Zimbabwean publisher Trevor Ncube was thoroughly disgusted with the Movement for Democratic Change that he had nightmares about the MDC taking over Zimbabwe.
According to a cable released by Wikileaks Ncube told this to United States embassy officials when he suggested a “third way” that would involve people like Econet boss Strive Masiyiwa, former Industry Minister Nkosana Moyo, former Finance Minister Simba Makoni and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.
Ncube said that he initially supported Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC – “even giving them a financial contribution” — but believed the party had “poor quality leadership,” had tribalist and violent tendencies, and had not offered a vision for the future of Zimbabwe.
Ncube told embassy officials on 30 August 2007 that the ideal political solution for Zimbabwe was a “third way” which would draw support from the best of the MDC, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, civil society and the diaspora.
IDASA analyst Sydney Masamvu told the embassy officials that he believed that Jonathan Moyo and Ncube were working together on the “third way”.
In their commentary, embassy officials said though they could not comment of the viability or advisability of the “third way”, they believed Ncube was going to push it aggressively.
“Ncube is connected, sharp and ambitious, and we suspect he envisions a role for himself in such a ‘third way’ regime,” they said.
Viewing cable 07PRETORIA3075, TREVOR NCUBE FLOATS “THIRD WAY”
RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #3075/01 2431501
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 311501Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1492
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1278
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4774
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9115
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 003075
DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL
HARARE FOR G. WARREN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/30/2017
SUBJECT: TREVOR NCUBE FLOATS “THIRD WAY”
REF: A. PRETORIA 14
¶B. 2005 HARARE 1420
PRETORIA 00003075 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(d).
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. South African-based publisher and Mugabe
opponent Trevor Ncube believes that Zimbabwe needs a “third
way” political force to take the country forward. Ncube is
thoroughly disgusted with both the ruling ZANU-PF and the MDC
opposition. Strive Masiyiwa, Nkosana Moyo, or Simba Makoni
could lead the “third way,” Ncube suggested, although none of
them has bought into the idea. Ncube called for a more
“nuanced” Western approach to ZANU-PF, arguing that moderates
in the party, like “progressive” Reserve Bank Governor Gideon
Gono, should be supported, not isolated. According to Ncube,
Mugabe remains firmly in control, and is running rings around
South African President Mbeki and his “facilitation” effort.
“Third Way” is Ideal
¶2. (C) Prominent Zimbabwean publisher and long-time Mugabe
opponent Trevor Ncube told PolOff August 30 that the “ideal”
political solution in Zimbabwe is a “third way” political
movement winning the upcoming election. The “third way”
would draw support from the best of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC), ruling ZANU-PF, civil society,
and the diaspora. Ncube said his ideal candidates to lead
the movement — Strive Masiyiwa, Nkosana Moyo, Simba Makoni
— have not themselves bought into the idea. Masiyiwa and
Moyo believe in a two-step transition, with MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai taking power, then a technocratic regime coming in
later to “clean up the mess.” Makoni still hopes change
would come from within ZANU-PF.
¶3. (C) In addition to Masiyiwa, Moyo and Makoni, Ncube
mentioned Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, whom he called
“progressive.” Gono has managed to keep Mugabe’s trust,
maintain ties to both MDC factions, and build a constituency
in the military — an impressive achievement. Welshman
Ncube, Secretary General of the MDC Mutambara faction, is
extremely bright, according to Trevor Ncube, but is not a
politician. Jonathan Moyo is also intelligent and
hard-working, but is tainted by his links to the Mugabe
regime. Asked about Arthur Mutambara, Ncube waved his hand,
saying Mutambara had been a “major disappointment;” “Arthur’s
time has passed.” (NOTE: Ncube’s “third way” idea smacks of
Jonathan Moyo’s earlier efforts to assemble a “third force”
(ref B). IDASA analyst Sydney Masamvu (protect) said he
believes that Moyo and Ncube are working together on the
current initiative. END NOTE.)
MDC Rule a “Nightmare”
¶4. (C) Ncube has come around to the “third way” plan after
becoming thoroughly disgusted with the MDC. Ncube said he
initially supported Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC — even
giving them a financial contribution — but believes the
party has “poor quality leadership,” has tribalist and
violent tendencies, and has not offered a vision for the
future of Zimbabwe. Ncube says he has “nightmares” about the
MDC taking over Zimbabwe.
Need for Nuanced Western Policy
¶5. (C) Ncube also criticized Western policy toward Zimbabwe,
arguing that the West needed a “more nuanced” approach to
ZANU-PF. There are “progressives” and “liberals” in ZANU-PF,
and “we need to win them over.” Instead, Western sanctions
have painted the entire ZANU-PF leadership as “bad guys,”
isolating and punishing them. This strategy has pushed the
entire ZANU-PF leadership into a corner, where they are
forced to join with Mugabe to fight their way out.
PRETORIA 00003075 002 OF 002
¶6. (C) Turning to the SADC initiative, Ncube said that Mugabe
is “running circles around Mbeki and the region.” When all
is said and done, “we will end up where we started.” Mbeki
does not know how to deal with Mugabe, despite years of
practice. Ncube believes that Mugabe was much weaker six or
nine months ago, but has emerged again “boss” following the
“pathetic” SADC summit in Lusaka.
¶7. (C) Ncube also said that the West underestimates Mugabe’s
continued appeal to many Zimbabweans. He is a heroic struggle
figure who fought the colonial powers, and is the founding
father of the country. Even if he has done wrong, “you do
not reject your father.” Mugabe “believes everything he
says,” even what sounds like propaganda to us. Mugabe
honestly thinks he is “doing the right thing” for the
country. Threats will not work with Mugabe. Instead, Mugabe
must believe he is the one choosing his departure date. “We
must find a way for Mugabe to step down without losing face.”
There is a growing consensus in Zimbabwe that Mugabe should
not be punished for his crimes, and instead left in peace.
Western threats about the International Criminal Court are
¶8. (C) Like a number of other prominent Zimbabwe exiled
businessmen in South Africa, Trevor Ncube continues to play
an influential, behind-the-scenes role in the Zimbabwe policy
debate. Ncube’s position as publisher/owner of the
Zimbabwean independent weeklies, The Standard and
Independent, which are critical of the government, as well as
his position as publisher of the well-respected South African
Mail & Guardian, gives him added leverage to pursue his
agenda. While we cannot comment on the viability — or
advisability — of his “third way” political plan, we believe
Ncube will continue to push it aggressively. Ncube is
connected, sharp and ambitious, and we suspect he envisions a
role for himself in such a “third way” regime.