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Why no one in ZANU-PF is challenging Mugabe

Though most members of the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front, especially those from the Mujuru faction, have wanted President Robert Mugabe to go for some time, Mugabe has managed to maintain his control over the party through patronage and fear, according to Wikileaks.

A cable dispatched by the United States embassy in Harare on 8 November 2007, just a month before the crucial extraordinary congress which had been called by the Mujuru faction ostensibly to force Mugabe to step down, said although the shrinking economy had reduced the benefits that could be parcelled out to the party faithful, there was still enough in the trough to produce loyalty.

“Perhaps more important is the fear engendered by Mugabe that his departure could result in internecine party struggle jeopardizing the relative stability of Zimbabwe and the ill-gotten gains of party members; and that anyone challenging him will be marginalized,” the cable says.

The cable said Solomon Mujuru, because of his stature, had challenged Mugabe but had failed. Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni was afraid to openly oppose Mugabe.

“With the exception of a handful of ZANU-PF dissidents such as publisher and businessman Ibbo Mandaza and Mugabe’s former comrade in arms Edgar Tekere, there has been no public criticism of Mugabe from ZANU-PF.”

It added: “As part of his sidelining of erstwhile allies Solomon Mujuru and Vice President Joice Mujuru, Mugabe rehabilitated Emmerson Mnangagwa who had fallen out of grace after the alleged Tsholotsho plot against Mugabe in 2005, and stirred rumours that Mnangagwa might be his anointed successor.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07HARARE1004, MUGABE STRONG DESPITE DISSENSION WITHIN ZANU-PF;

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE1004

2007-11-08 12:51

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5447

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #1004/01 3121251

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 081251Z NOV 07 ZDS SVC 2026

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2105

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1643

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1774

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0391

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1051

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1400

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1831

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4259

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0897

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 HARARE 001004

 

SIPDIS

 

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (REMOVED NOFORN)

 

NOFORN

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL,

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2017

TAGS: PREL PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: MUGABE STRONG DESPITE DISSENSION WITHIN ZANU-PF;

MDC DIVISIONS MORE DAMAGING

 

REF: HARARE 795

 

HARARE 00001004 001.2 OF 005

 

 

Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Glenn Warren. Reason: 1.4 (b) & (d).

 

1. (C) Summary: While much can happen between today and the

2008 elections, the current situation appears to favor

continued rule by President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe, despite

significant sentiment within ZANU-PF that he step down,

maintains firm control of ZANU-PF and observers expect him to

emerge from his party’s Extraordinary Congress in December as

ZANU-PF’s candidate for president. The MDC meanwhile finds

itself in turmoil after a decision to dissolve the Women’s

Assembly and depose its leader, Lucia Matebenga. The

continued MDC factional split, and this fracture within the

Tsvangirai faction, raise doubts about the MDC’s ability to

 

SIPDIS

mount a strong challenge in next year’s elections, even if a

SADC-sponsored agreement resulting in a more electoral

playing field is implemented on the ground. Other scenarios,

such as a serious third party challenge or a military coup,

appear unlikely. The most likely scenario at this point in

time is a Mugabe electoral victory in 2008. When and if he

would subsequently step down and what would follow a Mugabe

exit is unclear. End Summary.

 

—————–

Mugabe in Control

—————–

 

2. (C) There is widespread opposition to Mugabe within

ZANU-PF, primarily because of his mismanagement of the

economy. Last year, the Mujuru faction was able to stop his

bid at the annual party conference to extend his term until

2010. Their opposition also prevented party endorsement for

his 2008 presidential candidacy at the ZANU-PF Politburo and

Central Committee meetings in March. Attempting to build on

this political success and deal a political death blow to

Mugabe, the Mujuru faction during the last several months has

tried to win support within party provincial executive

committees. By all accounts, these efforts have failed, and

the Mujurus have conceded Mugabe’s endorsement at an

Extraordinary Congress in December.

 

3. (C) As part of his sidelining of erstwhile allies Solomon

Mujuru and (Mujuru’s wife) Vice President Joice Mujuru,

Mugabe rehabilitated Emmerson Mnangagwa who had fallen out of

grace after the alleged Tsholotsho plot against Mugabe in

2005, and stirred rumors that Mnangagwa might be his anointed

successor. In October, Mnangagwa, legal secretary for the

party, announced that the agenda for the Extraordinary

Congress would only include ratification of the harmonization

of presidential, provincial, and local elections in 2008;

ratification of the reduction of the presidential term from

six to five years; and support for the dissolution of

Parliament in 2008 to allow for parliamentary elections in

2008 rather than in 2010 as scheduled. As leader of the

party, Mugage is the presumptive party nominee–the

restrictive Congress agenda allows no opportunity for

nomination of other candidates.

