Another confidential memo from the United States embassy in South Africa published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks has made damning revelations that the United Nations, working in cahoots with exiled Zimbabwean businessmen in South Africa, planned a bloodless coup to topple President Robert Mugabe.
The memo, titled in the leaked correspondence as “Secret Power Sharing Plan”, chronicles how a group of exiled Zimbabwean businessmen crafted a proposal in 2007 to get President Mugabe persuaded to hand over executive power to a prime minister before leaving office completely within three years.
In a tele-conference with 20 embassies across Africa on Thursday, US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said the documents being published were “stolen and do not represent the totality of the interest that we have”.
“We seek to have a strong relationship based on mutual interest and national interest,” said Carson.
“The information does not only damage the US but other elements within the international community.”
Carson said the US would continue to engage its embassies in foreign countries.
But according to WikiLeaks, US officials are said to have welcomed the idea (of a smooth coup), noting that it was “increasingly in circulation” in Harare, and “may not require outside intervention”.
Executive power was to be shifted from President Mugabe to a “technocratic” premier.
“To get (President) Mugabe to accept the deal, (President) Mugabe would remain President until 2010 with some power over the security apparatus, but the prime minister would run the economy and get the country back on its feet,” the dispatch says.
“All parties would work together to draft a new constitution. (The master planner) was open to ideas on who best to sell the plan, but suggested new UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, working through an envoy like former Malaysian PM Mahathir (Mohamad), as possible mediators.”
Another batch sent on Wednesday February 10, 2010 from Harare titled “Observations on the Political Landscape” described Zanu PF as badly fractured.
“He likened Zanu PF to a troop of baboons incessantly fighting among themselves, but coming together to face an external threat. New leadership was essential and would emerge as some of the old timers, including Robert Mugabe, left the scene.”
The documents suggested that Vice-President Joice Mujuru or S.K. Moyo (former ambassador to South African and now Zanu PF party chairman) were possibilities to replace President Mugabe, although it said Mujuru’s fear of President Mugabe was affecting her ability to lead.
The documents said elections would take place in 2012 or 2013 arguing parliamentarians from all parties, particularly those who had no income before coming into office, had no interest in running again before it became necessary and they would try to stall the constitutional process.
On sanctions, it said the restrictive measures on individuals should remain if justified by the behaviour of these individuals.
“Sanctions on parastatals that were contributing or could contribute to the economy should be lifted.
“There is little doubt that if a secret party election were held, Mugabe and his inner circle would lose their positions,” reads the dispatch.
“But Mugabe, aided by the securocrats and through fear, still has control.”
Under the “soft coup” plan, President Mugabe would have retained the power to appoint the ministers of Defence, Home Affairs and National Security.
The prime minister would have appointed other Cabinet members, particularly in the economic arena, while the deployment of troops would have required the approval of both the PM and President.
In return for various reforms, the international community was to agree on a phased lifting of sanctions, the “acceptance” of the extension of President Mugabe’s term to 2010 and economic assistance to help rehabilitate the Zimbabwean economy.
“The four businessmen agreed that there is a ‘window of opportunity’ to bring positive change to Zimbabwe, opened by the deteriorating economic situation and Mugabe’s advancing age and declining health.”
Another memo from the US embassy in Harare, titled “How to Get Mugabe Out”, showed that a decade ago the MDC considered a “mass action” to force the President from office.
It details a breakfast meeting on November 16, 2000 between Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Susan Rice, then-President Bill Clinton’s assistant secretary for African affairs.
“Mass action would be intended to pressure President Mugabe to resign,” it says. “The MDC understands the serious risks associated with mass action, Tsvangirai professed, and recognises that it is in the country’s best interest to avoid bloodshed.
“Tsvangirai believed the army wouldn’t hesitate to shoot a lot of people.
“Tsvangirai was frank, confident and relaxed. However, he did not convince us that the MDC has a clear or well-thought-out plan for mass action or what it would accomplish.
“Everyone is focused on seeing Mugabe go but it will probably take a convergence of opposition from Zanu-PF, the military and regional leaders to force him out.”
The MDC leader, according to the document, was seeking foreign assistance with little success.
“Tsvangirai mentioned that on his last visit to South Africa he met with former president Nelson Mandela – who still exerts great influence in South Africa, he stated – and urged the leader to intervene in Zimbabwe. He did not receive a firm commitment from Mandela, however, and did not see (Thabo) Mbeki.
“Tsvangirai said that when he was in the UK recently he told the British to refrain from making public statements on land reform in Zimbabwe and to use their influence behind the scenes to resolve the problem.”
Even in 2000 Tsvangirai said that ideally the MDC would like to see a “transitional arrangement” over two years where President Mugabe’s Zanu PF remained in power but brought in MDC ministers to arrest economic decline.
Another eight years, with much bloodshed and hardship, were to pass before this became reality.
Turning to diamonds, the leaked US documents said illegal trade in the country’s gemstones had led to the killing of thousands of people whilst enriching those close to President Mugabe.
The classified documents date from before the unity government came to power, said US diplomats cited a well established British mining executive as saying those close to President Mugabe, including his wife, “have been extracting tremendous profits” from the Chiadzwa diamond mines in the eastern part of the country.
“The diamonds that are sold to regime members and elites are sold for freshly printed Zimbabwean notes issued by the RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe),” one document from late 2008 cited British mining executive Andrew Cranswick as saying.
The stones, dubbed “blood diamonds” because of the human rights abuses associated with their extraction, were then resold to foreign buyers, earning each of the members of the powerful group hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, it said.