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Botswana wanted to “take the gloves off” with Mugabe

South Africa and Botswana were so pissed off with lack of progress in finding a solution to the Zimbabwean problem that Botswana wanted “to take the gloves off” with President Robert Mugabe at the next Southern African Development Community summit, a cable released by Wikileaks says.

According to the cable this was told to former journalist Sydney Masamvu by South Africa’s Director General of the Department of Foreign Affairs Ayanda Ntsaluba in August 2007.

Ntsaluba said South Africa had a “no nonsense” attitude towards the crisis in Zimbabwe because of the increasing number of Zimbabweans that were flocking into the country. Botswana was even more frustrated.

Despite the lack of progress South African President Thabo Mbeki was going to tell his colleagues at the SADC meeting in Lusaka that he was making progress so that he could keep pressure on the negotiating partners in Zimbabwe at the table.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07PRETORIA2818, MBEKI TO PUT POSITIVE SPIN ON ZIMBABWE MEDIATION

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07PRETORIA2818

2007-08-13 05:15

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO8347

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #2818/01 2250515

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 130515Z AUG 07

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1163

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0535

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1262

RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0492

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1136

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0087

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2112

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1014

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9062

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4688

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 002818

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/09/2017

TAGS: PREL PHUM KDEM ZI SF

SUBJECT: MBEKI TO PUT POSITIVE SPIN ON ZIMBABWE MEDIATION

AT SADC SUMMIT

 

REF: A. PRETORIA 2210

B. TRENKLE-HILL EMAIL OF 6/19/2007

C. PRETORIA 2414

D. GABORONE 1031

E. PRETORIA 2646

F. PRETORIA 1447

 

PRETORIA 00002818 001.2 OF 003

 

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(

b) and (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Despite limited progress on the core

political issues, President Mbeki will likely paint an upbeat

picture for SADC Heads of State on his Zimbabwe political

facilitation at the upcoming summit in Lusaka. Mbeki

believes the positive spin will help keep the GOZ negotiators

at the table and open the door to GOZ political concessions

as the economic situation in Zimbabwe deteriorates. Mbeki

will point to the latest round of secret talks which took

place in South Africa August 4-6. While the two sides agreed

to pursue reforms through the pending Constitutional

Amendment 18, they did not reach consensus on core issues

such as repealing repressive laws and reforming the electoral

system. We continue to be skeptical about the prospects of

the Mbeki facilitation in Zimbabwe, but note that the SAG is

under increasing domestic pressure to deal with the

situation. END NOTE.

 

————————————-

Two Rounds of Talks; Limited Progress

————————————-

 

2. (C) Negotiators from the Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) and

opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) met in South

Africa August 4-6, according to IDASA political analyst

Sydney Masamvu and MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett (protect both).

(NOTE: Despite the tensions between the two MDC camps,

Secretaries General Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube both

 

SIPDIS

participated in the talks. END NOTE.) Masamvu received

seperate read-outs on the talks from Department of Foreign

Affairs Director General Ayanda Ntsaluba and MDC leader

Morgan Tsvangirai. In a significant concession to the GOZ,

South Africa and the MDC agreed to work with the GOZ-proposed

Constitutional Amendment 18, instead of insisting on a new

constitution. The South Africans and MDC believe they can

achieve their goals by “front loading” Amendment 18 with the

necessary political reforms to level the playing field before

the March 2008 elections, and will deal with the broader

constitutional reforms at a later date.

 

3. (C) According to Masamvu, the two sides did not reach

agreement on five “sticking points”:

 

— the status of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and

Access to Information and Privacy Act (AIEPA) (MDC wants both

repealed),

 

— diaspora vote (the MDC wants diaspora to be able to vote),

 

— proportional representation (the MDC wants a PR system;

the GOZ wants single-member constituencies),

 

— legalization of the death penalty (the GOZ wants the death

penalty; the MDC doesn’t), and

 

— demarcation of parliamentary districts.

 

In Masamvu’s opinion, these are the key issues that must be

resolved before Zimbabwe can hold free and fair elections.

