The former Education minister told embassy officials that if America insisted on passing the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera), there would be unrest leading to a coup by the armed forces.
“Chigwedere said the ZDA (Zidera) would accelerate Zimbabwe’s economic decline and lead to unrest that would force the army to intervene,” the cable, leaked by whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, revealed.
“Zimbabwean urbanites would not lift a finger to oppose the military because of the memory of the recent elections and the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s and Zimbabwe would be stuck with a military government for three to five years.”
Chigwedere further conceded that the government had failed since independence, but the military, the police and war veterans would not accept to be governed by someone who was not one of their own.
The historian said the military would not support Morgan Tsvangirai if he were to come to power through a popular revolution, “but was more vague when asked if the military would support a legitimately elected Tsvangirai”.
In this instance, Chigwedere defended Zanu PF, claiming Mugabe had appointed new blood and this would take the country forward. He had just been appointed Education minister. But in another cable, Chigwedere did a volte-face claiming Mugabe was now a liability to the country and should leave office. He said, however, this would be difficult, as in Shona tradition, a chief did not vacate office, and only “God could retire a chief”.
“It would be very difficult for him (Mugabe) to do so, however, because it is not in the African tradition for chiefs to simply step aside and become ordinary men,” Chigwedere said.
The governor is reported to have said Mugabe had surrounded himself with sycophants, who were misleading him, as they were only bent on pleasing the veteran leader and were loath to do anything that would upset him.
“This has led to an ivory tower syndrome, in which Mugabe does not fully understand the depth of discontent in the country,” he said.
Chigwedere said he did not see any chance for the leadership renewal as long as the old guard were still entrenched.