Ghana HC said Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s preferred successor


Ghana’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, Kwasi Baah-Boakye, told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan that Ghanaians linked to the First Family, through President Robert Mugabe’s first wife, Sally, had told him that Mugabe was beginning to explore the possibility of stepping down.

Baah-Boakye said Mugabe was concerned about finding a successor who could effectively protect him and his financial assets and Emmerson Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s preferred candidate.

Mugabe was also determined to engineer a succession scenario which preserved the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s hold on power.


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Reference ID






2002-07-16 06:13

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001637








E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/12/2012





Classified By: Political Section Chief Matt Harrington.

Reasons: 1.5 (B) and (D).






1. (C) Awareness appears to be growing among senior ruling

party officials that they have dug Zimbabwe into a very deep

hole, and that extricating themselves from it will be next to

impossible so long as Robert Mugabe remains at the helm.

They agree that an exit package for Mugabe would have to

include immunity from prosecution, protection of financial

assets, and perhaps a role or position that confers prestige.

It is not clear that Mugabe is prepared to leave, although

we have heard from one source that he is beginning to

consider retirement options, and not clear that those in the

party increasingly dissatisfied with his leadership have the

capacity or courage to nudge him out. End Summary



Increasing anxiety within ZANU-PF



2. (C) There appears to be a growing realization among some

of those in the ruling party’s senior ranks that Zimbabwe is

in a very deep hole and that Mugabe’s departure from the

scene is a necessary precondition for the policy changes

required for an economic turnaround and a restoration of

political stability. According to Eddison Zvobgo, a founding

member of ZANU-PF and a former member of both the Cabinet and

party Politburo, Vice-President Msika and ZANU-PF Chairman

John Nkomo had recently acknowledged to him that Zimbabwe’s

precipitous economic crisis is inextricably linked with the

country’s political impasse. Msika and Nkomo reportedly

recognized that the only solution is for Mugabe to go.

Noting that Mugabe and other GOZ officials have repeatedly

stated that the fast track resettlement program will have

been concluded by mid-August, Zvobgo held out a remote hope

that Mugabe would use this opportunity to declare victory and

announce his retirement. At the very least, Zvobgo thought

the GOZ could be in for a shock when ZANU-PF MPs representing

rural areas return after the legislative break, having seen

how badly members of their communities have been affected by

the food shortages and general economic decline.


Mugabe goes, but ZANU-PF stays



3. (C) Ghana’s well-connected High Commissioner to Zimbabwe,

Kwasi Baah-Boakye, relayed to the Ambassador that Ghanaians

linked to the First Family (through Mugabe’s first wife,

Sally) had told him Mugabe is beginning to explore the

possibility of stepping down. According to Baah-Boakye,

Mugabe is concerned about finding a successor who can

effectively protect him and his financial assets.

Baah-Boakye’s source said Speaker of Parliament and ZANU-PF

Secretary for Administration Emmerson Mnangagwa would be



Mugabe’s preferred candidate, and that Mugabe is determined

to engineer a succession scenario which preserves the ruling

party’s hold on power.


4. (C) Politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu confirmed some of

this account in a July 12 conversation with political section

chief, whom he told that a way must be found for “easing

Mugabe out.” Ndlovu said the Politburo had not yet taken a

position on Mugabe’s retirement, although he implied many of

his colleagues have been discussing it informally among

themselves. Asked whether Mugabe was aware of such

discussions, Ndlovu said he thought not. He agreed that any

exit package would have to immunize the President from

prosecution for past misdeeds and safeguard his financial

resources. Ndlovu speculated that, perhaps, creation of a

well-endowed educational foundation with Mugabe at its head

might be a sufficiently attractive lure into retirement.

Such a foundation could preserve Mugabe’s prestige by

providing a healthy income and allowing him to travel widely,

while working on an issue he cares about. Ndlovu had not yet

discussed this idea with anyone else, but he thought it

important that he and other ruling party insiders be prepared

to offer Mugabe an appealing alternative to the Presidency,

when the appropriate moment arises.


War Veterans Becoming Expendable?



5. (C) Meanwhile, tensions appear to be rising between the

Government and its shock troops for the last two years —

members of the National Liberation War Veterans Association

(NLWVA). War veteran leaders have criticized the takeover of

a number of commercial farms — occupied by war veterans for

up to two years under the fast track resettlement program —

by senior ZANU-PF politicians, and have expressed displeasure

with increasingly paltry pensions, and health and education

benefits. In addition, some appear concerned at recent moves

to reduce the influence of key war veterans within ruling

party structures. The NLWVA’s national secretary for

security, Mike Moyo, released a ferocious letter on July 12

calling ZANU-PF political commissar Elliot Manyika “a

confirmed coward,” questioning his liberation war

credentials, and accusing him of trying to purge the ruling

party of war veterans.


6. (C) Although growing dissatisfaction among members of

this group appears to constitute a potentially significant

source of pressure on the Mugabe regime, a prominent

liberation war fighter who now leads an organization of war

veterans determined to play a positive role in building

democratic institutions dismissed the NLWVA’s capacity to

create trouble for the Government. Wilfred Mhanda of the

Zimbabwe Liberators Platform told us that the war veterans

who have served on the front lines of the GOZ’s campaign of

intimidation during the past two years have now outlived

their usefulness and are being cut loose. Since their

numbers are relatively few, they can be easily controlled by

GOZ security forces. Mhanda noted the July 9 conviction of

NLWVA secretary for projects Andrew Ndlovu on corruption

charges dating back to 1998, and he predicted that the GOZ

would now allow long-standing criminal cases against other

senior war veterans to proceed.


Impact of Targeted Sanctions



7. (C) At the conclusion of his conversation with political

section chief, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu produced a letter he had

recently received from AF Assistant Secretary Kansteiner

banning his travel to the United States. He expressed

serious concern that he had been included on our targeted

sanctions list, insisting that he had been a voice of

moderation in the party, had been open with us about some key

developments in the party, and had three U.S. citizen

children living in the United States. He said that he would

henceforth be inaccessible to us and would remain so as long

as his name remained on the list.





8. (C) The depth of Zimbabwe’s economic and political crises

is finally beginning to sink in with even some of the harder

line elements of ZANU-PF, as is the realization that major

policy reversals are necessary to put things back on track,

policy reversals that are unlikely so long as President

Mugabe remains at the helm. Among insiders, there is a

growing perception of Mugabe as a serious liability, but it

is not at all clear whether anyone has the capacity or

gumption to push him out. If Mugabe is beginning to explore

retirement options, as Baah-Boakye’s sources suggest, we have

no doubt that he will require an exit package containing the

elements described in paras 3 and 4, and will try to foist on

the party a successor of his choosing. On the latter point,

Mugabe is constrained by the constitution, which requires the

holding of an election within 90 days of an incumbent

president leaving office.






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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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