Details of Joyce Mujuru Secret Meeting with US Ambassador Charles Ray
In an informal and introductory meeting, which circumvented Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) protocol, the Ambassador and Vice President Joice Mujuru discussed sanctions, the Global Political Agreement (GPA), and ZANU-PF.
Mujuru hewed to the party line on sanctions, claiming that sanctions on institutions were hurting ordinary Zimbabweans. The Ambassador responded that the U.S. was looking for progress on the GPA as a predicate to lifting these sanctions. On the GPA, Mujuru maintained that ZANU-PF had made significant concessions; the most critical outstanding issue was sanctions. Without separating herself from President Robert Mugabe, Mujuru said that new and younger leadership was entering ZANU-PF and the party would gradually evolve. The meeting was friendly and, at a minimum, opened up a channel of communication. END SUMMARY.
2. ZANU-PF government officials normally will not meet with us unless a request is sent out to the MFA. The MFA then schedules the meeting and sends a note taker. Through a Mujuru advisor, David Butau, we requested an informal meeting to better establish a relationship and facilitate an exchange of views. Three days after the conclusion of the ZANU-PF Congress, Mujuru agreed to a meeting, but it was only at the last minute that logistics were arranged. Mujuru, who is acting president while Mugabe is in Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference, wanted to ensure that the meeting with the U.S. ambassador was private and undisclosed.
3. The meeting took place in an unoccupied house owned by Mujuru on the outskirts of Harare. The affluent and powerful are not immune from frequent Harare power cuts, and the neighborhood was dark. While the house had electricity, irregular power had shorted most of the lights. A Mujuru employee who led us through darkened grounds to an unfurnished living room (except for chairs and a plasma television) where Mujuru and Butau were waiting already. The Vice President had managed to shed all of her (presumably CIO-infiltrated) security. She herself poured tea. The meeting was friendly and respectful; at the end, Mujuru said she would like to meet again and continue the conversation.
4. Not surprisingly, Mujuru began the discussion with sanctions. She argued that while she and others were targets, they were not hurt. Rather, ordinary Zimbabweans were suffering because of sanctions on institutions such as ZB Bank and Agribank, which had historically provided loans to small businesspersons and farmers. Now, because of sanctions, they were illiquid and could not lend. The Ambassador acknowledged that sanctions were an emotional and pervasive issue. There might be willingness in Washington to look at non-personal sanctions, but this was not a one-sided process. With progress on GPA issues, the U.S. would consider responding. How did she see progress, the Ambassador asked?
5. Mujuru stated that the most critical GPA issue was Q5. Mujuru stated that the most critical GPA issue was sanctions. ZANU-PF thought that by signing the GPA and agreeing to a government with the MDC it had given more than the MDC. The MDC had made a number of unhelpful “pronouncements.” At various times, according to Mujuru, it had urged Zimbabwe’s neighbors to withhold electricity and fuel. It had asked western countries to maintain personal sanctions. ZANU-PF officials, according to Mujuru, were becoming “unsettled” and wanted to see MDC movement on sanctions. (COMMENT: The Ambassador noted that the MDC could not remove sanctions — this was up to western governments — and Mujuru did not dispute this. But she wanted the MDC to cease its “pronouncements.” We expect an announcement on December 21 by the GPA principals on GPA issues that have been resolved, probably commissions and the appointment of governors, and it would not be surprising for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at that time to suggest that at least some non-personal sanctions be removed.
6. Mujuru continued that there was a distinction between politics and government. While efforts were on going to resolve political differences, the government was making progress. A bill to limit the powers of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s governor was close to passage, and Zimbabwe had just signed a bilateral investment treaty with South Africa. She pleaded for U.S. help to restore Zimbabwe’s economy.
7. After commenting that the U.S. was providing substantial assistance (food and medical) to the people of Zimbabwe, the Ambassador replied that, sanctions or no sanctions, Zimbabwe could begin to regrow its economy. This would require restoring external and internal confidence — investors needed to know there was security of contracts and no excessive government interference in the economy. In other words, businesses would accept economic risk, but it was necessary to remove political risk.
8. Turning to politics, Mujuru said the ZANU-PF old guard was giving way to “young blood.” She noted that she (55 years old) and new Party Chair Simon Khaya Moyo (64 years old) are on the younger side and form one-half of the ZANU-PF presidium (along with Mugabe and new vice president John Nkomo). The presidium would be together for five years. Mujuru concluded, “Let’s work together.”
9. While Mujuru is inculcated with ZANU-PF ideology, evidenced by her views on sanctions, she and her husband, General Solomon Mujuru, are business people who understand that a friendlier and more stable business environment requires political change. She also would like better relations with the U.S., which she views as essential for Zimbabwe’s economic growth. This no doubt motivated her desire for a non-official meeting with the Ambassador immediately after the ZANU-PF Congress. The fact that she was impelled to have a clandestine meeting is reflective of the power of Mugabe and hard-liners and the fear they engender. It also shows the weakness of the party, in that it will not tolerate its second highest-ranking official having a private meeting with the U.S. ambassador. (Tsvangirai had no qualms about informally and openly meeting the Ambassador. Ref A.)
10. Because of her gender, Mujuru is an unlikely successor to Mugabe (Ref B). But she occupies a prominent position in ZANU-PF and will likely be part of the power structure after Mugabe. We know from other sources that she and her husband would like to see Mugabe move on. She was cautious in her first meeting with the Ambassador, but we will pursue the relationship both to gain insights into ZANU-PF and to encourage reform efforts. ENDS