ANC agreed to a plan for Mnangagwa to take over from Mugabe


The African National Congress of South Africa allegedly bought into a plan by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front under which President Robert Mugabe was to serve his term but would appoint Emmerson Mnangagwa as Prime Minister to gradually take over most of the executive functions from him.

The plan was reportedly told to Movement for Democratic Change parliamentarian David Coltart by ANC official Patrick Moseki on 9 December 2002.

Mnangagwa was to offer a token number of cabinet positions to the MDC. He suggested two seats but was urged by some of his ANC interlocutors to increase that number to five.

If the MDC opted not to go along with this plan, it was to be crushed ruthlessly.

ZANU-PF was going to implement the plan regardless of what the international community thought of it or Mnangagwa.

When the plan was relayed to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, he accused Britain and South Africa of trying to maintain ZANU-PF in power.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2002-12-19 14:49

2011-08-30 01:44


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 03 HARARE 002838








E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2012






Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington. Reasons: 1.5 (

B) and (D).





1. (C) According to a senior MDC parliamentarian, the ANC

has agreed to a ZANU-PF plan for Zimbabwean Speaker of

Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa to replace Robert Mugabe, while

offering token reprentation to the opposition. MDC leader

Morgan Tsvangirai was briefed on this initiative, which

likely prompted his December 18 statement condemning South

Africa and Britain. The retired Rhodesian Colonel named in

the statement admitted being sent as an emissary to

Tsvangirai by Mnangagwa and defense forces chief Vitalis



Zvinavashe, a particularly interesting development if Mugabe

was unaware of this overture. Meanwhile, Father Fidelis

Mukonori’s efforts to broker a Mugabe-Tsvangirai dialogue are

at an embryonic stage, but both sides appear willing to

engage in such an effort given the provision of unspecified

guarantees from the other. The MDC no longer believes South

Africa will play a fair broker role on Zimbabwe and has told

Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon in a letter that

Pretoria has “repudiated its membership in the Troika” by its

demonstrated partiality toward the “illegitimate Mugabe

regime.”     End Summary.


ANC-ZANU-PF plan on the way forward



2. (C) Reftel reported issuance of a statement by Movement

for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai accusing

Britain, South Africa, and elements of ZANU-PF of conspiring

to keep the ruling party in power after Robert Mugabe’s

departure from office. We subsequently received a report of

two recent meetings held in South Africa between MDC

parliamentarian (and shadow justice minister) David Coltart

and Patrick Moseki, described to us as a senior ANC official,

which might shed additional light on the motivations for

Tsvangirai’s statement.




3. (C) According to Coltart’s report, Coltart and Moseki

first met in South Africa on December 8. Moseki reportedly

explained that Thabo Mbeki was facing growing criticism from

within the ANC and its coalition partners for not doing

enough to make the South African economy more equitable. He

implied that Mbeki was consumed predominantly with

consolidating his political position, and that his views on

Zimbabwe should be considered in that light. Coltart replied

with a description of the dramatic economic decline and the

famine in Zimbabwe, and made it clear that the resulting

tensions could soon erupt if the underlying political crisis

were not soon resolved. He reiterated the MDC’s proposal on

a way forward — Mugabe’s retirement followed by

establishment of a transitional authority which would restore

some degree of political and economic stability and pave the

way for a new, internationally-supervised presidential

election. Coltart acknowledged that a transitional authority

would have to grant some sort of amnesty to Mugabe and his

senior officials, and that the international community would

have to be prepared to offer safe passage. Moseki replied

that Zimbabwean Speaker of Parliament (and long Mugabe’s heir

apparent) Emmerson Mnangagwa was in South Africa attempting

to sell the ANC a leadership succession plan which excluded

the MDC. Moseki said he would meet Mnangagwa the following

day and report back to Coltart.


4. (C) On December 9, Moseki and Coltart met again. Moseki

said he had been part of an ANC delegation which had met for

most of that day with Mnangagwa. The Zimbabwean Speaker had

laid out ZANU-PF’s plan of action, which Moseki implied the

ANC had bought into :


–Mugabe would serve out his term, which expires in 2008 but

would soon appoint Mnangagwa Prime Minister and gradually

turn over most executive functions to him;


–Mnangagwa would offer a token number of Cabinet positions

to the MDC (he suggested two seats but was urged by some of

his ANC interlocutors to increase that number to five);


–If the MDC opted not to go along with this plan, it would

be crushed ruthlessly;


–ZANU-PF would implement the plan regardless of what the

international community thought of it or Mnangagwa.


