Iden Wetherell said Mnangagwa was one of the most intelligent men in government

Iden Wetherell, a senior editor at The Independent and widely believed to be the writer of the satirical Muckraker, told United States embassy officials in Harare more than 10 years ago that Emmerson Mnangagwa was a “nimble operator” and "one of the most intelligent men in government”.

Wetherell, who is a strong critic of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, said this made Mnangagwa all the more dangerous.

Mnangagwa also had a very astute understanding of foreign governments’ agenda and global issues and knew all the right things to say on human rights and other Western concerns.

He was good at “playing to all galleries”.

Wetherell was speaking about succession within ZANU-PF in the run up to the 2002 presidential elections and who was likely to succeed President Robert Mugabe should he decide not to contest.

According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, the succession issue had been reduced to two people, Mnangagwa and Finance Minister Simba Makoni but Mnangagwa was in the lead.

Even embassy officials seemed to view Mnangagwa as the front runner.

“Should something happen to Mugabe tomorrow, Mnangagwa is best positioned to step in, pick up the pieces, and consolidate power,” the cable says.

“Despite the common refrain that Mnangagwa is widely hated in the party for his ruthlessness, one can also see in him a pragmatic and skillful politician that could hold a government together and sooth an international audience.”

Former political science lecturer though admitting that Mnangagwa was a front runner had no kind words for the politician. He said Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s favourite but his closeness to Mugabe could also be a liability.

Sithole said Mnangagwa had too many enemies in the party and could only become leader of ZANU-PF if he was imposed by Mugabe. Party members would not elect him.

“Mugabe is not well liked in the party, and Mnangagwa's very close association with him does not improve Mnangagwa's already very low popularity ratings. If the party had had anything to say about Mnangagwa's election as Speaker of Parliament in August 2000, the Speaker would never have been put forward as a candidate,” Sithole said.

“He is Speaker because Mugabe wanted it that way. ZANU-PF would never voluntarily nominate Mnangagwa as its candidate for president, either; it would only do so if Mugabe imposed his candidacy,” Sithole concluded.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 01HARARE975, ZIMBABWE PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION RACE DOWN TO

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE975

2001-03-12 09:46

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.

 

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ0301

 

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AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000975

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

 

NAIROBI FOR TERRY PFLAUMER

 

PASS USAID FOR AFR/SA C. PALMA

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00975 01 OF 03 120948Z

PASS USTR FOR ROSA WHITAKER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/11

TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION RACE DOWN TO

TWO RUNNERS

 

REFS: A) HARARE 969, B) HARARE 871, C) HARARE 847

 

CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL IRVING FOR REASONS:

1.5 (B) AND (D).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: ZIMBABWE'S PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION RACE

HAS NARROWED TO TWO PEOPLE SHOULD PRESIDENT ROBERT

MUGABE DECIDE NOT TO RUN FOR REELECTION IN THE EARLY

2002 RACE. SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT EMMERSON MNANGAGWA IS

IN THE STRONGEST POSITION TO TAKE OVER THE COUNTRY'S

REINS, WITH HIS VERY CLOSE TIES TO THE PRESIDENT AND THE

PARTY'S "OLD GUARD," ACCORDING TO OUR CONTACTS. FINANCE

MINISTER SIMBA MAKONI IS IN SECOND PLACE IN THE

SUCCESSION RACE, AND HIS LACK OF STRONG TIES TO ANY ONE

FACTION AND HIS APPEAL AMONG ZIMBABWE'S SMALL BUT

INFLUENTIAL MIDDLE CLASS, MAKE HIM A STRONG CONTENDER

AMONG THE PARTY'S MODERATES. THE PRESIDENTIAL HOPES OF

OTHER AMBITIOUS LEADERS, SUCH AS LOCAL GOVERNMENT

MINISTER IGNATIUS CHOMBO AND HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER JOHN

NKOMO, ARE FADING FAST AS THEY FAIL TO MAKE THEMSELVES

KNOWN TO THE ELECTORATE. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) POLOFF SPOKE TO MASIPULA SITHOLE, A POLITICAL

SCIENCE PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ZIMBABWE,

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00975 01 OF 03 120948Z

INFLUENTIAL COLUMNIST, AND DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE OF

