The Southern African Development Community reconciliation effort on Zimbabwe was in big trouble as both sides -the Movement for Democratic Change and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front- were digging in.
The opposition demanded that President Robert Mugabe’s government should free all opposition leaders who were being held in detention.
The ZANU-PF government said this would not happen until the opposition parties made a public statement recognising Mugabe’s government as Zimbabwe’s legitimately elected government.
But more serious, Mugabe was attempting to “stack” the representation in the parliament in his favour.
He was proposing constitutional amendments to increase the number of representatives in both houses: 60 more representatives in the lower house and 18 more in the senate.
This would prepare the way for a major constitutional change in the rules of succession should a Zimbabwean president die or become incapacitated.
The Zimbabwe constitution stated that the Vice President would take over and new elections would be held 90 days later.
Mugabe was proposing that in case of the demise of the president, parliament would chose the successor, who would remain president for a full term, until the next regularly scheduled elections are held.
With a parliament “stacked” in favour of the ruling party, this virtually assured that Mugabe supporters would have a full-term presidency, even if he were to resign, die or be unable to govern for any reason.
Viewing cable 07DARESSALAAM819, TANZANIA: FOREIGN MINISTER MEMBE DISCUSSES
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LONDON, PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/07/2017
SUBJECT: TANZANIA: FOREIGN MINISTER MEMBE DISCUSSES
COMOROS, SOMALIA, IRAN, AND ZIMBABWE
REF: A. DAR ES SALAAM 0782
¶B. DAR ES SALAAM 0158
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires D.Purnell Delly for
¶1. (C) The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International
Cooperation, Bernard Membe, told the Charge June 6 that
Tanzania will join an AU mission to stabilize the situation
in the Comoros Islands, by sending a company of 200 soldiers
to monitor upcoming elections and train the Comoran army.
The Minister confirmed that the Government of Tanzania (GOT)
intends to train 1,000 Somali officers once the Somali
authorities present a list of trainees that includes members
from all clans. He noted that Iran has invited senior level
GOT officials to visit Tehran three times in the last six
months, but President Kikwete does not want to send a GOT
delegation to Iran, fearing it could be manipulated by the
Iranians or misinterpreted by friends, including the U.S.
Membe noted that Iran is “feeling isolated” and rebuffed by
Tanzania as evidenced by an irate letter from the Iranian
Ambassador in Tanzania he had received the previous day.
Minister Membe admitted that the reconciliation process in
Zimbabwe is becoming more complicated due to Mugabe’s
proposed constitutional amendments. However, the SADC
initiative continues and President Kikwete will soon consult
with President Mbeki on progress before the next meeting of
SADC heads of state, scheduled for August in Lusaka. End
Tanzania joins AU response to Comoros crisis
¶2. (C) The Foreign Minister called the Charge to the MFA June
6 to inform the USG that Tanzania will be joining South
Africa, Senegal, and other African Union (AU) member
countries to try to stabilize the Comoran crisis. He briefly
outlined events leading up to the secession of the island of
Anjouan (Nzwani) under its President who is currently
supported by an armed militia of nearly 600 members. Membe
said that South Africa will send 123 police officers to
Anjouan to police the island and to monitor upcoming
elections. Tanzania will send a company of 200 soldiers to
Grand Comore also for monitoring, but more importantly to
build the capacity of the national Comoran army which only
numbers 1,000 troops. The Tanzanian force will travel to
Comoros on June 10 and anticipates staying for two to three
months. Smaller contributions to the AU effort will be sent
by Senegal (60 personnel) and Sudan (50 personnel).
¶3. (C) Charge took the opportunity to ask the Foreign
Minister for updates on Somalia, Zimbabwe and Iran. On
Somalia, Minister Membe told the Charge the Tanzania Peoples
Defence Forces’ (TPDF) training of Somalia military officers
is on track, but contingent on TPDF approval of the nominated
trainees (Ref A). On the advice of the Somali Ambassador to
Ethiopia, Tanzania wants to be certain that the 1,000
officers they will train are not only from one or two clans
in Somalia and thus strengthen the power of certain warlords.
Membe admitted this could “hinder” the start of the training
since President Abdullah Yusuf of Somalia “is a warlord
himself” and may not readily agree to nominating officers
from a broad spectrum of clans.
¶4. (C) Minister Membe was extremely concerned about the
deteriorating situation in Somalia. He noted that Eritrea
does not like the presence of the Ethiopian troops, fearing
that they would stay in Somalia once the country is
stabilized and use Somalia as a base during any future armed
conflict with Eritrea. The Ethiopians do not like the
presence of the Ugandan troops who are dedicated to
establishing peace and stability, and once accomplished,
DAR ES SAL 00000819 002 OF 003
leaving to let the Somali government rule. According to
Membe, the most disturbing development is that weapons are
being supplied by Eritrea to civilians, warlords, and “almost
anyone willing to fight against the ‘aggressors’, i.e. the
Ethiopian and Ugandan troops.” Membe said he had spoken with
President Museveni recently who is gravely concerned about
the level of violence in Somalia.
¶5. (C) Membe expressed his appreciation that the USG has
pledged USD 40 million toward the stabilization of Somalia.
He told the Charge that he instructed Tanzania’s
representatives to the June 6-7 International Contact Group
on Somalia meeting in London to ask the USG representatives
if up to USD 4 million of the USG’s pledge could be used to
assist in training the Somali officers. He expressed concern
that the current Somali government is a “government of
convenience” rather than principle. He promised to give the
Embassy an update on the timetable for training Somali
officers once the GOT delegation returns from London.
