Mnangagwa not liked in ZANU-PF because of his ruthlessness


Former Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told United States embassy officials that Emmerson Mnangagwa was a party hardliner through and through and was disliked by his colleagues in the politburo because of his ruthlessness.

Ndlovu was speaking about the succession issue which he said was now openly being talked about within the party.

He said the politburo was full of people aspiring to succeed President Robert Mugabe who he said was ready to step down provided he was offered a safe package that protected him from prosecution and allowed him to live in Zimbabwe.

Ndlovu said the politburo would easily endorse Sydney Sekeramayi as the next president.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2002-04-26 08:17

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 001019









E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/25/2012





Classified By: Political Section Chief Matt Harrington. Reasons: 1.5

(B) and (D).





1. (C) In an April 24 conversation with political section

chief, ZANU-PF deputy political commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu

said Politburo members are, for the first time, quietly

discussing ways to ease President Mugabe out, but few are

willing to confront the Zimbabwean President directly.

According to Ndlovu, any solution must contain a “safe

package” for Mugabe which protects him from prosecution and

allows him to remain in Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF heavyweight

Emmerson Mnangagwa is not well-liked by his senior ruling

party colleagues, but Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramayi

enjoys broad Politburo support as a potential Mugabe

successor. End Summary.


2. (C) Political section chief met on April 24 with ZANU-PF

deputy political commissar and Politburo member Sikhanyiso

Ndlovu, at the latter’s request. As in previous

conversations with us, Ndlovu described himself as a voice of

moderation on the Politburo who regularly tries to restrain

the worst excesses of party hardliners. He claimed that, now

that the election is over, he spends much less of his time on

politics, concentrating instead on running his private

educational institutes around the country. He did not

inquire whether he had been placed on the list of those

targetted by U.S. sanctions.


Talk of the post-Mugabe era



3. (C) Ndlovu reported that, for the first time since he

joined the Politburo two years ago, members are talking

openly among themselves about what comes after Mugabe, and

how to ease the Zimbabwean president out. The Politburo is

full of &aspiring8 individuals who want their own chance at

the top job, Ndlovu pointed out. Two options have been

discussed informally among like-minded members. The first is

to somehow invoke the section of the draft constitution

rejected in 2000 creating the position of prime minister.

Creation of such a post, giving it executive powers, and

making the presidency a largely ceremonial position would be

one way to preserve Mugabe’s ego. Ndlovu stressed several

times it was important to provide Mugabe with a &safe

package8 which protects him from prosecution and allows him

to live out his remaining years in Zimbabwe. The second

possibility under informal consideration is to engineer the

appointment of two young, vigorous vice-presidents, who

gradually are able to become the primary decision-makers.


No Support for Election Re-Run



4. (C) Polchief emphasized to Ndlovu that the USG did not

consider Mugabe to have been legitimately elected, and we had

come to the conclusion that the best way to restore

legitimacy is via a transitional mechanism that leads to an

opportunity for Zimbabweans to choose their leader in a

genuinely free and fair process. Not surprisingly, Ndlovu

replied that there is no support whatsoever on the Politburo

for a rerun of the election, and certainly not one which is

internationally supervised. He insisted that Zimbabweans are

sick of the politicking and violence which accompany

elections, and just wanted to move forward.


Hardliners vs. the moderates



5. (C) Ndlovu urged the USG not to paint everyone in ZANU-PF

with one brush. The party includes moderates like himself

who are trying to push for positive change from within. The

problem is that the hardliners have the upper hand, and the

moderates are not willing to stick their necks out. The one

prominent exception is retired general Solomon Mujuru, who

recently asked Mugabe during a Politburo meeting when he

planned to step down. Mugabe respects and fears Mujuru,

Ndlovu said, because the former armed forces chief still

retains the loyalty of many senior military commanders.

Mujuru is also now independently wealthy, which gives him a

freedom for maneuver that those whose livelihoods depend on

ruling party beneficence do not have. Even Mujuru, though,

is careful not to push too hard. Asked why Politburo members

who disagreed with ruling party policies did not resign,

Ndlovu seemed surprised by the question, and said one was

appointed to the Politburo. Anyone who tried to resign, he

said, would face very negative &consequences.8

6. (C) Ndlovu described Speaker of Parliament -) and

ZANU-PF Secretary for Administration — Emmerson Mnangagwa as

a ruling party hardliner &through and through8 who has

little Politburo support, due primarily to his ruthlessness.

Asked whether there was anyone the Politburo would endorse

as the next President, Ndlovu named Minister of Defense

Sydney Sekeramayi.





7. (C) It is noteworthy that Politburo members are beginning

to speak openly about the post-Mugabe era and even discussing

means of nudging out the Zimbabwean president. It is

unclear, however, whether those involved in such discussions

have the capacity or gumption to translate talk into action.

Ndlovu and his like-minded colleagues apparently have focused

exclusively on how to prolong the ruling party’s hold on

power, minus Mugabe; forging a genuine reconciliation with

the political opposition has apparently not figured in their



8. (C) Ndlovu, an Ndebele and a youthful-looking 65, is a

shameless self-promoter whose soliloquies on his

contributions to Zimbabwe,s nation-building and educational

system are painful to endure. (He previously served as

Deputy Minister of Higher Education and founded a number of

adult education institutes around the country.) It is

unclear how much influence Ndlovu wields among his Politburo

colleagues, but his key position as deputy political

commissar and willingness to reach out to us make him worth

staying in touch with. He is fond of the United States, with

which he has longstanding connections -) he earned his

doctorate in education at Syracuse in the 1970,s, and

several of his children live in the U.S. At least one child

is a U.S. citizen who served in the Marine Corps and who,

Ndlovu likes to recollect, got married in the Pentagon mess.



9. (C) Both of Ndlovu’s succession scenarios are

problematic. The move to ceremonial president does not

address the issue of whether the autocratic Mugabe would

continue to dictate policy behind the scenes. Nomination of

two young vice presidents can occur only if Mugabe concurs,

and would face strong resistance from Mnangagwa and other

hard-liners unless they were the anointed successors.

Ndlovu’s scenarios sound to us more like wishful thinking

than the likely way ahead.





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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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