PUBLIC OPINION, ON MARCH 6 ABOUT THE SUCCESSION STRUGGLE

IN ZANU-PF. POLOFF ALSO INTERVIEWED IDEN WETHERELL,

EDITOR OF "THE ZIMBABWE INDEPENDENT" NEWSPAPER ON MARCH

7 ON THE SAME SUBJECT. ALTHOUGH IT APPEARS PRESIDENT

MUGABE HAS EVERY INTENTION OF RUNNING AGAIN IN EARLY

2002, THERE IS A POSSIBILITY THAT HE MAY ANOINT A

SUCCESSOR IF HE DETERMINES BY YEAR'S END THAT HE CANNOT

WIN REELECTION, RATHER THAN RISK AN OPPOSITION VICTORY.

MORE LIKELY, HOWEVER, MUGABE WILL RESIGN MIDWAY THROUGH

A FINAL TERM AND HAND THE REINS TO A SUCCESSOR AT THAT

POINT. THIS MESSAGE EXAMINES WHO HAS THE BEST CHANCE AT

THIS POINT OF BECOMING THAT SUCCESSOR.

 

MNANGAGWA LEADS THE PACK

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

 

3. (C) SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT EMMERSON MNANGAGWA IS IN

THE STRONGEST POSITION TO SUCCEED PRESIDENT MUGABE, THE

CONTACTS WE TALKED TO AGREED. SITHOLE CALLED MNANGAGWA

"THE PRINCE'S FAVORITE" BECAUSE OF THEIR LONG-TIME AND

VERY CLOSE TIES. (SITHOLE CALLS MUGABE "THE PRINCE"

BECAUSE THE PRESIDENT READS THE MACHIAVELLI WORK OVER

AND OVER AGAIN, THE PROFESSOR MUSED.) SITHOLE RECOUNTED

MNANGAGWA'S DAYS WORKING WITH MUGABE DURING THE

LIBERATION STRUGGLE WHILE IN EXILE IN THE LATE 1970S.

AS MUGABE'S CHIEF OF SECURITY, MNANGAGWA PROVIDED

INFORMATION TO MUGABE ON THE ACTIVITIES OF HIS RIVALS IN

THE LIBERATION MOVEMENT. MNANGAGWA'S REPORTS LED MUGABE

TO IMPRISON A NUMBER OF MOVEMENT POLITICIANS, INCLUDING

KUMBIRAI KANGAI (FORMER AGRICULTURE MINISTER) AND RUGARE

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 00975 01 OF 03 120948Z

GUMBO (CURRENT DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS), EVEN

BEFORE INDEPENDENCE, SITHOLE SAID. MNANGAGWA LIKELY HAD

A HAND IN THE DECEMBER 1979 DEATH OF JOSIAH TONGOGARA,

MUGABE'S PRINCIPAL RIVAL FOR CONTROL OF THE ZANU

MOVEMENT AT THE TIME, THE PROFESSOR STATED. AFTER

INDEPENDENCE IN 1980, MNANGAGWA, AS MUGABE'S NEW

MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND OVERSEER OF THE

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION, PUT SPIES ON

VIRTUALLY EVERY PROMINENT FIGURE IN ZANU, WHICH

STRENGTHENED MUGABE'S HOLD ON THE PARTY IMMEASURABLY.

 

4. (C) MNANGAGWA'S POSITION AS MUGABE'S "FAVORITE"

COULD ACTUALLY TURN OUT TO BE LIABILITY FOR MNANGAGWA,

SITHOLE ARGUED. MUGABE IS NOT WELL LIKED IN THE PARTY,

AND MNANGAGWA'S VERY CLOSE ASSOCIATION WITH HIM DOES NOT

IMPROVE MNANGAGWA'S ALREADY VERY LOW POPULARITY RATINGS.

IF THE PARTY HAD HAD ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT MNANGAGWA'S

ELECTION AS SPEAKER OF PARLIAMENT IN AUGUST 2000, THE

SPEAKER WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN PUT FORWARD AS A

CANDIDATE, THE COLUMNIST SURMISED. HE IS SPEAKER

BECAUSE MUGABE WANTED IT THAT WAY. ZANU-PF WOULD NEVER

VOLUNTARILY NOMINATE MNANGAGWA AS ITS CANDIDATE FOR

PRESIDENT, EITHER; IT WOULD ONLY DO SO IF MUGABE IMPOSED

HIS CANDIDACY, SITHOLE CONCLUDED.

