Wiki exposé takes wind out of Mugabe’s sails

2011-09-17 16:07

Zanu-PF’s dicey succession matrix has been thrown into fresh turmoil. This follows revelations by whistleblower website WikiLeaks of how senior party officials in President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle have been colluding with different US envoys to Harare since 2000.

The new leaks are likely to deal a huge blow to the 87-year-old leader’s campaign for endorsement as presidential candidate next year, which Mugabe is certain to push for at the December congress in Bulawayo. This is as the new leaks suggest that his closest lieutenants want him to go.

Although Mugabe is yet to speak out on the latest leaks, which have given rise to political speculation on the indecisive-ness which has crept into the veteran leader’s actions for the first time in his 31-year-old rule, Zanu-PF insiders say he is “terribly upset and devastated”.

A senior Zanu-PF government official said: “These revelations have gutted the president and left him in a state of disbelief, shock and anger. They have put him in a serious dilemma?.?.?.

“His closest advisers and officials are involved and he is paralysed and incapacitated about what to do. The trouble is
he is damned if he reacts and damned if he doesn’t.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters at the weekend that Mugabe had confided in him his shock that “our people are running to the Americans”.

A Zanu-PF politburo meeting this week failed to establish a party position on what action would be meted out against the officials named by WikiLeaks. The named officials include several political bigwigs such as Joice Mujuru, Jonathan Moyo, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Saviour Kasukuwere and Gideon Gono.

This has stoked fresh suspicions that Mugabe may instead deal individually with the exposed officials and avoid the bitter public fallouts which until recently have become the order of Zanu-PF internal conflicts. Party legislator Tracy Mutinhiri was expelled with immediate effect last month for calling Mugabe “too old”.

Innocent Chofamba-Sithole, a political analyst, said: “Given that those who briefed the Americans aren’t confined to one faction of the party, it may not be in any of the factions’ interests to push for retribution against those who have been exposed by WikiLeaks.

“If anything, the revelations may strengthen President Robert Mugabe’s hand in the party against those who may still desire his exit before the next election.”

So far, only political turncoat Moyo has owned up to his 2007 meetings with former US ambassador Christopher Dell and challenged his “accomplices” to use the WikiLeaks exposé to discuss the issue of “leadership renewal” ahead of the congress.

In an article in the state-owned Sunday Mail, Moyo wrote: “The reported cables are just half of the story and it would be very interesting and very enriching on the part of our colleagues to do the right thing and say yes, we had these discussions.”

The Bulawayo congress is likely to turn out to be a decisive meeting for Mugabe, as loyalties remain fickle in Zanu-PF. An open challenge to his leadership would see the balance of power shift.

Meanwhile, the MDC has said it is ready for elections. This was after the conclusion of the electoral roadmap and will oppose unilateral moves by Mugabe to call for fresh polls next year.

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