President Robert Mugabe was ready to retire more than a decade ago but he was only willing to leave office in a “blaze of glory,” not a “blaze of condemnation”.
This was said by then Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front information chief Nathan Shamuyarira in 2003 just before the mass stay-aways by the Movement for Democratic Change.
Shamuyarira said Mugabe was prepared to leave if the exit were dignified. If not, he would stay put.
The only way forward for Zimbabwe, Shamuyarira stressed, was for the MDC to withdraw its legal challenge of the 2002 presidential election result and acknowledge the legitimacy of the Mugabe’s government.
“Once they take that step, we can work with them”, he told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan.
“The often-made accusation that Mugabe is clinging to power is simply untrue”, Shamuyarira claimed.
He said ZANU-PF had agreed in 1999 to hold a special party congress in 2000 to discuss presidential succession, but other developments intervened.
Mugabe is still in power 14 years later and the MDC continues to challenge his victories arguing that he stole the last election in 2013.
ZANU-PF has already indicated that Mugabe will be their presidential candidate in next year’s elections when he will be 94.
He was 75 when the party started debating succession.
Below are the first 140 of the 626 Wikileaks cables on Mugabe
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