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ0302

 

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FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8393

INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 03 HARARE 000975

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

 

NAIROBI FOR TERRY PFLAUMER

 

PASS USAID FOR AFR/SA C. PALMA

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00975 02 OF 03 120948Z

PASS USTR FOR ROSA WHITAKER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/11

TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION RACE DOWN TO

TWO RUNNERS

 

5. (C) "THE INDEPENDENT" EDITOR WETHERELL DESCRIBED

MNANGAGWA AS A "NIMBLE OPERATOR," AND "ONE OF THE MOST

INTELLIGENT MEN IN GOVERNMENT," WHICH MAKES HIM ALL THE

MORE DANGEROUS. THE SPEAKER ALSO HAS A VERY ASTUTE

UNDERSTANDING OF FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS' AGENDAS AND GLOBAL

ISSUES, AND KNOWS ALL THE RIGHT THINGS TO SAY ON HUMAN

RIGHTS AND OTHER WESTERN CONCERNS. HE IS GOOD AT

"PLAYING TO ALL GALLERIES," THE EDITOR REMARKED.

NONETHELESS, MNANGAGWA IS NOT WELL-LIKED IN THE PARTY,

OR THE COUNTRY AS A WHOLE -- HIS FAILED BID TO BECOME

ZANU-PF NATIONAL CHAIRMAN IN DECEMBER 1999 AND HIS

RESOUNDING LOSS OF HIS KWEKWE PARLIAMENTARY SEAT LAST

JUNE ARE AMPLE EVIDENCE OF THIS, WETHERELL STATED.

MNANGAGWA WOULD BE MORE OF A LIABILITY TO ZANU-PF THAN

MUGABE SHOULD THE SPEAKER BECOME THE PARTY'S

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, WETHERELL OPINED.

 

6. (C) IT IS WORTH NOTING THAT THE MARCH 2-8 EDITION OF

THE GOVERNMENT-INFLUENCED "THE MIRROR" REPORTED THAT THE

PROVINCIAL RESTRUCTURING EFFORT CURRENTLY UNDERWAY IN

ZANU-PF (REF B) IS DESIGNED TO PUT IN LOCAL LEADERS WHO

CAN EFFECTIVELY "MARKET" MNANGAGWA AS A PRESIDENTIAL

CANDIDATE TO THE MASSES. THE ARTICLE ALSO REPORTED THAT

THE SYSTEMATIC SIDELINING IN ZANU-PF OF MASVINGO LEADER

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00975 02 OF 03 120948Z

AND MNANGAGWA RIVAL EDDISON ZVOBGO (REF C) IS SUPPOSED

TO CLEAR THE WAY FOR A MNANGAGWA PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDACY.

ZVOBGO WAS REPORTED TO HAVE LED THE EFFORT TO THWART

MNANGAGWA'S BID TO BECOME ZANU-PF'S NATIONAL CHAIRMAN IN

DECEMBER 1999, AND IS BEING SIDELINED AS PUNISHMENT AND

TO ENSURE HE DOES NOT PRESENT AN OBSTACLE TO MNANGAGWA'S

ASCENDANCY. MDC PRESIDENT MORGAN TSVANGIRAI TOLD

VISITING DAS MARK BELLAMY ON MARCH 9 (REF A) THAT

MNANGAGWA IS THE ONLY ZANU-PF CANDIDATE WITH THE CLOUT

TO SUCCEED MUGABE. "THE MDC WOULD WELCOME HIS

CANDIDACY," THE OPPOSITION LEADER VOLUNTEERED, REFERRING

TO THE SPEAKER'S LOW POPULARITY AND REPUTATION FOR

TRUCULENCE.

 

MAKONI IS IN SECOND PLACE

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

 

7. (C) FINANCE MINISTER SIMBA MAKONI WOULD BE ZANU-PF'S

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE IF THE PARTY HAD ANY SAY IN THE

