President Robert Mugabe wanted to retire as head of state before 2009 but he said he would remain in politics.
He said this in an interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation on his 80th birthday.
He was asked: Your Excellency, looking into the future, looking in the crystal ball where do we find Robert Mugabe in five years?
Mugabe: In five years, here, still boxing. Writing quite a lot, reading quite a lot and still in politics. I won’t leave politics but I would have retired obviously.
Viewing cable 04HARARE351, MUGABE CLOSES THE DOORS AND WINDOWS TO DIALOGUE
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000351
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: MUGABE CLOSES THE DOORS AND WINDOWS TO DIALOGUE
AND BASHES SOME AFRICAN LEADERS
REF: FBIS AFP20040226000116
¶1. (SBU) In a long, rambling birthday interview with a
slavish Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation Newsnet interviewer,
President Mugabe all but ruled out dialogue with the MDC and
clumsily sought to divide the MDC from its President, Morgan
Tsvangirai. Mugabe criticized many African leaders, including
Nigeria, as being dictated to by the West for not supporting
Zimbabwe at the Abuja CHOGM meeting. Mugabe blasted the IMF,
even as his Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono is seeking to
re-establish relations with both the World Bank and the Fund.
Then in a bizarre note, Mugabe claimed that a cook had
attempted to kill him by putting glass in his food, although
this was more likely due to witchcraft than to “Western
imperialism.” Mugabe said he expected to be retired in five
years; i.e. by 2009, the year after expiration of his current
presidential term. Comment: Mugabe was alternately quite
lucid and rambling. His comments about no dialogue with the
MDC devil are a flat repudiation of what he said publicly in
President Mbeki’s presence in December. And Mugabe’s
undercutting of the efforts of his Reserve Bank and insulting
of other African leaders are vintage Mugabe — he alone rules
and says what he feels like. End Summary
¶2. (U) Text excerpts follow (Paragraph leads added):
MDC IS THE DEVIL, ESPECIALLY TSVANGIRAI, AND WE WON’T SUP OR
DIALOGUE WITH THE DEVIL
NEWSNET: The majority of people in the opposition are
benefciaries of your successful policies in education and
indigenization of the economy. They go about campaigning for
sanctions against you and your Government and join forces
with Western imperial forces to get you out of power and
undermine efforts to improve the lives of Zimbabweans as well
as defend the gains of independence. Do you, both as a
teacher and President, feel disappointed? Does this not make
you feel like giving up?
PRESIDENT: No, I don’t feel like giving up, to give up is to
surrender and I don’t have that habit. But if they are going
to now seek the hand of our enemy to destroy our economy,
then we begin to wonder whether they are for the people or
against the people.
If you want the economy to be ruined then what you are
seeking is that your people must suffer, you want your people
to suffer. Is that the policy of the MDC? If it is the
policy of the MDC then it stands to be rejected by the people
and the people must condemn them for it.
And we have said if that is their stance, their policy, then
negotiations which they want can’t take place. We can’t
discuss with people whose ideas are against our society. We
can’t discuss with allies of the Western countries that would
want to destroy our economy. What will we be doing? Our
people will say we are being foolish, the devil is the devil.
There can never be an occasion which you can sup with him.
So, e-eh, we would rather not have the devil at all. What I
might say is that there are some good people in the MDC, some
well disposed persons who look at things differently from how
Tsvangirai looks at them. I didn’t know, it’s unfortunate
that the depth of understanding and appreciation of some of
the members of the MDC is very shallow.
Those of them with deeper depth are the ones who would want
discussion and we encourage those to discuss with our own
people, progressive ideas. But then when we discuss and
arrive at certain conclusions, those conclusions will not be
acceptable to people with shallow ideas and I don’t know how
it’s going to happen because those that have been discussing
with our own people have found that some of their own ideas
are not acceptable to their seniors and this is the
difficulty, but there is expectation in Europe that we
discuss with the MDC and surrender to the MDC.
Of course, we will not do that. We surrender to our people,
our people have the authority to remove us. They are the
only ones who we think are superior to our Government. No
one else not even Mr. Blair, not even Mr. Bush. We yield to
our own people and to no one else.
