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Zvobgo said everyone agreed that Mugabe had outlived his time

Eddison Zvobgo Jnr said everyone agreed that President Robert Mugabe had outlived his time but caution and fear borne of the party’s history made open action to hasten his departure by aspiring successors or a disgruntled membership unlikely.

He said Mugabe’s stature as a founding father further inhibited action against him even if all regarded his policies as folly.

Zvobgo said a lot was happening in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front apart from Mugabe, but maintained that it all nonetheless revolved around Mugabe and his “disproportionate power”.

The leadership would continue to posture to him, even as they manoeuvred behind the scenes to position themselves for his departure.

Zvobgo said Mugabe would not go until he felt sufficient confidence in a successor to protect him. He would therefore keep all the players off balance and succession unsettled.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE266, ZVOBGO ON ZANU-PF, CHANGE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE266

2006-03-02 18:05

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5442

PP RUEHMR

DE RUEHSB #0266/01 0611805

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 021805Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9682

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1128

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0960

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1134

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0394

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0754

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1187

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3530

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0960

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1588

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC//DHO-7//

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1343

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000266

 

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 PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: ZVOBGO ON ZANU-PF, CHANGE

 

REF: HARARE 200

 

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

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Eddie Zvobgo, Jr., the popular son of Robert Mugabe’s

late principal intra-party rival of the last ten years, told

the Ambassador on March 1 that the ZANU-PF faithful all

recognized the need for substantive change, including

realignment to the West. Nonetheless, change probably would

wait for Mugabe’s passage from the stage, he predicted, as

most remained too cautious and fearful to push the

octogenarian for now. He urged the USG to remain engaged

with a country that desperately needed its help and would

turn to it when the time came. He welcomed Arthur

Mutambara’s emergence as a political player but bluntly

stated that ZANU-PF would continue to consciously exploit MDC

divisions to its own advantage. End summary.

 

———————————-

Party Faithful Roiling but Patient

———————————-

 

2. (C) A businessperson and ZANU-PF provincial official in

Masvingo, Zvobgo told the Ambassador that party unity would

likely remain intact for now, despite wide intra-party

dissatisfaction and the collapsing economy. Zvobgo said that

all would agree that Mugabe had outlived his time, but

caution and fear borne of the party’s history made open

action to hasten his departure by aspiring successors or a

disgruntled membership unlikely. Mugabe’s stature as a

founding father further inhibited action against him even if

all regarded his policies as folly.

 

3. (C) That said, Zvobgo agreed that much was happening in

the ruling party apart from Mugabe, but maintained that it

all nonetheless revolved around Mugabe and his

“disproportionate power.” The leadership would continue to

posture to him, even as they maneuvered behind the scenes to

position themselves for his departure. He allowed that some

individuals might “strike out on their own” if they felt

their prospects waning too much – a circumstance Mugabe would

seek to avoid.

 

4. (C) Asked by the Ambassador when Zimbabwe could reach a

“breaking point”, Zvobgo suggested that a true breaking point

would require a revolt, which he did not see in the

foreseeable future. He acknowledged that decline was

accelerating, but asserted that there were still ways to make

money, even in a hyperinflationary environment. Zimbabwe

still had a long way down to go, and he did not know when it

would hit bottom.

 

—————————

Looking for Face-Saving Out

—————————

 

5. (C) Zvobgo confirmed that the leadership appreciated that

the country was in too deep a hole to climb out without

significant help from the West. Political realities would

not permit them to overtly admit failure, he asserted, so the

leadership needed a face-saving way out. Zvobgo suggested

that the prime minister position under consideration in

constitutional discussions might offer promise in this

regard. A Prime Minister could work with the international

community on necessary policy changes, effectively moving

 

HARARE 00000266 002 OF 003

 

 

forward with reform but insulating the President from a “mea

culpa” he could not swallow.

 

6. (C) Zvobgo asserted that recent developments such as the

GOZ’s dropping plans to nationalize fertilizer companies and

amending its disastrous education bill indicated that many in

the party “wanted to stop digging” the hole it was in. He

suggested that the Senate had surprisingly proved some worth

in this regard, especially elder statesman such as his

Masvingo political ally Dzikamayi Mavhaire. He was

optimistic that cooler heads could stem the impetus for bad

policy while Mugabe remained in power.