 

4. (C) Mugabe has maintained his control of ZANU-PF through

patronage and fear. Although the shrinking economy has

reduced the benefits that can be parceled out to the party

faithful, there is still enough in the trough to produce

loyalty. Perhaps more important is the fear engendered by

Mugabe that 1) his departure could result in internecine

party struggle jeopardizing the relative stability of

Zimbabwe and the ill-gotten gains of party members; and 2)

that anyone challenging him will be marginalized. Solomon

Mujuru, because of his stature, did challenge Mugage within

the past year, but, as noted, failed. Moderates such as

 

HARARE 00001004 002.2 OF 005

 

 

former finance minister Simba Makoni have been afraid to

openly oppose Mugabe; with the exception of a handful of

ZANU-PF dissidents such as publisher and businessman Ibbo

Mandaza and Mugabe’s former comrade in arms Edgar Tekere,

there has been no public criticism of Mugabe from ZANU-PF.

5. (C) Mugabe’s ZANU-PF critics anticipate a Mugabe victory

in next year’s election, and hope he will then step down due

to any or all of the following factors; age, health problems

(as reported in Reftel, Mugabe allegedly told his physician

he would leave after the election due to a throat cancer

condition), and pressures from his party to allow someone

else to deal with the ever-collapsing economy. Also, they

believe he may agree to leave office if an election victory

is recognized by the international community as legitimate,

giving him the political legitimacy he has long sought.

 

———————–

MDC Faces More Division

———————–

 

6. (C) The MDC decided at the end of October to dissolve its

Women’s Assembly 24-member executive. According to MDC

insiders, the decision (which stripped Lucia Matibenga, also

a vice-president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions

(ZCTU), of her position of Assembly chair) was made because

of the ineffectiveness of the Assembly in recruiting and

mobilizing women. There was also concern about the

Assembly’s finances and concern that it had been infiltrated

by ZANU-PF. Matibenga and her supporters claimed the action

was without foundation and done extra-constitutionally. An

MDC Congress in Bulawayo subsequently elected Theresa Makone,

wife of MDC Director of Elections and Tsvangirai confidante

Ian Makone, as the new chair. Counter-claims fles.

Matibenga claimed she and her supporters were barred entry to

the Congress that elected Makone; Matibenga opponents

insinuated that she had bussed her supporters to Bulawayo

with ZANU-PF funds.

 

7. (C) Regardless of leglities and merits of the positions

of the respecive sides, there are now deep divisions within

th Tsvangirai faction. Eliphas Mukonewushuro, the MC’s

shadow foreign minister and a longtime Tsvanirai advisor,

told us that party members were anry at Tsvangirai, that

Tsvangirai was concerned nly about gaining power, and that

 

SIPDIS

Tsvangirai had acted worse than Mugabe. Much of the

 

SIPDIS

resentment appears to stem from the fact that Tsvangirai and

his inner circle have not, until at least recently, briefed

the MDC executive on the progress of the SADC negotiations

and there is consequently a lack of confidence in what is

being achieved. The criticism of Tsvangirai is biting

because it is similar to that levied against him in 2005,

prior to the MDC split, when he decided that the party should

not contest Senate seats.

 

8. (C) Jameson Timba, one of Tsvangirai’s kitchen cabinet

argued to us that there were legitimate concerns about

Matibenga and her management of the Women’s Assembly, and

that the MDC had acted legally in dissolving it. However, he

admitted that for political reasons he had argued against the

action, having foreseen the consequences. Tsvangirai gave an

interview to the Financial Gazette to explain his actions

and, according to Timba, was planning to talk to all MDC

executive committee members to try to smooth over the crisis.

Timba thought he would be largely successful. Tsvangirai

told Charge he was currently focused on resolving MDC

dissension, which he hoped would be achieved before the end

of November. Only then, he said, would he be able to shift

into full campaign mode.

 

9. (C) Perhaps most problematic is the fact that some civil

 

HARARE 00001004 003 OF 005

 

 

society women’s groups showing solidarity with Matibenga,

have criticized the MDC and the way the matter has been

handled. It is unlikely that the split could lead to

Matibenga and others forming another party. The danger,

though, is that this latest controversy compounds doubts

engendered by the continuing split between the Tsvangirai and

Mutambara factions about the MDC’s effectiveness. Party

structures weakened by the climate of violence will be

challenged to overcome apathy among many of the MDC’s

traditional supporters resulting from continuing intraparty

conflicts.

 

————

No Third Way

————

 

10. (C) Several prominent Zimbabweans, among them

Johannesburg business magnate Strive Masiyiwa, Johannesburg

and Harare publisher Trevor Ncube, and Zimbabwean

parliamentarian and former ZANU-PF insider Jonathan Moyo,

have for some time been pushing the idea of a third party.

Opponents of ZANU-PF, they are skeptical of MDC leadership

and strength and are looking for a candidate who can

transcend the present political situation to head a party

composed of ZANU-PF moderates and MDC defectors. Two names

they have focused on are Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono

and Simba Makoni.

