Zanu PF secretary for education in the Politburo and former deputy national political commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the US political section chief Matt Harrington in 2002 that senior party members were quietly discussing President Mugabe’s exit.
According to WikiLeaks cables released last week, Ndlovu told the Americans that Politburo members were considering their future after President Mugabe had stepped down.
“In an April 24 (2002) conversation with political section chief, Zanu-PF deputy political commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said Politburo members are, for the first time, quietly discussing ways to ease President Mugabe out, but few are willing to confront the Zimbabwean President directly.
“According to Ndlovu, any solution must contain a “safe package” for Mugabe, which protects him from prosecution and allows him to remain in Zimbabwe,” the cable revealed.
The cable indicates that Ndlovu, who had held several meetings with US Embassy officials, described himself as ‘‘a voice of moderation” in the Politburo who “regularly tries to restrain the worst excesses of party hardliners.”
“He claimed that, now that the election is over, he spends much less of his time on politics, concentrating instead on running his private educational institution around the country.” Ndlovu was later appointed Minister of Information and Publicity.
He, however, is reported to have told Harrington that the Politburo was full of individuals aspiring to lead Zanu-PF. He said two options had been discussed among like-minded members.
“The first is to somehow invoke a section of the draft constitution rejected in 2000 creating the position of Prime Minister.
“Creation of such a position, giving it executive powers and making the presidency a largely ceremonial position would be one way to preserve (President) Mugabe’s ego.
“Ndlovu stressed several times it was important to provide (President) Mugabe with a “safe package,” which protects him from prosecution and allows him to live out his remaining years in Zimbabwe.”
The second option, Ndlovu allegedly told the official, was to engineer the appointment of two “young, vigorous vice presidents” who are gradually able to become the primary decision-makers. Ndlovu allegedly urged the US government to consider “moderates” like himself in Zanu-PF.
He allegedly said the hardliners in the party were, however, stronger and were not willing to “stick their necks out.” The former information and publicity minister told the US embassy official that the Politburo members would not resign because they were afraid of repercussions.
“Ndlovu described (then) Speaker of Parliament and secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa as a ruling party hardliner “through and through” who has little Politburo support, due to his ruthlessness. The Herald