Embassy says Mugabe covered up for Mnangagwa!


President Robert Mugabe is reported to have allowed investigations into Emmerson Mnangagwa’s alleged corruption to go ahead but ultimately intervened to save him from substantial damning evidence, according to a cable released by Wikileaks.

The United States embassy said as a result Mnangagwa continued to be a central figure in the publicly quiet but fractious jockeying for position in the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s putative succession race.

The only handicap was Mnangagwa’s reputed unpopularity among party rank and file and his pivotal role in the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s.

But he still retained considerable control over the party’s purse strings and reportedly commanded the loyalty of many in the party’s provincial hierarchies and the security apparatus.

The embassy said, however, Mnangagwa’s strength and that of all those who in the succession battle depended on Mugabe.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2004-10-29 09:16

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.


290916Z Oct 04

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001790







E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/27/2009





REF: (A) HARARE 1335 (B) HARARE 1157


Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.5 b/d


1. (C) SUMMARY: During a courtesy call by the Ambassador on

October 26, Speaker of the Parliament and ZANU-PF Secretary

for Administration Emmerson Mnangagwa outlined modest

electoral reforms under consideration by the Parliament. He

confirmed that the GOZ intended to implement reforms in time

for the upcoming Parliamentary elections, which he confirmed

would take place in March. He recited a familiar litany of

ruling party achievements and objectives that he expected to

shape the December ZANU-PF Party Congress. His reiteration

of proposed electoral reform did not include anything that

would address the fundamental flaws in the electoral process.

His prescriptions for economic recovery hearkened back to

failed command and control policies. All in all, the ever

cordial Speaker broke little new ground and appeared to

foreshadow no substantial change in GOZ policy in the run-up

to next year’s elections. END SUMMARY.


Implementing SADC Principles: Legislate Now, Change

Constitution Later

——————————————— ————–


2. (C) In a parliamentary meeting room accompanied by Clerk

of the Parliament Austin Zvoma and two notetakers, Mnangagwa

reported that the current parliamentary session would wrap up

no later than three months before the conduct of

parliamentary elections. Elections would be conducted in

March, as President Mugabe had announced, although a date had

not been set. As speaker, Mnangagwa was coordinating the

passage of a host of key GOZ priority bills, including an

electoral reform bill that Mnangagwa characterized as

implementing Zimbabwe’s commitment to SADC electoral



3. (C) Elaborating on the election, the Speaker noted that

the Lancaster House Constitution gave the Government

authority to run elections. Nonetheless, “SADC trends” were

to move away from government-administered elections and the

GOZ had agreed to follow that trend by appointing an

“independent” electoral commission. The current composition

of Parliament would prevent the ruling party from effecting

necessary constitutional changes, but the electoral reform

bill and other government policies would satisfy electoral

principles agreed to at SADC’s Mauritius summit. If the

ruling party won at least a 2/3 majority in next year’s

elections, it would enact constitutional amendments to

solidify and fine tune the electoral changes. Among the

constitutional changes under discussion was the creation of

an upper legislative house.


4. (C) Mnangagwa asserted that, in addition to legislative

electoral reform, the GOZ was implementing additional

relevant measures through administrative regulations. Other

measures, such as a code of conduct worked out by the parties

and a constructive role for churches, could further improve

the electoral climate.   Mnangagwa concluded that Zimbabwe

was ahead of most SADC members in implementing the electoral

principles and hoped that “the U.S. will see that we mean

well for our people.”


Party Congress to Showcase Achievements and Failures

——————————————— ——-


5. (C) Mnangagwa confirmed that the ZANU-PF Party Congress

would be held in Harare December 1-5. The Congress was

conducted every five years to critique the ruling party’s

performance over the past five years and to chart its course

for the next five. Previewing this year’s exercise,

Mnangagwa indicated that the party would feature land reform

and the broadening of the commercial farm base as its

principal achievement of the past five years. At the same

time, the party would debate its shortcomings and focus on

how to make the new economy more productive.


6. (C) Mnangagwa asserted that the GOZ’s policies to combat

HIV/AIDS, while not fully successful, were an important

achievement. Zimbabwe was the first country in Africa to

implement an “AIDS levy”, which even in this time of economic

difficulty was funding critical programs to benefit infected

and affected populations. Anti-retro virals were now being

produced and disseminated in the country and wider

distribution of nevarapine was a high priority in stemming

mother to child transmission. The Ambassador interjected

with a description of the levels and nature of extensive CDC

and USAID HIV/AIDS-related assistance in Zimbabwe.


