Mzembi said Mugabe was at the helm through divide and rule


Masvingo South legislator Walter Mzembi said young members like him, Pearson Mbalekwa and Kindness Paradza, had joined Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front to fight from within but were now frustrated because of their lack of influence.

The three told United States embassy officials that everybody was struggling with generational change management but President Robert Mugabe was effectively at the helm because of his masterly exercise of divide and rule.

But the three were convinced that Mugabe would step down in 2008 if he had a politburo he trusted.

The three were speaking after the controversial 2004 party congress at which Joice Mujuru was catapulted to vice-president of the party and six provincial chairmen were sacked for opposition her elevation.

They said that the intense VP contest had left wounds that would take a long time to heal.

The party was in a crisis with some members saying “we’ve had enough” while others were counselling patience.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2004-12-10 12:53

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 04 HARARE 002001







E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2009




REF: (A) HARARE 1914 (B) HARARE 1913


Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d


1. (C) SUMMARY: ZANU-PF’s Fourth Party Congress reinforced

Robert Mugabe’s unassailable authority atop a ruling party

suffering from roiling ethnic and generational tensions.

Recent personnel changes adjustments to the party leadership

suggest the ascendancy of Mugabe’s Zezuru faction and a

victory of the party’s Old Guard over the Young Turks,

although further adjustments in the coming months may yet

mollify disaffected groups and key individuals. Although the

Congress sounded familiar anti-Western themes, the apparent

political demise of the party’s most rabidly anti-Western

mouthpiece, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, may

foreshadow a toning down of xenophobic rhetoric from the GOZ.

Nonetheless, the ruling party remains unlikely to undertake

meaningful efforts toward rapprochement with either the

opposition or the West for now. END SUMMARY.





2. (U) President Mugabe,s public criticism of “ambitious”

party members who contributed to party disunity was the most

striking aspect of the Party Congress. To loud but not

unanimous applause at the opening session, he castigated

unnamed provincial chairmen for undertaking efforts without

adequately consulting “the people.” He stressed the

importance of party unity and the need for those who lost

political contests to accept defeat. Expanding on the theme

of loyalty and discipline, Party Chairman John Nkomo’s

address to the opening session emphasized the importance of

deferring to experience and demanded the sanctioning of

unnamed individuals who were contributing to party disunity.

More explicit about intra-party tensions in subsequent closed

session, Mugabe reportedly denounced “narrow-minded” party

members who focused on purported needs for regional and

tribal balance.


Suspensions Precede Congress



3. (U) On the eve of the Congress, the state media announced

that the Politburo on November 30 had suspended six

provincial chairpersons for six months: July Moyo (Midlands;

also Minister of Energy), Mark Madiro (Manicaland), Daniel

Shumba (Masvingo; also telecom magnate), Jacob Mudenda

(Matabeleland North), Lloyd Siyoka (Matabeleland South), and

Thomas Ncube (Bulawayo). The six had attended an

“unauthorized” meeting organized in Tsholotsho two weeks

earlier by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, in which

participants reportedly planned to derail the impending

selection by the party of Joyce Mujuru for the party’s vacant

vice-presidential slot. According to the state press, the

Politburo officially reprimanded but did not suspend the

Information Minister and suspended war veterans leader

Jabulani Sibanda for four years. Speaker of the Parliament

Emmerson Mnangagwa, who would have been the principal

beneficiary of the meeting’s designs, had been invited to

Tsholotsho but chose to attend a Politburo meeting instead (a



meeting at which he was forced to accede to Mugabe’s

instruction that a vice-presidential slot be reserved for a



Familiar Themes



4. (U) In his keynote speech on December 2 at ZANU-PF’s

Fourth Party Congress, President and Party First Secretary

Mugabe hit on familiar themes in exhorting his party to

remain united and resist threats from outside and inside the

country. Consistent with the banners announcing the 2005

election as the “anti-Blair election,” Mugabe devoted

considerable attention in his 90-minute speech to Britain’s

purported designs on reversing land reform and effecting

regime change. Noting that 400 British companies continued

to operate profitably in the Zimbabwe, he urged the HMG to

reverse its anti-Zimbabwe posture. He drew parallels between

purported USG and HMG lies about weapons of mass destruction

in Iraq with Western “lies” underlying “sanctions” against

Zimbabwe. He launched into a homophobic diatribe about the

West’s “rottenness of culture and un-Christian example” and

concluded that Africa should be teaching the West about

morality, not vice-versa. The MDC leadership did not figure

largely in the President’s public remarks, other than to be

cast as a British “stooge” and be criticized for courting

opinion overseas instead of at home. The President thanked

regional groupings SADC, the AU, and COMESA for their

friendship and support. He also elaborated on familiar

development-related themes, including anti-corruption efforts

and the importance of addressing HIV/AIDS seriously, and

conceded that the party needed to do more to make land reform

more successful.


Backbenchers Vent With Ambassador



5. (C) At a lunch with the Ambassador on November 24,

ZANU-PF backbench MPs Pearson Mbelekwa (Zvishavane;

Chairperson of the Justice Committee), Kindness Paradza

(Makonde; publisher of the shuttered Tribune), and Walter

Mzembi (Masvingo South; Zvobgo faction winner of most recent

parliamentary by-election) were candid about tensions within

the party over Joyce Mujuru’s selection. They asserted that

the intense VP contest had left wounds that would take a long

time to heal. Speculating that the party might not survive

in its current form until 2008 (the next presidential

election), they described the party as in crisis, with some

members saying “we’ve had enough” while others were

counseling patience. The group and other younger leading

members had joined the ruling party to “fight from within”

and chafed over their lack of influence. Everybody was

struggling with “generational change management,” with Mugabe

effectively atop the party through a masterly exercise of

divide and rule. Nonetheless, they expressed confidence that

Mugabe would step down as President in 2008 — assuming he

had a Politburo he trusted.


