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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06HARARE1465 2006-12-12 14:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Harare
Cable title:  

ZANU-PF CONFERENCE POISED TO PROLONG MUGABE'S TERM

Tags:   PGOV PREL ZI 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001465 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR S. HILL
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/12/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI
SUBJECT: ZANU-PF CONFERENCE POISED TO PROLONG MUGABE'S TERM

REF: REFTEL: HARARE 1413

Classified By: Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Eric T. Schultz
under Section 1.5 b/d

-------
Summary
-------



1. (C) The struggle to succeed Robert Mugabe has taken a
twist in the run-up to the annual ZANU-PF conference slated
for December 14-17. Although Mugabe in on record promising
to step down in 2008, when the next presidential elections
are scheduled, the conference appears likely to call for
extending his term to 2010. ZANU-PF has sufficient votes in
parliament to pass the required constitutional amendment, but
the debate may expose further fault lines within the ruling
party. The consequences for the country could catastrophic,
with the risk of a disorderly succession increasing and
needed economic reforms being delayed indefinitely. End
Summary.



--------------------------


2010 Emerges As Likely Election Date


--------------------------





2. (C) The 82 year-old Mugabe announced in 2005 that he
would not run in the 2008 presidential elections. Since that
time, the succession struggle with-in ZANU-PF has
intensified. Speculation has centered on two factions: one
centered on Vice President Joyce Mujuru, wife of former
Zimbabwean Defense Forces commander Solomon Mujuru; the other
on the former heir apparent and one-time Speaker of
Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa. The Mujurus have had the
upper hand since the last ZANU-PF Party Congress in 2004,
which saw Joyce Mujuru elevated to the vice-presidency.
However, Mugabe has continued to play the factions against
one another and has declined to name a successor.



3. (C) The internal maneuvering with-in ZANU-PF over the
succession has largely been carried out behind closed doors.
However, in recent weeks, as the conference has edged closer,
the maneuvering has begun to spill out into the public. This
past week saw a series of articles in government newspapers
and the independent press, which taken together, seem to
indicate that Mugabe may have finally chosen his immediate
successor ) himself ) while putting off for several years
the question of his ultimate successor.



4. (C) With the ZANU-PF Politburo having previously decided
to support unification of the presidential election
(scheduled for 2008) and the parliamentary election
(scheduled for 2010) (reftel), pressure has mounted on the
conference to support a consolidated election * and to
support a 2010 date. Party leaders in six of the ten
provinces reportedly have adopted resolutions calling for the
national conference to do just that.



5. (C) Perhaps the strongest evidence that the party
conference will support prolonging Mugabe's term to 2010
appeared in the December 2 edition of the
government-controlled Herald under an editorial written by
"Nathaniel Manheru" ) widely believed to be the penname of
Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba. The Manheru article
begins with the ominous line "When Zimbabweans go to the
polls in 2010(to choose their president and members of
parliament(" An even more ominous trial balloon was floated
by Security Minister Didymus Mutasa in the December 6 edition
of an online independent newspaper, in which Mutasa is quoted

HARARE 00001465 002 OF 002


that "someone" at the conference may call for Mugabe to be
made the ruling party's President-for-Life and permanent
presidential candidate, and, given all Mugabe has done for
his country, how could the party refuse.



--------------------------


Consequences


--------------------------





6. (C) Postponement of the presidential election to 2010, if
it occurs, could expose fault lines within ZANU-PF. It would
require a constitutional change by Parliament. ZANU-PF has
had the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution
at will since the March 2005 parliamentary elections.
However, it has not been able to agree on what form that
change should take, a symptom of the ruling party's broader
inability to agree on a successor to Mugabe. The
parliamentary vote would be open and would therefore likely
produce public uniform agreement to the amendment, but those
disappointed with extending Mugabe,s term in office, such as
the Mujurus, could attempt to delay or circumvent it behind
the scenes.



7. (C) In addition, the pressure on Mugabe to step aside may
actually increase rather than dissipate as a result of a
decision to stay in power and put off choosing a successor.
Under Mugabe, the GOZ is unlikely to embrace the reforms
needed to turn the economy around. In the absence of an
economic revival, the party,s patronage system will continue
to erode, the military and police will increasingly be under
funded and ineffective, and the party,s popularity among
ordinary Zimbabweans (those who remain) will likely continue
to decline. Disappointed would be successors may feel their
chance slipping away and may try to use the country,s
economic freefall to bring pressure on Mugabe to step down
before 2010.



8. (C) In the final analysis, if Mugabe follows through on
his plans to extend his term in office, the chances of an
orderly transition to his successor will be diminished. That
may not matter to Mugabe, or to his inner circle who have
will gained more time in which to loot the country. It will
matter to most Zimbabweans, including most of the rank and
file of ZANU-PF. By hanging on to power until the bitter
end, Mugabe may ensure the ruination of his party but,
unfortunately, also the ruination of the country.
SCHULTZ