David Butau, a close associate of Vice-President Joice Mujuru, arranged a secret meeting between United States ambassador Charles Ray and Mrs Mujuru at which no security or foreign affairs officials were present.
The meeting was arranged when President Robert Mugabe was in Copenhagen attending the climate change summit.
Mrs Mujuru was acting President.
She agreed to the meeting but wanted to ensure that is was private and undisclosed.
Normally such meetings are arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who attend the meeting and also send a note-taker.
The meeting took place in an unfinished living room of an unoccupied house owned by Mujuru on the outskirts of Harare.
Butau was present.
Viewing cable 09HARARE975, AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH VICE PRESIDENT MUJURU
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0975/01 3501457
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 161457Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5226
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3214
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3325
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1749
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2583
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2952
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 0013
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0015
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000975
AF/S FOR B.WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
NSC FOR M. GAVIN
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR J. HARMON AND L. DOBBINS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/16/2019
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH VICE PRESIDENT MUJURU
REF: A. HARARE 959
¶B. HARARE 946
Classified By: Ambassador Charles A. Ray for reasons 1.4 (b) & (d).
¶1. (C) In an informal and introductory meeting which
circumvented Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) protocol, the
Ambassador and Vice President Joice Mujuru discussed
sanctions, the Global Political Agreement (GPA), and ZANU-PF.
Mujuru hewed to the party line on sanctions, claiming that
sanctions on institutions were hurting ordinary Zimbabweans.
The Ambassador responded that the U.S. was looking for
progress on the GPA as a predicate to lifting these
sanctions. On the GPA, Mujuru maintained that ZANU-PF had
made significant concessions; the most critical outstanding
issue was sanctions. Without separating herself from
President Robert Mugabe, Mujuru said that new and younger
leadership was entering ZANU-PF and the party would gradually
evolve. The meeting was friendly and, at a minimum, opened
up a channel of communication. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) ZANU-PF government officials normally will not meet
with us unless a request has been made to the MFA. The MFA
then schedules the meeting and sends a notetaker. Through a
Mujuru advisor, David Butau, we requested an informal meeting
to better establish a relationship and facilitate an exchange
of views. Three days after the conclusion of the ZANU-PF
Congress, Mujuru agreed to a meeting, but it was only at the
last minute that logistics were arranged. Mujuru, who is
acting president while Mugabe is in Copenhagen for the United
Nations Climate Change Conference, wanted to ensure that the
meeting with the U.S. ambassador was private and undisclosed.
¶3. (C) The meeting took place in an unoccupied house owned
by Mujuru on the outskirts of Harare. The affluent and
powerful are not immune from frequent Harare power cuts, and
the neighborhood was dark. While the house had electricity,
irregular power had shorted most of the lights. We were met
by a Mujuru employee who led us through darkened grounds to
an unfurnished living room (except for chairs and a plasma
television) where Mujuru and Butau were waiting. The Vice
President had managed to shed all of her (presumably
CIO-infiltrated) security. She herself poured tea. The
meeting was friendly and respectful; at the end Mujuru said
she would like to meet again and continue the conversation.
¶4. (C) Not surprisingly, Mujuru began the discussion with
sanctions. She argued that while she and others were
targets, they were not hurt. Rather, ordinary Zimbabweans
were suffering as a result of sanctions on institutions such
as ZB Bank and Agribank, which had historically provided
loans to small businessmen and farmers. Now, because of
sanctions, they were illiquid and could not lend. The
Ambassador acknowledged that sanctions were an emotional and
pervasive issue. There might be a willingness in Washington
to look at non-personal sanctions, but this was not a
one-sided process. With progress on GPA issues, the U.S.
would consider responding. How did she see progress, the
¶5. (C) Mujuru stated that the most critical GPA issue was
Q5. (C) Mujuru stated that the most critical GPA issue was
sanctions. ZANU-PF thought that by signing the GPA and
agreeing to a government with the MDC it had given more than
the MDC. The MDC had made a number of unhelpful
“pronouncements.” At various times, according to Mujuru, it
had urged Zimbabwe’s neighbors to withhold electricity and
fuel. It had asked western countries to maintain personal
sanctions. ZANU-PF officials, according to Mujuru, were
becoming “unsettled” and wanted to see MDC movement on
sanctions. (COMMENT: The Ambassador noted that the MDC
could not remove sanctions — this was up to western
governments — and Mujuru did not dispute this. But she
HARARE 00000975 002 OF 002
wanted the MDC to cease its “pronouncements.” We expect an
announcement on December 21 by the GPA principals on GPA
issues that have been resolved, probably commissions and the
appointment of governors, and it would not be surprising for
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at that time to suggest that
at least some non-personal sanctions be removed. END
¶6. (C) Mujuru continued that there was a distinction between
politics and government. While efforts were ongoing to
resolve political differences, the government was making
progress. A bill to limit the powers of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe’s governor was close to passage, and Zimbabwe had
just signed a bilateral investment treaty with South Africa.
She pleaded for U.S. help to restore Zimbabwe’s economy.
¶7. (C) After commenting that the U.S. was providing
substantial assistance (food and medical) to the people of
Zimbabwe, the Ambassador replied that, sanctions or no
sanctions, Zimbabwe could begin to regrow its economy. This
would require restoring external and internal confidence —
investors needed to know there was security of contracts and
no excessive government interference in the economy. In
other words, businesses would accept economic risk, but it
was necessary to remove political risk.
¶8. (C) Turning to politics, Mujuru said the ZANU-PF old
guard was giving way to “young blood.” She noted that she
(55 years old) and new Party Chair Simon Khaya Moyo (64 years
old) are on the younger side and form one half of the ZANU-PF
presidium (along with Mugabe and new vice president John
Nkomo). The presidium would be together for five years.
Mujuru concluded, “Let’s work together.”
¶9. (C) While Mujuru is inculcated with ZANU-PF ideology,
evidenced by her views on sanctions, she and her husband,
General Solomon Mujuru, are business people who understand
that a friendlier and more stable business environment
requires political change. She also would like better
relations with the U.S. which she views as essential for
Zimbabwe’s economic growth. This no doubt motivated her
desire for a non-official meeting with the Ambassador
immediately after the ZANU-PF Congress. The fact that she
was impelled to have a clandestine meeting is reflective of
the power of Mugabe and hard-liners and the fear they
engender. It also shows the weakness of the party, in that
it will not tolerate its second highest ranking official
having a private meeting with the U.S. ambassador.
(Tsvangirai had no qualms about informally and openly meeting
the Ambassador. Ref A.)
¶10. (C) Because of her gender, Mujuru is an unlikely
successor to Mugabe (Ref B). But she occupies a prominent
position in ZANU-PF and will likely be part of the power
structure after Mugabe. We know from other sources that she
and her husband would like to see Mugabe move on. She was
cautious in her first meeting with the Ambassador, but we
will pursue the relationship both to gain insights into
ZANU-PF and to encourage reform efforts.