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Botswana said it would only recognise a government where MDC had fair share of power

Botswana told Western diplomats that it would only recognise a Zimbabwean government in which the Movement for Democratic Change was given a fair share of power.

Speaking before an extra-ordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community, Defence Minister Ndelu Seretse, who was acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, said Botswana would call for new elections under meaningful international supervision if Zimbabwe’s people were not freed from their current misery.

He told the diplomas that that Botswana would regard any Zimbabwean government that did not meet these basic conditions as “illegitimate” and continue to withhold recognition. .

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09GABORONE70, BOTSWANA ON THE EVE OF THE JANUARY 26 SADC SUMMIT

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09GABORONE70

2009-01-27 08:27

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Gaborone

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FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5517

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 0381

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0210

RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0103

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0193

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 GABORONE 000070

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/S, AF/RSA

ADDIS FOR USAU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2019

TAGS: PREL PHUM ZI BC

SUBJECT: BOTSWANA ON THE EVE OF THE JANUARY 26 SADC SUMMIT

 

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen J. Nolan for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs

convoked the US, UK, French, German and EU Chiefs of Mission

for an urgent meeting on Sunday January 25 to discuss the

SADC Extraordinary Summit on Zimbabwe. Minister Seretse said

that Botswana will only recognize a Zimbabwean government in

which the MDC is given a fair share of power. If a genuine

unity government is not formed, Botswana will renew its call

for internationally supervised elections. Seretse was

somewhat optimistic that Botswana would gain supporters for

its position at the January 26 summit in Pretoria and that

South Africa would not be able to simply impose a one-sided

solution. He also recommended that the international

community, especially the United States and Europeans, should

bring “direct pressure” to bear for a resolution of the

crisis in Zimbabwe. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on Saturday

January 24 to convoke Ambassador Nolan, along with his

counterparts from the French, German, British and European

Union diplomatic missions in Gaborone, to a special meeting

Sunday January 25 regarding the SADC Extraordinary Summit on

Zimbabwe January 26. Minister of Defense, Justice and

Security (and acting-Foreign Minister) Ndelu Seretse led the

meeting, accompanied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)

Deputy Permanent Secretary, MFA Director for Africa and Asia,

and the Secretary of Defense, Justice and Security (one of

Seretse’s top assistants).

 

——————-

Botswana’s Position

——————-

3. (C) Minister Seretse opened the meeting by saying that

Botswana’s position on Zimbabwe has not changed and that the

country’s objectives remain the same. If Mugabe honors the

September 15 agreement by giving Morgan Tsvangirai and the

MDC their rightful place in government and a fair share of

power, Botswana will recognize the resulting government. But

if Zimbabwe’s people are not “freed from their current

misery” and no agreement is reached at the January 26 SADC

summit in South Africa, Botswana will again call for new

elections under meaningful international supervision.

Moreover, Seretse told the assembled diplomats that the GOB

will regard any Zimbabwean government that does not meet

these basic conditions as “illegitimate” and continue to

withhold recognition.

 

———————-

Outlook for the Summit

———————-

4. (C) When asked about concerns that South Africa may try

to use the summit to force a resolution favorable to Robert

Mugabe, Seretse noted that there has been a helpful shift of

atmosphere in South Africa, with civil society as well as

COSATU coming out in support of Tsvangirai and the MDC.

Statements by Archbishop Tutu and Graca Machel have helped

focus attention on the injustice and suffering in Zimbabwe,

increasing pressure on both the South African government and

SADC to produce a fair result. Mugabe himself seems to have

realized that blocking a visit by the Elders last year was a

mistake and has sought to “apologize” for the snub. While

Botswana was outvoted by eight to four at the last SADC

summit on Zimbabwe, Seretse indicated that Botswana would not

be so isolated this time and that South Africa would not be

able to impose a one-sided solution. A lot has happened in

recent months, and he felt confident other SADC members would

be more willing to speak up this time around.

 

5. (C) One of the problems, according to Seretse, has been

that SADC has been looking at the September 2008 agreement

from an “overly technical” point of view rather than as an

ongoing political process. While Zimbabweans themselves must

craft an enduring solution, continuing support from SADC and

the broader international community will be needed to begin

to rebuild Zimbabwe. Without the confidence and trust of

both Zimbabweans and the international community, effective

government in Zimbabwe will be impossible and the crisis will

continue.

 

6. (C) According to Minister Seretse, the GOB believes that

 

GABORONE 00000070 002 OF 002

 

 

Mugabe and ZANU-PF have said they will not look at new

proposals at the summit. Mugabe has announced that the unity

government offer is now “take it or leave it.” Seretse also

noted that Mugabe has stated that he is open to new

elections, however, per Seretse the kind of elections Mugabe

would allow (i.e. unsupervised, controlled by ZANU-PF) would

be a waste of time. Minister Seretse also commented on the

precedent set by the inclusion of ZAPU’s Joshua Nkomo into

the government of Zimbabwe in the 1980s. The Minister noted

how marginalized Nkomo became once he entered into government

and warned that this precedent is instructive. According to

Seretse Tsvangirai has the Nkomo precedent in mind and

therefore he wants power sharing issues to be resolved before

he will enter government.

 

————————————

Role of the International Community

————————————

7. (C) Seretse said the international community, especially

the United States and Europeans, should bring “direct

pressure” to bear for a resolution of the situation in

Zimbabwe. While cognizant of US and European sanctions, he

also said “we must see something more from the leaders of the

international community to bring about change.” According to

Seretse, renewed and outspoken support for a fair resolution

of the crisis in Zimbabwe is vital at this time.

 

——-

Comment

——-

8. (C) COMMENT: Botswana remains steadfast in its support

for either genuine powersharing or new, credible elections as

the only acceptable resolution to the impasse in Zimbabwe.

It remains to be seen whether the GOB gains any additional

support from its SADC neighbors at the January 26 summit.

Seretse’s optimism may be premature, as SADC has shown

repeatedly a preference to sweep Zimbabwe’s problems under

the rug rather than confront Robert Mugabe. Post is not sure

what Seretse had in mind when calling for “direct pressure”

from the USG and Europe regarding Zimbabwe. Certainly our

sanctions and our diplomatic efforts have brought significant

pressure on the Mugabe regime. We are, however, open to new

concrete suggestions from the GOB or any other like-minded

friends of Zimbabwe about next steps or new pressure points.

END COMMENT.

NOLAN

(6 VIEWS)

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