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Embassy said Tsvangirai went to Botswana to raise funds

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai dashed off to Botswana soon after the Southern African Development Community meeting in Pretoria to meet President Ian Khama who had boycotted the summit in protest against the political impasse in Zimbabwe.

According to the United States embassy Botswana officials were not willing to say what Tsvangirai’s visit was about but they believed he had gone to Botswana to raise funds, meet people he could not meet in South Africa, and to consolidate his position for the power-sharing talks.

The embassy said its contacts said that suggestion that this was a regional tour may have been an artificial spin.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08GABORONE714, TSVANGIRAI VISITS GABORONE AS FIRST STOP AFTER

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08GABORONE714

2008-08-19 14:55

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Gaborone

O 191455Z AUG 08

FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5201

INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY

USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L GABORONE 000714

 

 

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/S, ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/18/2018

TAGS: PREL PINR SADC SOCI ETRD ZI BC SF

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI VISITS GABORONE AS FIRST STOP AFTER

SADC SUMMIT

 

REF: GABORONE 705

 

Classified By: ACTING POLE CHIEF DAVID YOUNG; REASONS 1.4(B) AND (D)

 

1. (C) Summary: Zimbabwe MDC opposition leader Morgan

Tsvangirai visited Gaborone immediately after the SADC

Summit, reportedly meeting with President Khama who had

boycotted the weekend’s Johannesburg Summit in protest over

the Zimbabwe political impasse. The GOB has been cagey about

the visit, first spinning it as a regional tour, but

Tsvangirai was definitely here. End Summary.

 

2. (U) Botswana print and radio media has reported the

August 18-19 visit of Morgan Tsvangirai to Gaborone, straight

from the SADC Summit in South Africa, which was boycotted by

Botswana President Ian Khama because the GOB does not

recognize the results of the June 27 election run-off in

Zimbabwe. Reports noted that Botswana has been accommodating

to Tsvangirai and offered him temporary refuge at the height

of electoral violence in Zimbabwe. An MFA spokesperson was

quoted in the media as characterizing Tsvangirai’s visit as

part of a regional tour to brief regional leaders on progress

made on the power-sharing deal mediations. Also according to

the press, the GOB denied reports that Botswana is

considering plans to grant Tsvangirai a diplomatic passport.

The MFA spokesperson said Botswana cannot give a foreign

national a passport.

 

3. (C) Embassy contacts have confirmed that Tsvangirai spent

the night of August 18 in Gaborone and met with the Botswana

President and the Foreign Minister. The Charge rode by the

GOB’s usually dark official guest house in Gaborone (where

Tsvangirai has stayed before) around 1930 on August 18, and

lights were on and GOB vehicles present. The same scene was

much more pronounced around 0930 on August 19, with more

official cars and apparent security or staff standing around

outside. Our contacts believe Tsvangirai’s mission here was

to raise funds, meet people otherwise difficult to meet in

South Africa, and consolidate his position for power-sharing

talks. Our contacts suggest the regional tour description

may have been an artificial spin, and Tsvangirai may have

departed back to South Africa on August 19 (at least

according to what we have been told thus far). The MFA

Americas Director confirmed Tsvangirai’s visit to Acting P/E

Chief, but was unable or unwilling to provide any other

information.

 

4. (C) Comment: The SADC Heads of State Summit heralded the

launch of the regional Free Trade Area, aimed to usher in a

new level of regional integration, with reportedly no import

tariffs on 85 percent of all traded goods in the twelve

country region. The summit’s integration bash was distracted

by President Khama’s principled boycott and continuing

difficult Zimbabwe power-sharing negotiations on the margins.

It is not clear yet what Tsvangirai may have accomplished by

his quick trip to Gaborone, other than needed solidarity from

a close-by friend, but Botswana appears to have amplified its

role as Tsvangirai’s key supporter. End Comment.

 

 

DROUIN

 

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