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Dell walked out on Mumbengegwi

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell walked out of a briefing with Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi after the minister refused to give an assurance that diplomats would be allowed to ask questions after the briefing.

The briefing was held at the height of arrests and beatings of Movement for Democratic Change senior officials including party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and youth chairman Nelson Chamisa.

Dell had requested assurances that he and other diplomats should be able to ask questions and express their concerns about current events. He also expressed dismay that what had been billed as a diplomatic briefing was being turned into a one-sided press conference with television cameras.

When Mumbengegwi refused to give the assurances, Dell departed saying he was not prepared to participate in such a sham.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07HARARE226, AMBASSADOR DELL WALKS OUT ON GOZ FOREIGN

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE226

2007-03-19 16:48

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO9395

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0226/01 0781648

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 191648Z MAR 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1263

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1523

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1381

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1527

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0200

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0789

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1153

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1582

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3986

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1352

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2010

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1744

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000226

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S.HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E.LOKEN

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DELL WALKS OUT ON GOZ FOREIGN

MINISTER’S SET PIECE ADMONISHING WESTERN DIPLOMATS

 

REF: HARARE 218 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section

1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (U) GOZ Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi summoned

Western diplomats March 12 for a “briefing” on the current

situation. Before the briefing began, Ambassador Dell sought

assurances that the minister would give diplomats the

opportunity to respond and express their concerns. When he

did not receive these assurances, he departed. Mumbengegwi

read a prepared statement and then adjourned the gathering

without answering questions. In his statement, he accused

the MDC of unlawful and violent activity, failed to discuss

beatings of opposition leaders and activists, and without

naming names, accused Western ambassadors of “complicity” in

MDC violence. He threatened to declare persona non grata

diplomats who violated Zimbabwe’s laws or interfered in its

internal affairs. End Summary.

 

——————–

Ambassador Walks Out

——————–

 

2. (U) The MFA on March 19 summoned Western diplomats for a

briefing by Foreign Minister Mumbengegwi on the current

situation in Zimbabwe in light of the violent events of the

past week. Mumbengegwi had briefed African and Non-Aligned

Movement diplomats on March 16. The briefing was covered by

State-controlled media and will doubtless feature prominently

on ZBC tonight.

 

3. (U) Before the briefing began, Ambassador Dell requested

assurances that he and other diplomats would be able to ask

questions and express their concerns about current events.

He also expressed dismay that what had been billed as a

diplomatic briefing was being turned into a one-sided press

conference with television cameras. When MFA officials

refused to give such assurances, the Ambassador departed,

saying he was not prepared to participate in such a sham.

Polecon chief remained as notetaker.

 

——————————-

Events According to Mumbengegwi

——————————-

 

4. (U) Mumbengegwi began by averring that for over a year

the MDC had planned a campaign of lawlessness and violence

and had set up country-wide networks to attack law

enforcement and render the country ungovernable. MDC leaders

had announced they would not respect the rule of law and had

chosen the platform of the international media to make

seditious statements aimed at world capitals. Despite all

this, he continued, the GOZ did not take actions; Zimbabwe

might be the only country in the world as tolerant.

(Comment: Sic.)

 

5.   (U) Mumbengegwi discussed several opposition rallies in

February which he claimed the GOZ had authorized, and in

which opposition leaders had advocated mass action and

lawlessness. Turning to March 11, he stated police refused

to grant a permit for a rally in light of MDC rhetoric during

 

HARARE 00000226 002 OF 003

 

 

the previous month and the increasing threat of violence.

The MDC and other opposition leaders sought to contravene the

police by denominating the protest a prayer meeting.

 

6. (U) Mumbengegwi alleged that on March 11 over 200

opposition supporters used children as shields and attacked

police with tear gas and other weapons. They also vandalized

a police checkpoint. At one point, police fired 18 warning

shots and then in self-defence shot a student ringleader.

(Note. Presumably Gift Tandare. End Note.) He also alleged

that on two different occasions (he did not specify dates)

MDC youths threw petrol bombs at police. In the second

incident three officers were injured.

 

7. (U) Mumbengegwi stated MDC leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and

Arthur Mutambara along with National Constitutional Assembly

leader Lovemore Mahduku were arrested for inciting violence.

He did not mention the arrests of others or the beatings they

endured while in police custody. Nor did he mention this

past weekend’s events, including the assault on MDC

spokesperson Nelson Chamisa, seized at the airport while

waiting to board a flight to South Africa (septel).

 

—————————————-

GOZ’s Veiled Threat to Western Diplomats

—————————————-

 

8. (U) Without naming names, Mumbengegwi attacked Western

diplomats, accusing them of “feverish” support for the MDC

and “complicity in an orgy of violence.” He said they

considered themselves self-appointed guardians of democracy

and law and order, but had condoned and supported the MDC

factions in planning and executing violence.

 

9. (U) Stating that eight ambassadors had visited police

stations on March 11 to provide food and water, and had had

“the nerve” to instruct police to bring detainees to court,

Mumbengegwi stated that Zimbabwe was a sovereign state, not

subject to outside influence, and diplomats seeking access to

GOZ officials must go through the MFA. He also stated that

the same ambassadors had inappropriately observed proceedings

when detainees were brought to court.

 

10. (U) Mumbengegwi concluded by stating that Zimbabwe did

not require instruction from former colonial masters and that

any attempts to re-colonize it would be resisted. Citing the

Vienna Convention, he said that ambassadors must desist from

interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs and obey the law.

If they did not, they would be declared persona non grata.

He then left the room without allowing for any questions or

responses from the diplomats.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

11. (SBU) Clearly stung by intense international focus on

Zimbabwe over the past week, Mumbengegwi’ “briefing” was a

feeble rant aimed at blaming the opposition and Western

diplomats for the violence of the past 10 days. It had a

surreal quality, as diplomats sat around a table listening to

Mumbengegwi’s warped version of reality which completely

exonerated the GOZ for any wrongdoing, and were admonished

that Zimbabwe would expel diplomats who did not behave (not

the first time the GOZ has made such a threat and likely not

the last). In the end, he succeeded only in convincing the

 

HARARE 00000226 003 OF 003

 

 

assembled diplomats that the GOZ is acting out of fear, and

that it is very conscious of the international disapproval it

has engendered.

DELL

(4 VIEWS)

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