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.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1861, MINISTER OFFERS INSIGHTS ON ZANU-PF POSTURE
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
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/12/2013
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
¶6. In closing, Chindori-Chinongo expressed interest in how
the GOZ and USG might re-engage without offering any
¶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.