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Mbeki wanted an election that would not be disputed

South African President Thabo Mbeki who was the principal mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis forced the Movement for Democratic Change factions into agreeing to constitutional amendment number 18 to pave the way for the 2008 harmonised elections because he wanted an election that could not be disputed.

The agreement between the opposition and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Forint was hailed as a major breakthrough by the South African government but political analysts questioned why the MDC signed the agreement without getting anything in return.

Reports said Mbeki met personally with Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara on September 14 and 15 and then with Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube to panel beat them into signing the agreement.

IDASA’s Sydney Masamvu, who spoke to Tsvangirai following the talks, told a United States embassy official that Mbeki stressed in the meetings that he wanted an election in Zimbabwe that “would not be disputed”.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07PRETORIA3425, SAG APPLAUDS ZIMBABWE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS;

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07PRETORIA3425

2007-09-28 09:14

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO0663

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #3425/01 2710914

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 280914Z SEP 07

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2022

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1302

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1162

RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0183

RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0490

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4886

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9207

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 003425

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2017

TAGS: PREL PHUM KDEM SF ZI

SUBJECT: SAG APPLAUDS ZIMBABWE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS;

ANALYSTS SKEPTICAL

 

REF: A. HARARE 858

 

B. HARARE 870

 

PRETORIA 00003425 001.2 OF 003

 

 

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

b) and (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. The South African Cabinet praised the

ZANU-PF-MDC agreement on Constitutional Amendment 18 (ref A),

calling it a “breakthrough” and “a major step forward.”

DepForMin Pahad suggested that the accord paves the way for a

“political solution that all Zimbabweans will hail.” The

agreement followed Mbeki’s personal intervention with the MDC

leadership September 14 and 15. Most South African-based

think tank analysts are skeptical, calling the reforms

“cosmetic” and questioning why the MDC made concessions

without getting anything in return. For Mbeki, the

ZANU-PF-MDC agreement is a significant achievement; it

demonstrates progress and makes it more difficult for the MDC

to boycott the 2008 elections. Many difficult issues remain

to be negotiated, and we remain skeptical that Mbeki will be

able to achieve his ultimate objective: a stable government

led by a “reformed” ZANU-PF, willing to undertake real

reform. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————-

Cabinet Welcomes “Breakthrough”

——————————-

 

2. (U) In a statement following its 19 September meeting, the

South African Cabinet applauded the “breakthrough” on the

Constitutional Amendment 18 in Zimbabwe (ref A). The Cabinet

called the approval of the amendments a “major step forward”

in addressing the challenges facing that country. The South

African Government (SAG) will continue, the statement said,

to “assist where we can … to ensure that these processes

result in a lasting settlement.”

 

3. (SBU) DepForMin Aziz Pahad similarly commended the

approval of the constitutional amendments in his weekly press

conference September 19. Pahad optimistically claimed that

the development “opens up the possibility” of finding “a

political solution that all Zimbabweans will hail.”

Restating the standard SAG mantra on the Zimbabwe talks,

Pahad stressed that the Zimbabweans themselves must solve

their own problems and that South Africans are only there to

assist. An “imposed solution,” Pahad argued, “can exacerbate

the deterioration of the situation with all the negative

consequences for the region.”

 

4. (U) Pahad separately confirmed that SADC finance ministers

will meet “in a few weeks” to discuss proposals to address

the economic crisis in Zimbabwe. He also restated SAG

opposition to discussing Zimbabwe in the UNSC, arguing that

the situation in Zimbabwe is not “a threat to regional or

international peace or security.”

 

————-

Mbeki Squeeze

————-

 

5. (C) Despite Pahad’s protestations that the SAG will not

impose a solution in Zimbabwe, we understand from several

sources that Mbeki strongly pressured the two MDC delegations

to accept the agreed constitutional amendments during private

meetings September 14 and 15. Mbeki met personally with the

leadership of the two MDC factions, Morgan Tsvangirai and

Arthur Mutambara, at Union Building in Pretoria, as well as

the party Secretaries General Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube,

the first time Mbeki has met directly with Tsvangirai for at

least a year. Mbeki was joined by Legal Advisor Mojanku

Gumbi, Minister of Provincial and Local Government and

Zimbabwe envoy Sydney Mufamadi, and Director General in the

Presidency Frank Chikane.

