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Botswana said Tsvangirai had no authority over MDC

Botswana’s Secretary for Foreign Affairs Samuel Otlule told United States embassy officials in Gaborone that Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had no authority over the MDC national council and this was a weakness which had not helped in the negotiations for the formation of an inclusive government.

He said this after Tsvangirai had agreed to a plan by the Southern African Development Community summit that he should be sworn in as Prime Minister on 11 February.

Otlule said though Tsvangirai had agreed to the plan he still had to get approval from the party’s national council and this was not a given.

He said negotiations for the setting up of a government of national unity had been very intense and only Botswana, Tanzania and Lesotho were on Tsvangirai’s side.

 

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09GABORONE82, BOTSWANA: READ-OUT FROM MFA ON SADC SUMMIT

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09GABORONE82

2009-01-28 14:59

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Gaborone

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5525

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 0383

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0212

RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0105

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0195

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0397

RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 GABORONE 000082

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF, AF/S, AF/RSA

LONDON, PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2019

TAGS: PREL PHUM ZI BC

SUBJECT: BOTSWANA: READ-OUT FROM MFA ON SADC SUMMIT

 

REF: GABORONE 70

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador Samuel Otlule, the Permanent

Secretary at Botswana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed

that the Communique issued by SADC at the close of the

January 26 Extraordinary Summit on Zimbabwe was a “consensus

document” and was supported by Botswana. Otlule

characterized the summit as “very intense” and said that the

communique represents a “best deal” under present

circumstances for the MDC. SADC’s timeline for formation of

the unity government breaks the current impasse and opens the

door to more constructive dialogue in future. According to

Otlule, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai accepted the SADC plan,

but he still must obtain the endorsement of the MDC’s

National Council, which is not a given. Botswana encouraged

the MDC to join the unity government in Zimbabwe because the

GOB believes that once in government the MDC will be better

placed to shape and influence outcomes. President Khama will

brief Ambassador Nolan and a select group of Chiefs of

Mission on January 29, and we will report septel Khama’s

insights on the summit and on the way ahead. END SUMMARY.

 

Dynamics of the Summit

———————-

2. (C) Ambassador Nolan phoned Samuel Otlule, the Permanent

Secretary at Botswana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs late on

January 27 to seek a read-out from the GOB on the SADC

Extraordinary Summit on Zimbabwe that took place in Pretoria

January 26-27. According to Otlule, the communique issued by

SADC after the summit does represent a consensus view and it

was supported by Botswana. He characterized the summit as

“very intense” and told the Ambassador that President Khama

worked hard and applied strong pressure to ensure that the

communique reflected the concerns of both Botswana and the

MDC. Botswana, Tanzania, and Lesotho were the only SADC

members in the MDC’s corner at the summit. Other SADC

members present remained largely silent throughout, Otlule

remarked. The Heads of State and former President Mbeki met

in closed session much of the time, excluding even their

ministers, while they worked out the key points.

 

3. (C) President Khama tried throughout the negotiations to

keep the focus on the MDC’s five key issues, as outlined in

Tsvangirai statement. These conditions include a) enacting

constitutional amendment 19; b) legislation regarding the

National Security Council; c) equitable allocation of

ministerial portfolios; d) appointment of provincial

governors; and e) how to handle breaches of the agreement.

Though the GOB understands that the January 27 SADC proposal

is less than ideal, according to Otlule it represents a “best

deal” for the MDC under present circumstances, one that

breaks the impasse and at least opens the door to more

constructive dialogue in future. Botswana felt the MDC would

have more influence working on these key issues from within a

unity government rather than continuing to bang on the door

from outside. In particular, regarding the question of

guarantees to hold the parties to account, the GOB believes

that the summit wasn’t the right place to negotiate such

details. Otlule said that ZANU-PF acknowledged that issues

regarding accountability must be addressed quickly. The GOB

was also concerned with a perception amongst some SADC

members that the MDC has been the main “spoiler,” preventing

any forward movement on implementation of the unity

government. Botswana wanted to avoid having the MDC or the

GOB blamed for the failure of the negotiation process.

 

Unity Government: Next Steps?

—————————–

4. (C) Permanent Secretary Otlule said that Tsvangirai

“accepted” the deal outlined in the communique, but noted

that Tsvangirai still must obtain the endorsement of the

MDC’s National Council, which is not a given. Otlule

commented that Tsvangirai should closely examine the decision

making process within the MDC. According to Otlule,

Tsvangirai’s lack of authority and subsequent second-guessing

by the MDC National Committee is a weakness and hasn’t helped

the MDC in negotiations. Though MDC National Committee

 

GABORONE 00000082 002 OF 002

 

 

approval is still pending, Botswana hopes the MDC will join

the unity government, and wants them to consider how they can

make best use of this opening. It will not be easy, but the

GOB believes that the MDC will be better placed in government

to shape and influence outcomes. If there is lack of good

faith on the part of ZANU-PF and the issues ultimately cannot

be resolved, then the deal will dissolve in a few months and

Zimbabwe will have to go back to the ballot box.

 

Comment

——-

5. (C) COMMENT: Though the Perm Sec’s read-out was useful,

it is clear from his account that the key negotiations took

place with only SADC Heads of State and Former President

Mbeki in the room. Therefore, we look forward to hearing

from President Khama himself to better understand the summit

dynamics and Botswana’s views on the way ahead. The

President has invited our Ambassador and a few other Chiefs

of Mission to a debrief on January 29, and we look forward to

reporting septel on that meeting. Post respectfully requests

that Washington send us any specific points they wish to have

raised with President Khama as soon as possible.

 

6. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: Though Otlule says that Khama

worked hard to ensure the MDC got a fair deal at the summit,

it is hard to see what was achieved. Indeed, other than the

timeline and the suggestion to take a look at the division of

ministerial portfolios in six months, the January 27

communique is remarkably similar to SADC’s proposal from

November 2008. The MDC did not win control of the Home

Affairs Ministry or any other noticeable concessions. What

seems to have shifted is the GOB’s stance. If Otlule’s

read-out is accurate, the GOB would appear to believe that

getting the MDC into government is the best way to break the

impasse and put pressure on Mugabe to honor the agreement.

Perhaps the GOB has accepted that SADC will not budge, and

the AU will continue to defer to SADC, so MDC entry into even

a bad deal may be the only way to create forward movement.

END COMMENT.

 

NOLAN

 

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