5. (C) Comment: We know that Morgan Tsvangirai has been

briefed on the above discussions, which could have prompted

him to issue his December 19 statement accusing South Africa

of collaborating with ZANU-PF to ensure the latter’s

continued hold on power. The warm reception accorded

Mnangagwa at the ANC congress could have been another factor

in Tsvangirai’s decision to issue such a strong condemnation

of the South Africans. The MDC leadership has come to the

conclusion, over the past several months, that the South

African government will not play a fair broker role on

Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai has written to Commonwealth

Secretary-General Don McKinnon stating that the MDC would



find it “extremely difficult” to continue to participate in a

Commonwealth Troika process which involves South Africa. In

the letter, a copy of which has been faxed to AF/S,

Tsvangirai writes: “We are convinced that through its



duplicity, South Africa has repudiated its membership in the

Troika. Pretoria has totally distanced itself from any

attempt to evaluate the Zimbabwe crisis impartially and

objectively. It can only meaningfully participate in the

Troika deliberations not as an honest broker, but as an open

and self-confessed representative of the illegitimate Mugabe




Father Fidelis keeps at it



6. (C) Meanwhile, Father Fidelis Mukonori is continuing his

efforts to arrange a Mugabe-Tsvangirai dialogue. In a

meeting with Tsvangirai advisor Gandi Mudzingwa on December

19, Father Fidelis said Mugabe had told him that the MDC

leader had as much of a right as any Zimbabwean to govern

Zimbabwe. Mugabe, however, expressed concerns about the

MDC’s pending court challenge of the presidential election

results and about some in the MDC who were more interested in

seeking retribution than moving forward. Mudzingwa told us

it was apparent from his conversation with Father Fidelis

that Mugabe wants certain guarantees, most likely immunity

from prosecution for past misdeeds. Asked whether Mugabe

would trust Tsvangirai was capable of delivering such a

guarantee, Mudzingwa told us that was an issue to be worked

out in an inter-party dialogue. In his conversation with

Mudzingwa, Father Fidelis was apparently dismissive of

Emmerson Mnangagwa, calling him a “small boy.” Father

Fidelis was due to follow up with Tsvangirai in a meeting

scheduled for December 19. (Comment: This initiative is

clearly in its embryonic stages and it is unclear whether it

will lead anywhere. Mudzingwa was pleasantly surprised by

Mugabe’s reported comment regarding Tsvangirai, and said

dropping the court case was not out of the question provided

significant concessions were agreed first by the other side.

Father Fidelis told us separately that no meeting would occur

this year and until the election court case was resolved.

End Comment.)


British in cahoots with Mnangagwa?



7. (C) Tsvangirai told the Ambassador on December 17 that he

had learned of efforts by the British Government to convince

the editor of the independent “Daily News” to soften its

regular criticism of Emmerson Mnangagwa. He said he also

knew that retired Colonel Lionel Dyck — who was head of the

Rhodesian military’s parachute regiment and now runs an

international demining company — was working with Mnangagwa

and General Vitalis Zvinavashe, Chairman of the Defense

Forces, to find a solution to Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

(Comment: Tsvangirai clearly assumed these two developments

were related, and appears to have concluded that the British

government believed Mnangagwa’s replacement of Mugabe was the

best way of restoring political stability to Zimbabwe and

that they were working together to effect that outcome. End

Comment.) In response to a journalist’s question, Dyck

acknowledged meeting with Tsvangirai as an emissary of

Mnangagwa and Zvinavashe. “I would like to see peaceful

change in Zimbabwe,” he said, “and, as such, the vehicle of

ZANU-PF should be used as part of a transition to peaceful






8. (C) As we concluded in reftel, Tsvangirai was concerned

about being squeezed into accepting a political settlement in

which he and the MDC were given only token representation in

an Mnangagwa-led government. He apparently concluded that

exposing his suspicions publicly was the best way of warding

off such a possibility. It is not yet clear whether the MDC

leader’s vehement condemnations of particular governments and

individuals burned bridges with some of those — both

internally and externally — most willing to and capable of

helping extricate Zimbabwe from its cycle of crises. In

addition, if Mugabe was not aware of their overture to

Tsvangirai via Colonel Dyck, Messrs. Mnangagwa and Zvinavashe



will have some very deft explaining to do.





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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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