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Mutasa said Mugabe might become president for life

State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa told an online newspaper days before the crucial Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic annual conference in 2006 that someone might call for party leader Robert Mugabe to become president for life and permanent presidential candidate.

“Given all Mugabe has done for his country, how could the party refuse,” Mutasa was quoted as saying.

Mugabe had announced in 2005 that he would not run in 2008 so the battle for succession had intensified and the 2006 annual conference was seen as the cut off point for Mugabe’s successor to be anointed so that he or she could prepare for the 2008 presidential elections.

But events seemed to have taken an abrupt turn with reports that the presidential elections might be postponed to coincide with the parliamentary elections in 2010 thus effectively extending Mugabe’s term by two years.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE1465, ZANU-PF CONFERENCE POISED TO PROLONG MUGABE’S TERM

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE1465

2006-12-12 14:06

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO2831

RR RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #1465/01 3461406

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 121406Z DEC 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0918

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1399

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1254

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1403

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0134

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0664

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1029

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1457

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3850

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1226

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1879

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1619

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001465

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/12/2016

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZANU-PF CONFERENCE POISED TO PROLONG MUGABE’S TERM

 

REF: REFTEL: HARARE 1413

 

Classified By: Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Eric T. Schultz

under Section 1.5 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) The struggle to succeed Robert Mugabe has taken a

twist in the run-up to the annual ZANU-PF conference slated

for December 14-17. Although Mugabe in on record promising

to step down in 2008, when the next presidential elections

are scheduled, the conference appears likely to call for

extending his term to 2010. ZANU-PF has sufficient votes in

parliament to pass the required constitutional amendment, but

the debate may expose further fault lines within the ruling

party. The consequences for the country could catastrophic,

with the risk of a disorderly succession increasing and

needed economic reforms being delayed indefinitely. End

Summary.

 

————————————

2010 Emerges As Likely Election Date

————————————

 

2. (C) The 82 year-old Mugabe announced in 2005 that he

would not run in the 2008 presidential elections. Since that

time, the succession struggle with-in ZANU-PF has

intensified. Speculation has centered on two factions: one

centered on Vice President Joyce Mujuru, wife of former

Zimbabwean Defense Forces commander Solomon Mujuru; the other

on the former heir apparent and one-time Speaker of

Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa. The Mujurus have had the

upper hand since the last ZANU-PF Party Congress in 2004,

which saw Joyce Mujuru elevated to the vice-presidency.

However, Mugabe has continued to play the factions against

one another and has declined to name a successor.

 

3. (C) The internal maneuvering with-in ZANU-PF over the

succession has largely been carried out behind closed doors.

However, in recent weeks, as the conference has edged closer,

the maneuvering has begun to spill out into the public. This

past week saw a series of articles in government newspapers

and the independent press, which taken together, seem to

indicate that Mugabe may have finally chosen his immediate

successor ) himself ) while putting off for several years

the question of his ultimate successor.

 

4. (C) With the ZANU-PF Politburo having previously decided

to support unification of the presidential election

(scheduled for 2008) and the parliamentary election

(scheduled for 2010) (reftel), pressure has mounted on the

conference to support a consolidated election * and to

support a 2010 date. Party leaders in six of the ten

provinces reportedly have adopted resolutions calling for the

national conference to do just that.

 

5. (C) Perhaps the strongest evidence that the party

conference will support prolonging Mugabe’s term to 2010

appeared in the December 2 edition of the

government-controlled Herald under an editorial written by

“Nathaniel Manheru” ) widely believed to be the penname of

Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba. The Manheru article

begins with the ominous line “When Zimbabweans go to the

polls in 2010(to choose their president and members of

parliament(” An even more ominous trial balloon was floated

by Security Minister Didymus Mutasa in the December 6 edition

of an online independent newspaper, in which Mutasa is quoted

 

HARARE 00001465 002 OF 002

 

 

that “someone” at the conference may call for Mugabe to be

made the ruling party’s President-for-Life and permanent

presidential candidate, and, given all Mugabe has done for

his country, how could the party refuse.

 

————

Consequences

————

 

6. (C) Postponement of the presidential election to 2010, if

it occurs, could expose fault lines within ZANU-PF. It would

require a constitutional change by Parliament. ZANU-PF has

had the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution

at will since the March 2005 parliamentary elections.

However, it has not been able to agree on what form that

change should take, a symptom of the ruling party’s broader

inability to agree on a successor to Mugabe. The

parliamentary vote would be open and would therefore likely

produce public uniform agreement to the amendment, but those

disappointed with extending Mugabe,s term in office, such as

the Mujurus, could attempt to delay or circumvent it behind

the scenes.

 

7. (C) In addition, the pressure on Mugabe to step aside may

actually increase rather than dissipate as a result of a

decision to stay in power and put off choosing a successor.

Under Mugabe, the GOZ is unlikely to embrace the reforms

needed to turn the economy around. In the absence of an

economic revival, the party,s patronage system will continue

to erode, the military and police will increasingly be under

funded and ineffective, and the party,s popularity among

ordinary Zimbabweans (those who remain) will likely continue

to decline. Disappointed would be successors may feel their

chance slipping away and may try to use the country,s

economic freefall to bring pressure on Mugabe to step down

before 2010.

 

8. (C) In the final analysis, if Mugabe follows through on

his plans to extend his term in office, the chances of an

orderly transition to his successor will be diminished. That

may not matter to Mugabe, or to his inner circle who have

will gained more time in which to loot the country. It will

matter to most Zimbabweans, including most of the rank and

file of ZANU-PF. By hanging on to power until the bitter

end, Mugabe may ensure the ruination of his party but,

unfortunately, also the ruination of the country.

SCHULTZ

(21 VIEWS)

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