Namibia’s Foreign Minister Marco Hausiku told United States ambassador to Windhoek Dennise Mathieu that Zimbabwe needed a cooling off period to develop a sense of trust in their leadership before holding new elections.
He said the time-frame for new elections should be dictated by the situation on the ground. “It’s better to go slow and arrive alive than to drive fast and arrive dead”.
Hausiku said this during a 45-minute meeting with the ambassador in August 2008 when the major political parties in Zimbabwe were negotiation an end to the political and economic crisis in the country.
The US ambassador was trying to sell an agreement that would recognise Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s victory in the March elections.
Tsvangirai beat Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leader Robert Mugabe by a narrow margin which necessitated a run-off. He, however, pulled out of the run-off because of the violence in the run-up to the run-off elections.
Hausiku declined to say what Namibia’s opinion was saying: “We may have an opinion,” but the best outcome is whatever the Zimbabweans themselves agree to.
All the political parties should be satisfied with the agreement.”We can’t dictate a particular outcome.”
Viewing cable 08WINDHOEK249, AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES ZIMBABWE, LAND REFORM WITH
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P 131624Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0018
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 WINDHOEK 000249
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/12/2018
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES ZIMBABWE, LAND REFORM WITH
NAMIBIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
Classified By: Ambassador Dennise Mathieu for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
¶1. (C) During a cordial 45-minute meeting with the Ambassador
in his office on August 12, Foreign Minister Marco Hausiku
declined to describe the kind of agreement he hoped ZANU-PF
and the MDC would reach, saying that was up to Zimbabweans.
The Ambassador stressed the U.S. view that Morgan Tsvangirai
should have a substantial role, that any new government
should be transitional and followed quickly by new elections.
Hausiku replied that Zimbabweans need a cooling-off period
before new elections. The Minister delivered an emotional
plea on the Government of Namibia’s need to proceed quickly
with its land reform program, saying Namibians were getting
frustrated with the slow pace. The Ambassador noted that
announcement of a detailed, transparent land reform program
would make it easier for the GRN to manage internal
expectations and attract international financial assistance.
Hausiku was delighted with the recent signature of the
Millennium Challenge Compact, and regretted that he had been
overseas at the time of the signing ceremony. End Summary.
¶2. (C) The Ambassador asked for Hausiku’s assessment of the
ongoing negotiations in Harare between ZANU-PF and MDC. The
Foreign Minister said he hoped there would be an agreement by
the time of the SADC summit August 16-17. He had spoken to
the Namibian ambassador in Harare that morning and understood
the two sides had reached agreement on most issues. The one
sticking point, he said, appeared to be how executive power
would be shared. The negotiators are now trying to work out
an appropriate division of responsibilities between the
President and Prime Minister. The Government of Namibia, he
added, is hoping an agreement would be finalized by the time
of the SADC Summit August 16-17.
¶3. (C) Asked whether the Troika would publicly express its
views on the agreement, Hausiku responded in the affirmative.
That is why, he explained, President Mbeki would brief the
Troika Chair before any public announcement, and the Troika
Chair would brief his other SADC counterparts. The
Ambassador expressed the USG’s hope that any final agreement
should express the will of the Zimbabwean people. Since
Morgan Tsvangirai had received so many votes, his role in
government should be substantial. Our view, she said, was
that the new government should be transitional and followed
soon after by new, free and fair elections. The Ambassador
asked Hausiku what kind of agreement Namibia preferred.
Chuckling uncomfortably, Hausiku said “we may have an
opinion,” but the best outcome is whatever the Zimbabweans
themselves agree to. All the political parties should be
satisfied with the agreement. “We can’t dictate a
particular outcome,” he declared. He noted that both parties
had accepted the legitimacy of the other by agreeing to the
MOU on the negotiations. The Foreign Minister was
noncommital about new elections, saying that Zimbabweans
needed a “cooling-off period” to develop a sense of trust in
their leadership. At that point, they might be ready for
the “next phase.” Moving too quickly to new elections could
spark similar problems, Hausiku asserted. The Ambassador
reiterated the need for the transition period to be as rapid
as possible, to which the Minister replied, laughing, “it’s
better to go slow and arrive alive than to drive fast and
arrive dead.” The time frame for new elections, he stressed,
should be dictated by the situation on the ground.
