Priest said Mugabe needed to be treated with dignity just like Ian Smith


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Father Fidelis Mukonori, a close confidante of President Robert Mugabe who was at times referred to as Mugabe’s personal priest, told United States embassy officials that Mugabe was prepared to step down provided he was assured of immunity and well being for himself and his family and he was treated with the dignity that he had accorded to former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith.

He said Mugabe’s resignation was definitely on the table with the key issues being the modalities and precise timing of the departure.

That was 10 years ago but Mugabe is still in power though he intended to surrender to Tsvangirai after his 2008 election defeat but was stopped by his lieutenants.

Mugabe, who is now 89, will be contesting the coming elections due in June or July though the date has not been set yet.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1119, INTERNAL MEDIATION EFFORTS BETWEEN MUGABE AND

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1119

2003-06-03 14:19

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 HARARE 001119

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR D, P, AF/FO AND AF/S

NSC FOR AFRICA SENIOR DIRECTOR FRAZER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/03/2013

TAGS: PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: INTERNAL MEDIATION EFFORTS BETWEEN MUGABE AND

TSVANGIRAI

 

SIPDIS

 

Classified By: Joseph G. Sullivan for reasons 1.5b/d

 

 

¶1. (c) Father Fidelis Mukonori, who has been involved for

several years in mediation efforts between President Mugabe

and the MDC and who has a long-standing relationship with

Mugabe dating back to before independence, told the

Ambassador June 3 that Mugabe and Tsvangirai had agreed in

principle to a face-to-face meeting inside Zimbabwe, although

the   date had not yet been set. (MDC sources told us that

Mugabe had proposed that the meeting take place privately in

Mugabe’s rural home and that Tsvangirai cancel planned

demonstrations. The MDC tells us that Tsvangirai agreed to

cancel demonstrations, but only if the meeting took place

before June 2.)   Father Fidelis said that it had almost been

agreed to schedule the meeting the weekend prior to the MDC’s

June 2 mass action, but that Mugabe had not wished the

meeting to be held under that time pressure. Nonetheless,

Father Fidelis believed that he had Mugabe’s agreement to

meet and that it should be possible to schedule the meeting

soon. Fidelis Mukonori thought that a face-to-face meeting

would help ease tensions and assure that ongoing, quiet

contacts between ZANU-PF and the MDC were more successful.

He related that Tsvangirai had told him that Mugabe reminded

him of his father and that Mugabe had appreciated this

reference.

 

¶2. (c) Father Fidelis believed that Mugabe’s resignation was

definitely on the table with the key issues being the

modalities and precise timing of the departure. Fidelis

anticipated that it would be important to assure the immunity

and well-being of Mugabe and his family and that he be

treated with the dignity which Mugabe accorded Ian Smith.

Fidelis expected the December ZANU-PF Party Congress to

choose a successor, although he said the Congress could be

pushed up, after the Ambassador doubted that Zimbabwe could

continue in crisis that long. Fidelis said that quiet

ZANU-PF/MDC contacts were continuing, including those between

Justice Minister Chinimasa and MDC Secretary General Welshman

Ncube, but that he believed a meeting at the top was needed

to give this a push.

Mukonori asked that the US be prepared to encourage dialogue

at the right moment.

 

3.(c) Comment: In the last several months, numerous

Zimbabwean and international mediators have put themselves

forward. Father Fidelis Mukonori has been at this for some

time and has a better-established relationship with Mugabe

than most others. Fidelis has in the past been guilty of

excessive optimism, but he now has had recent encouragement

from Mugabe to take up the mediating role again and Fidelis

does appreciate that Mugabe’s retirement is the key to

resolution of the political crisis. Mugabe has initially

welcomed and later stymied a number of mediation efforts in

recent months. We are encouraged by the more personal

efforts of a Mugabe confidant, but will temper out optimism

until after a face-to-face meeting takes place.

SULLIVAN

 

(5 VIEWS)

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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