Father Fidelis Mukonori, a close confidante of President Robert Mugabe who was at times referred to as Mugabe’s personal priest, told United States embassy officials that Mugabe was prepared to step down provided he was assured of immunity and well being for himself and his family and he was treated with the dignity that he had accorded to former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith.
He said Mugabe’s resignation was definitely on the table with the key issues being the modalities and precise timing of the departure.
That was 10 years ago but Mugabe is still in power though he intended to surrender to Tsvangirai after his 2008 election defeat but was stopped by his lieutenants.
Mugabe, who is now 89, will be contesting the coming elections due in June or July though the date has not been set yet.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1119, INTERNAL MEDIATION EFFORTS BETWEEN MUGABE AND
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 HARARE 001119
STATE FOR D, P, AF/FO AND AF/S
NSC FOR AFRICA SENIOR DIRECTOR FRAZER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/03/2013
SUBJECT: INTERNAL MEDIATION EFFORTS BETWEEN MUGABE AND
Classified By: Joseph G. Sullivan for reasons 1.5b/d
Â¶1. (c) Father Fidelis Mukonori, who has been involved for
several years in mediation efforts between President Mugabe
and the MDC and who has a long-standing relationship with
Mugabe dating back to before independence, told the
Ambassador June 3 that Mugabe and Tsvangirai had agreed in
principle to a face-to-face meeting inside Zimbabwe, although
the date had not yet been set. (MDC sources told us that
Mugabe had proposed that the meeting take place privately in
Mugabe’s rural home and that Tsvangirai cancel planned
demonstrations. The MDC tells us that Tsvangirai agreed to
cancel demonstrations, but only if the meeting took place
before June 2.) Father Fidelis said that it had almost been
agreed to schedule the meeting the weekend prior to the MDC’s
June 2 mass action, but that Mugabe had not wished the
meeting to be held under that time pressure. Nonetheless,
Father Fidelis believed that he had Mugabe’s agreement to
meet and that it should be possible to schedule the meeting
soon. Fidelis Mukonori thought that a face-to-face meeting
would help ease tensions and assure that ongoing, quiet
contacts between ZANU-PF and the MDC were more successful.
He related that Tsvangirai had told him that Mugabe reminded
him of his father and that Mugabe had appreciated this
Â¶2. (c) Father Fidelis believed that Mugabe’s resignation was
definitely on the table with the key issues being the
modalities and precise timing of the departure. Fidelis
anticipated that it would be important to assure the immunity
and well-being of Mugabe and his family and that he be
treated with the dignity which Mugabe accorded Ian Smith.
Fidelis expected the December ZANU-PF Party Congress to
choose a successor, although he said the Congress could be
pushed up, after the Ambassador doubted that Zimbabwe could
continue in crisis that long. Fidelis said that quiet
ZANU-PF/MDC contacts were continuing, including those between
Justice Minister Chinimasa and MDC Secretary General Welshman
Ncube, but that he believed a meeting at the top was needed
to give this a push.
Mukonori asked that the US be prepared to encourage dialogue
at the right moment.
3.(c) Comment: In the last several months, numerous
Zimbabwean and international mediators have put themselves
forward. Father Fidelis Mukonori has been at this for some
time and has a better-established relationship with Mugabe
than most others. Fidelis has in the past been guilty of
excessive optimism, but he now has had recent encouragement
from Mugabe to take up the mediating role again and Fidelis
does appreciate that Mugabe’s retirement is the key to
resolution of the political crisis. Mugabe has initially
welcomed and later stymied a number of mediation efforts in
recent months. We are encouraged by the more personal
efforts of a Mugabe confidant, but will temper out optimism
until after a face-to-face meeting takes place.