Political commentator and former publisher of the Mirror newspapers group Ibbo Mandaza was the public voice of former army Commander Solomon Mujuru, United States embassy officials said in a cable released by Wikileaks.
“Mandaza is a long-time ZANU-PF stalwart. He is now a confidante of, and advisor to, Solomon Mujuru….Mandaza is a public voice of Solomon Mujuru. He is convinced Mugabe will leave office soon; the question is when,” the cables says.
Mandaza had held a meeting with embassy officials on 25 September 2007 at which he disclosed that President Robert Mugabe had cancer and his Malaysian physician had advised him to step down.
Mandaza said Solomon Mujuru was adamant that Mugabe should step down at the extraordinary congress in December 2007 and could be replaced by his wife, Joice, or someone else loyal to him.
He said if there were to be a secret ballot at the congress Mugabe would be roundly defeated.
In their commentary, embassy officials said: “Mandaza is a public voice of Solomon Mujuru. He is convinced Mugabe will leave office soon; the question is when. In June, Mandaza predicted Mugabe would be gone by September. He now thinks it could be before the December Congress or early next year. Regardless of Mandaza’s skill as a prognosticator, he opens a window on to ZANU-PF which, despite the control Mugabe is still able to exert, is a party in disarray.”
Viewing cable 07HARARE881, IBBO MANDAZA ON MUGABE, ZANU-PF’S NEXT STEPS
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000881
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STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E.LOKEN AND L.DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2012
SUBJECT: IBBO MANDAZA ON MUGABE, ZANU-PF’S NEXT STEPS
REF: HARARE 795
Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Glenn Warren under 1.4 d
¶1. (C) ZANU-PF insider and Solomon Mujuru confidante Ibbo
Mandaza met with polecon chief on September 25 and discussed
President Robert Mugabe’s health and the state of ZANU-PF.
¶2. (C) Confirming Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono’s
comments (Reftel), Mandaza said Mugabe’s Malaysian physician
is now residing in Harare to treat Mugabe for cancer and had
advised him to step down. Mandaza believed that Mugabe had
had throat cancer and was now suffering from prostate cancer.
¶3. (C) Mandaza said the ZANU-PF politburo had met on
September 5 and agreed to call an Extraordinary Congress for
the second week of December. There would be no meetings of
either the Politburo or Central Committee before that time.
The Congress, according to Mandaza, would last one day and
would deal with only one issue–succession.
¶4. (C) Mandaza said he had spoken with Mujuru two days
before our conversation. Mujuru was organizing his
supporters in the provinces to present a challenge to Mugabe.
The hope was to convince Mugabe before the Congress that he
could not prevail in order to force him to step down.
Mandaza was confident that in the hypothetical event of a
secret ballot at the Congress, Mugabe could be roundly
defeated. Since there would not be a secret ballot, it was
too early to know how events would play out. Mandaza
emphasized that Mujuru wanted Mugabe to go, whether he was
replaced by Mujuru’s wife, Joice, or someone else loyal to
¶5. (C) Mandaza believed that even if Mugabe did not have the
votes for an endorsement at the Congress, he might continue
to fight for it. This raised the posibility of a
particularly tumultuous Congress. In general, according to
Mandaza, ZANU-PF was in disarray. Mnangagwa believed he now
had Mugabe’s backing, Mujuru was fighting Mugabe in an
attempt to control succession, and most of ZANU-PF just
wanted Mugabe to go.
¶6. (U) Ibbo Mandaza is the Executive Director of he Southern
African Political Economy Series (SAPES) Trust. SAPES Trust
was founded in 1987 to promote dialogue and engage in policy
research in Southern Africa.
¶7. (U) Mandaza has a B.A. and BSc honors degree in Political
Science from the University of Zimbabwe and a PhD from the
University of York. As a member of government, he served as
Permanent Secretary in the then Ministry of Manpower,
Planning and Development; and also served as Vice-Chairman of
the Public Services Commission. Mandaza was the founding
member and chief executive of the The Mirror Newspaper Group.
After the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) gained a
controlling interest, it fired him and booted him off the
board in 2005. (The Mirror has since shut down.)
¶8. (U) Mandaza wrote the forward to “A Lifetime of
Struggle,” a biography published this year of nationalist
leader and former ZANU-PF secretary-general Edgar Tekere
which criticized Mugage and called into question his
HARARE 00000881 002 OF 002
¶9. (U) Mandaza is a long-time ZANU-PF stalwart. He is now a
confidante of, and advisor to, Solomon Mujuru. He has called
publicly for Mugabe to leave office, stating that economic
reform cannot take place until Mugabe goes.
¶10. (C) Mandaza is a public voice of Solomon Mujuru. He is
convinced Mugabe will leave office soon; the question is
when. In June, Mandaza predicted Mugabe would be gone by
September. He now thinks it could be before the December
Congress or early next year. Regardless of Mandanza’s skill
as a prognosticator, he opens a window on to ZANU-PF which,
despite the control Mugabe is still able to exert, is a party