Georgias said Mugabe is the key

Business and Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front senator Aguy Georgias told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell that though President Robert Mugabe was increasingly isolated from events he still had authority and held the key to changing the country’s disastrous course.

Georgias said Mugabe knew he couldn't trust his politburo and cabinet, most of whom either were so absorbed in economic self-aggrandizement or too politically insecure to actively support meaningful outreach to the West.

The West could help by appealing to Mugabe's "legacy" concerns -vanity and security. The starting point for moving Mugabe lay in "language of respect", regardless of how tough the West was in pressing its conditions for re-engagement.

  

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE125, ZANU-PF SENATOR/FINANCIER PURSUES ENHANCED

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE125

2006-02-06 13:53

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 000125

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

AFR/SA FOR E. LOKEN

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2011

TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: ZANU-PF SENATOR/FINANCIER PURSUES ENHANCED

BILATERAL DIALOGUE

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

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Summary

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1. (C) Aguy Georgias, a recently appointed ZANU-PF aligned

Senator and CEO of Trinity Engineering, on January 31 sought

Embassy participation in an informal dialogue he hoped to set

up with a to-be-named interlocutor selected by President

Mugabe. He asserted that in Zimbabwe's dysfunctional

political environment, only Mugabe was capable of shifting

the country's disastrous course and reorienting Zimbabwe

toward the West, which offered its only real prospect for

salvation. He recognized that real bilateral re-engagement

was predicated on meaningful political and economic reform

but urged that the USG be open to building a rapport that

could presage progress. End summary.

 

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Call for Dialogue

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2. (C) Elaborating on points conveyed generally to the

Ambassador at a social event January 19 (including in a

shared paper that Embassy e-mailed to AF/S), Georgias

emphasized his personal priority on improving bilateral

relations. He asserted that each government had backed

itself into a corner rhetorically and ordinary Zimbabweans

were paying the price. Decline had gone too far for Zimbabwe

to pull itself out of the spiral by itself; foreign

assistance and economic engagement with the West were

Zimbabwe's only hope.

 

 

3. (C) Accordingly, the ruling party financier said he would

try to use his personal relationship with Mugabe to impress

on him the country's need of the West, and the prospects for

rapprochement. In this regard, he hoped to have Mugabe

identify a trusted subordinate who could meet with the

Embassy to explore options for refurbishing the relationship.

He solicited Embassy views on how to establish an informal

dialogue and make it fruitful.

 

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Party Dysfunctional; "Mugabe the Key"

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4. (C) Georgias stressed that President Mugabe himself held

the key to changing the country's disastrous course. He said

that Mugabe was increasingly isolated from events but still

had authority. He got little good advice and the party saw

little meaningful debate. A growing generational divide

further hampered communication.   Mugabe knew he couldn't

trust his politburo and cabinet, most of whom either were so

absorbed in economic self-aggrandizement or too politically

insecure to actively support meaningful outreach to the West.

 

5. (C) Georgias admitted that internal fear and loathing

would complicate any outreach to the West. He warned that

the ruling party's senior leaders had become so divorced from

the national interest that the party would not necessarily

reorient itself to the West once Mugabe moved on, as many

expected. Convincing the octogenarian autocrat, he

concluded, offered the best and perhaps last chance of

changing the country's course.

 

6. (C) The West could help in this regard, Georgias

maintained, by appealing to Mugabe's "legacy" concerns (i.e.

vanity and security). He asserted that the starting point

for moving Mugabe lay in "language of respect", regardless of

how tough the West was in pressing its conditions for

re-engagement. Georgias recognized the USG's position that

any rapprochement would have to predicated on meaningful

political and economic reform, but suggested Mugabe's ego

meant that conditionality themes should be subordinated to

"confidence-building" at the outset of any informal exchanges

that may ensue.

 

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Ambassador's Door Open But(

---------------------------

 

7. (C) In response, poloff reiterated points earlier

conveyed by the Ambassador during the January 19 exchange.

The U.S. door was open to ruling party and Government

officials, but we saw little in the regime's behavior or

posture that would justify improved relations. Better

relations required meaningful political and economic reform

as well as accountability. In addition, notwithstanding

Georgias's view of prospects for Mugabe driving change,

Mugabe appeared increasingly irrelevant. The whole party and

country already had one foot into the post-Mugabe era. In

closing, Georgias reiterated he would press his case with

Mugabe for informal dialogue with the U.S. and the West.

 

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Bio Notes

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7. (C) Georgias' Senate appointment probably was in

recognition of his historical financial support for the

party. He emphasized that he was not a politician and,

indeed, we have seen no evidence that he is involved in

factional politics. During our exchanges with him, he

generally has eschewed personal criticisms, although he was

excoriating in references to Security/Lands Minister Didymus

Mutasa. He claimed to have "beaten" Reserve Bank Governor

Gideon Gono on fair and amicable terms in substantial

litigation a couple of years ago and remained on good terms

with him. He further claimed to have earned Mugabe's trust

for being honest in all his government contracting over the

years, even as others were rigging contracts and brazenly

skimming public funds.

 

8. (C) Georgias claimed to have been suffering from

Zimbabwe's economic downturn like everybody else - his

company's employment was down from 300 to 130. He said that

one key to his business success was the "American work ethic"

he had learned while working at U.S. firm Chicago Bridge and

Iron Company early in his career. He said he was appalled at

fast track land reform, and had intervened on behalf of

several commercial farmers.

 

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Comment

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9. (C) Georgias represents what appears to be a dwindling

ZANU-PF-aligned business constituency that is disgusted with

the ruling elite's &every-man-for-himself8 corruption. His

assertion that Mugabe himself is best situated to re-orient

the country westward is a throwback to better days that fails

to understand the extent to which Mugabe has burned those

bridges. The reality on the ground is that most Zimbabweans,

whether ruling party supporters or not, are anxious to see

the last of him. We don't see Georgias getting much purchase

with Mugabe or others his call for a dialogue. That said, he

may prove to be a useful conduit to Mugabe,s potential

successors in the mold of senior Jesuit Fidelis Mukonori and

politburo member Simba Makoni, and we continue to emphasize

our willingness to talk to anyone as long as it's clear that

reform is a predicate to any meaningful re-engagement.

DELL

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