Ghana’s Mills said Tsvangirai could not be trusted


Former Ghanaian President John Atta Mills said Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was not a viable alternative to Robert Mugabe.

Mills, who was a presidential candidate at the time, said though the Southern African Development Community should put pressure on Mugabe to leave office, Zimbabweans had to look for someone else to lead Zimbabwe and not Tsvangirai because Tsvangirai lacked credibility and could not be trusted.

Mills said Mugabe had done a lot for his country early on, but had “now overstayed his time, overplayed his hand and (was) now poised to destroy his legacy as a freedom fighter”.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2008-05-08 16:43

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Accra




DE RUEHAR #0612/01 1291643


R 081643Z MAY 08





C O N F I D E N T I A L ACCRA 000612






E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2018








Classified By: Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater, for reasons 1.5 (b)


1. (C) Summary. This is the second in a series reporting

the Ambassador’s discussions with presidential candidates

and key interlocutors. National Democratic Party flag bearer

John Evans Atta-Mills, looking and sounding strong and

projecting energy and confidence, said he is “no one’s

puppet”; the December elections will be hard fought; his

administration will put people first, be inclusive, assume

power without violence, and improve the quality of life for

Ghanaians. Mills said his government would also establish an

independent non-partisan team to oversee disbursement of oil

revenues and be open and transparent. On the international

front, Ghana will champion peace and support reform. The

African continent needs a new breed of leaders to move both

ECOWAS and the African Union forward. As for Zimbabwe, Mills

believes “Mugabe has overstayed his time, overplayed his

hand, but Tsvangirai is not a viable alternative and lacks

credibility. Americans, he said are his greatest friends.

The NDC presidential aspirant said rumors of his death were

obviously premature and that he “feels great and will lead

Ghana to fight drugs, unemployment and corruption, with a

firm faith that “God’s will will be done.” End summary.



NPP Shortcomings



2. (C) NDC flag bearer John Atta Mills, accompanied by

former Ghanaian Ambassador to the United Nations and

long-time senior advisor Kobi Awoonor, dined with the

Ambassador and the DCM on May 6 for lunch at the Residence.

Arriving a few minutes early, Mills wasted little time laying

out where the current government has fallen short and sharing

his vision for Ghana. Among the shortcomings he noted:


— Political polarizaton has increased under Kufuor;

unemployment is on the rise, and Ghana has allowed iself to

become a center of drug trafficking in Africa, due in part to

complicity by police and other high officials. These are

concerns of Ghanaians and problems that the Government should

do something about. Drug use among youth, for example has

caused a scourge of crime and security issues. (Ambassador

informed Mills that soon our Mission would have its own Drug

Enforcement Administration Office in Ghana as an additional

resource not only for our Mission but for the country to

combat this serious problem of drug trafficking. It is not

only in the interest of Ghana, the Ambassador added, but

Africa as a whole, to not be complacent regarding narcotics

trafficking, as the many positive gains Ghana and other

countries have achieved could be easily destroyed).


— Nepotism is at an all time high, with President Kufuor

having at least 20 close relatives as ministers or working at

the Castle or in other positions of authority. Other

examples cited were ostentatious spending for Ghana @50

celebrations, lavish outlays during the NPP presidential

nomination run up (he claimed USD 15 million), the GOG’s

decision to build a “Palace” costing 50 million USD, a school

feeding program where funds end up in private accounts, and a

poor health delivery system. Turning to the impact of HIPC

funds, Mills said “one can see signboards on latrines and

classrooms” that had been constructed at a cost several times

greater than normal. Mills claimed Parliament did not review

nor decide how HIPC funds were to be used and that there is

no oversight or accountability.


His Vision — A better Life for All Ghanaians



3. (C) When asked what he would do differently if elected,

Mills stated:


— His would be a “humble, open and transparent government

that would not mismanage resources and would not be corrupt.”

Ghana needs a return to social morality in government. He

would require all officials to publicly declare assets (if

the current government did this, it would make for “very

interesting public reading,” he added); will promote

transparency, dialogue, champion peace and support reform.

Mills indicated that the 2008 elections will be open,

transparent, free and fair and that he and the NDC do not

simply want power for the sake of power. “We will not come

to power through bloodshed,” Mills vowed.


— The NDC would not be “vindictive” but would work to heal



the polarized political environment. There would be no

prosecution of current GOG officials, as this would not be in

the best interest of the country. (Mills cited an example in

2001 when his wife was detained by the Bureau of National

Investigation personnel on grounds Mills had received a car;

he later received an apology at this show of power by the

then newly elected NPP government.)