 

7. (C) He urged the USG in any event to look for

constructive ways to steer the country out of the mess for

which ZANU-PF was undeniably responsible. He asserted that

ZANU-PF would likely lead the country into the post-Mugabe

era so it was in our mutual interest to cultivate more

rapport. Zvobgo suggested that Mugabe’s recent outreach to

Blair represented a softening of rhetoric that could precede

a softening posture; he urged the Ambassador to meet with

Mugabe in this regard.

 

———————

On Mugabe’s Departure

———————

 

8. (C) Zvobgo would not venture a guess as to when Mugabe

planned to step aside. Echoing conventional wisdom, he

suggested Mugabe would not go until he felt sufficient

confidence in a successor to protect him. In this vein,

Mugabe had an interest in keeping all players off balance and

in keeping succession unsettled. Zvobgo viewed Justice

Minister Chinamasa’s recent floating of three scenarios, one

of which could keep Mugabe in place until 2010 (reftel), as

indicative of Mugabe’s intent to remain in the game for now.

Mugabe could always find a pretext on which to remain as long

as he wanted and had always defied prediction in any event.

 

—————

After Mugabe…

—————

 

9. On the Ambassador’s inquiry about post-Mugabe Zimbabwe,

Zvobgo predicted there would be ferment but whoever emerged

atop the party would have to be practical. This would

require s/he reach out initially to heal internal divisions,

at least until s/he became more confident to consolidate

broader power. He agreed with the Ambassador that the next

leader would have to deliver an economic turn around to stay

in power and would need Western support to make that happen.

He concluded that “a national sigh of relief” at Mugabe’s

passing would permit a successor some time and good will to

administer unavoidably painful medicine.

 

10. (C) Zvobgo suggested the succession game had yet to be

played out. He offered a positive portrayal of Vice

President Joyce Mujuru as a “mother” figure – not well

educated but effective in applying the common sense needed

for political success. He acknowledged there was discomfort

with her in some quarters but maintained it was too early to

conclude that the President had “backed the wrong horse,”

with reference to rival Emmerson Mnangagwa. He said there

were other possibilities as well, but dismissed RBZ Governor

Gideon Gono and former Finance Minister Simba Makoni as

talented individuals who lacked the political clout to emerge

on top.

 

11. (C) The Ambassador stressed the importance of not

 

HARARE 00000266 003 OF 003

 

 

permitting anyone with blood on their hands to remain in the

post-Mugabe leadership if there was to be any hope of Western

support. He further noted that the USG was not opposed to

ZANU-PF per se and did not care about making anybody eat

crow; bilateral relations, however, could not improve without

the GOZ first implementing fundamental political and economic

reforms. He observed that regime change would happen on its

own if ZANU-PF continued its current policies and dug itself

into a deeper hole but said the USG did not have an interest

in seeing Zimbabwe collapse.

 

——————————–

ZANU-PF Exploiting MDC Divisions

——————————–

 

12. (C) Zvobgo acknowledged that ZANU-PF had seen to the MDC

pro-senate faction getting all the opposition’s Z$8 billion

(US$80,000 at the official exchange rate) entitlement under

campaign finance laws. The ruling party continued to favor

the pro-senate faction at the exclusion of the anti-senate

faction, which posed a greater threat in view of Tsvangirai’s

broad appeal. ZANU-PF hoped that the party divisions would

provoke by-elections for the opposition seats. In that

event, he said the anti-senate faction would likely retain

its Matabeleland representation but by exploiting MDC

divisions, ZANU-PF could make significant inroads in other

opposition constituencies. If neither faction pushed for

by-elections, the GOZ might find a pretext on its own, he

allowed. Zvobgo welcomed the emergence of Arthur Mutambira,

a distant uncle who he said would stimulate needed debate on

important issues.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

13. (C) One of the Mujuru camp’s more engaging and pragmatic

young turks, Zvobgo is a bridge figure with friends in the

MDC and Mnangagwa camps. His candid insights into the

party’s restiveness buttress our conviction that ZANU-PF

remains a party very uncertain of itself despite outward

party discipline and Mugabe’s unchallenged power. They

further confirm our growing potential leverage here as the

party lurches toward a different world in which it knows it

cannot survive without the West.

 

DELL

SCHULTZ

(13 VIEWS)

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