6. (C) The group was especially distressed over the

exclusion of Karanga (Zimbabwe’s most numerous ethnic group)

representation in the presidium. They asserted that elements

that who had contributed and suffered most in the liberation

effort, including the Ndebele and Manyika, were not being

included sufficiently in the upper echelons of the

restructured party. They made it clear that Mnangagwa was

their preferred choice for the presidium. Mbelekwa, who had

written a stout defense of Mnangagwa in the Financial Gazette

the previous week, dubbed the Speaker “Zimbabwe’s Gorbachev.”

He asserted that Mnangagwa wanted to strengthen relations

with the United States and Britain as well as to refurbish

the country’s tarnished investment climate. He had cordial

relations with the MDC and was responsible for a moderate

approach to land reform in his province, Midlands, that

spared it from the chaos associated with the rest of the



7. (C) The group forecast continued jockeying and

intra-party conflict over the appointment of a new Politburo.

They claimed that the Central Committee (expanded by the

Congress from 232 to 240 members) already was “packed” and

offered little appeal as a path of influence in any event.

Cabinet positions in the 40-member Politburo, which usually

were associated with control over resources, were crucial to

factions and aspiring leaders. Parliamentary seats, filled

by genuine contests in which candidates could appeal to the

electorate, were good entrees for the younger generation, and

the Parliament was beginning to assert itself as an

institution. The group suggested that campaigns for the

upcoming primaries and MP elections would revolve around

factional rivalries and local “deliverables” (clinics,

schools, roads) rather than national policy. They lamented

the general “drought of skills” within the party relative to

the government.


8. (C) The group asserted that 80 percent of the MDC were

Karanga, many of whom would be inclined to link up with

ZANU-PF’s Karanga faction under the right circumstances.

Remarkably, one suggested that the MDC would win a majority

of contested seats in the upcoming election if the opposition

was given even four weeks of free and fair access to the

electorate. Another conceded that the ruling party’s record

of failure left it nothing to run on but an “anti-Blair”



Mnangagwa Down But Not Out



9. (C) Mnangagwa remains a pivotal figure in Zimbabwean

politics and Mugabe reportedly met with him at length after

the party’s nomination of Mujuru. Notwithstanding his loss

in the Veepstakes and the displacement of many of his key

supporters, Mnangagwa remains the leading exponent of Karanga

interests in the GOZ. Mnangagwa also has garnered

significant support among the party’s Young Turks, as

evidenced by the Ambassador’s exchange with the backbenchers.

Always a careful balancer of factional interests, Mugabe can

be expected to take steps to appease Mnangagwa and his

supporters. Indeed, many of Mnangagwa’s supporters were

named to the new Central Committee, and Mnangagwa himself,

despite his association with the Tsholotsho group, so far has

retained his positions as Parliamentary Speaker and Party

Secretary for Administration. An additional possibility



would be his assumption of the office of Prime Minister,

which is expected to be created via constitutional amendment

should ZANU-PF win a 2/3 majority in Parliament in March as



Moyo Down And Out?



10. (C) The Tsholotsho imbroglio was driven not just by

Mnangagwa opponents but also in large part by a widespread

impetus within the party to rid itself of the mercurial Moyo,

who was pilloried for organizing the meeting. The knives

have long been out for Moyo, who had deployed the state media

in vitriolic attacks against VP Msika and Chairman Nkomo,

among other party potentates. Their successful casting of

such attacks and the Tsolotsho meeting as disloyal to the

President and undermining of party unity was sufficient

pretext for the President to clip his wings. Moyo was not

named to the Central Committee, reportedly has had to cede

some of his control over the state media, and is not expected

to retain his position as Information Minister in a new

Cabinet. His political survival, at best in significantly

diminished status, may depend on his ability to win the

Tsholotsho parliamentary seat. After dispensing large



amounts of GOZ largesse on the district, Moyo had been

favored in the run-up to the Congress, but his prospects have

dimmed considerably.




11. (C) The flap over the so-called Tsolotsho Declaration

and related suspensions speaks volumes about the extent of

ZANU-PF’s internal democracy and Mugabe’s control over the

party. Reprising a sequence last year when Mugabe invited

discussion over succession and then slapped down those who

took him up on it, Mugabe in recent months publicly and

privately emphasized that the contests for party leadership

slots were to be open and real. Indeed, Mugabe’s instruction

for a female VP did not identify who the female was to be and

he allowed the contest to proceed. The Tsholotsho meeting

was part of a VP selection process that was engineered to

appear genuinely competitive right up to the weekend that the

the provincial executives made their VP nominations (ref A).

However, the true Mugabe view reasserted itself in the final

stages of the process when a near hysterical Mugabe

reportedly told the Politburo that he was boss, he made all

the decisions, and any questioning of his views was

tantamount to treason. One can only assume that the wily

Mugabe had all along prepared just such a scenario in order

to smoke out and then crush any and all opposition within the

party. His successful positioning of Joyce Mujuru gives him

the ideal putative heir for now: a popular figure nationally

who boosts his party’s image and who will be difficult for

critics inside or outside the party to attack effectively,

but one who has shown little overt ambition for senior

leadership (her tendered resignation for family reasons some

years ago was refused by the President) and who is fully

beholden to him.




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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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