MATTER, ACCORDING TO SITHOLE. MAKONI'S STRENGTH IS THAT

HE DOES NOT HAVE ANY STRONG TIES TO ANY PARTICULAR

FACTION IN ZANU-PF, WHICH MAKES HIM AN IDEAL CANDIDATE

ON WHOM EVERYONE CAN AGREE, THE PROFESSOR OPINED. IN

ADDITION, MAKONI APPEALS TO ZIMBABWE'S RELATIVELY SMALL

BUT INFLUENTIAL MIDDLE CLASS THAT DOMINATES THE URBAN

AREAS. SITHOLE BELIEVES THAT MAKONI IS MAKING AN

IMPRESSION ON THE ZANU-PF MEMBERSHIP BECAUSE HE IS

PERSUASIVE, KNOWLEDGEABLE ON WIDE VARIETY OF ISSUES, AND

LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE WHO COULD HAVE A VISION FOR THE

COUNTRY. (NOTE: WHEN PRESSED, SITHOLE DID NOT KNOW WHAT

THAT VISION MIGHT BE, HOWEVER. END NOTE.) MAKONI IS

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 00975 02 OF 03 120948Z

ALSO SMART ENOUGH TO CULTIVATE A CORDIAL RELATIONSHIP

WITH THE MDC. HE COULD BE A MINISTER OF FINANCE UNDER

AN MDC-LED GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY, SHOULD THE MDC

WIN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, SITHOLE PREDICTED.

 

8. (C) WETHERELL WAS LESS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT MAKONI'S

PROSPECTS. HE STATED THAT MNANGAGWA WOULD HAVE TO BE

COMPLETELY OUT OF THE PICTURE IN ORDER FOR MAKONI TO

HAVE ANY SHOT AT THE PRESIDENCY. MAKONI HAS NO POWER

BASE OF HIS OWN, AND IS A PRODUCT OF THE ZANU-PF SYSTEM

OF "BARONIAL FIEFDOMS," WETHERELL COMMENTED. MAKONI

TRIED TO ESTABLISH HIS OWN BASE IN MANICALAND IN RECENT

YEARS, BUT FAILED. DESPITE HIS SHORTCOMINGS, MANY IN

THE PARTY SEE HIM AS THEIR "GREAT BLACK HOPE." HE HAS

AN EXCELLENT GRASP OF ECONOMICS AND POLICYMAKING AND HAS

THE ABILITY TO LEAD THE COUNTRY OUT OF ECONOMIC RUIN,

THE EDITOR OFFERED. A NUMBER OF ZANU-PF'S EMERGING

YOUNG POWER BARONS, SUCH AS CHINHOYI MP PHILLIP

CHIYANGWA AND MOUNT DARWIN SOUTH MP TYSON KASUKUWERE,

ARE WITHHOLDING THEIR SUPPORT FOR MAKONI BECAUSE THEY

ARE AFRAID TO BACK THE WRONG HORSE. THEY ARE MORE

INTERESTED IN SELF-ENRICHMENT, ANYWAY, AND MAKONI'S

REFORM POLICIES COULD JEOPARDIZE THEIR SUBSTANTIAL

BUSINESS LINKAGES TO ZANU-PF, ACCORDING TO WETHERELL.

IN REF A MEETING, MORGAN TSVANGIRAI DISMISSED MAKONI'S

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ0305

 

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FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8394

INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 03 OF 03 HARARE 000975

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

 

LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

 

NAIROBI FOR TERRY PFLAUMER

 

PASS USAID FOR AFR/SA C. PALMA

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00975 03 OF 03 120948Z

PASS USTR FOR ROSA WHITAKER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/11

TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION RACE DOWN TO

TWO RUNNERS

 

CANDIDACY, NOTING, "HE COULD NEVER CONTROL THE ZANU-PF

HARDLINERS." MASVINGO ZANU-PF "SUPREMO" ZVOBGO, ON THE

OTHER HAND, IMPLIED HIS SUPPORT OF MAKONI TO US, SAYING

THAT MANY WOULD THROW THEIR WEIGHT BEHIND HIM BECAUSE OF

HIS POPULAR APPEAL.