 

6. (C) IDASA’s Sydney Masamvu, who spoke to Tsvangirai

following the talks, told visiting Embassy Harare CDA and

PolOff on September 20 that Mbeki stressed in the meetings

that he wanted an election in Zimbabwe that “would not be

disputed.” Masamvu believes that Mbeki wants to finalize the

MDC-ZANU-PF talks by the end of October.

 

 

PRETORIA 00003425 002.2 OF 003

 

 

————————————–

South African-Based Analysts Skeptical

————————————–

 

7. (C) Embassy Harare CDA and PolOff spoke with a range of

analysts September 20-21 regarding the recent developments:

 

— Elizabeth Sidiropolous, National Director of the South

African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), argued

that the constitutional amendments are largely “cosmetic” and

did not change the “fundamental situation” on the ground.

She fears we are headed toward a repeat of the 2002 and 2005

flawed elections. The only reason the MDC agreed to the

amendments, Sidiropolous speculated, was that they felt they

had to show good faith in Mbeki and his facilitation effort.

The SADC mediation remains the “best option” among a set of

bad choices for them.

 

— IDASA’s Masamvu also questioned why the MDC agreed to the

constitutional amendments. The opposition party gave ZANU-PF

“everything” it wanted, Masamvu argued, and received

virtually nothing in return. For example, the expanded

parliament will allow Mugabe to gerrymander seats and expand

his patronage network. Mugabe will create new constituencies

in rural areas he controls, effectively undermining the

influence of both the Mujuru faction of ZANU-PF and the MDC

in a new parliament.

 

— Sipho Zondi from the Institute for Global Dialogue (IGD),

an organization with close links to the SAG, was more

optimistic. He believes the agreement is a positive first

step and builds momentum for the process. Comparing the SAG

mediation efforts in Zimbabwe to the failed effort in Cote

d’Ivoire, Zondi noted that facilitation encompasses all the

key issues (unlike the highly legalistic Cote d’Ivoire

effort), that Mufamadi is a skilled mediator (compared to

DefMin Lekota in Cote d’Ivoire), and that the SAG has

consulted widely with key civil society actors (Comment: many

Zimbabwe civil society organizations would not agree that

they have been truly consulted). Zondi believes ZANU-PF will

take a chance on running a relatively free and fair election

since they are confident they will win, an assessment Zondi

shares.

 

— In a roundtable discussion with visiting USAID DHCA/AA

Michael Hess, representatives of the National Democratic

Institute (NDI), Freedom House, the Electoral Institute for

Southern Africa (EISA), and IDASA expressed mixed views on

the SADC facilitation effort, with EISA and Freedom House

expressing “guarded optimism,” and NDI and IDASA being more

skeptical. The organizations underscored that their

Zimbabwean civil society partners feel excluded from the SADC

process. The two South African “consultations” with

Zimbabwean civil society, held on August 14 and September 18,

have been largely briefings by Minister Mufamadi on the

facilitation effort, with limited input from civil society.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

8. (C) The MDC-ZANU-PF agreement on Constitutional Amendment

18 is a coup for Mbeki and his SADC facilitation effort. The

inter-party accord demonstrates progress and makes it more

difficult for the MDC to boycott the 2008 elections. Holding

“credible” elections, the SAG believes, will help pave the

way for South Africa’s ultimate agenda in Zimbabwe: a

politically-stable regime that will reform the economy and

end Zimbabwe’s international isolation. The SAG believes

such leadership can only come from a “reformed” ZANU-PF,

ideally with elements of the MDC joining in a “government of

national unity.”

 

9. (C) Post recommends that the Department continue to

express support for the SADC facilitation effort, but stress

that the agreement on Amendment 18 represents only a first

step, that further legislative and regulatory reforms are

needed, that implementation of agreements is critical, and

that a fundamental change in the environment will be

necessary for free and fair elections to take place. With

respect to the environment, the USG could note with concern

 

PRETORIA 00003425 003.2 OF 003

 

 

that recent events in Zimbabwe, including arrests of trade

union, political party and NGO activists, do not suggest that

the agreement on Amendment 18 heralded in any change in the

climate of violence and repression.

 

9. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Harare.

Bost

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