via Mutsvangwa fêted by ‘hated’ Americans – DailyNews Live 13 November 2014 by Fungi Kwaramba
HARARE – Chris Mutsvangwa, the outspoken deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, who is often quoted by State media when they are denigrating other senior Zanu PF officials accused of colluding with the West in their alleged plots to oust President Robert Mugabe from power, was himself hosted and fêted by the Americans two years ago.
The Daily News was told yesterday that Mutsvangwa was flown to the US capital, Washington, by the Americans in 2012, “to discuss Zimbabwe’s political transition”, although he is now often at the forefront of denigrating party bigwigs like Vice President Joice Mujuru, who are alleged to be working in cahoots with the West to topple Mugabe from power.
Mutsvangwa, who went to Washington with six other Zimbabweans — among them former minister in the government of national unity Jameson Timba — was sponsored in full, to travel there by the National Endowment for Democracy (Ned), a congressionally-funded non-governmental organisation, to discuss “new political dynamics” in Zimbabwe, in meetings that took place between July 10 and 16, 2012.
The Washington meetings were held under the theme, “Re-thinking Zimbabwe,” and sought to help “the international community to reassess opportunities for democratic reform” in the country, and explored ways that the United States Government could help the MDC to push Zanu PF to implement a power-sharing agreement that would lead to Zanu PF losing power”, according to diplomats who took part in the Harare leg of the discussions.
The July 2012 meetings were a sequel to a similar meeting convened in Harare by the United States Government through its Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, that was held on May 23, 2011, between 2pm and 8pm” to reflect on ways of re-aligning US foreign policy on Zimbabwe”.
That meeting was coordinated by Michael Gonzales, Counsellor for Political and Economic Affairs at the US Embassy.
Mutsvangwa confirmed attending the meeting yesterday, but only as a representative of Zanu PF.
“I went there representing Zanu PF and I was representing the Zimbabwe government. I have represented the Zimbabwe government on several occasions. I speak to everybody, it’s laughable,” he said.
Timba told the Daily News yesterday that the meeting was held to map the way forward towards democratic transition and that he, along with Arthur Mutambara, were representing the government as ministers.
“Yes, we went to America and it was a conference on rethinking Zimbabwe.
“The whole essence being re-engagement with Zimbabwe in the process of democratisation. The government paid for my trip, but I don’t know about Mr Mutsvangwa,” he said.
The Harare discussion in 2011, like the Washington one in 2012, involved selected individuals who were assured that their contributions would not be made public, since the discussion was “not-for attribution” and followed Chatham House rules.
That the meetings may have been bent on exploring ways of effecting the so-called regime change in Zimbabwe is exposed by one panellist in one of his submissions during the meetings, where he complains that the use of the term “eventual transfer of power and transition” by the conveners of the discussions “betrayed some partisan attitude” — insisting that the conveners of the discussions “should not prejudge the transition as one inferring the transfer of power from Zanu PF to MDC”.
The May 2011 discussions, which set the tone for the July 2012 meetings in Washington, which Mutsvangwa was part of, centred on “reforming” the security sector, the banning of the sale of Chiadzwa diamonds, postponement of elections and the involvement of external armed forces in Zimbabwe’s elections, as well as suggestions of exploiting economic hardships for mobilising masses against Mugabe in the style of the Arab Spring.
One Michael Bratton, realising what he terms, “their (security elites) ever-present capacity to act as spoilers”, suggested in the Harare discussion, that “the security elite must be involved in and assent to a new political settlement”, adding that face-to-face negotiations with the security elite were inevitable if the security sector reform he spoke about were to be attained.
Others like Peter Godwin suggested, without elaboration, that “young officers, in particular ones who have not played a part in the liberation war, might be enticed by promises of training, improved salaries and conditions, to help support an orderly transition — in an Egypt-like scenario”.
He also, without outlining how it could be implemented, suggested that “the USG (United States Government) should continue to encourage police and army officers to obey only those orders that conform to the rule of law.”