The South African government was opposed to the extension of President Robert Mugabe’s term of office from 2008 to 2010 the United States’ South African embassy contact Sydney Masamvu told officials after meeting African National Congress secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe.
Masamvu briefed embassy officials on 9 February 2007, the same day that he had been told about it by Motlanthe.
He had known Motlanthe from the time he had worked for the Financial Gazette and had interviewed the ANC boss.
According to the cable released by Wikileaks, Motlanthe believed that reconciling the rival Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa factions of ZANU-PF was the key to change in Zimbabwe.
Motlanthe said he was working through ZANU-PF chairman John Nkomo to get the two sides to reconcile.
“If this happens, Mujuru and Mnangagwa will stop Mugabe’s plan to stay in power until 2010.
“The challenge is finding a “compromise” leader that Mnangagwa and Mujuru could both support, although Masamvu noted that the creation of a prime ministerial post could create space for both camps.
“Masamvu also believes that former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, although considered a ‘Mujuru man’, might be acceptable to Mnangagwa.”
Viewing cable 07PRETORIA533, ANC SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES ZANU-PF TENSIONS
RR RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #0533 0441406
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 131406Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8179
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0990
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1115
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1000
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L PRETORIA 000533
DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2017
SUBJECT: ANC SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES ZANU-PF TENSIONS
REF: HARARE 107
Classified By: Political Counselor Raymond Brown.
Reasons 1.4(b) and (d).
¶1. (C) African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General
Kgalema Motlanthe told Embassy contact Sydney Masamvu
February 9 that the South African Government opposes the
extension of Mugabe’s term to 2010. Motlanthe said that
South Africa is encouraged by the growing split within
ZANU-PF. Masamvu briefed PolOff February 9 on his
¶2. (C) Motlanthe, who has known Masamvu since the former
journalist interviewed Motlanthe for the Zimbabwean newspaper
the Financial Gazette, laid out his current thinking on the
political situation in Zimbabwe.
— Motlanthe believes that reconciling the rival Mujuru and
Mnangagwa factions of ZANU-PF is the key to change in
Zimbabwe. Working through ZANU-PF Chairman John Nkomo,
Motlanthe said the SAG is talking to both sides with the hope
of reconciling the two. If this happens, Mujuru and
Mnangagwa will stop Mugabe’s plan to stay in power until
¶2010. The challenge is finding a “compromise” leader that
Mnangagwa and Mujuru could both support, although Masamvu
noted that the creation of a prime ministerial post could
create space for both camps. Masamvu also believes that
former Finance Minister Simba Makoni, although considered a
“Mujuru man,” might be acceptable to Mnangagwa.
— Motlanthe emphasized Pretoria’s belief that constitutional
reform is critical for Zimbabwe’s future. (NOTE: This has
been a consistent theme of SAG policy for several years. The
SAG devoted enormous energy to the negotiating a “compromise”
constitution in 2003, which was initialed by the MDC and
ZANU-PF, but never implemented by Mugabe. END NOTE.)
Motlanthe said that the SAG is urging ZANU-PF, ideally with
MDC involvement, to merge the three draft constitutional
documents — the opposition National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) draft, the 2002 draft, and the Pretoria draft — and
put the new “merged” constitution to a referendum as soon as
possible. This would likely include the creation of a prime
— South Africa would be willing to accept a one-year
postponement of the 2008 presidential elections if the new
“merged” constitution is being put to a vote and there are
“airtight” guarantees that Mugabe will depart no later than
March 2009. They believe they could “sell” this to the
international community and regional communities.
— If there is not constitutional reform, Motlanthe said he
did not believe the regional leaders would endorse the
“prolongation” of Mugabe’s term to 2010.
¶3. (C) COMMENT: As we have reported previously, South
African leaders have become increasingly frustrated by the
erratic rule of President Mugabe and want to see him leave
power. South Africa’s goal remains the same: a smooth,
nonviolent transition to new leadership in Zimbabwe (from
within ZANU-PF), together with a new constitutional
framework. Motlanthe’s comments likely reflect the broad
thinking of key South African policymakers, but it is unclear
whether — or with how much intensity — SAG leaders are
actually brokering a deal between the ZANU-PF factions or
pursuing other elements of Motlanthe’s strategy. President
Mbeki has been burned repeatedly in Zimbabwe, and he will
remain cautious, watching the situation, quietly talking to
key ZANU-PF insiders, but not publicly taking on Mugabe. END