7. (C) The Speaker identified high unemployment as among the

ruling party’s perceived areas of failure. However, formal

sector statistics belied the significant growth of employment

in the informal sector, where he asserted many were doing

quite well. One of the GOZ’s challenges was to reduce

nervousness about the informal sector and to position it to

contribute more meangingfully to the fiscus. Stimulating

small operators would be a priority in rehabilitating the

economy. In the mining sector, for example, large tracts

were reserved for multinational firms, such as

Anglo-American, even thought they had been unutilized for

years. The GOZ intended to open up previously reserved

dormant land for exploitation by small operators.


8. (C) The Speaker indicated that agriculture would remain

the nation’s principal engine of growth once confidence in

the sector was restored. Most of the sector would rest on

99-year leases, although private ownership would remain to

some extent. For government-owned leaseholds, the GOZ would

dictate crop choices and set production targets for each

province, but would leave portions of each property for

personal use.


9. (C) Foreign relations was another subject that would

require discussion at the Party Congress. The Party would

have to account for the deterioration of relations with the

United States, the UK, the EU, the World Bank and the IMF,

which he attributed to Western opposition to land reform and

how it was implemented. Notwithstanding existing tensions,

though, the Speaker said the Party wanted to improve the lot

of ordinary Zimbabweans and would “be delighted if old

partners were with us, not against us.”


10. (C) The Ambassador welcomed the Party’s apparent shift

of focus from the history of land reform to the challenge of

how to make the economy more productive. He questioned the

utility of government production targets and urged Zimbabwe

to exploit market mechanisms to unlock the land’s true

potential. The Speaker accepted the Ambassador’s offer to

share with him a book by developmental economist Hernando de

Soto on such issues. Finally, Mnangagwa expressed

appreciation for the USAID-funded State University of New

York program, which he said was making important

contributions to the growing effectiveness of the

Parliament’s committee system.





11. (C) The Speaker’s tone and substance conveyed an

interest in better bilateral relations consistent with other

recent encounters with senior GOZ officials. Nonetheless,

there was nothing here to suggest the GOZ intends to engage

in more than superficial gestures and public relations geared

principally with SADC audiences to rehabilitate its stature.

Mnangagwa’s preview of the ruling party’s economic policy

prescriptions, with its heavy state role and atomization of

the private sector, was especially disappointing. Conjuring

up images of decades-old failed communist experiments

elsewhere, it testified to the continued priority of

political control over economic recovery within the

leadership and the dearth of meaningful strategies to

rehabilitate the once productive economy.


12. (C) We see no indication that Mnangagwa is any more

willing than other senior ZANU-PF officials to countenance

measures that could undermine the party’s political

dominance. However, the pragmatic political operator may be

prepared to show a more moderate face, perhaps learning

lessons from his 2000 loss to an MDC candidate for Parliament

and his loss of the party chairmanship race the same year to

John Nkomo. An NGO contact from Kwekwe reported that

Mnangagwa recently instructed local party structures that he

wanted to run a tolerant, non-violent MP election campaign

that would not alienate those inside or outside the party.

In the same vein, he has urged themes of tolerance and

non-violence in national media broadcasts. Other NGO

contacts have characterized him as “constructive” on numerous

issues in the Parliament as long as ruling party control was

not at stake. Local lawyers credit him as being the most

effective Minister of Justice the nation has seen, although

standards for that position have not been particularly high.



13. (C) Mnangagwa continues to be a central figure in the

publicly quiet but fractious jockeying for position in the

ruling party’s putative succession race. Handicapping his

chances are his reputed unpopularity among party rank and

file and his pivotal role in the Matabeleland massacres of

the 1980s. Nonetheless, he retains considerable control over

the party’s pursestrings and reportedly commands the loyalty

of many in the party’s provincial hierarchies (who will be

crucial in selection of a Vice-President to succeed the late

Simon Muzenda) and the security apparatus. In any event, as

with all pretenders to power here, his relative strength will

hinge for now on the will of the President. The President

reportedly allowed investigations of alleged Mnangagwa

corruption to proceed earlier this year but ultimately

intervened to save him from substantial damning evidence. If

true, such reports imply that the President may intend to

keep all pretenders off balance but in play, defending

themselves and undercutting each other while he remains above

the fray. As always, Mugabe has positioned himself to play

the ball either way: should he ultimately pick Mnangagwa as

his successor he can fireproof the Speaker against corruption

charges by claiming that the allegations have already been

investigated and dismissed as groundless.





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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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