Did Richard Branson try to help depose Robert Mugabe in 2007? This is the intriguing claim of a newly-released WikiLeaks cable. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The cable was written by former US ambassador to South Africa, Eric Bost on 11 July 2007. In it Bost outlines that former information minister Jonathan Moyo had approached Richard Branson for help unseat Mugabe. The mysterious Moyo was originally responsible for passing draconian infringements on freedom of speech, as one of Mugabe’s staunchest supporters, but then received the boot in 2005 for attempting to launch a challenge to Mugabe’s leadership. He’s now back under Mugabe’s wing in Zanu-PF.
Moyo’s proposal in 2007 was that Branson would stump up $10 million to offer Mugabe if he agreed to step down. The deal was to be brokered by a group of African leaders among them Nelson Mandela, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda and Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings. Eric Bost outlined this all in the cable. He was privy to the information, he said, because he had been forwarded emails between Moyo and Branson. Branson reportedly engaged willingly with Moyo, perhaps because of his interest in investing in Zimbabwe.
It is not known why the plan did not develop further, but Branson doesn’t deny his dealings with Moyo. His spokeswoman told The Telegraph yesterday that “in 2007 Jonathan Moyo approached Richard Branson to discuss ways to broker peaceful reconciliation in Zimbabwe” – but, she says, “after meeting, no further action was taken”.
If the details of the plan are accurate, one of the oddest details must surely be the trifling amount of money Branson was to offer. Mugabe’s personal fortune is estimated at anything up to $3 billion. It seems unlikely that a paltry $10 million would get him off his throne. DM
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