Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front politburo member Nathan Shamuyarira told United States ambassador Christopher Dell that central bank governor Gideon Gono would be “massacred” if he entered into the political ring.
According to one of the cables released by Wikileaks Shamuyarira, who was the party’s secretary for information and publicity, told this to Dell on 27 November 2006. He was briefing the ambassador on his insights into the succession battle within ZANU-PF.
Shamuyarira was once considered one of the leading contenders to replace Mugabe.
Dell was accused of having been posted to Zimbabwe to remove Mugabe and wrote the famous cable- The End is nigh– before he left the country.
Shamuyarira said the leading contenders were former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo and Vice-President Joseph Msika, Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Makoni was a serious candidate, although “a dark horse” due to his absence from the political limelight.
Shamuyarira cautioned that Msika should not be written off and that despite his advanced age he remained vigorous and strong.
Should Msika not run, Shamuyarira said that Mugabe, out of commitment to the Unity Accord may support the minority Nkomo’s bid.
He did not say anything about Mujuru or Mnangagwa.
Shamuyarira dismissed the ambassador’s suggestion that Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono also appeared to be in the running.
Gono was a good performer on economic matters and made “good copy,” he said, but he would “be massacred” if he stepped into the political ring.
Viewing cable 06HARARE1413, ZANU-PF POLITBURO MEMBER OFFERS SUCCESSION INSIGHTS
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ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2016
SUBJECT: ZANU-PF POLITBURO MEMBER OFFERS SUCCESSION INSIGHTS
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d
¶1. (C) ZANU-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity
Nathan Shamuyarira told the Ambassador on November 28 that
the forthcoming ruling party conference was unlikely to
finalize the succession issue. The party would instead
settle the issue in 2007. He opined that the presidential
and parliamentary elections should be unified in 2008 so that
ZANU-PF could capitalize on the opposition’s disarray.
Commenting on potential successors, Shamuyarira added the
names of former-Finance Minister Simba Makoni, Speaker of
Parliament John Nkomo, and Vice President Joseph Msika to the
traditional mix. The Old Guard ZANU-PF insider recited the
party’s now stale attack on sanctions, but said he agreed
with the Ambassador’s contention that both sides must instead
look to the future. End Summary.
Succession To Wait Until After Conference
¶2. (C) Asked by the Ambassador for his expectations for the
ruling party’s December 14-17 conference, Shamuyarira said
expectations were too high and that the succession debate
would likely only be finalized in 2007. Unlike the party
congress held every four years, the annual party conference
had no mandate to decide major policy issues, according to
Shamuyarira. With 7,000 people expected, the conference was
not the proper venue for a serious discussion. Instead, the
conference would review measures to turn around the economy.
¶3. (C) Shamuyarira added that the ZANU-PF Politburo had
agreed to merge the presidential election scheduled for 2008
with the parliamentary election scheduled for 2010, but had
yet to decide on how to merge them or who should stand as the
party’s presidential candidate. These issues would be left
for 2007. Rather than amend the constitution to extend the
president’s term until 2010, Shamuyarira said he favored
accelerating the parliamentary election to 2008. Such as
move would be easier, as the president can dissolve the
legislature at any time. Shamuyarira commented that an early
parliamentary election would also allow the ruling party to
capitalize on divisions within the opposition to win
additional seats in the body.
Field of Successors Widens
¶4. (C) Surveying the list of would-be successors to Mugabe,
Shamuyarira mentioned former Finance Minister and fellow
Politburo member Simba Makoni, Speaker of Parliament John
Nkomo, and Vice President Joseph Msika in addition to the
traditional mix of Joyce Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Makoni was a serious candidate, although “a dark horse” due
to his absence from the political limelight. Shamuyarira
cautioned that Msika should not be written off and that
despite his advanced age (N.B. he turns 84 in early December)
he remains vigorous and strong. Shamuyarira also noted
Nkomo’s statement to journalists last Friday that he was
interested in the presidency. Should Msika not run,
Shamuyarira said that Mugabe, out of commitment to the Unity
Accord that merged the Ndebele and Shona ethnic components of
the ruling party, may support the minority Nkomo’s bid.
HARARE 00001413 002 OF 002
¶5. (C) Shamuyarira dismissed the Ambassador’s suggestion
that Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono also appeared to be in
the running. Gono was a good performer on economic matters
and made “good copy,” according to the former journalist, but
he would “be massacred” if he stepped into the political ring.
Looking Beyond the Sanctions Rhetoric
¶6. (C) The Politburo member recited the seemingly obligatory
condemnation of Western sanctions and supposed propaganda
that precluded investment. In response, the Ambassador noted
that during his more than two years in Zimbabwe not one US
investor had approached him for advice. Instead, foreign
investors were assessing Zimbabwe’s economic and political
fundamentals on their own and staying away due to the GOZ’s
assault on rule of law and economic mismanagement.
¶7. (C) Furthermore, the Ambassador said that the USG was
interested in playing a constructive role in Zimbabwe’s
future, not in arguing about the past. The USG was eager to
join a discussion of what Zimbabwe’s future should look like,
but first needed to see that the GOZ had the political will
to address the governance question. Shamuyarira agreed,
saying that “we should look to the future, not live in the
past.” Further opening the door, he conceded that “we’ve
made our own mistakes”.
¶8. (C) Providing an apt analogy for today’s ZANU-PF, the
78-year old Shamuyarira did not look well ) his skin
appeared chalky and gray, and despite an over-sized hearing
aid the Ambassador periodically had to repeat himself several
times to be heard. Also showing his advanced age,
Shamuyarira opened the meeting by noting that many of his
schoolmates have since retired ) and presumably many more
have died also. Perhaps because of his age, he was
remarkably candid with the Ambassador. Although the media
and business community have for some time been muting the
possibility of Makoni as a reform-minded successor, this is
the first mention we have heard from a Politburo member.
¶9. (C) As for the up-coming ZANU-PF conference, we are not
holding our breath that the succession issue will be
finalized by year end. Instead, this year’s meeting is
shaping up to be little more than a highly-choreographed pep
rally, much like last year’s and the ones before it. As
Shamuyarira suggests, Mugabe is expected to postpone a
decision on succession until next year. While pressure is
mounting for him to make an anointment, the inclusion of new
names into the succession hopper probably serves to mitigate
these stresses as new factions emerge and focus their ire on
party rivals, rather than Mugabe himself. Nkomo’s statement
that he might become a candidate was probably meant to signa
his interest in the vice presidency slot and to remind Mugabe
that the latter cannot assume other party leaders will
automatically fall into line behind the president’s choice
for a successor. Meanwhile, Shamuyarira is being
disingenuous concerning Msika, who is widely believed to be
in poor health and anxious to leave public office.