Former Manicaland governor Oppah Muchinguri was reported to be part of a group that went to politburo member Didymus Mutasa to urge that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa be “rubbed out”.
This was said by Chinamasa’s wife, Monica, who told an American friend that finance secretary David Karimanzira, deputy secretary for youth Saviour Kasukuwere, National Security Minister Nicholas Goche and Muchinguri had gone privately to Mutasa to urge that Chinamasa be “rubbed out”.
The cable did not explain what she meant.
Mutasa had only a year earlier been instrumental in getting Muchinguri ousted as provincial governor for Manicaland.
Mrs Chinamasa said that a group of army personnel had visited Chinamasa’s farm asking for details about who lived there and how they acquired the farm.
Chinamasa was reportedly in the Emmerson Mnangagwa group that tried to stop the appointment of Joice Mujuru as vice-President at the 2004 party congress.
Mrs Chinamasa said that the initial provincial committee votes on the presidium actually gave a narrow victory to Mnangagwa over Joice Mujuru for the open vice presidency while Joseph Msika narrowly beat Tenjiwe Lesabe in the first vote.
In the battle for chairmanship Chinamasa and incumbent John Nkomo originally came out in a tie.
However, Mugabe rejected the results and instructed that the vote be re-conducted until Mujuru, Msika and Nkomo emerged victorious.
She claimed that Msika and Nkomo had been the most rabid of the party elements behind the fall of Mnangagwa’s group, and that Mutasa was being rewarded for standing firm on the President’s “ticket” against his Manicaland provincial committee, which sided with the Mnangagwa clique.
Viewing cable 04HARARE2063, MUGABE, OLD GUARD ASCENDANT IN NEW POLITBURO
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 002063
AF/S FOR BNEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2009
SUBJECT: MUGABE, OLD GUARD ASCENDANT IN NEW POLITBURO
REF: HARARE 2001
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: President Mugabe on December 17 announced a
new 50-member Politburo. The new membership confirms the
decline in influence of Speaker of the Parliament Emmerson
Mnangagwa as well as the fall from grace of hard-liners
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and Minister of Justice
Patrick Chinamasa. Moyo,s fall is particularly welcome news
and may lead to a further softening of the regime’s
anti-Western rhetoric. However, the real story here is the
consolidation of power by the party’s Old Guard, their
suppression of dissent, and the reaffirmation of Mugabe’s
absolute position atop the ruling party. A full listing of
the new Politburo is being faxed to AF/S. END SUMMARY.
The New Line-Up: the Old Guard
¶2. (SBU) One of the most notable changes in the new-look
ZANU-PF Politburo — the policy-making organ of the ruling
party — was the effective demotion of Speaker Mnangagwa,
long seen as Mugabe’s putative heir apparent. Mnangagwa was
dropped as Secretary for Administration, the party’s fifth
highest position, and demoted to Secretary for Legal Affairs.
In that position, he replaced Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, one of the hard-liners that Mugabe felt had
challenged him during the run-up to the recent ZANU-PF Party
Congress. Chinamasa lost his slot in the Politburo
altogether and his odds of staying on in the cabinet are
¶3. (SBU) The new Secretary for Administration is Didymus
Mutasa, an unsuccessful vice-presidential aspirant, former
Secretary for External Affairs, and card carrying member of
the Old Guard who lost the Secretary for Administration
position to Mnangagwa in 2000. Another regime veteran,
Kumbirai Kangai, ZANU-PF’s representative to North America
during the 1960s and 1970s and a former Minister of
Agriculture, will assume Mutasa’s External Affairs portfolio.
¶4. (SBU) Also dislodged from the Politburo was the party’s
voluble lightning rod, Information Minister and Party Deputy
Secretary for Information Jonathan Moyo. His slot went to
Mashonaland Central Governor Ephraim Masawi, a protg of
Party Secretary for Information Nathan Shamuyarira, who
retained his senior position. Like Chinamasa, Moyo will
retain his position in the Government for now but his days
are likely numbered. Interestingly, Chinamasa, who has been
Mugabe’s principal negotiator in the closely held inter-party
“talks on talks” that were suspended last July, remained on
the Central Committee; Moyo did not.
¶5. (SBU) Other notable changes include the appointments of
retired Chief of Staff General Vitalis Zvinavashe and former
Manicaland Governor Oppah Muchinguri. The latter replaced
another vice-presidential loser, Thenjiwe Lesabe, as the
Secretary for Women’s Affairs. Lesabe, who challenged Msika
as part of Manangawa,s plan to become a vice-president while
adhering to Mugabe,s diktat that one of the vice presidents
be female, will remain in the Politburo as a committee
¶6. (C) According to an FSN close to the Chinamasa family,
Chinamasa’s wife confided to her last week that the initial
provincial committee votes on the presidium actually gave a
narrow victory to Mnangagwa over Joyce Mujuru for the open
Vice Presidency; incumbent VP Joseph Msika narrowly beat
Lesabe in the first vote; and the battle for the party
chairmanship between Chinamasa and incumbent John Nkomo
originally came out in a tie. However, Mugabe rejected the
results and instructed that the vote be reconducted until
Mujuru, Msika and Nkomo emerged victorious.
¶7. (C) Chinamasa’s wife also confided that Party Secretary
for Finance David Karamanzira, Party Deputy Secretary for
Youth Affairs Savior Kasukuwere, Minister for National
Security Nicholas Goche (all from Mugabe’s Zezuru ethnic
group), and Muchinguri (like Chinamasa and Mutasa, a Manyika)
had gone privately to Mutasa to urge that Chinamasa be
“rubbed out.” She added that a group of army personnel
visited Chinamasa’s farm last week, asking for details about
who lived there and how they acquired the farm. She claimed
that Msika and Nkomo had been most rabid of the party
elements behind the fall of Mnangagwa’s group, and that
Mutasa was being rewarded for standing firm on the
President’s “ticket” against his Manicaland provincial
committee, which sided with the Mnangagwa clique.
¶8. (C) The chastening and departure of some hardliners is
good news and may contribute further to a softening of the
ruling party’s public rhetoric. That said, the party’s
fundamentally anti-democratic character is unlikely to
change. The real lesson behind the Politburo reshuffle and
outcome of the Party Congress is that an all-powerful Mugabe
will brook no meaningful dissent or even independence of
thought among those in his coterie.
¶9. (C) Whether Ms. Chinamasa’s account of the presidium vote
can be corroborated or not, the disappointment of many party
faithful over what was perceived to be a suppression by the
President of the “popular will” is palpable and not likely to
recede quickly. Whether it has long-term resonance remains
to be seen. We fully expect that Mnangagwa and his
disappointed supporters, attentive to the lessons of Moyo,
Chinamasa and others who have crossed the President, will
stick with the party through the March elections and mute