 

4. (C) The August 4-6 meeting was only the second time the

GOZ negotiators met formally with the South African

Government (SAG) team, led by SAG Minister for Provincial and

Local Government Sydney Mufamadi, since the March 31 SADC

Extraordinary Summit tasked Mbeki to facilitate political

dialogue between the MDC and GOZ (although we understand the

GOZ and MDC negotiators have met privately in Harare).

During the first round of talks, on June 17-18, the two sides

 

PRETORIA 00002818 002.2 OF 003

 

 

agreed on an agenda (refs A and B). ZANU-PF negotiators

failed to show up for planned talks in mid-July, a snub that

received wide press coverage and led to a SAG statement

denying that “Mugabe has spurned the SADC-led facilitation

process” (ref C).

 

————————————–

Mbeki to Put Best Face on Facilitation

————————————–

 

5. (C) Despite the limited concrete movement on core

political issues, Masamvu believes that President Mbeki will

tell his colleagues at the upcoming SADC Summit in Lusaka

that he is making progress in his facilitation effort. He

will point to agreement on procedural issues, as well as

improvements on the ground, like the lifting of the ban on

MDC rallies and the release of most opposition leaders from

jail. According to Masamvu, Mbeki believes that he must keep

the GOZ negotiators at the table and that an overly negative

report will undermine SADC’s influence with Mugabe. Over

time, the economic implosion in Zimbabwe will, the SAG hopes,

force the GOZ to make political concessions. Although

everyone is focused on the Mbeki political readout, Masamvu

believes the report of the SADC Secretariat on the economic

situation in Zimbabwe (ref D) could be even more significant

in terms of pressuring Mugabe.

 

6. (C) DFA’s Ntsaluba assured Masamvu that the SAG has a

“no-nonsense” attitude toward the crisis in Zimbabwe. The

increasing number of Zimbabweans crossing the border affects

South Africa directly (ref E). Ntsaluba told Masamvu the

Government of Botswana is even more frustrated than South

Africa and “wants to take the gloves off” with Mugabe at the

SADC Summit, in large part because of the impact of the

Zimbabwean refugee/migration crisis on Botswana’s economy.

 

——————

Mbeki Spent Force?

——————

 

7. (C) Institute for Security Studies (ISS) analyst Chris

Maroleng told PolOff August 7 that he believes Mbeki’s

facilitation in Zimbabwe is a “spent force.” Mbeki is

increasingly focused on his own domestic political survival

in advance of the December 2007 ANC elections. Mugabe is

simply “waiting Mbeki out,” Maroleng claimed. Maroleng also

suggested that no faction in ZANU-PF is strong enough to take

on Mugabe, although this could change in the coming months as

the economic situation deteriorates. Maroleng and Masamvu

agreed that the lack of any effective internal pressure from

the MDC on Mugabe through mass protests or other action also

empowers Mugabe and undermines the possibility of change

within ZANU-PF.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

8. (C) We agree that President Mbeki is likely to put a

positive spin on his Zimbabwe political facilitation efforts

at the upcoming Lusaka SADC Summit. Mbeki will point to the

two rounds of talks and agreement on procedural and other

peripheral issues, and gloss over the lack of consensus on

the core political issues. As reported in Ref F, we continue

to be skeptical about the prospects of the Mbeki

facilitation. Mugabe has consistently outplayed Mbeki, and

appears to be doing it again. The SAG is unwilling to use

its economic leverage by cutting off electricity or fuel

exports. Threats of SADC condemning the March 2008 elections

ring hollow, especially since Mugabe still has allies in the

regional organization.

 

9. (C) For the first time, Mbeki faces serious domestic

pressure to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis as thousands of

Zimbabweans stream across the border every day. The

deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe and deepening

tensions within the ruling ZANU-PF party also present

 

PRETORIA 00002818 003.2 OF 003

 

 

opportunities for SAG diplomacy. However, new motivation and

opportunities may not be enough to force progress between the

two parties.

Bost

(3 VIEWS)

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