Business and Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front senator Aguy Georgias told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell that though President Robert Mugabe was increasingly isolated from events he still had authority and held the key to changing the country’s disastrous course.
Georgias said Mugabe knew he couldn’t trust his politburo and cabinet, most of whom either were so absorbed in economic self-aggrandizement or too politically insecure to actively support meaningful outreach to the West.
The West could help by appealing to Mugabe’s “legacy” concerns -vanity and security. The starting point for moving Mugabe lay in “language of respect”, regardless of how tough the West was in pressing its conditions for re-engagement.
Viewing cable 06HARARE125, ZANU-PF SENATOR/FINANCIER PURSUES ENHANCED
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 000125
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
AFR/SA FOR E. LOKEN
COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2011
SUBJECT: ZANU-PF SENATOR/FINANCIER PURSUES ENHANCED
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d
¶1. (C) Aguy Georgias, a recently appointed ZANU-PF aligned
Senator and CEO of Trinity Engineering, on January 31 sought
Embassy participation in an informal dialogue he hoped to set
up with a to-be-named interlocutor selected by President
Mugabe. He asserted that in Zimbabwe’s dysfunctional
political environment, only Mugabe was capable of shifting
the country’s disastrous course and reorienting Zimbabwe
toward the West, which offered its only real prospect for
salvation. He recognized that real bilateral re-engagement
was predicated on meaningful political and economic reform
but urged that the USG be open to building a rapport that
could presage progress. End summary.
Call for Dialogue
¶2. (C) Elaborating on points conveyed generally to the
Ambassador at a social event January 19 (including in a
shared paper that Embassy e-mailed to AF/S), Georgias
emphasized his personal priority on improving bilateral
relations. He asserted that each government had backed
itself into a corner rhetorically and ordinary Zimbabweans
were paying the price. Decline had gone too far for Zimbabwe
to pull itself out of the spiral by itself; foreign
assistance and economic engagement with the West were
Zimbabwe’s only hope.
¶3. (C) Accordingly, the ruling party financier said he would
try to use his personal relationship with Mugabe to impress
on him the country’s need of the West, and the prospects for
rapprochement. In this regard, he hoped to have Mugabe
identify a trusted subordinate who could meet with the
Embassy to explore options for refurbishing the relationship.
He solicited Embassy views on how to establish an informal
dialogue and make it fruitful.
Party Dysfunctional; “Mugabe the Key”
¶4. (C) Georgias stressed that President Mugabe himself held
the key to changing the country’s disastrous course. He said
that Mugabe was increasingly isolated from events but still
had authority. He got little good advice and the party saw
little meaningful debate. A growing generational divide
further hampered communication. Mugabe knew he couldn’t
trust his politburo and cabinet, most of whom either were so
absorbed in economic self-aggrandizement or too politically
insecure to actively support meaningful outreach to the West.
¶5. (C) Georgias admitted that internal fear and loathing
would complicate any outreach to the West. He warned that
the ruling party’s senior leaders had become so divorced from
the national interest that the party would not necessarily
reorient itself to the West once Mugabe moved on, as many
expected. Convincing the octogenarian autocrat, he
concluded, offered the best and perhaps last chance of
changing the country’s course.
¶6. (C) The West could help in this regard, Georgias
maintained, by appealing to Mugabe’s “legacy” concerns (i.e.
vanity and security). He asserted that the starting point
for moving Mugabe lay in “language of respect”, regardless of
how tough the West was in pressing its conditions for
re-engagement. Georgias recognized the USG’s position that
any rapprochement would have to predicated on meaningful
political and economic reform, but suggested Mugabe’s ego
meant that conditionality themes should be subordinated to
“confidence-building” at the outset of any informal exchanges
that may ensue.
Ambassador’s Door Open But(
¶7. (C) In response, poloff reiterated points earlier
conveyed by the Ambassador during the January 19 exchange.
The U.S. door was open to ruling party and Government
officials, but we saw little in the regime’s behavior or
posture that would justify improved relations. Better
relations required meaningful political and economic reform
as well as accountability. In addition, notwithstanding
Georgias’s view of prospects for Mugabe driving change,
Mugabe appeared increasingly irrelevant. The whole party and
country already had one foot into the post-Mugabe era. In
closing, Georgias reiterated he would press his case with
Mugabe for informal dialogue with the U.S. and the West.
¶7. (C) Georgias’ Senate appointment probably was in
recognition of his historical financial support for the
party. He emphasized that he was not a politician and,
indeed, we have seen no evidence that he is involved in
factional politics. During our exchanges with him, he
generally has eschewed personal criticisms, although he was
excoriating in references to Security/Lands Minister Didymus
Mutasa. He claimed to have “beaten” Reserve Bank Governor
Gideon Gono on fair and amicable terms in substantial
litigation a couple of years ago and remained on good terms
with him. He further claimed to have earned Mugabe’s trust
for being honest in all his government contracting over the
years, even as others were rigging contracts and brazenly
skimming public funds.
¶8. (C) Georgias claimed to have been suffering from
Zimbabwe’s economic downturn like everybody else – his
company’s employment was down from 300 to 130. He said that
one key to his business success was the “American work ethic”
he had learned while working at U.S. firm Chicago Bridge and
Iron Company early in his career. He said he was appalled at
fast track land reform, and had intervened on behalf of
several commercial farmers.
¶9. (C) Georgias represents what appears to be a dwindling
ZANU-PF-aligned business constituency that is disgusted with
the ruling elite’s &every-man-for-himself8 corruption. His
assertion that Mugabe himself is best situated to re-orient
the country westward is a throwback to better days that fails
to understand the extent to which Mugabe has burned those
bridges. The reality on the ground is that most Zimbabweans,
whether ruling party supporters or not, are anxious to see
the last of him. We don’t see Georgias getting much purchase
with Mugabe or others his call for a dialogue. That said, he
may prove to be a useful conduit to Mugabe,s potential
successors in the mold of senior Jesuit Fidelis Mukonori and
politburo member Simba Makoni, and we continue to emphasize
our willingness to talk to anyone as long as it’s clear that
reform is a predicate to any meaningful re-engagement.