Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Moyo begs UK tycoon to oust Mugabe

By Nkululeko Sibanda

HARARE – United States’ “useful messenger” and serial political flip-flopper, Jonathan Moyo, courted and connived with British billionaire, Sir Richard Branson to help fund part of his plot to have President Robert Mugabe out of power, WikiLeaks has revealed.

Jonathan Moyo, courted and connived with British billionaire, Sir Richard Branson
Jonathan Moyo, courted and connived with British billionaire, Sir Richard Branson

The Daily News on Sunday understands that among other initiatives, the Moyo/Branson plan involved dangling a US$10 million carrot to Mugabe to sweeten him to step down, but the 87-year-old leader was reportedly not interested.

Branson is one of the wealthiest businesspeople in the United Kingdom and owns reputable airline Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Megastores, Virgin Records, Virgin Mobile as well as a game lodge and several other businesses in South Africa and  the UK. Branson is said to be interested in investing in Zimbabwe but wants to do it in a post-Mugabe era and is desperate for Mugabe to go.

According to a cable prepared by former US Ambassador to South Africa, Eric Bost on 11 July 2007 and leaked by whistle blower website, WikiLeaks, Moyo discussed, during several meetings and in correspondence with Branson, ways that could be exploited to oust Mugabe from power.

Moyo told Branson that it would be easy to use a group of African leaders whom he was to fully brief on how to convince the octogenarian leader to leave power.

In the cable, Bost listed former presidents Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Sam Nujoma (Namibia), Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Jerry Rawlings (Ghana), Joaquim Chissano (Mozambique), Daniel Arap Moi (Kenya) and Sir Ketumile Masire (Botswana) as the leaders that had agreed to take Mugabe head on and convince him to step down.

Before coming to Zimbabwe, the “elders” were to meet in Johannesburg, South Africa in July 2007 where they were to discuss how best they could engage with Mugabe. “The ‘elders’ planned to meet secretly in Johannesburg on July 17-18 with Branson to discuss their initiative,” wrote Bost in his cable.

“Former United Nations Secretary General (UNSYG) Kofi Annan also plans to attend the meeting. President Carter will also be in Johannesburg and will meet with the group of Elders, although it is not clear if he will be involved in the Zimbabwe discussion.  UK businessman Richard Branson is bankrolling the African ‘elders’ initiative to convince Zimbabwean President Mugabe to step down,” he added.

Bost also disclosed that Moyo was the brains behind the approach. “Former Mugabe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo is working with Branson on the plan. Moyo reached out to Branson, who owns Virgin Atlantic airline as well as a game lodge and chain of gyms in South Africa, in early June to suggest the involvement of the former African leaders.

“Branson agreed to fund the initiative, including Moyo’s travel and technical assistance. Embassy contact Sydney Masamvu (strictly protect) provided Bost with e-mails between Moyo and Branson, as well as a copy of Moyo’s draft concept paper for the initiative,” Bost said.

The US diplomat added that Moyo supplied Branson with a document where he clearly outlined why Zimbabwe had sunk into an economic and political abyss. Most of the country’s problems, according to Moyo’s paper, were as a result of Mugabe’s refusal to step down due to fears he could be prosecuted for human and people’s rights violations, a flawed constitution, and many other issues.

“Moyo’s draft concept ‘Review of Issues and Strategy’ paper outlines his views on the reasons behind the Zimbabwean crisis: the disagreement between the GOZ (Government of Zimbabwe) and UK over the ‘source or cause of the crisis,’ a ‘flawed constitutional dispensation,’ and Mugabe’s unwillingness to allow anyone to succeed him ‘due to his deep-seated immunity fears and concerns.”

Moyo proposes to the elders a four-point strategy to deal with Mugabe,” Bost added. According to Moyo’s plan, the “elders” would travel to Zimbabwe to meet with Mugabe where they would urge him (Mugabe) to support a new constitution, which would include “watertight” provisions on the ageing leader’s immunity from prosecution and allow for a truth and reconciliation process.

“The new constitution would allow Mugabe to appoint an executive Prime Minister, who would form a “broad based government of all national talents and interests;” Parliament would then select a new, non-executive President.

“This new government would last until November 2010, when a general election would be held,” Moyo tacitly laid out in his plan which was tabled with the US. He also “advised” elders to “tell Mugabe that they are approaching him because they “respect him” and want to safeguard his “proud legacy;” and also to express concern about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe.

“…tell Mugabe the time has come to step aside ‘graciously and with dignity to allow his country to move on.  (The elders should)… stress that “it is now certain Zimbabwe will slip into dangerous chaos” if Mugabe does not step down; and suggest that they support Mugabe now, but “will not be able to do so if the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates,” wrote the ambassador on what Moyo had proposed. Daily News