Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 2497 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YE YM YI

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 07HARARE638, The End is Nigh

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07HARARE638.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07HARARE638 2007-07-13 10:10 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Harare
VZCZCXRO1711
PP RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0638/01 1941004
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131004Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1696
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1648
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1516
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1652
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0228
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0918
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1281
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1708
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4125
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1478
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2142
RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1869
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000638 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR P, AF, AND AF/S FOR MOZENA AND HILL, 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. 
PITTMAN AND B. LEO; USAID FOR M. COPSON AND E. LOKEN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/12/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI
SUBJECT: The End is Nigh 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4b/d 
 
1.  (C)  Having said my piece repeatedly over the last three years, 
I won't offer a lengthy prescription for our Zimbabwe 
policy.  My views can be stated very simply as stay the 
course and prepare for change.  Our policy is working and it's 
helping to drive change here.  What is required is simply the grit, 
determination and focus to see this through.  Then, when the changes 
finally come we must be ready to move quickly to help consolidate 
the new dispensation. 
 
THE SITUATION 
 
2.  (C)  Robert Mugabe has survived for so long because he is more 
clever and more ruthless than any other politician in 
Zimbabwe.  To give the devil his due, he is a brilliant 
tactitian and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly 
change the rules of the game, radicalize the political 
dynamic and force everyone else to react to his agenda. 
However, he is fundamentally hampered by several factors: 
his ego and belief in his own infallibility; his obsessive 
focus on the past as a justification for everything in the 
present and future; his deep ignorance on economic issues 
(coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him 
the authority to suspend the laws of economics, including 
supply and demand); and his essentially short-term, 
tactical style. 
 
3.  (C)  While his tactical skills have kept him in power for 27 
years, over the last seven this has only been achieved by a 
series of populist, but destructive and ultimately 
self-defeating moves.  In reaction to losing the 2000 
referendum on the constitution, a vengeful Mugabe unleashed 
his QGreen BombersQ to commit land reform and in the 
process he destroyed ZimbabweQs agricultural sector, once the 
bedrock of the economy.  While thousands of white farmers 
saw their properties seized, hundreds of thousands of black 
Zimbabweans lost their livelihoods and were reduced to utter 
poverty.  In 2005, having been forced to steal victory by 
manipulating the results of an election he lost, Mugabe 
lashed out again, punishing the urban populace by launching 
Operation Murambatsvina.  The result was wholesale 
destruction of the informal sector, on which as much as 
70-80 percent of urban dwellers had depended, and the 
uprooting of 700,000 Zimbabweans.  The current inflationary 
cycle really began with Murambatsvina, as rents and prices 
grew in response to a decrease in supply. 
 
4.  (C)  And now, faced with the hyperinflationary consequences 
of his ruinous fiscal policies and growing reliance on the 
printing press to keep his government running, Mugabe has 
launched Operation Slash Prices.  This has once again given 
him a very temporary boost in popularity (especially among 
the police, who have led the looting of retail outlets and 
now seem well positioned to take a leading role in the 
black market economy) at the cost of terrible damage to the 
country and people.  Many small grocery and shop owners, 
traders, etc., will be wiped out; the shelves are 
increasingly bare; hunger, fear, and tension are growing; 
fuel has disappeared.  When the shelves are still empty 
this time next week, the popular appeal of the price roll 
back will evaporate and the government simply doesnQt have 
the resources to replace the entire private commercial 
sector and keep Zimbabweans fed.  It may attempt to do so 
by printing more money, adding even more inflationary 
pressure on a system already reeling from the GOZQs 
quasi-fiscal lunacy combined with the price impact of 
pervasive shortages.  The increasingly worthless Zim dollar 
is likely to collapse as a unit of trade in the near 
future, depriving the GOZ of its last economic tool other 
than sheer thuggery and theft of othersQ assets. 
 
