President Robert Mugabe was prepared to accept defeat after losing the 2008 Presidential elections and to hand over power, possibly to party stalwart Emmerson Mnangagwa, a leaked diplomatic cable released recently has claimed.
The latest cable released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks on August 30, 2011 on conversations between Mugabe and veteran Zambian politician Vernon Mwaanga, quoted former United States ambassador to Zambia Carmen M Martinez as having been told that the President was also “completely shocked” at not having won the first round of the Presidential race.
After Mwaanga met Mugabe in Harare, he then briefed Martinez in Lusaka on what had transpired giving possible scenarios of what could happen if Zanu PF lost the election.
However, Presidential spokesperson George Charamba yesterday told NewsDay that it was not his business to comment on what outsiders leaked or said about Mugabe.
“Is it really my business to answer questions and worry about what the world says about President Mugabe?” Charamba queried.
“I do not want to comment on things that do not involve Zimbabweans because that is not an opinion of a Zimbabwean, but of a Zambian.”
According to the cable, Mwaanga met Mugabe on April 14, 2008 at the behest of the outgoing African Union chairperson Jean Ping. During that meeting, Mugabe allegedly told Mwaanga he would step down within one year, and hand over the party leadership before calling for a new Presidential race.
“Mugabe told Mwaanga that he intends to accept defeat if he loses the run off election. In the event of his victory, Mugabe claims that he will step down within one year, handing over the party leadership and calling for a new Presidential race,” read the cable.
Mwaanga’s friendship with Mugabe is said to have dated back to the 1970s when he served as the Zambian Foreign minister and supported Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.
“Mwaanga described Mugabe as ‘completely shocked’ at not having won the Presidential election. Mwaanga said Mugabe would not accept a government of national unity as this would entail departing from the constitutionally defined electoral process.
“Allegedly, Mugabe told Mwaanga that he will accept the election results if he loses the runoff. In the event that he wins the runoff, Mugabe explained his intention to remain in office for less than a year.
“According to Mwaanga, Mugabe means to turn over the Zanu PF party leadership, perhaps to Emmerson Mnangagwa, and prepare the way for a Zanu PF victory in an ensuing Presidential race,” the cable said.
Mnangagwa, who is currently Defence minister, allegedly leads a powerful Zanu PF faction, with Vice-President Joice Mujuru leading the other.
Mwaanga is also said to have leaked that he had spoken to MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai,
secretary-general Tendai Biti and other senior MDC-T leaders who were divided internally as to whether to participate in the 2008 Presidential runoff election or not.
“Mwaanga said the MDC representatives were prepared to come to terms with Mnangagwa and that their contention was only with President Mugabe and not with the Zanu PF party,” said the cable.