NEWSNET: Is there any basis for dialogue and understanding
between Zanu-PF and the MDC the same way as was the case
between Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu in the 1980s?
PRESIDENT: No, that kind of basis, of course, it does not..
This is a creature born yes within us but out of the British
using their friends so out of their desire by certain
European countries to have an opposition here which could
remove the revolutionary Government of the country and
replace it naturally with one of their own making. So whilst
they are our people, the members of the MDC, really the party
was born out of that desire abroad. So we regard it as a
party that is really not home-grown. It’s grown elsewhere in
Europe and transplanted here and so there it is.
But we are not saying we can’t discuss with it because the
members of the party are our own children, our own people and
if they have certain ideas, well let us get their ideas. All
we have said is that that umbilical cord you see, must be
severed. If you sever it, then try to be part of us. Try to
think as Zimbabweans, as Africans, then naturally you have
your room. We accord you that facility of negotiating with
But as long as they are dictated to you from abroad then we
find it extremely difficult to negotiate with them but that
having been said, we stand ready to hear what news they have,
e-eh, Welshman Ncube and one or two others who are
negotiating with Chinamasa, Goche on our side.
But these negotiations or shall I say the conclusions they
reached had not been taken to the party yet. They still
remained on their own desk and we say conclude them and then
we will look at them.
MANY AFRICAN LEADERS ARE BEING DICTATED TO BY THE WEST,
NEWSNET: You are among the heroes of the fight against
colonialism on the continent that managed to rid Africa of
colonialism. Now it seems the continent is under sustained
attack, for some under second colonial attack. Is the
continent ready for this kind of war? Does it have new
Nkrumahs, Nyereres and Samora Machels?
PRESIDENT: No, it’s a pity that we don’t have those
anymore. E-eh, we have, yes, some militant leaders but a
few, the majority of them have gone the Western way. Western
philosophy is what is guiding them, they are oriented towards
the West, not oriented towards Africa, not nationalistic in
the true sense of the word. They are listening to the enemy,
they are being dictated by the enemy and it’s a pity that the
old type of leadership has vanished from the sea.
NEWSNET: Just what happened in Abuja and did your colleagues
by way of African and other Third World presidents and prime
ministers keep you informed of the goings on or were you kept
guessing like a prisoner in a cell? Would you regard Abuja
as a failure of the Third World solidarity or a case of
unanimous condemnation of bad government by developed and
PRESIDENT: No, the SADC leaders were briefing us and they
took a stance as you are aware of opposing the decision to
isolate Zimbabwe in Abuja and we were happy about their
stance and they will remain supporting Zimbabwe. The others
well, well, well we say sorry, sorry, sorry to Nigeria for
having adopted that stand but they are brothers we can’t be
seen to be condemning them.
NEWSNET: But if you are looking at the stance that was taken
by others. Would you say it was a matter of being convinced
by the West or basically they were condemning bad governance
PRESIDENT: Which others?
NEWSNET: Those who decided to side with the West who did not
come to support Zimbabwe.
PRESIDENT: Yes, two or three African countries in the
Commonwealth. Ya-ah there are yes people those who salute
the West. That’s it and it’s just again leadership which has
no confidence in itself.
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT — COOKS AND WITCHCRAFT OR WATCH YOUR
PRESIDENT: It wasn’t a glass. It was some porridge. It
wasn’t that clear I think it might have been some glass, bits
of broken glass that found themselves included in the mealie
meal but it happened I don’t want to say it was deliberate
because I wouldn’t quite agree that it was so deliberate.
Yes, there were these bits of glass we discovered but that
was it. I don’t think it would have anything to do with
western imperialism. Western imperialism can be much more
thorough than that. It was just some internal thing.
Perhaps the cook was not happy … . So we just explained it
in that the ambiguous way, one that it might have been
accidental, two that it was not accidental and deliberate and
the cook might have been spoken to by some witch ….
MUGABE TO RETIRE, BUT ONLY IN FIVE YEARS
NEWSNET: Your Excellency, looking into the future, looking
in the crystal ball where do we find Robert Mugabe in five
PRESIDENT: In five years, here, still boxing. Writing quite
a lot, reading quite a lot and still in politics. I won’t
leave politics but I would have retired obviously.