It’s emerged that Sir Richard Branson helped to bankroll a secret project that aimed to topple Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe.
Yes, our old friend Wikileaks has been at it again. This time it’s released a diplomatic cable from July 2007 that reveals how an initiative founded and largely funded by Branson aimed to get Mugabe to stand down.
The cable was written by America’s then-ambassador to South Africa Eric Bost, and exposes how Branson and various former African presidents, including Nelson Mandela, agreed to discuss the scheme in Johannesburg on July 17th and 18th, 2007.
The plot involved the group travelling to the Zimbabwean capital of Harare and offering Mugabe a $10 million sweetener to hand over power in a “calm” and controlled manner. As well as Mandela, Sam Nujoma (Namibia), Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Jerry Rawlings (Ghana), Joaquim Chissano (Mozambique), Daniel Arap Moi (Kenya) and Ketumile Masire (Botswana) reportedly agreed to participate.
Branson is one of the creators of the ‘Elders’ organisation, a body of former presidents set up to tackle global crises. This confidential memo is the first sign the group was attempting to instigate regime change.
The leaked note said the group was being assisted in their plot by Jonathan Moyo, Zimbabwe’s former information minister who was expelled from the country’s ruling Zanu-PF party in 2005 after he fell out with Mugabe. Indeed, Moyo even prepared a script for the group to present to the elderly tyrant.
Whether the group ever followed through with its plan and approached Mugabe is unknown.