US embassy said Mugabe had chosen Mujuru as heir apparent


The United States embassy said President Robert Mugabe has chosen Joyce Mujuru as vice-President in 2004 making her heir apparent and dumping Emmerson Mnangagwa who had been for years seen as his likely successor.

In a briefing for a visiting ambassador the embassy said through Mugabe was widely expected to step down in 2008, the pace of transition was not yet clear.

Mnangagwa’s supporters had, however, not yet reconciled to Mujuru’s ascendancy and several of his supporters had left the ruling party and were talking about a third force.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2005-08-05 09:59

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.


050959Z Aug 05

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 001115








E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/05/2015






Classified By: CDA Eric Schultz, reason 1.4 (b) (d)






1. (SBU) The US Mission in Harare, Zimbabwe welcomes your

August 9-13 visit. You are coming at a critical time in

Zimbabwe,s independent history. Once the breadbasket of

Southern Africa the country is now a basket case. The

political, economic, and humanitarian crises that have

gripped the country the last six years have all intensified

in 2005 and are threatening to spin out of control,

especially the latter two.


2. (C) Bilateral relations remain strained by the Mugabe

regime,s repressive policies. U.S. policy toward Zimbabwe

remains to isolate the regime. On Wednesday of this week we

announced new financial sanctions. Tougher travel

restrictions are also in the works. While we have sought to

isolate the government we have simultaneously sought to

assist the Zimbabwean people in their time of need. The U.S.

has been the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to

Zimbabwe over the past six years. We have been particularly

generous with respect to food and HIV/AIDs assistance.


3. (SBU) We would like you to focus your visit on the

alarming food situation in the country and on the aftermath

of Operation Restore Order, the GOZ,s latest act of

repression. In the words of Secretary Rice, it is an

&outpost of evil8 as the operation, which destroyed the

homes and livelihoods of 700,000 people, made manifest. Our

goals for your visit are to convince the GOZ to be more

transparent about its needs and plans for addressing the

country,s massive food shortage and to make clear to the

Zimbabwean people and the world at large that if asked we are

ready to provide food assistance.


4. (C) The GOZ is an extremely difficult government to work

with. They have publicly blamed Western sanctions for their

economic difficulties and have attributed those sanctions to

Western ire over the seizure of land from white farmers.

Along with the UK, we are their favorite targets. The

government has muzzled most of the country,s independent

press and the local media playing field is heavily tilted in

the GOZ,s favor. For that reason, we recommend that you

hold your press conference in Johannesburg after your visit

and limit your press exposure while in Zimbabwe.



Humanitarian Crisis



5. (SBU) Zimbabwe has faced growing food insecurity over the

last few years due principally to the disruptive effects of

its fast-track land reform program. Drought and government

overregulation and mismanagement of the economy have also

been factors. Maize (corn) is the staple crop and the

harvest this year will likely be one of the worst since

independence. Reliable estimates put it at 400,000 metric

tons (MTS), a fourth of the country,s food needs. The

government has acknowledged that it needs to import 1.2

million MTs of maize to meet the country,s needs. The GOZ

has told the World Food Program and us that while they will

accept food assistance, they have the situation in hand and

will not ask for it. The GOZ claims that they have

contracted with South African suppliers for the delivery of

all of the needed maize at favorable prices. Imports did

increase in May and June to around 100,000 MTs, but have

since fallen off and there remain major questions about the

government,s ability to import all of the needed food.


6. (SBU) The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee

estimates that nearly 3 million of the country,s 11.6

million people will be food insecure by the end of the year,

but independent experts believe the true number of food

insecure people will be much larger, possibly as many as 6

million people. WFP is concerned at the pace of donor

contributions. They acknowledge that greater transparency on

the part of the GOZ would be a spur to donations and have

encouraged such transparency but to little effect. In the

absence of GOZ cooperation, WFP has reworked its regional

food appeal to include an additional 300,000 MTs of food aid

for Zimbabwe.


7. (SBU) The humanitarian crisis has been exacerbated by

&Operation Murambatsvina,8 or &Restore Order8, which made

hundreds of thousands homeless in Zimbabwe,s coldest months

of the year without access to food, water, sanitation, health

care or education. The UN Special Envoy, Anna Tibaijuka,

found that it was carried out in an indiscriminate and

unjustified manner with indifference to human suffering and

without regard for local and international law. The result

of the Government of Zimbabwe,s actions is an enormous,

man-made humanitarian tragedy. The International Office for

Migration (IOM) estimates that 40,000 households

(approximately 200,000 people) require urgent humanitarian

assistance. Approximately half of these 40,000 households

(20,000) are living out in the open and need temporary

shelter. Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence

rates in the world, with a prevalence rate of 24.6% among the

adult population, and many of the operation,s victims are

part of the country,s most vulnerable groups, including the

HIV positive. The US has contributed nearly $2 million

dollars to assist these victims, mostly provided through IOM.



