Mangoma denies Wikileaks report

HARARE – Elton Mangoma, the deputy treasurer general of the main formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has dismissed reports that he approached the United States government to contribute to a "trust fund" to buy out army commanders into retirement.

The reports, carried in Wikileaks, a whistle blower media organisation, said Energy and Power Development minister Mangoma, asked the US government through their Harare embassy to contribute to a "retirment fund" that would cushion army chiefs who are loyal to President Robert Mugabe, "urging" them to retire and pave way for free and fair elections.

Contacted for comment Mangoma denied ever having a meeting with "anyone" on the need to create a trust fund to retire service chiefs.

“Certainly not true, I did not talk to the Americans on those matters. What will be my basis of saying that? I have not met anyone and discussed that,” Mangoma said.

He reportedly said he planned to approach the UK and Germany with the same request.

According to the reports, the money was to be used to pay exit packages for the service chiefs.

“Mangoma said that a primary obstacle to political progress and reform was the service chiefs. Unlike many ZANU-PF insiders who had stolen and invested wisely, these individuals had not become wealthy.”

“They (service chiefs) feared economic pressures, as well as prosecution for their misdeeds, should political change result in their being forced from office,” Wikileaks said quoting a classified report by a US diplomat, Katherine Dhanani.

According to the report by Dhanani, Mangoma also said that the MDC will also try to put pressure on the retirement of Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono.

Wikileaks said Mangoma made the suggestions when the MDC disengaged from the unity government in October last year after the party complained about the slow implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which formed the coalition government.

The report says Mangoma was hopeful an agreement will be reached with Zanu PF to end his party’s disengagement from government adding that if it fails “the MDC will continue pursuing its long-term strategy of preparing for elections.”

Army chiefs who are former liberation war fighters have openly expressed their support for Mugabe in all the elections in the last decade.

The service chiefs have said they will not salute a democratically elected President who does not have liberation war credentials and that the country will go to war if people vote out Mugabe. Civic society groups have castigated the statements saying a free and fair election will not be possible if army chiefs make such pronouncements.

Zimbabwe service chiefs include Defence Forces commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, army commander, Lieutenant General Valerio Sibanda, Air Marshal Perence Shiri and Zimbabwe Prisons General, Paradzai Zimondi.

Chiwenga, Shiri and Sibanda attended the just ended Zanu PF annual conference which was held last week in Mutare.

Wikileaks continues to release classified documents by the US embassies across the world. The media organisation has said it has over 250 000 classified US documents from US embassies across the world. Zimbabwe has some of the highest cables totaling 3000 dating back to 1966.

On Monday when the three principals in the GPA, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara met to give their end of year statements, George Charamba the permanent secretary reportedly asked reporters not to ask the three leaders about Wikileaks as they were ‘not interested’ in taking questions on the controversial reports. – Daily News