Monday, September 28, 2020

Masire in Richard Branson’s plan to persuade Mugabe out of power

Former President Ketumile Masire was part of a secret plan sponsored by British businessman Richard Branson to get Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe out of power ÔÇô Wikileaks has revealed.

According to the leaked US embassy cables, Masire who was part of the African “Elders” which included former presidents Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, had agreed to participate in the plan and were to hold a secret meeting with Branson to discuss the initiative.

The Zimbabwe initiative was cast as supportive of the South African-led SADC mediation.
Former Mugabe Information Minister, Jonathan Moyo, was 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, to suggest the involvement of the former African leaders. Branson agreed to fund the initiative, including Moyo’s travel and technical assistance.

Moyo’s draft concept “Review of Issues and Strategy” paper (emailed to AF/S) outlines his views on the reasons behind the Zimbabwean crisis: the disagreement between the GOZ and U.K. 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:

. The Elders would travel to Zimbabwe to meet with Mugabe.

. The Elders would urge Mugabe to support a new constitution, which would include “watertight” provisions on Mugabe’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 suggested a script for the Elders in their proposed meeting with Mugabe:
— tell Mugabe that they are approaching him because they “respect him” and want to safeguard his “proud legacy;”
— 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;”
— 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”.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.