Shamuyarira said Makoni was a serious presidential contender


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Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said Simba Makoni was a serious candidate in the succession race but he was a dark horse because of his absence from political limelight.

He said John Nkomo and Joseph Msika were also contenders. Shamuyarira said Msika, who was about the same age as President Robert Mugabe, should not be written off despite his advanced age because he was vigorous and strong.

John Nkomo had announced that he was interested in the presidency. If Msika decided not to run, Mugabe, out of commitment to the Unity Accord that merged ZAPU and ZANU-PF, might support Nkomo’s bid.

Shamuyarira dismissed United States ambassador Christopher Dell’s suggestion that central bank governor Gideon Gono also appeared to be in the race.

He said Gono was a good performer on economic matters and made “good copy”, but he would “be massacred” if he stepped into the political ring.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 06HARARE1413, ZANU-PF POLITBURO MEMBER OFFERS SUCCESSION INSIGHTS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE1413

2006-11-29 12:59

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1611

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001413

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2016

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZANU-PF POLITBURO MEMBER OFFERS SUCCESSION INSIGHTS

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) ZANU-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity

Nathan Shamuyarira told the Ambassador on November 28 that

the forthcoming ruling party conference was unlikely to

finalize the succession issue. The party would instead

settle the issue in 2007. He opined that the presidential

and parliamentary elections should be unified in 2008 so that

ZANU-PF could capitalize on the opposition’s disarray.

Commenting on potential successors, Shamuyarira added the

names of former-Finance Minister Simba Makoni, Speaker of

Parliament John Nkomo, and Vice President Joseph Msika to the

traditional mix. The Old Guard ZANU-PF insider recited the

party’s now stale attack on sanctions, but said he agreed

with the Ambassador’s contention that both sides must instead

look to the future. End Summary.

 

—————————————–

Succession To Wait Until After Conference

—————————————–

 

2. (C) Asked by the Ambassador for his expectations for the

ruling party’s December 14-17 conference, Shamuyarira said

expectations were too high and that the succession debate

would likely only be finalized in 2007. Unlike the party

congress held every four years, the annual party conference

had no mandate to decide major policy issues, according to

Shamuyarira. With 7,000 people expected, the conference was

not the proper venue for a serious discussion. Instead, the

conference would review measures to turn around the economy.

 

3. (C) Shamuyarira added that the ZANU-PF Politburo had

agreed to merge the presidential election scheduled for 2008

with the parliamentary election scheduled for 2010, but had

yet to decide on how to merge them or who should stand as the

party’s presidential candidate. These issues would be left

for 2007. Rather than amend the constitution to extend the

president’s term until 2010, Shamuyarira said he favored

accelerating the parliamentary election to 2008. Such as

move would be easier, as the president can dissolve the

legislature at any time. Shamuyarira commented that an early

parliamentary election would also allow the ruling party to

capitalize on divisions within the opposition to win

additional seats in the body.

 

————————–

Field of Successors Widens

————————–

 

4. (C) Surveying the list of would-be successors to Mugabe,

Shamuyarira mentioned former Finance Minister and fellow

Politburo member Simba Makoni, Speaker of Parliament John

Nkomo, and Vice President Joseph Msika in addition to the

traditional mix of Joyce Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Makoni was a serious candidate, although “a dark horse” due

to his absence from the political limelight. Shamuyarira

cautioned that Msika should not be written off and that

despite his advanced age (N.B. he turns 84 in early December)

he remains vigorous and strong. Shamuyarira also noted

Nkomo’s statement to journalists last Friday that he was

interested in the presidency. Should Msika not run,

Shamuyarira said that Mugabe, out of commitment to the Unity

Accord that merged the Ndebele and Shona ethnic components of

the ruling party, may support the minority Nkomo’s bid.

 

 

HARARE 00001413 002 OF 002

 

 

5. (C) Shamuyarira dismissed the Ambassador’s suggestion

that Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono also appeared to be in

the running. Gono was a good performer on economic matters

and made “good copy,” according to the former journalist, but

he would “be massacred” if he stepped into the political ring.

 

————————————-

Looking Beyond the Sanctions Rhetoric

————————————-

 

6. (C) The Politburo member recited the seemingly obligatory

condemnation of Western sanctions and supposed propaganda

that precluded investment. In response, the Ambassador noted

that during his more than two years in Zimbabwe not one US

investor had approached him for advice. Instead, foreign

investors were assessing Zimbabwe’s economic and political

fundamentals on their own and staying away due to the GOZ’s

assault on rule of law and economic mismanagement.

 

7. (C) Furthermore, the Ambassador said that the USG was

interested in playing a constructive role in Zimbabwe’s

future, not in arguing about the past. The USG was eager to

join a discussion of what Zimbabwe’s future should look like,

but first needed to see that the GOZ had the political will

to address the governance question. Shamuyarira agreed,

saying that “we should look to the future, not live in the

past.” Further opening the door, he conceded that “we’ve

made our own mistakes”.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

8. (C) Providing an apt analogy for today’s ZANU-PF, the

78-year old Shamuyarira did not look well ) his skin

appeared chalky and gray, and despite an over-sized hearing

aid the Ambassador periodically had to repeat himself several

times to be heard. Also showing his advanced age,

Shamuyarira opened the meeting by noting that many of his

schoolmates have since retired ) and presumably many more

have died also. Perhaps because of his age, he was

remarkably candid with the Ambassador. Although the media

and business community have for some time been muting the

possibility of Makoni as a reform-minded successor, this is

the first mention we have heard from a Politburo member.

 

9. (C) As for the up-coming ZANU-PF conference, we are not

holding our breath that the succession issue will be

finalized by year end. Instead, this year’s meeting is

shaping up to be little more than a highly-choreographed pep

rally, much like last year’s and the ones before it. As

Shamuyarira suggests, Mugabe is expected to postpone a

decision on succession until next year. While pressure is

mounting for him to make an anointment, the inclusion of new

names into the succession hopper probably serves to mitigate

these stresses as new factions emerge and focus their ire on

party rivals, rather than Mugabe himself. Nkomo’s statement

that he might become a candidate was probably meant to signa

his interest in the vice presidency slot and to remind Mugabe

that the latter cannot assume other party leaders will

automatically fall into line behind the president’s choice

for a successor. Meanwhile, Shamuyarira is being

disingenuous concerning Msika, who is widely believed to be

in poor health and anxious to leave public office.

DELL

 

(5 VIEWS)

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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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