¶4. (C) The Ambassador noted that the SADC Tribunal recently
had ruled against the government of Zimbabwe in a land
seizure case and asked Hausiku’s views on next steps. The
Minister was dismissive of the ruling, saying it was the
first case and adding that “in our system, we accept what the
courts say but whether we do what they say is another
matter.” He said the court should provide an alternative to
redress the imbalances that predated the beginning of land
reform efforts in Zimbabwe.
¶5. (C) Turning to Namibia, Hausiku said he is under constant
pressure from “my people” to speed up land reform efforts.
He said he regularly assured Namibians that the government is
proceeding with a land reform program, but he said they will
stop listening in 15 or 20 years unless the process speeds
up. He said frustration is building among the population and
made an appeal for resources from the international
community. Namibia needs to find a way to redress the
imbalances in land ownership while also addressing the needs
WINDHOEK 00000249 002 OF 002
of landowners, he noted.
¶6. (C) The Ambassador said the United States understands
Namibia’s unique history and she commended the GRN’s
constitutional approach, its stated preference to proceed
with acquisition of land on a willing seller, willing buyer
basis. Before the GRN requested resources from the donor
community, however, it was important to have a well-defined,
transparent program. For instance, it should make clear
whether the goal is commercial viability or whether mere
distribution of land is sufficient. The GRN also will need
to decide whether it will provide agricultural extension
services to resettled communities. Once the GRN clarifies
those kinds of issues, it will be easier to manage the
population’s expectations and will facilitate requests for
international assistance. The Ambassador noted that the
Millennium Challenge Corporation plans to work with communal
farmers to help them become more productive.
¶7. (C) Noting that he was Namibia’s first Minister of Lands
and Resettlement after independence, Hausiku said it wasn’t
true to say that Namibia doesn’t have a land reform program.
Policies have been developed, committees have been
established to determine who gets settled where, and guidance
has been developed on who can apply for land and how. What
is missing, though, is support services, such as agricultural
extension and provision of inputs to farmers. And, for that,
the GRN needs resources. “I accept that the U.S. may see
things differently,” the Minister said. Germany, he added,
doesn’t want the GRN interfering in farming, since a large
percentage of commercial farmers have roots there. He
claimed that Germany had pledged financial assistance for
construction of infrastructure on resettled farms ten years
ago but still hasn’t disbursed any funds. Hausiku said he
“can’t imagine Germany would ever support our land reform
program, regardless of what they say.” The only way to
proceed is to plan carefully, but the GRN must move forward
on this issue using available resources.
Millennium Challenge Compact
¶8. (C) The Foreign Minister said the recent signing of the
Millennium Challenge Compact had been great news, and he
thanked the Ambassador for shepherding the negotiations to a
successful conclusion. The Ambassador noted that the hard
work of implementation would now begin.
¶9. (C) The Ambassador thanked Hausiku for Namibia’s public
statement critical of the coup in Mauritania, noting that
recent political developments there had been a setback for
Africa. Hausiku agreed, calling the coup a pity and
commenting that Mauritania had been headed in the right
¶10. (C) The Ambassador asked about recent media reports
criticizing the President for not consulting widely enough
prior to making diplomatic appointments, particularly
Namibia’s Permrep at the UN and ambassador to Botswana.
Constitutionally, the President has every right to appoint
his diplomatic representatives abroad, Hausiku replied, but
“I advise him on all such appointments.” He said that no
ambassadors have been assigned without his blessing, and
ambassadors would remain in place unless the President or he
¶11. (C) As usual, Hausiku was charming and engaged, even
when discussing the very emotional issue of land reform.
Despite his assurances to the contrary, the government does
not appear to have a well-defined, transparent land reform
program. At a minimum, there has been widespread criticism
of the lack of clear criteria for selection of recipients,
and of government’s failure to provide adequate support to
those who are resettled. On Zimbabwe, Hausiku remained
noncommittal regarding a political solution. It is unclear
exactly what he envisions in terms of a “cooling-off period”
prior to new elections, but we will continue to advocate
support for a transitional government with the GRN.