Publisher Trevor Ncube said Zimbabwe was being led by “clowns and bozos” who were nothing compared to the “clever if unscrupulous” Jonathan Moyo who had been fired from the government and was now an independent Member of Parliament.
A bozo is a stupid incompetent fool.
Ncube said secretary for Information George Charamba and the other leaders lacked sophistication.
The Central Intelligence Organisation and other “securicrats” were in charge of the country and were in the process of destroying it. No one in the government was looking at the big picture.
Ncube said the country’s leaders had no solutions to the continuing economic decline but were instead intent on stealing as much as possible while in power and were prepared to kill to keep the gravy flowing.
Viewing cable 05HARARE1712, PUBLISHER TREVOR NCUBE ON MEDIA ENVIRONMENT 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 SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001712
AF/S FOR BRUCE NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
AFR/SA FOR E. LOKEN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2015
SUBJECT: PUBLISHER TREVOR NCUBE ON MEDIA ENVIRONMENT AND
PROSPECTS FOR POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CHANGE
REF: HARARE 01692
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d
¶1. In a December 15 meeting, Trevor Ncube, publisher of The
Independent and The Standard (as well as the Mail and
Guardian in South Africa) told the Ambassador about his
successful legal efforts to get back his passport (reftel).
Ncube added that the GOZ was determined to curb the
independent press but that its propaganda machine had become
increasingly ineffective. He said the CIO and other
&securicrats8 were running the country but had no solutions
and knew their time in power was short. They were out to
steal as much as possible and were prepared to do whatever it
took to stay in power as long as possible. He said the
Ambassador,s November speech in Mutare had exposed their
activities, which is why the GOZ had reacted with such fury.
The Ambassador responded that it was important to make clear
to senior GOZ officials that they would ultimately be held
accountable. End Summary.
A Weakened GOZ Propaganda Machine
¶2. (C) Ncube told the Ambassador that circulation was down
and that his papers were no longer profitable. However, he
was committed to helping maintain an independent media in
Zimbabwe. He said he had been told by a source in the
Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) that the real target
of the passport seizures was the independent media, which the
government was determined to crack down on. Ncube confirmed
that many journalists already practiced some self-censorship
and that the passport seizures could have a &chilling
¶3. (C) However, Ncube said two factors were working in favor
of the independent media. The first was the courage of the
young journalists on the staffs of his newspapers, who were
determined to expose government wrong doing despite the
risks. The second was the weakness of the current leadership
of the GOZ,s propaganda machine, whom Ncube called clowns
and bozos, especially in comparison to the clever if
unscrupulous Jonathan Moyo. Ncube said George Charamba and
the other leaders lacked sophistication, as had been evident
in their response to the Ambassador,s speech. In their
fury, they had actually ensured that most Zimbabweans would
hear of the speech, rather than 200 students in Mutare. The
Ambassador responded that he had counted on just this sort of
reaction to get our message out.
A Weak, Divided and Corrupt Government
¶4. (C) Ncube said the government had reacted with such fury
to the speech because the Ambassador had told the truth about
what was really happening in the country. The CIO and other
&securicrats8 were in charge of the country and were in the
process of destroying it. No one in the GOZ was looking at
the &big picture.8 They had no solutions to the country,s
continuing economic decline but were instead intent on
stealing as much as possible while in power and were prepared
to kill to keep the gravy flowing. In that regard, Ncube
noted that for the first time he had felt real fear and
insecurity in Zimbabwe when his passport was seized.
¶5. (C) However, Ncube said the CIO, like the rest of ZANU-PF,
was split over the succession issue between supporters of the
Mujurus and supporters of Emmerson Mnangagwa. Ncube added
that the CIO as a whole hated the Intelligence Minister,
Didymus Mutasa, and that morale was increasingly low within
the organization. The Ambassador, noting that morale was
also supposedly low within the military and the police, asked
how much longer the government could last. Ncube responded
that the &tipping point8 was coming. Sooner or later the
country would erupt, either as a result of shortages, such as
food or water, or inflation and economic decline, or some
other factor. The only thing lacking now was a spark.
Holding the GOZ Accountable
¶6. (C) Ncube said, however, that the opposition MDC was also
weak and divided and would be unable to control a spontaneous
uprising. He feared the consequences of such an event, which
could be used as an excuse by the military or the CIO to take
power in their own right. Paradoxically, Mugabe provided
stability of sorts and his sudden death could destabilize the
country and produce a similar result. In that regard, Ncube
noted that for the first time military names were being
mentioned as potential successors to Mugabe.
¶7. (C) The Ambassador responded that the international
community would not be prepared to reengage with a successor
implicated in the crimes of the Mugabe regime. Many of the
senior GOZ officials would have to go before the IMF and
other IFIs would be allowed to provide the balance of
payments support Zimbabwe would need to revive its economy.
Ncube agreed but noted that Zimbabweans would have to do more
than rely on the international community to hold the current
¶8. (C) Ncube,s views track with many other Zimbabweans with
whom we have talked in recent weeks. The GOZ has no
solutions to the country,s problems and its major players
are consumed with advancing their own personal interests.
There is a palpable sense that the post-Mugabe period has
already begun. In this fin-de-regime atmosphere, it is
essential that the international community as a whole stress
the inevitability of an accounting. This is the best means
we have at the moment to influence and moderate the behavior
of senior GOZ leadership.