South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Jeremiah Ndou told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front did not expect the Movement for Democratic Change to ever win an election or govern the country because of its lack of lack of liberation credentials.
Talk about succession, therefore, meant a transition from one ZANU-PF president to another, but President Robert Mugabe was reluctant to choose a Karanga, like Emmerson Mnangagwa, as a successor.
He said that in the absence of a Zezuru, it was more likely that Mugabe would choose a Manyika like Simba Makoni or even a Ndebele.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1242, SOUTH AFRICANS SEE SLOW PROGRESS TOWARD ZIMBABWE
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
180530Z Jun 03
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001242
AF/FO, AF/S AND NSC FOR AFRICA SR DIR FRAZER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/17/2013
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICANS SEE SLOW PROGRESS TOWARD ZIMBABWE
Classified By: Joseph G. Sullivan for reasons 1.5b/d
¶1. (c) South African High Commissioner Jeremiah Ndou told the
Ambassador June 17 that talks about talks between ZANU-PF and
the MDC continued with both sides agreed on need to resume
their dialogue. Ndou said that some talks had already
occurred between the two sides prior to the June 2-6 stayaway
and more had been scheduled for the week when planning for
the stayaway and GOZ reaction interrupted the process. Ndou
said that President Mbeki had urged the MDC not to go ahead
with the stayaway and was upset when the MDC opted for the
mass action. He said that the SAG had urged the GOZ not to
over-react to the MDC actions. Ndou said the GOZ was also
upset over the MDC mass action and this was why Tsvangirai
was detained. Ndou said that both sides remained committed
to talks, however, as the only way out of the crisis. Ndou
said that the talks remained mostly about talks, rather than
about the substance of differences. He said the SAG was
urging ZANU-PF to move to public meetings with the MDC as a
way to lock in the dialogue process and get public credit for
it. As it were, both sides were arguing that radicals in
their own parties opposed dialogue with the other party.
Ndou said that one potential formula could have talks focus
on constitutional reforms as a way to deal with concrete
reform issues rather than have every issue become a straight
political dispute between ZANU-PF and the MDC.
¶2. (c) Ndou said he believed that it was now clear that
Mugabe’s departure as President was part of any dialogue. The
subject had been touched on during the three Presidents’
visit to Harare last month and Mugabe’s public call for an
open campaign for succession had brought the debate out of
the closet. Ndou said that ZANU-PF, of course, believed that
succession meant a transition from one ZANU-PF President to
another; ZANU-PF did not expect that MDC could ever win an
election or govern the country because of its lack of
liberation war credentials. Ndou discounted a June 17 “Daily
News” account that Mugabe had told President Mbeki that
Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa was his chosen
successor. Ndou said that tribal rivalries made ZANU
succession much more complicated with Mugabe reluctant to
choose a Karanga(Shona sub-group) like Mnangagwa. In the
absence of a qualified Zezeru(Mugabe’s Shona sub-group), it
was more likely that a Manica(a Shona speaker from
Manicaland) like Simba Makoni or even an Ndebele would be
chosen as a transitional leader. Ndou said that these same
tribal rivalries made ZANU more open to a constitutional
reform which distributed power controlled so tightly in the
presidency among a number of positions, including a Prime
Ministry, a stronger Parliament, etc.
¶3. (c) The Ambassador underlined USG anger over Tsvangirai’s
continued detention and deliberate humiliation on no credible
grounds other than Mugabe’s wish to hold him. He urged that
the South Africans exert every effort to secure his release.
Ndou said that the SAG had urged Tsvangirai’s release and had
urged the MDC to raise the need for Tsvangirai’s release as
essential for productive negotiations.
4.(c) Comment: It is clear that the South Africans continue
to work this issue. (President Mbeki called while I was with
Ndou.) It is less clear how hard they are pushing Mugabe and
whether Mugabe and ZANU-PF see any urgency to dialogue or are
stringing the process along. And this is before anyone has
really gotten into the substance of the negotiations