Former South African President Nelson Mandela is reported to have advised President Robert Mugabe to step down in 2007 to preserve his legacy but Mugabe is reported to have brushed this off, disparaging Mandela as a “Western puppet”.
According to Jonathan Moyo, Mandela’s message to Mugabe is reported to have been sent through then central bank governor Gideon Gono who was asked to convey it before a Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front central committee meeting that was scheduled for 30 March 2007.
Moyo said his source was Gono himself.
Gono said Mandela had told him that he was calling on behalf of the African National Congress and not the South African government.
The ANC did not wish to pressure Mugabe but to advise him that it considered Mugabe a liberation hero not just for Zimbabwe but for Africa.
The ANC had defended Mugabe and wanted to continue to defend him but the situation in Zimbabwe was creating a threat to his legacy. It was, therefore, time for him to go in order to preserve that legacy.
Mandela had told Gono to tell Mugabe that f he missed this opportunity to step down, he would open himself up to “Pinochet dangers”.
If he went right then, he could become an elder statesman and participate in African issues.
Pinochet was a Chilean dictator who was arrested on an international warrant for alleged human rights violations during a visit to London in 1998. He was facing 300 criminal charges when he died in 2006.
Gono was, however, unable to deliver the message before the central committee meeting because it was sent after the meeting had started. He relayed it the following Monday.
According to Moyo, Mugabe had disparaged Mandela as a “western puppet” but was pleased that the ANC held him in high esteem.
He told Gono to tell Mandela and the ANC he would consider their advice and would respond at the right time.
Mugabe is still in power almost 10 years since Mandela’s message.
Below are the Wikileaks cables that mention Moyo’s name:
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