5.  (C)  With all this in view, IQm convinced the end is not 
 
HARARE 00000638  002 OF 004 
 
 
far off for the Mugabe regime.  Of course, my predecessors 
and many other observers have all said the same thing, and 
yet Mugabe is still with us.  I think this time could prove 
different, however, because for the first time the 
president is under intensifying pressure simultaneously on 
the economic, political and international fronts.  In the 
past, he could always play one of these off against the 
other, using economic moves to counter political pressure 
or playing the old colonial/race/imperialist themes to buy 
himself breathing room regionally and internationally.  But 
he is running out of options and in the swirling gases of 
the new Zimbabwean constellation that is starting to form, 
the economic, political and international pressures are 
concentrating on Mugabe himself.  Our ZANU-PF contacts are 
virtually unanimous in saying reform is desperately needed, 
but won't happen while the Old Man is there, and therefore 
he must go (finding the courage to make that happen is 
another matter, however, but even that may be coming closer). 
This is not some sudden awakening on the road to 
Damascus, but a reflection of the pain even party insiders 
increasingly feel over the economic meltdown.  We also get 
regular, albeit anecdotal, reports of angry and 
increasingly open mutterings against Mugabe even in ZANU-PF's 
traditional rural bastions.   Beginning in March, the 
other SADC leaders finally recognized (in the wake of the 
terrible beatings of March 11 and the international outcry 
that followed Q another self-inflicted wound for Mugabe) 
that Zimbabwe is a problem they need to address.  Thabo 
Mbeki appears committed to a successful mediation and is 
reportedly increasingly irritated with MugabeQs efforts to 
manipulate him or blow him off altogether.  If Mugabe 
judges that he still commands all he surveys by virtue of 
being the elder statesman on the scene, he may be 
committing yet another serious blunder.  Finally, one does 
well to recall that the only serious civil disturbances 
here in a decade came in 1998 over bread shortages, showing 
that even the famously passive Shona people have their 
limits.  The terror and oppression of the 
intervening years have cowed people, but itQs anyoneQs guess 
whether their fear or their anger will win out in the end. 
 
WHAT WILL THE END LOOK LIKE? 
 
6.  (C)  This is the big, unanswerable question.  One thing 
at least is certain, Mugabe will not wake up one morning a 
changed man, resolved to set right all he has wrought.  He 
will not go quietly nor without a fight.  He will cling to 
power at all costs and the costs be damned, he deserves to 
rule by virtue of the liberation struggle and land reform and 
the people of Zimbabwe have let him down by failing to 
appreciate this, thus he neednQt worry about their 
well-being.  The only scenario in which he might agree to 
go with a modicum of good grace is one in which he 
concludes that the only way to end his days a free man is 
by leaving State House.  I judge that he is still a long 
way from this conclusion and will fight on for now. 
 
7.  (C)  The optimal outcome, of course, and the only one that 
doesnQt bring with it a huge risk of violence and conflict, is 
a genuinely free and fair election, under international 
supervision.  The Mbeki mediation offers the best, albeit 
very slim, hope of getting there.  However, as Pretoria 
grows more and more worried about the chaos to its north 
and President MbekiQs patience with MugabeQs antics wears 
thin, the prospects for serious South African engagement 
may be growing.  Thus, this effort deserves all the support 
and backing we can muster.  Less attractive is the idea of 
a South African-brokered transitional arrangement or 
government of national unity.  Mbeki has always favored 
stability and in his mind this means a ZANU-PF-led GNU, with 
perhaps a few MDC additions.  This solution is more likely 
to prolong than resolve the crisis and we must guard 
against letting Pretoria dictate an outcome which 
 
HARARE 00000638  003 OF 004 
 
 
perpetuates the status quo at the expense of real change 
and reform. 
 
8.  (C)  The other scenarios are all less attractive:  a popular 
uprising would inevitably entail a bloodbath, even if it 
were ultimately successful; MugabeQs sudden, unexpected 
death would set off a stampede for power among ZANU-PF 
heavy weights; a palace coup, whether initiated within 
ZANU-PF or from the military - in which Mugabe is removed, 
killed, exiled or otherwise disposed of, could well devolve 
into open conflict between the contending successors.   Similarly, 
some form of "constitutional coup" i.e., a change at the top 
engineered within the framework of ZANU-PFQs "legitimate" 
structures could well prove to be merely the opening bell 
in a prolonged power struggle.  None of the players is 
likely to go quietly into the night without giving everything 
they have, including calling on 
their supporters in the security services. Moreover, experience 
elsewhere would suggest that whoever comes out on top 
initially will struggle, and more than likely fail, to halt 
the economic collapse.  Thus, there is a good prospect of 
not one but a series of rapid-fire Qtransitions,Q until 
some new, stable dispensation is reached. 
 
9.  (C)  The final, and probably worst, possibility is that Mugabe 
concludes he can settle for ruling over a rump Zimbabwe, 
maintaining control over Harare and the Mashona heartland, 
the critical forces of the National Reserve Force and CIO 
and a few key assets Q gold, diamonds, platinum and Air 
Zimbabwe to fund the good times.  Under this scenario the 
rest of the country, in one of the comradeQs favorite 
phrases, could Qgo hang,Q leaving it to the international 
community to stave off the worst humanitarian consequences. 
 
 
WHAT OF THE OPPOSITION? 
 
10.  (C)  ZimbabweQs opposition is far from ideal and I leave 
convinced that had we had different partners we could have 
achieved more already.  But you have to play the hand youQre dealt. 
With that in mind, the current leadership has little executive 
experience and will require massive hand holding and assistance 
should they ever come to power. 
 
