MDC sought cash for generals

elton_mangomaHARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai requested the US government to provide a 'trust fund' to sweeten retirement packages for army generals to entice them out of office. (Pictured: Elton Mangoma Asked US to contribute to 'trust fund' to sweeten retirement packages for generals.)

The extraordinary plea was allegedly made by MDC-T deputy secretary general Elton Mangoma in an October 29, 2009 meeting with political and economic affairs chief at the US embassy Katherine Dhanani, according to a memo drawn up by American officials which was obtained by the secrets-spilling WikiLeaks website.

Zimbabwes hardliner generals are widely seen as wielding a de facto veto over the countrys troubled transformation process and likely to block transfer of power to the winners of elections expected next year should the victors not be President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) party.

“According to Elton Mangoma, MDC-T Minister of Economic Development and member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s inner circle, the MDC would like the U.S. to contribute to a ‘trust fund’ to buy off securocrats and move them into retirement,” says the US cable.

The cable further says Mangoma, one of Tsvangirai’s closest advisors and one of the MDC-T negotiators of the global political agreement (GPA), reiterated Tsvangirai’s views that a primary obstacle to political progress and reform was the service chiefs.

Analysts say Mugabe is banking on the commanders to mastermind another violent campaign to ensure his Zanu (PF) party emerges victorious in elections the 86-year old leader insists must take place next year.

“Unlike many Zanu-PF insiders who had stolen and invested wisely, these individuals had not become wealthy,” the cable says. “They feared economic pressures, as well as prosecution for their misdeeds, should political change result in their being forced

from office.

Therefore, they were resisting GPA progress that could ultimately result in fair elections. Mangoma asked for consideration of U.S. contribution to a “trust fund” that could be used to negotiate the service chiefs’ retirement. He said he planned to approach the UK and Germany with the same request.”

The security chiefs are Mugabes staunchest allies and are credited with keeping the President in power after waging a ruthless campaign of violence in 2008 to force then opposition leader Tsvangirai to withdraw from a second round presidential poll that analysts had strongly tipped the former trade unionist to win.

Tsvangirai had beaten Mugabe in the first round ballot but failed to achieve outright victory to avoid the second round run-off poll.

The security chiefs have previously vowed to never salute a president who did not take part in Zimbabwes 1970s liberation struggle, in what was seen as a clear warning they would topple any government led by Tsvangirai who did not take part in the independence war.

In recent days, top security commanders among them Brigadier General Douglas Nyikaramba and police chief Augustine Chihuri have issued tough statements vowing their support for Mugabe as another poll looms.

But the US cable suggested Mugabe was not at the beck and call of his security commanders noting the Zimbabwean President could still make concessions if he chose to.

“While no doubt there are hardliners, including the service chiefs, close to Mugabe who are pressuring him not to further implement the GPA, we continue to believe he could make concessions should he choose to do so,” the US cable said.

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