU-PF councils, opened the floodgates of speculation.

Politburo members and ZANU-PF party members long known to

harbor latent presidential ambitions suddenly stampeded to

the fore. Journalists have examined various individuals and

scenarios, including interviews with some prominent ZANU-PF

officials who have declared themselves ready to step forward

when the time is ripe. The unanswered question is when this

might be. The most optimistic observers are pushing a

scenario in which Mugabe resigns as ZANU-PF President at the

in 2003 and anoints a new party president, who will become

his heir apparent for the national presidency. Less

exuberant commentators predict a longer-term scenario, and

possibly one in which ZANU-PF engineers two-thirds a

parliamentary majority (by hook or crook) in early

parliamentary elections in 2004 and pushes through a

constitutional amendment that allows Mugabe to serve out most

or all of his current term as titular president while a newly

created post of Prime Minister — nominated by Mugabe, of

course — takes up the reins of power. (Comment. Whoever

might take hold of the reins; it is difficult for even the

most nave to imagine that a titular President Mugabe would

relinquish the whip as well. End comment.)

 

——————–

In the Starting Gate

——————–

3. (C) Free and fair elections or a transitional government

of national unity do not figure into any scenario that

ZANU-PF insiders or government-owned newspapers have conjured

up. In ZANU-PF logic, ZANU-PF succession is a given. Recent

Politburo discussions of the succession issue reportedly

concluded that any successor to Mugabe must meet two basic

requirements: enjoy significant acceptance in all provinces,

and be acceptable to the Ndebele in the South. The two names

most frequently mentioned as presidential successors are

Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe,s clear

favorite, and former Finance Minister Simba Makoni; but

neither of them cleanly fit the bill. Because of his

involvement in the Matebeleland massacres of the 1980s,

Mnangagwa cannot pass muster with the Ndebele. In addition,

he is feared and mistrusted by many ZANU-PF insiders,

including his arch-rival (and former ZAN/ZANLA Commander)

Solomon Mujuru, for his ruthlessness. For his part, Makoni

is the darling of the donors, popular with the more

liberal-minded, and acceptable to many in the MDC. However,

he comes from Manicaland and lacks a broad constituency base

in Mashonaland rural areas and is anathema to pro-Mugabe

hard-liners for his commitment to reform and his conciliatory

political views.

 

4. (C) Other potential successors worth mention include

Defense Minister Sidney Sekeremayi, who has considerable

Politburo support, and retired Army General Solomon Mujuru.

The former suffers from a reputation for personal weakness,

while the latter is widely considered too rough-edged and

uneducated to handle the job. In Mujuru,s case, he seems

more interested in being kingmaker than the king. The very

ambitious Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo, an Ndebele,

is widely disliked in party circles. His dependence upon the

patronage of Mugabe is such that he appears determined to

block or delay any moves toward Mugabe,s departure, since

Moyo himself is an unlikely dauphin. Like Mugabe, Minister

of Local Government Ignatius Chombo is from the Zezeru

sub-clan of the Shona, and his nomination would spark fierce

opposition from the competing Karanga and Manyica sub-clans.

 

5. (C) Other candidates include Minister of Special Affairs

in the President,s Office John Nkomo, whose Ndebele

bloodlines and ZAPU origins might qualify him for a prime

ministerial or custodial role, but certainly not a strong

presidential one. Lesser candidates include Minister of Home

Affairs Kembo Mohadi, Minister of State for National Security

Nicholas Goche, Minister of Social Welfare July Moyo, and

Minister of Foreign Affairs Stan Mudenge. Most are not

serious contenders for ethnic/clan reasons, or for a lack of

political traction with the generation of ZANU-PF

heavyweights from the liberation era who must ultimately

second Mugabe,s choice. Many of these old-timers in their

70s and 80s, including the two Vice Presidents, Didymus

Mutasa, and Nathan Shamuyarira can be expected to resist

mightily any change from the effective one-party system they

have known so long. Less entrenched and ideological insiders

would like to see reform, but only ZANU-PF reform, and fear

that the party has not prepared for succession and would be

extremely vulnerable in the post-Mugabe period. For

different reasons, many within the party would prefer to

still the winds of change. The fact that there are competing

rivalries and factions with ZANU-PF has serves to slow

change, whether these divisions are the critical factor, or a

pretext for Mugabe to cling to power.

 

——————————————— ————

ZANU-PF Extraordinary Congress – the Harbinger of Change?

