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Zvobgo was working to force Mugabe out

Masvingo Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front supremo Eddison Zvobgo told United States embassy officials that he and a group of dissatisfied party cadres were working to force President Robert Mugabe out.

He, however, added that they had not yet devised a plan to accomplish this. The plan was also being stalled by the uncertainty about the political dispensation that would obtain after Mugabe’s departure.

But Zvobgo said he was planning to travel to Atlanta, Chicago and New York to raise funds for the dissident group to give them some flexibility and financial heft.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE64, RUMBLINGS OF DISCONTENT WITHIN ZANU-PF

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE64

2003-01-10 09:56

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000064

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/08/2013

TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: RUMBLINGS OF DISCONTENT WITHIN ZANU-PF

 

REF: 02 HARARE 2829

 

Classified By: POLITICAL OFFICER KIMBERLY JEMISON FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) A

ND (D).

 

SUMMARY

———

 

1. (C) Concern and frustration with Zimbabwe’s worsening

economic and other crises are mounting among senior ZANU-PF

officials, many of whom blame Robert Mugabe. No one appears

willing or able to nudge the Zimbabwean President into

retirement, however. Internal discussions of succession

scenarios focus predominantly on how to preserve the ruling

party’s hold on power in a post-Mugabe era, and none that we

know of envision a voluntary retirement by Mugabe prior to

2005, or reconciliation and cooperation with the opposition

MDC. END SUMMARY.

 

————————-

DISSENSION WITHIN ZANU-PF

————————-

 

2. (C) In a January 8 conversation with ruling party

politburo member Solomon Mujuru, the Ambassador asked about

recent public allegations by opposition leader Morgan

Tsvangirai that armed forces chief Vitalis Zvinavashe was

 

SIPDIS

working with the British and South African governments on a

plan to replace Mugabe with Speaker of Parliament Emmerson

Mnangagwa. Mujuru said he doubted that Zvinavashe would have

done anything more than informally sound out ideas with

Tsvangirai through Colonel Dyck, and that Mugabe certainly

 

SIPDIS

would not have made proposals for succession without first

vetting it through the appropriate ZANU-PF channels. Mujuru,

who is close to the armed forces and opposed to Mnangagwa’s

ambitions, declined to comment on Mnangagwa’s future role.

 

3. (C) Asked to predict how the political situation would

unfold, Mujuru surmised that parliamentary elections in 2005

would likely go ahead as scheduled. He was confident that

ZANU-PF would regain a two-thirds majority, then move to

change the constitution to allow the President to appoint a

successor who would serve out the remainder of his mandate

(the constitution currently provides that an election must be

held within 90 days of the presidency being vacated.).

Shortly thereafter, Mujuru thought Mugabe would appoint a new

vice-president or two, then step down. If the constitution

were not amended, Mujuru believed Mugabe would step down

anyway and would allow the required election to proceed

within 90 days. Even if Morgan Tsvangirai and the opposition

MDC won, Mujuru pointed out, they would likely have to work

with a ZANU-PF majority in Parliament. Mujuru acknowledged

that further economic deterioration would be inevitable in

the two years until then and that risks of a political

explosion were growing, but he appeared stymied by Mugabe’s

own objections to addressing the political crisis at this

time.

 

4. (C) In a separate meeting, senior ZANU-PF parliamentarian

and elder party statesman Eddison Zvobgo confirmed to us the

existence of a group of dissatisfied party cadres, comprising

both young and more longstanding members, including himself,

that is trying to distance itself from Mugabe. Zvobgo implied

that their goal is forcing Mugabe out, but they have not

devised any plan to accomplish this and their uncertainty

about the sort of political dispensation that would obtain

after Mugabe’s departure is giving many of them pause. In

any case, Zvobgo plans a trip soon to Atlanta, Chicago, and

New York to raise funds for this dissident group, presumably

to give them some flexibility and financial heft.

 

5. (C) ZANU-PF deputy political commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu

confirmed to polchief on January 2 that resentment with

Mugabe’s leadership is growing among politburo members,

including himself. He said he was increasingly concerned

about Zimbabwe’s economic implosion and its impact on the

educational institutes he owns around the country, and he did

not want his reputation tarred by some of the GOZ’s decisions

and policies. At the same time, Ndlovu said a new election

was out of the question, and he dismissed the MDC as a

British puppet organization. Many of his politburo

colleagues, he continued, simply want Mugabe out of office,

but they have not contemplated who or what might follow him.

Ndlovu claimed that strong U.S. criticism of Mugabe makes the

Zimbabwean leader more determined to hold on to power, as

Mugabe is afraid that we would press for his prosecution if

he leaves office. Ndlovu asked whether the USG would be

willing to fund creation of something like a prestigious

educational foundation and support Mugabe to head it, if such

an arrangement might convince the Old Man to step down.

Polchief was noncommittal.

 

——————–

Reconciliation Talks

——————–

6. (C) With the Ambassador, Mujuru repeated the common ruling

party refrain that Zimbabwe’s disagreements with the United

Kingdom were at the root of this country’s problems, and that

normalization of that relationship would make the internal

political crisis easier to resolve. The Ambassador replied

that he could not speak for the British, but emphasized that

it would not be possible to come to an understanding with the

United States unless Zimbabwe’s political crisis and the

other crises which flowed from it were addressed in a way

acceptable to most Zimbabweans.

7. (C) Asked whether resumption of the dialogue between

ZANU-PF and the MDC was possible, Mujuru noted the high level

of distrust between the parties and parroted the party line

that dialogue would be difficult so long as the MDC continues

to pursue its court challenge of the presidential election

results. In addition, convincing Mugabe to resign, the MDC’s

publicly stated precondition for any political solution,

would be “the hardest part.”

 

—————–

Food distribution

—————–

 

8. (C) The Ambassador commented to Mujuru that ZANU-PF has

believed that controlling distribution of scarce food

supplies is a huge political advantage, but he noted

increased infighting within the party over access to — and

authority to distribute — those supplies. A strong GOZ move

to facilitate food distributions on an impartial basis would

make a favorable impression with the international community

and could help restore trust within Zimbabwe. Some steps,

the Ambassador suggested, might include allowing private

sector food imports, inviting the United Nations to monitor

Grain Marketing Board distributions, and involving the MDC in

monitoring food distributions. Mujuru was noncommittal.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

9. (C) An increasing number of ruling party insiders are

beginning to acknowledge the depths of Zimbabwe’s political

and economic crises and are increasingly convinced that

Mugabe’s departure is the solution. Recognizing the

existence of a problem is, of course, the first step to

resolving it. It is clear, however, that the growing

frustration among those party cadres appears motivated not by

a genuine concern for the welfare of their once prosperous

country but, rather, by the deleterious impact on their

continued access to the gravy train. Our sense is that those

around Mugabe are scrambling to figure out a way to get rid

of the Old Man without jeopardizing ZANU-PF’s maintenance of

power. None of the discussions of which we are aware have

focused on the need for political reconciliation and

cooperation with the MDC.

 

SULLIVAN

(14 VIEWS)

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