— A linchpin for Mills’ leadership would be to reduce the

extreme poverty and improve the quality of life for the

average Ghanaian. We must encourage business and investment

to create wealth and improve social services for the

underprivileged, he pledged.


— His government would encourage the United States and the

diplomatic community to keep Ghana on the radar and hold the

country accountable for moneys and other development support



— His administration would establish an independent,

multiparty group consisting also of civil society to oversee

the oil revenues. This body would report to the public on a

regular basis how much oil has been generated, how much money

is received and how and where the funds should be spent.

Representatives from all stake holders would be part of this

process. He indicated that he would use best practices from

other countries as a model. The oil revenues should be used

to improve the lives of the Ghanaian people and not end up in

personal bank accounts as has been the case in Nigeria and

other countries.



Running Mate is First Rate



4. (C) Mills selected John Mahama as his running mate

because he was the “best candidate.” The Professor said he

did not feel compelled to name a woman for the sake of naming

a woman, but chose someone who would complement his eforts,

be humble, honest and earnest. Mahama understands team work,

something a running mate must understand, and he is confident

the two will work hand and glove with a shared vision.

(Mahama is from a Muslim family, but was educatead as a

Christian). Mills obtained approval of the Muslim community

before naming Mahama. He noted that the NDC has 70 per cent

of the nationwide Muslim votes and countrywide support —

north-south, and with youth and women.) Mills said he had no

regrets or concerns that he did not choose a popular female

party member, Betty Idrisu, who also happened to be the

choice of former President Jerry John Rawlings and his wife

Nana Konadu Rawlings.



No Faith in Electoral Commission



5. (C) Professor Mills stated that he has no faith in the

Electoral Commisson, citing outstanding issues from the 2004

election which still have not been resolved by the courts.

Mills also recalled the recent acknowledgement by the EC that

registration records in 13 districts in Ashanti showed

inflated numbers of voters by some 600,000 names. Mills

firmly believed that someone in the EC knew what was going on

and encouraged the admission. Mills reiterated that the

Ghanaian electorate are making up their minds; that they have

invested a great deal to strengthen democracy in the country

and he doubts very seriously if there will be unrest similar

to what has happened in Kenya and Nigeria.



Foreign Policy — Friends Everywhere



6. (C) Mills said that “everyone is a friend” and that he

will foster and maintain good relations with other

democracies. “Americans are my greatest friends” he noted

with a broad smile, and he promised to lead Ghana by his

personal example of a clean government that will act in the

best interest of his country always. Turning to other parts

of the continent, Mills waxed lyrical at the behavior of some

African leaders — Obasanjo of Nigeria received strong

criticism for stealing from his country, and Mills was

chagrined by President Kufuor and ECOWAS President Chambas’

support for a third term for Obasanjo. If elected, Mills

would re-name the major Accra thoroughfare President Kufuor

named Olesegun Obasanjo Way. Moving futher south to

Zimbabwe, Mills believes Mugabe had done a lot for the

country early on, but has “now overstayed his time,



overplayed his hand and is now poised to destroy his legacy

as a freedom fighter.” Southern Africa’s neighbors have not

done what they should in putting pressure on Mugabe to demit

office and relieve the suffering and difficulties for

Zimbabweans. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is not,

however a viable alternative; he cannot be trusted, lacks

credibility and someone else must be selected soon to lead

Zimbabwe. The African continent must have a new breed of

leaders, to move both the AU and ECOWAS forward. Mills

recalled how heads of state attend AU summits ill-prepared on

agenda items, late, and in too many instances, only for

protocol or to serve other personal interests.






7. (C) Professor Mills projected energy and confidence

throughout. A clear message permeating the discussion was

that he had distanced himself from Jerry Rawlings and that he

was not afraid to do so. Mills is in the NDC driver’s seat,

and barring unforeseen circumstances, plans to stay there

until the December poll. (Note: There are rumors that

Rawlings cliques may try to force Mills to step down on

health grounds. Mills confided that he is thinner now

because he “gave up beer” owing to sinus problems, and lost

weight in the process. End note.) Mills’ views on the

economy, drugs, unemployment and corruption are in synergy

with his rivals. The true test will come, if he is elected,

in how effectively he will be able to implement his plans.

The NDC launched its campaign May 7 with a huge rally in

Accra, and we witnessed large crowds of enthusiastic

supporters at the National Theatre. Mills will campaign as

“Mr. Clean,” hoping that this image and his previous record

will help propel him into the Presidency. End comment.



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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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