Chindori-Chininga’s take on the succession issue


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Edward Chindori-Chininga, who was Minister of Mines at the time, told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan that the race for succession was wide open because none of the potential candidates had engaged closely with party bases in the provinces beyond the most senior level.

He said Emmerson Mnangagwa remained a serious contender. While unpopular in many circles, he was strong in the Midlands and Masvingo and might be able to secure the backing of party stalwarts in Manicaland.

John Nkomo was highly regarded but was underexposed on a national basis among the party faithful. His ZAPU heritage and Ndebele ethnicity could prove additional handicaps.

Sydney Sekeramayi was also a viable candidate. His public image of being indecisive was contradicted by his performance in cabinet which had impressed party leaders.

Simba Makoni was very capable but probably not the logical choice. He had yet to cultivate a strong base even in Manicaland, his home territory, or to engage significantly with the party’s grassroots.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1861, MINISTER OFFERS INSIGHTS ON ZANU-PF POSTURE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1861

2003-09-15 13:01

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.

 

151301Z Sep 03

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001861

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/12/2013

TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI PREL ZI ZANU PF

SUBJECT: MINISTER OFFERS INSIGHTS ON ZANU-PF POSTURE

 

REF: (A) HARARE 1794 (B) HARARE 1782 (C) HARARE 1599

 

Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton, under Section 1.5(b), (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Minister of Mines Edward Chindori-Chininga

on September 11 spoke with Ambassador Sullivan on ZANU-PF

succession issues and internal party elections.

Chindori-Chininga did not break any new ground but confirmed

party elections’ potential implications for succession and

the government’s tentative interest in re-engagement with the

USG. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) During a meeting in Ambassador Sullivan’s office on

September 11, Chindori-Chininga elaborated on developments

within ZANU-PF. With regard to potential talks with the MDC,

Chairman John Nkomo and Spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira were in

charge. Chindori-Chininga asserted that the exclusion of

hardliners, such as Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and

Information Minister Jonathon Moyo, augured well for the

talks’ prospects. Indeed, Chinamasa had been chastened over

impolitic remarks about the people of Manicaland bringing on

their own misfortune by successively supporting opposition

candidates, was embarrassed, and had stopped attending

Parliament. Referring to the bishops’ initiative (ref A),

Chindori-Chininga predicted that the church would have some

role in facilitating interparty talks, but that the talks

would likely be direct. Talks could start quickly, and

parliamentary elections were possible before 2005, when they

were next scheduled. A presidential election was nearly

certain to occur before the next scheduled one in 2008.

 

3. (C) Chindori-Chininga advised that Mugabe’s intentions

about retirement and succession remained uncertain. Even if

he were prepared to step down, Mugabe would play things close

to the vest and not allow himself to become a lame duck. In

any event, ZANU-PF internal elections were proceeding with

Mugabe’s blessing and held potentially significant

implications for succession. Confirming Nkomo’s

characterization to the Ambassador earlier in the week (ref

B), Chindori-Chininga described a sequence of ZANU-PF

elections commencing with local polls and climaxing with

provincial choices by November — in time for the Party

Congress in December. Provincial leaders could be asked for

preferences that would influence or dictate the selection of

a new party head. Chindori-Chininga conceded that the party

had little experience in such a senior selection process,

other than the selection of Chairman John Nkomo in 2000.

That case, which saw the unexpected emergence of Nkomo over

the favorite, Emmerson Mnangagwa, suggested this instance

could yield a surprise as well.

 

4. (C) Speculating on succession candidates,

Chindori-Chininga asserted that Mnangagwa remained a serious

contender. While unpopular in many circles, he was strong in

Midlands and Masvingo, and might be able to secure the

backing of party stalwarts in Manicaland. He had helped

himself as Speaker of the Parliament by dealing with the

opposition in a tough but civil manner. For his part, Nkomo

was highly regarded enough, but was underexposed on a

national basis among the party faithful. His ZAPU heritage

and Ndebele ethnicity might prove additional handicaps.

Defense Minister Sekeramayi also was a viable candidate. His

public image of being indecisive was contradicted by his

performance within the Cabinet, which had impressed party

leaders. Former Finance Minister Simba Makoni was very

capable, but probably not a logical choice. He had yet to

cultivate a strong base even in Manicaland, his home

territory, or to engage significantly with the party’s

grassroots. Indeed, emphasizing the difficulty of

handicapping the race, Chindori-Chinongo observed that none

of the candidates had engaged closely with party bases in the

provinces beyond the most senior level.

 

5. (C) Chindori-Chininga confirmed that the political crisis

was getting in the way of rational economic policy-making.

For instance, arguments for currency devaluation or for

printing higher denomination notes were frustrated by

arguments over the political cost ZANU-PF would absorb by

taking these measures on its own. In the meantime, failure

to devalue was killing the banks and key export-oriented

sectors, such as minerals. He was hopeful that the Utete

Report on land reform, which he confirmed was presented to

the Cabinet by Mugabe that day and was scheduled to be

published on September 16, would address corruption and

clarify nettlesome issues such as multiple ownership. The

last issue was close to home, as a court recently found

against him in a highly publicized ownership dispute with

prominent War Veterans’ leader Michael Moyo — a case he

attibuted to unspecified “mischief” by Agriculture Minister

Joseph Made.

 

6. In closing, Chindori-Chinongo expressed interest in how

the GOZ and USG might re-engage without offering any

suggestions himself.

 

7. COMMENT: Neither a politburo member nor a dominant force

in the Cabinet, the Minister of Mines nonetheless presents a

window into ruling party preoccupations and priorities. His

professed interest in re-engagement with the USG is

consistent with tentative sentiments expressed by others in

the government and may be part of an overarching

“water-testing” exercise signalled to the bishops last month

by Mugabe himself (refs A and C). Chindori-Chininga’s

dismissal of Chinamasa’s role in potential talks with the MDC

is at odds with the Justice Minister’s reported central

involvement in discreet interparty talks about a new

constitution; indeed, the constitutional discussions may

explain in part his relatively low profile since he blasted

the bishops’ initiative last month.

SULLIVAN

(15 VIEWS)

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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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