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Mugabe being Mugabe

A senior, unnamed Lesotho government official, pacified United States embassy officials after President Robert Mugabe described “so-called international leaders” as “hypocritical terrorists” by saying “That’s just Mugabe being Mugabe”.

Mugabe was speaking after a state banquet hosted by Lesotho King Letsie III after a Southern African Development Community summit in Maseru.

In what appeared to be a reference to the United States and Britain, Mugabe said people only had to watch CNN to realise that peace was not global.

Instability reigned because so-called fixers had invaded Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon.

“Those (international leaders) on the front lines regard themselves as great states, but they are in fact only hypocritical terrorists and agencies seeking to cause mayhem,” he said.

Asked what could have provoked Mugabe’s diatribe, a senior Lesotho government official replied: “That’s just Mugabe being Mugabe”.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06MASERU411, SADC SUMMIT: MUGABE TAKES THE STAGE

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

Classification

Origin

06MASERU411

2006-08-18 13:30

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Maseru

O P 181330Z AUG 06

FM AMEMBASSY MASERU

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2232

INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE

AMEMBASSY MASERU

C O N F I D E N T I A L MASERU 000411

 

 

FOR AF/S

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/18/2016

TAGS: PREL PTER ECON LT

SUBJECT: SADC SUMMIT: MUGABE TAKES THE STAGE

 

REF: MASERU 407

 

CLASSIFIED BY: W. Patrick Murphy, CDA, EXEC, STATE.

REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

 

1. (CONFIDENTIAL) Summary: Although Zimbabwean President Robert

Mugabe was quiet at the opening ceremonies of the 26th SADC

Summit (reftel) he took center stage at a State Banquet hosted

by Lesotho King Letsie III. In a response to the King’s

welcoming speech, Mugabe’s humor and meandering observations

generated an enthusiastic response from many attendees. His

diatribe that characterized “so-called international leaders” as

“hypocritical terrorists,” however, drew stunned silence.

Several participants said privately that there was no evidence

that Summit discussions had provoked the Zimbabwean into

comments unrelated to most SADC deliberations. “That’s just

Mugabe being Mugabe,” suggested one official. Meanwhile, South

African President Mbeki, apprised that there was considerable

USG interest in finding the right conditions to re-engage with

SADC in areas of mutual interest, told Charge that he thought

such a development would be “Very, very good.” End Summary.

 

The Throne Sets the Mood

————————

 

2. (U) King Letsie III opened the State Banquet on the evening

of August 18–attended by SADC delegates, senior GOL officials,

and members of the diplomatic corps–with a rousing welcoming

speech that displayed impressive grace, wit, and insight. He

reiterated his call earlier in the day (reftel) for SADC leaders

to redouble their efforts to address regional poverty, hunger,

and disease. “We must see results that indicate that we have

delivered to our people,” King Letsie said. He concluded that

gender equality was also of importance, expressing his hope that

the next time Lesotho hosted a SADC Summit there would be “two

or three women heads of state and government.”

 

The Old Lion Responds

———————

 

3. (U) President Mugabe gave an official response to the King’s

remarks on behalf of SADC leaders, apparently in his capacity as

SADC “elder statesman” and unofficial dean of the organization’s

heads of state. Mugabe began his comments by matching King

Letsie’s humor with an extemporaneous and self-deprecating

account of his second marriage. The Zimbabwean President,

however, quickly turned to political matters.

 

What Has Disturbed Us?

———————-

 

4. (U) Mugabe asserted that SADC had achieved substantial

political progress, but declared that the organization “had a

long way to go to reach integration and regional development.”

He claimed that the SADC collective had worked better in the

past when the emphasis was on a multilateral approach.

“Something went wrong,” Mugabe said, “Was it our reliance on

foreign assistance?” He cited as an example that Zimbabwe had

once enjoyed food security, asking rhetorically, “What has

disturbed us?”

 

We Can Do Better

—————-

 

5. (U) Mugabe exhorted the SADC leaders to work together, noting

that good regional cooperation existed on some issues, such as

HIV/AIDS, but adding “We can do better.” Even in Zimbabwe,

Mugabe claimed, “We have border areas forgotten by civilization,

but through regional cooperation we are bringing these people

resources.” Mugabe also cited Lesotho as an example of

successful SADC cooperation. “Ten years ago, Lesotho was in

upheaval,” he said, “but we worked together and helped build

what may now be the most peaceful country in Africa, if not the

world.”

 

The Other Shoe Drops

——————–

 

6. (U) After citing SADC’s success in Lesotho, Mugabe scowled

and launched into a thinly veiled diatribe against “so-called

international leaders.” He said that participants should “Look

at CNN, where there is ample evidence that peace is not global;

rather instability reigns because these so-called ‘fixers’ have

invaded places like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon.” He paused,

and suggested with a chuckle that he would be “freer to talk in

my own country (about these issues).” The Zimbabwean President

nonetheless plowed on, concluding that “those (international

leaders) on the front lines regard themselves as great states,

but they are in fact only hypocritical terrorists and agencies

seeking to cause mayhem.”

 

7. (CONFIDENTIAL) Details have been scarce on private

discussions among SADC leaders. Several participants allowed

that there had been limited talk about the Zimbabwe political

situation, but suggested that no one had challenged Mugabe or

otherwise raised “uncomfortable political issues.” A Lesotho

MFA official not present at the private talks, but close to

several participants (PROTECT), told Emboff that Mugabe had

agreed during Summit discussions to the appointment of former

Tanzanian President, Benjamin Mkapa, as a mediator between the

governments of Zimbabwe and the UK.

 

Mbeki: USG Re-Engagement “Would Be Good, Very Good”

——————————————— ——

 

8. (CONFIDENTIAL) Charge approached Lesotho Prime Minister

Mosisili and South Africa President Mbeki during the State

Banquet to congratulate the former on hosting the SADC Summit,

and to apprise the two leaders that there was considerable

interest in Washington in finding the right conditions to

re-engage with SADC in areas of mutual interest. Both leaders

smiled broadly, and Mbeki said, “Good, that would be very, very

good.”

 

“Mugabe Being Mugabe”

———————

 

9. (CONFIDENTIAL) Mugabe clearly enjoys the respect and

admiration of many of his SADC colleagues. His presence at the

Summit and opening remarks at the State Banquet generated an

enthusiastic response from many attendees. Mugabe’s

characterization of international leaders as “hypocritical

terrorists,” however, was a non sequitur that drew fairly

stunned silence. Participants understood the reference to be a

clear jab at the United States and possibly the UK, but several

Ministerial-level participants told Charge that there was no

evidence that Summit discussions had provoked the Zimbabwean

President into his diatribe. As one senior GOL official put it

privately (PROTECT), “That’s just Mugabe being Mugabe.” End

Comment.

 

 

MURPHY

(7 VIEWS)

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