 

OTHER CONTENDERS FALLING FAR BEHIND

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

 

9. (C) THE PRESIDENTIAL PROSPECTS OF MINISTER OF LOCAL

GOVERNMENT, PUBLIC WORKS AND NATIONAL HOUSING IGNATIUS

CHOMBO ARE FADING FAST, BOTH SITHOLE AND WETHERELL

AGREED. ALTHOUGH SOME THINK HE IS PRESIDENTIAL

MATERIAL, CHOMBO IS TOO CLOSE TO MUGABE TO HAVE HIS OWN

SUPPORT BASE, SITHOLE OPINED. IN FACT, CHOMBO IS A

DISTANT COUSIN OF MUGABE AND CAME FROM THE SAME VILLAGE

IN ZVIMBA DISTRICT AS THE PRESIDENT, THE PROFESSOR

ASSERTED. WETHERELL DESCRIBED CHOMBO AS THE PRESIDENT'S

"BLUE-EYED BOY," BUT NOT AS PARTICULARLY BRIGHT OR

POLITICALLY ASTUTE. ZANU-PF NATIONAL CHAIRMAN JOHN

NKOMO, WHO COMPLETELY LACKS ANY CHARISMA, LOST HIS

CHANCE FOR THE PRESIDENCY WHEN HE FAILED TO WIN A

PARLIAMENTARY SEAT LAST JUNE, THE EDITOR REMARKED.

FURTHERMORE, NKOMO HAS FAILED TO MAKE A NAME FOR HIMSELF

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00975 03 OF 03 120948Z

AMONG ZIMBABWEAN VOTERS, WETHERELL CONCLUDED.

 

10. (C) BOTH INTERLOCUTORS AGREED THAT MINISTER FOR

INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY JONATHAN MOYO IS DESPISED IN

ZANU-PF AND WILL NEVER BE ANYTHING MORE THAN "PRESIDENT

MUGABE'S MAN." IT IS CONCEIVABLE THAT MOYO COULD BECOME

A PRIME MINISTER UNDER A FINAL MUGABE TERM AND AMENDED

CONSTITUTION, BUT AS SOON AS MUGABE GOES, SO WILL MOYO,

WETHERELL BELIEVES. MOYO IS ONE OF THE MOST HATED

FIGURES IN THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW AND NO ONE OTHER THAN

MUGABE WILL BACK HIM.

 

COMMENT

-------

 

11. (C) IT APPEARS THAT THE PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION

RACE IS NARROWING TO TWO PEOPLE: MNANGAGWA AND MAKONI.

SHOULD SOMETHING HAPPEN TO MUGABE TOMORROW, MNANGAGWA IS

BEST POSITIONED TO STEP IN, PICK UP THE PIECES, AND

CONSOLIDATE POWER. DESPITE THE COMMON REFRAIN THAT

MNANGAGWA IS WIDELY HATED IN THE PARTY FOR HIS

RUTHLESSNESS, ONE CAN ALSO SEE IN HIM A PRAGMATIC AND

SKILLFUL POLITICIAN THAT COULD HOLD A GOVERNMENT

TOGETHER AND SOOTH AN INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCE. IT IS FAR

FROM CLEAR, HOWEVER, WHETHER HE WOULD MAKE THE HARD

CHOICES TO SHORE UP ZIMBABWE'S CRUMBLING DEMOCRATIC

INSTITUTIONS AND COLLAPSING ECONOMY. MNANGAGWA WOULD

REPRESENT A CONTINUATION OF THE MUGABE ERA, AND POSSIBLY

A VERY LONG CONTINUATION AT THAT, SHOULD MUGABE HOLD THE

MDC AT BAY IN THE ELECTION AND PASS THE BATON TO

MNANGAGWA.

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 00975 03 OF 03 120948Z

 

12. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: MAKONI, ON THE OTHER HAND,

WOULD LIKELY TRY TO IMPLEMENT THE DEMOCRATIC AND

ECONOMIC REFORMS NEEDED TO TURN ZIMBABWE AROUND, BUT HE

MAY NOT HAVE THE POLITICAL SKILLS TO HOLD A FRACTIOUS

GOVERNMENT TOGETHER OR FEND OFF CHALLENGES FROM THE

OPPOSITION. MAKONI, YOUNGER THAN MUGABE AND MNANGAGWA,

WOULD REPRESENT A CLEAN BREAK FROM THE OLD ZANU-PF, AND

COULD PROBABLY GARNER REAL PUBLIC SUPPORT. HIS TENURE

COULD BE SHORTENED, HOWEVER, BY MORE WILY AND RUTHLESS

OPERATIVES IN ZANU-PF. ZIMBABWEAN VOTERS COULD YET HAVE

THE FINAL SAY, HOWEVER, AND CAST OUT THE WHOLE ZANU-PF

LOT AND GIVE THE MDC A CHANCE AT GOVERNING. END

COMMENT.

 

IRVING

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

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