Political Situation



8. (C) In December, 2004 President Mugabe chose Joyce Mujuru,

the wife of the former commander of Zimbabwe,s Defense

Forces to be one of his two Vice Presidents and his heir

apparent. In doing so, the 82-year old Mugabe set in motion

the transition to the country,s post-Mugabe future. The

pace of that transition is not yet clear, but it is widely

expected that Mugabe will step down as President by 2008,

when the next elections are to be held. Mugabe chose Joyce

Mujuru over the man who had been seen for many years as his

likely successor, former Speaker of Parliament Emmerson

Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa,s supporters are not yet reconciled to

the Mujuru,s ascendancy. Several prominent supporters have

recently left the ruling ZANU-PF party and have talked about

creating a &third force8 in Zimbabwean politics.


9. (C) Beyond personal ambition, ethnic politics will play a

key role in the succession struggle. The Mujurus, like

Mugabe, come from the Zezerou, a sub-set of the county,s

majority Shona. Mugabe and the Zezerou have dominated

ZANU-PF and the country,s political life since independence

through an elaborate patronage system that is deteriorating

with economic decline, as well as through violence and

repression. Mnangagwa is an ethnic Karanga, like the Zezerou

a part of the country,s majority Shona population. The

Karanga are restive at the prospect of continued Zezerou

predominance, as is the third major part of the Shona, the

Manicas, who predominate in the Eastern Highlands you will

visit. The country,s other major ethnic group, the Ndebele,

comprise roughly a third of the population and are

concentrated in the country,s southwest. The government

suppressed the Ndebele in the 1980s and killed tens of

thousands of civilians in the process. The Ndebele are now

the most reliable bloc of opposition voters.


10. (C) The other key political event of the past six months

was the March 2005 parliamentary elections. Notwithstanding

the sharp divisions within ZANU-PF, the ruling party

significantly strengthened its position, taking 78 out of 120

elected seats (another thirty are appointed by the president

giving ZANU-PF the two-thirds majority needed to amend the

constitution at will). In the absence of international

observers, the Embassy mounted a major observation effort in

conjunction with like-minded nations. As a result of our

direct observations we condemned the elections. Not only did

the government heavily tilt the playing field but it also

appears to have rigged the results in a number of

constituencies and has ignored requests to release the

polling data. The country,s democratic forces, including

especially the opposition Movement for Democratic Change

(MDC), have not recovered from the March electoral defeat,

and have remained unable to coordinate their activities or

demonstrate leadership to Zimbabwe,s disaffected masses.


11. (C) Following the parliamentary elections, with its

two-thirds majority secure, many observers expected the GOZ

to moderate its policies and reach out to the international

community. Instead, the GOZ has continued to employ

repressive tactics against the country,s democratic forces,

including restricting the independent media and harassing

those non-government organizations (NGOs) pushing for greater

democratic space. The GOZ also launched Operation Restore

Order, which though it appears to have strengthened their

hold on the country has cost them support both

internationally and regionally. In particular, Tibaijuka,s

report, written by an African at the behest of an African UN

Secretary General has put added pressure on South African



President Mbeki and other regional leaders to reign-in




Economic Situation



12. (SBU) Economically, Zimbabwe is rapidly melting down.

The IMF team that came in May 2005 to conduct an Article IV

inspection predicted that GDP would drop by 7 percent, a

seventh consecutive year of decline while sub-Saharan Africa

as a whole has recorded an average gross domestic product

(GDP) growth rate of 3.4% over that time span. The IMF also

estimated the GOZ,s budget deficit at 14.5 percent and

predicted inflation would top 300 percent this year. Worse,

the IMF team said the government appeared unconcerned about

his state of affairs and unwilling to consider policy changes

to improve the country,s economic outlook.


13. (SBU) Three interlinked shortages have contributed to the

sense that the economy is in freefall: food, fuel, and

foreign exchange. We discussed the food situation above.

The fuel crisis is equally dire. The country has literally

been bereft of fuel for months. The price on the black

market is up to z$80,000 a liter, eight times the official

price (roughly U.S. $10 a gallon) and even at that price is

almost impossible to find. Economic activity is grinding to

a halt as a result of the fuel shortages. The country is not

only desperately short of food and fuel it also lacks the

foreign exchange needed to buy them. The IMF estimated

effective reserves at zero. With no access to balance of

payments support, the country is caught in a vicious circle

of declining exports leading to less foreign exchange leading

to further declines in exports.


14. (SBU) The GOZ has sought external support as a way out of

its self-created crisis. Mugabe returned essentially empty

handed from his recent visit to China, putting even greater

emphasis on the negotiations with the South Africans for a

bridge loan. The SAG has agreed to the loan, which must

still be debated and approved by the South African

Parliament, but is reportedly considering placing economic

and political conditions on the loan, which would mark a

major departure in SAG-GOZ relations.






15. (C) The turn to repression symbolized by Operation

Restore Order has cost the regime support internationally,

regionally, and domestically. The Europeans have stiffened

their resolve and even the region may finally have had enough

if recent signals from South Africa are to be believed. ZANU

itself is riven with dissension, exacerbated by the

succession struggle and the decline of patronage, waiting

only for Mugabe,s passing or incapacitation to burst forth.

For its part, the MDC bides its time, convinced that the

regime will implode and that it will pick up the pieces. The

country,s future remains unpredictable but one thing seems

clear after this winter, the restoration of democracy and

prosperity in Zimbabwe will be more difficult, especially as

what remains of the educated populace appears increasingly

ready to throw in the towel and emigrate. The remainder of

the population, psychologically scarred but unable to leave,

is hunkering down and trying to survive what could be a very

bad next few years.




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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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