Iran: Irate that the GOT has not agreed to visit Tehran
¶6. (C) Membe shared that on June 5 he had received an
“accusatory and angry” letter from the Ambassador of Iran to
Tanzania complaining that the GOT has turned down three
separate invitations to visit Tehran: first, a verbal
invitation to President Kikwete extended by the FM of Iran at
the Addis Ababa AU summit in January 2007 (Ref B), followed
by a written invitation to Kikwete in February and to Vice
President Shein in April. Membe related that President
Kikwete does not want to send the “wrong message” or be used
by the GOI to show that they have the support of African
nations. Kikwete clearly told the Iranian FM at the Addis AU
meeting that “Tanzania is totally opposed to nuclear
proliferation. What we are hearing from the IAEA in New York
is of concern; Iran’s nuclear program activities do not
appear to be what is needed for peaceful uses of nuclear
¶7. (C) In Membe’s view, Iran is “panicking” because they
expected support from Tanzania and other African nations. In
particular, Iran might have been counting on Tanzania for
“moral support” because President Kikwete is a Muslim.
However, for Tanzania the issue is clearly to work with the
international community toward halting any intentions Iran
may have to develop nuclear weapons. President Kikwete
believes at this juncture, a Tanzanian high-level delegation
to Tehran could easily be manipulated by the GOI as a show of
support for Iran’s position.
¶8. (C) Membe updated the Charge on the SADC Heads of State
initiative on Zimbabwe, admitting that the situation has
become “very complicated because both sides are digging in.”
The opposition has demanded that Robert Mugabe’s government
free opposition leaders who are still being held in
detention. The Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) replied that
could not happen until the opposition parties make a public
statement recognizing Mugabe’s government as Zimbabwe’s
legitimately elected government; the opposition has refused.
Even more serious, Mugabe is attempting to “stack” the
representation in the parliament in his favor.
Constitutional amendments have been proposed to increase the
number of representatives in both houses: 60 more
representatives in the lower house and 18 more in the senate,
all from the rural areas where Mugabe has the strongest
support. This would prepare the way for a major
constitutional change in the rules of succession should a
Zimbabwean president die or become incapacitated.
¶9. (C) Currently, the Zimbabwe constitution states that the
Vice President would take over and new elections would be
held 90 days later. Mugabe is proposing that in case of the
demise of the president, the parliament would chose the
DAR ES SAL 00000819 003 OF 003
successor, who would remain president for a full term, until
the next regularly scheduled elections are held. With a
parliament “stacked” in favor of the ruling party, this
virtually assures that Mugabe supporters would have a
full-term presidency, even if he were to resign, die or be
unable to govern for any reason.
¶10. (C) Membe admitted that due to these factors, the SADC
reconciliation effort is “in big trouble.” The next meeting
of the SADC Heads of State is scheduled for August 12 in
Lusaka, Zambia. Membe said before that date, President
Kikwete will meet in person with President Mbeki of South
Africa to get a full report on Mbeki’s efforts to mediate and
encourage the dialogue between Mugabe and the opposition.
¶11. (C) Membe noted the SADC leaders are also extremely
concerned about the situation in Lesotho. “In Maseru, it is
a nightmare, a real crisis,” Membe lamented. The opposition
continues to be outraged that following the last election,
the seats in parliament were not apportioned as the law
required. According to Membe, opposition leaders have gained
the support of most of the police force and some segments of
the military. Thus if the opposition calls for a strike in
Maseru or to halt traffic, nearly the entire city complies.
Fearing the creation of conditions that could lead to a coup,
President Kikwete, as head of a the SADC Troika of the Organ
on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, has asked the
former president of Botswana, Ketumile Masire, who is
well-respected in Lesotho and the region, to go to Maseru as
a mediator in order to find a solution acceptable to both
Membe’s concerns about inaccurate press article
¶12. (C) Minister Membe told the Charge he had wanted to
personally express to the Embassy his outrage concerning a
front page article in the local press (Sunday Citizen, June
3) that had, in his view, purposely misquoted him on the
relationship between the GOT and Israel. Tanzania broke
diplomatic relations with Israel at the time of the 1967 War,
but re-established ties after the relationship between Egypt
and Israel was normalized. In recent years, the GOT has
accepted both military training and development aid from
Israel. The article implied that Tanzania did not have
diplomatic relations with Israel and it quoted Membe as
saying that African nations have been “pressured” to
re-establish diplomatic ties with Israel “as a result of
strong lobbying in the United States Congress.”
¶13. (C) The Minister was clearly angry at this skewed press
report, confiding to the Charge that he suspects the
reporters, if not the editorial board, had collaborated with
the Palestinian mission in Tanzania to create this story.
Membe said since the diplomatic representatives of the Hamas
government arrived in Tanzania, he has sensed a heightened
level of frustration from the Palestinians. The Palestinian
Ambassador had even told Membe that the GOT should have
“checked with Palestine” before allowing a group of Tanzanian
Parliamentarians to go on a fact-finding tour to Israel.
Membe said he was going to summon the Palestinian Ambassador
later that day to “set the record straight” that Tanzania
enjoys a productive diplomatic relationship with Israel that
is driven by clear-eyed economic and development interests
and not due to pressure from any other nation, including the