11.  (C)  Morgan Tsvangarai is a brave, committed man and, by and 
large, a democrat.  He is also the only player on the scene 
right now with real star quality and the ability to rally 
the masses.  But Tsvangarai is also a flawed figure, not 
readily open to advice, indecisive and with questionable 
judgment in selecting those around him.  He is the indispensable 
element for opposition success, but possibly an albatross around 
t heir necks once in power.  In short, he is a kind of Lech Walesa 
character:  Zimbabwe needs him, but should not rely on his executive 
abilities to lead the country's recovery.  Arthur Mutambara is young 
and ambitious, attracted to radical, anti-western rhetoric and 
smart as a whip.  But, in many respects heQs a light-weight 
who has spent too much time reading U.S. campaign messaging 
manuals and too little thinking about the real issues.  Welshman 
Ncube has proven to be a deeply divisive 
and destructive player in the opposition ranks and the 
sooner he is pushed off the stage, the better.  But he is 
useful to many, including the regime and South Africa, so 
is probably a cross to be borne for some time yet.  The 
prospects for healing the rift within the MDC seem dim, 
which is a totally unnecessary self-inflicted wound on 
their part this time.  With few exceptions Q Tendayi Biti, 
Nelson Chamisa Q the talent is thin below the top ranks. 
The great saving grace of the opposition is likely to be 
found in the diaspora.  Most of ZimbabweQs best 
professionals, entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, etc., 
have fled the country.  They are the oppositionQs natural 
allies and it is encouraging to see signs, particularly in 
South Africa and the UK, that these people are talking, 
 
HARARE 00000638  004 OF 004 
 
 
sharing ideas, developing plans and thinking together about 
future recovery. 
 
12.  (C)  Unfortunately, among the MDCQs flaws is its inability to 
work more effectively with the rest of civil society.  The 
blame for this can be shared on both sides (many civil 
society groups, like the NCA, are single-issue focused and 
take the overall dynamic in unhelpful directions; others, 
like WOZA, insist on going it alone as a matter of 
principle), but ultimately it falls to the MDC as the 
largest and the only true political party, to show the 
way.  Once again, however, these are natural allies and 
they have more reason to work together than fight against each 
other. 
 
STAYING THE COURSE, PREPARING FOR CHANGE 
 
13.  (C)  If I am right and change is in the offing, we need to 
step up our preparations.  The work done over the last year on 
transition planning has been extremely useful, both for 
stimulating a fresh look at our own assumptions and plans 
and for forging a common approach among the traditional 
donor community.  But the process has lagged since the 
meetings in March in London and should be re-energized.  It is 
encouraging in this respect that USAID Washington has 
engaged the Mission here in discussing how we would use 
additional resources in response to a genuinely 
reform-minded government .  I hope this will continue and 
the good work done so far will survive the usual 
bloodletting of the budget process. 
 
14.  (C)  The official media has had a field day recently whooping 
that "Dell leaves Zimbabwe a failed man".  That's not quite 
how it looks from here.  I believe that the firm 
U.S. stance, the willingness to speak out and stand up, 
have contributed to the accelerating pace of change. 
Mugabe and his henchman are like bullies everywhere:  if 
they can intimidate you they will.  But ther're not used to 
someone standing up to them and fighting back.  It catches them 
off guard and that's when they make mistakes. The howls of protest 
over critical  statements from Washington or negative coverage 
on CNN are the clearest proof of how this hurts them.  Ditto 
the squeals over Qillegal sanctions.Q  In addition, the regime 
has become so used to calling the shots and dictating the 
pace that the merest stumble panics them.  Many local 
observers have noted that Mugabe is panicked and 
desperate about hyperinflation at the moment, and hence heQs 
making mistakes.  Possibly fatal mistakes.  We need to 
keep the pressure on in order to keep Mugabe off his game 
and on his back foot, relying on his own shortcomings to do 
him in.  Equally important is an active U.S. leadership 
role in the international community.  The UK is ham-strung 
by its colonial past and domestic politics, thus, letting them 
set the pace alone merely limits our effectiveness.  The EU is 
divided between the hard north and its soft southern 
underbelly.  The Africans are only now beginning to find 
their voice.  Rock solid partners like Australia donQt 
pack enough punch to step out front and the UN is a 
non-player.  Thus it falls to the U.S., once again, to take 
the lead, to say and do the hard things and to set the agenda. 
Hundreds, maybe thousands, of ordinary Zimbabweans of all 
kinds have told me that our clear, forthright stance has 
given them hope and the courage to hang on.  By this regimeQs 
standards, acting in the interests of the people may indeed be 
considered a failure.  But I believe that the opposite is true, 
and that we can be justifiably proud that in Zimbabwe we have 
helped advance the PresidentQs freedom Agenda.  The people of 
this country know it and recognize it and that is the true 
touchstone of our success here. 
 
DELL