——————————————— ————

6. (C) From the ZANU-PF perspective, the path to the

Presidency of the Republic clearly goes through the ZANU-PF

presidency. Mugabe has held this position since 1987 and

will continue to serve until next December at the earliest,

when the ZANU-PF Extraordinary Congress will take place.

Mugabe,s five-year term as ZANU-PF leader does not expire at

that time, but there is widespread speculation that he will

take this occasion to step aside, and thus open the way for a

successor whom he can designate and who will presumably

become the favorite to succeed Mugabe as President of the

Republic. According to well-informed ZANU-PF MP Edison

Zvobgo, this is the scenario that has been painted to the

South Africans. This may also be a wishful scenario. We

note for the record that there was widespread speculation

before ZANU-PF,s last two major get-togethers in 2000 and

2002 that Mugabe would either name a successor or would be

confronted by the party membership, neither of which

transpired.

 

7. (C) Should Mugabe choose to stand aside, however, the

ZANU-PF party Constitution provides a clear framework for

electing party leadership. The National People,s Congress,

which is held once every five years, elects the President,

two vice-presidents, and the National Chairman of the party

directly, upon nomination by at least six provincial

executive councils of the party, meeting separately, in

special session called for that purpose. If more than one

candidate is presented, then the candidate having the highest

number of votes stands as the nominee. In the event of a

tie, the National Congress votes by secret ballot. The

ZANU-PF constitution does not address the case of a

resignation in mid-term. Whether Mugabe would respect the

established rules in this case, and accept the caucus of the

provincial executive councils, is known only to him. There

is ample proof that he is not prone to leaving political

choices to electoral chance, and he would try to tip the

contest to his preferred candidate.

 

———————

Looking at Tea Leaves

———————

8. (C) If Mugabe seeks re-election as ZANU-PF President in

December, he will almost certainly prevail. Despite the

increased muttering of a growing number of party members

adversely affected by Mugabe,s policies, there seems to be

no individual or coalition within ZANU-PF willing to tackle

him head on. His retention of the ZANU-PF presidency would

also indicate that his retirement from national office would

not be imminent. Mugabe,s decision to cede ZANU-PF to

another, however, could signal willingness to pass

Zimbabwe,s presidency to a hand-picked successor as well,

probably well before the expiry of Mugabe,s current term in

2008. It would not necessarily signal a commitment to a

government that includes the opposition or an early election

in which Mugabe,s successor, and by extension ZANU-PF, would

take their chances. A scenario in which Mugabe stepped down

as ZANU-PF chairman in December, then resigned as president

in 2004 to start the constitutionally-mandated three-month

electoral clock ticking, might not be a desirable outcome.

In fact, it could well signify a replay of the violent,

fatally flawed presidential election of 2002.

 

9. (C) Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF leadership have been

sending out ambiguous messages for most of a year about their

willingness to embark on a genuine transition process. Their

willingness to contemplate such a transition has waxed and

waned depending on the degree of pressure that the Government

has been under, particularly from their African colleagues.

When pressed, Mugabe and ZANU-PF hint of a transition

possibly beginning with the December party congress and

ending no later than the 2005 parliamentary elections. Once

the pressure is off — as ZANU-PF leaders may now perceive it

to be following the GOZ,s successful use of security forces

to prevent the MDC-called June demonstrations, the conclusion

of President Bush,s trip to Africa, and Mugabe,s rotation

into the AU,s regional Vice President slot — Mugabe and

coterie may once again be ready to reject any change that

occurs on terms other than their own. ZANU,s Information

Secretary Shamuyarira provided a graphic illustration of this

 

SIPDIS

last week, on Monday pleading with the Ambassador that the US

should refrain from doing anything rash because Mugabe was

open to change, but on the following Saturday telling the

Ambassador that he and his colleagues flatly reject any

compromises with the MDC, which is a puppet of the British

and Uncle Sam. In sum, probably only Robert Mugabe knows how

sincere are his intimations that he is ready to contemplate a

departure from power under circumstances other than a forced

exit.

 

——-

Comment

——-

10. (C) Because Mugabe,s departure is necessary for any

meaningful political change in Zimbabwe )- although his

departure will not necessarily guarantee this — Mugabe,s

exit should remain our top priority. We must seek to use all

means at our disposal in our dealings with regional leaders

such as Mbeki to seek to get Mugabe to publicly commit to a

timetable for stepping down from party leadership and the

Presidency, not later than December. Barring such a

commitment, and combined with Mugabe,s coyness on whether

his talk about succession is merely that, we could otherwise

end up facing a worst case scenario for Zimbabwe,s future )

a lingering status quo. End comment.

 

 

 

SULLIVAN

(33 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