Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi was considered presidential material way back in 1998 by the United States embassy in Harare, according to a cable dispatched by its ambassador to Zimbabwe James Rawlings.
Rawlings who was analysing President Robert Mugabe’s new cabinet in March 1988, soon after the signing of the unity accord between the Zimbabwe African national Union-Patriotic Front and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union, said Sekeramayi was “an impressive individual in conversation and appears both brighter and more articulate than most of his colleagues”.
“He must be considered as a possible future president,” he said.
The analysis categorized Mugabe’s cabinet according to ethnicity pitting the Zezuru against the Karanga.
Below is what the cable said about Sekeramayi:
¶25. (U) MINISTER OF STATE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: SYDNEY SEKERAMAYI
— HAS TAKEN OVER MNANGAGWA’S FORMER POSITION AND OPERATES OUT OF THE PRESIDENT’S OFFICE. SEKERAMAYI IS A PHYSICIAN BY TRAINING (HAVING BEEN ONE OF THE FIRST STUDENTS TO BE SPONSORED BY ZANU FOR OVERSEAS STUDIES IN THE 1960’S; HE STUDIED IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND SWEDEN WHERE HE OBTAINED HIS M.D.). HE BRIEFLY WORKED IN SWEDEN BEFORE MOVING TO SET UP HIS MEDICAL PRACTICE IN ZAMBIA, WHERE HE REMAINED UNTIL 1976 WHEN HE WENT TO UK FOR SPECIALIZED SURGICAL TRAINING. HE WAS RECALLED BY ZANU TO SERVE WITH ZANLA IN MOZAMBIQUE. HE JOINED THE ZANU CENTRAL COMMITTEE IN 1977. HE IS NOW A MEMBER OF THE POLITBURO AND SERVES AS THE PARTY’S SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT. IN 1980 SEKERAMAYI BECAME THE MINISTER OF LANDS, RESETTLEMENT, AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT. HE BECAME THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR DEFENSE IN FEBRUARY 1982 AND WAS THE ACTING MINISTER OF HEALTH. HE WAS FORMALLY APPOINTED AS MINISTER OF HEALTH IN JANUARY 1984 AND HELD THAT PORTFOLIO UNTIL THE FORMATION OF THIS NEW CABINET.
SEKERAMAYI WAS BORN IN 1944 AND IS MARRIED.
¶26. (C) SEKERAMAYI IS A ZEZURU, WHICH SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN THE MAIN REASON IN COMBINATION WITH HIS PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE AS THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR DEFENSE, FOR REPLACING MNANGAGWA AS THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY. WE HAVE HEARD THAT SEKERAMAYI WAS, ALONG WITH NEW FOMIN SHAMUYARIRA, ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE ZEZURU CLIQUE WHICH BLOCKED MNANGAGWA’S APPOINTMENT AS MINISTER OF DEFENSE. SEKERAMAYI CAN BE EXPECTED THEREFORE TO SUPPORT THE ZEZURU NOMINATION OF THE GOZ TO THE EXCLUSION OF THE KARANGA. HE IS AN IMPRESSIVE INDIVIDUAL IN CONVERSATION AND APPEARS BOTH BRIGHTER AND MORE ARTICULATE THAN MOST OF HIS COLLEAGUES. HE MUST BE CONSIDERED AS A POSSIBLE FUTURE PRESIDENT.
Click here for the full cable and what it says about other ministers.