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Algerian ambassador on the need for a graceful exit for Mugabe

Algeria’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Lazhar Soualem said it was important to arrange a graceful exit for President Robert Mugabe because hardliners from his party might become entrenched.

Soualem said Zimbabwe was undergoing transitions in three areas:

  • There was the transformation going on inside ZANU-PF as young party members sought to move up into positions of authority. Arrayed against them were ideologically motivated extremists who wanted a return to revolutionary times.
  • The political transition being undertaken by the ZANU-MDC coalition government.
  • An economic process whereby the country moved from a cash-based economy to one that generated employment and added value.

He said that while such transformations took time, delaying too long, especially delaying the first two, gave extremists within ZANU-PF time to block reforms and solidify their power bases.

“It is important that the transition move forward as quickly as it can be accommodated. It is also important that the focus of efforts, both domestically and by the international community, be moved from individuals to the creation of institutions that support democratic government,” the ambassador said.

He said that in order to advance the cause of political and economic reform and avert chaos, it was important to somehow provide a graceful exit from power for Mugabe.

“This will be complicated by Mugabe’s monumental ego -everything since independence has revolved around him as an individual- and by the fears of his inner circle of advisors of losing their privileged positions and possible retribution for their past misdeeds. As complicated and difficult as it might be, he said, it is important that regional actors like SADC and the AU take this on.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 10HARARE75, MEETING WITH ALGERIAN AMBASSADOR TO ZIMBABWE

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

10HARARE75

2010-02-03 12:10

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5082

PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0075/01 0341210

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 031210Z FEB 10

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5367

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3406

RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 0024

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2566

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000075

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BWALCH

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MGAVIN

ALGIERS FOR POLITICAL/ECONOMIC SECTION

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2020

TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ECON EAGR ASEC ZI AG

SUBJECT: MEETING WITH ALGERIAN AMBASSADOR TO ZIMBABWE

 

Classified By: Ambassador Charles A. Ray for reasons 1.4 (b) (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: According to the newly arrived Algerian

Ambassador to Zimbabwe, the country is currently in the midst

of three transitions: the internal transformation of ZANU-PF,

the transitional coalition government, and an economic

transition. If these transitions, especially the overall

political situation, take too long it will give hard line

extremists time to become entrenched. Externally and

internally the focus needs to be shifted from individuals to

building institutions. It is important that a graceful exit

be arranged for ZANU-PF leader Mugabe, but it will be

complicated by the inner circle of his advisors and by his

own ego. The recent election of Zimbabwe to the Peace and

Security Organ of the AU, which is being hyped in the

state-controlled press, is not as significant as ZANU-PF is

trying to portray it. It was merely Zimbabwe’s turn in the

regional rotation, and no one wanted to vote against them.

END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Lazhar Soualem, newly-arrived Algerian Ambassador to

Zimbabwe, paid a courtesy call on Ambassador on February 1.

Soualem has served for many years in the multi-lateral

affairs division of the Algerian Foreign Ministry, dealing

with African affairs. He said he met with Zimbabwean

President Mugabe just before he came to Harare, and this

helped to smooth his arrival and presentation of credentials.

Algeria and Zimbabwe have a historically friendly

relationship, but he has been instructed to observe events

here very carefully for any signs that the instability of

Zimbabwe is spreading to neighboring countries. The

so-called land reform program, for instance, is being watched

in Namibia and South Africa, and there are already some signs

that those countries are contemplating similar moves against

land owned by former colonial citizens.

 

3. (C) Zimbabwe is currently undergoing transitions in three

areas:

 

a. There is the transformation going on inside ZANU-PF as

young party members seek to move up into positions of

authority. Arrayed against them are ideologically motivated

extremists who want a return to revolutionary times.

 

b. The political transition being undertaken by the ZANU-MDC

coalition government.

 

c. An economic process whereby the country moves from a

cash-based economy to one that generates employment and adds

value.

 

While it is understood that such transformations take time,

delaying too long, especially delaying the first two, gives

extremists within ZANU-PF time to block reforms and solidify

their power bases. It is important that the transition move

forward as quickly as it can be accommodated. It is also

important that the focus of efforts, both domestically and by

the international community, be moved from individuals to the

creation of institutions that support democratic government.

 

4. (C) Robert Mugabe has been in power for several decades,

and unlike other revolutionary counterparts in the region

(ANC and FRELIMO, for instance), he has developed a cult of

personality and neglected institution building, leading to

ZANU-PF being the only independence movement to lose

post-independence elections. In order to advance the cause

Qpost-independence elections. In order to advance the cause

of political and economic reform and avert chaos, it is,

Soualem said, important to somehow provide a graceful exit

from power for Mugabe. This will be complicated by Mugabe’s

monumental ego — everything since independence has revolved

around him as an individual — and by the fears of his inner

circle of advisors of losing their privileged positions and

possible retribution for their past misdeeds. As complicated

and difficult as it might be, he said, it is important that

regional actors like SADC and the AU take this on.

 

5. (SBU) The Herald, ZANU-PF’s official mouthpiece in

Harare, recently trumpeted Zimbabwe’s election to the Peace

and Security Organ of the AU at the summit in Addis Ababa.

Soualem said that the propaganda is overblown, and is not of

 

HARARE 00000075 002 OF 002

 

 

as much significance as the Herald claims. These positions

are frequently rotated, and for the southern African region,

it was Zimbabwe’s turn, so no one voted against them. He

recognizes, though, that ZANU-PF will make every effort to

exploit this as a validation of their position and use it to

further stymie progress on the Global Political Agreement.

He said he would not normally even report something like this

to his government, but given the impact this is likely to

have on political reform here, he is contemplating doing so.

He candidly said, however, that there is likely nothing in

the short term that anyone can do about it.

 

6. (SBU) One of the things that bothered him very early in

his tenure here, Soualem said, was the lack of effective

communication between African embassies and their European

colleagues. He has pushed for a meeting with the EU

embassies to get a briefing on the new EU leadership

structure, and hopes to leverage this into more frequent

meetings to discuss development activities. (COMMENT: This

parallels our own efforts to get more coordination not only

with the African states, but with countries like China that

are active here. END COMMENT.)

 

RAY

 

(4 VIEWS)

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