 

11. (C) Neither is realistic at this time. Gono has

presided over a disastrous economy and has no support outside

of his Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Makoni is potentially the

most popular politician in Zimbabwe. He has a reputation for

integrity–he resigned from his position as finance minister

rather than carry out dysfunctional policies, and he actually

bought his farm–and historically he has had good relations

with the international community. But he remains a ZANU-PF

loyalist and, although he has criticized the government from

within, he has been afraid to publicly speak out on

Zimbabwe’s crisis. It is perhaps a measure of Mugabe’s

control and the climate of fear that for some time Makoni, as

well as some other moderates, have been afraid to meet with

us. At this point in time, there does not appear to be a

leader with the prominence and support to lead a third party.

 

 

—————-

A Military Coup?

—————-

 

12. (C) Although the possibility of a military coup can not

be entirely discounted, and the military unquestionably has

the capacity to force Mugabe out, we are skeptical of this

scenario. While there is growing discomfort among all strata

of society with the current political and economic situation,

there are compelling reasons why top military leaders would

not take action. They have been close to Mugabe since the

beginnings of the liberation struggle and have supported him

for many years. They continue to receive ZANU-PF patronage

and, despite deteriorating economic conditions, they continue

to thrive. Finally, military leaders are aware that it is

doubtful that the SADC region, which has been tolerant of

Mugabe, would accept a coup.

 

13. (C) There is dissatisfaction among the military rank and

file who have low salaries, who are occasionally not paid,

and who receive meager food rations. There are reports of

growing numbers of desertions. So far the government has

been able to provide sufficient emoluments, but as the

economic situation makes this increasingly difficult, the

military as a whole could become a less reliable source of

 

HARARE 00001004 004 OF 005

 

 

support for the regime.

 

————————————-

SADC Negotiations and the Way Forward

————————————-

 

14. (C) Mugabe has made concessions in the SADC negotiations

because he is hoping an agreement will result in a resumption

of international assistance, and because he hopes that the

election will confer legitimacy on him. His calculation is

to give enough so that the election will be considered free

and fair, but not so much that he loses control of the

outcome.

 

15. (C) The MDC’s goal of course is a level electoral

playing field. In addition to an agreement that covers

electoral reform and reform of AIPPA and POSA, a political

atmosphere free of violence, intimidation, and food

manipulation is essential. The success of the negotiations

must be judged by guarantees in these areas and ultimately by

the facts on the ground. If the MDC proceeds to an election

without a fair political environment, it risks not only

losing but helping to legitimize the election. If on the

other hand, it withdraws from the election, it runs the risk

of handing the election to ZANU-PF, allowing ZANU-PF to claim

it won a fair election that the MDC for its own reasons

decided to boycott, and failing to expose the full nature of

ZANU-PF’s electoral perfidy.

 

16. (C) For the MDC to have a chance of winning the 2008

election, a number of factors, some of them unlikely, must

coalesce. Electoral reform must be implemented, including a

cleansing of the voters’ rolls and the creation of an

independent electoral commission. Intimidation, violence,

and manipulation of food aid must cease, and ZANU-PF

political structures, particularly in the rural areas must be

controlled, so that the MDC can organize and campaign. The

MDC must also have the resources to permit it to organize and

campaign. Elections must be postponed to give the MDC the

opportunity to take advantage of reforms and a changed

atmosphere. (Tsvangirai has publicly stated that March is

far too early; Mugabe has insisted elections will occur in

March. This could be a deal breaker in the SADC

negotiations.) And the MDC must form an electoral coalition

of its two factions, in order to combat voter apathy

nationwide and avoid splitting votes in Matabeleland (where

several Mutambara-faction MPs enjoy substantial popularity).

 

——————

After the Election

——————

 

17. (C) Zimbabwe is in a transition that will ultimately

lead to the end of Mugabe’s rule, even if at the moment a

Mugabe defeat in 2008 elections appears unlikely.

Alternative scenarios for transition are full of uncertainty,

starting with whether Mugabe would step down following an

election victory or cling to power. It is also difficult to

predict the framework of a post-Mugabe government. ZANU-PF

could splinter without Mugabe to hold its members together,

leaving an opening for a third force perhaps including the

MDC. Or the MDC could align with one of the existing ZANU-PF

factions to form a government of national unity. The worst

case scenario is political disintegration, a power vacuum,

and possible civil conflict.

 

18. (C) One reason for optimism is the fact that, despite

its rhetoric about sanctions, most ZANU-PF leaders realize

that the cause of Zimbabwe’s predicament is the regime’s

mismanagement of the economy. Many understand that recovery

 

HARARE 00001004 005 OF 005

 

 

is dependent on economic reform and international

reengagement, and that international reengagement is

dependent on political reform.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DHANANI

(51 VIEWS)

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