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Mugabe digging in

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.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07DARESSALAAM819, TANZANIA: FOREIGN MINISTER MEMBE DISCUSSES

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

07DARESSALAAM819

2007-06-07 15:41

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Dar Es Salaam

VZCZCXRO8713

PP RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHDR #0819/01 1581541

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 071541Z JUN 07

FM AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6265

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 3199

RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA PRIORITY 0326

RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA PRIORITY 2547

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA PRIORITY 3023

RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI PRIORITY 0975

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0307

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0676

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0216

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0439

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DAR ES SALAAM 000819

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT AF/E FOR BYODER AND MBEYZEROV,

AF/RSA FOR MBITTRICK, RORTH

NAIROBI FOR SOMALIA UNIT AMB JYATES

ADDIS ABABA FOR AU MISSION

LONDON, PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/07/2017

TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID MOPS IR SO ZI TZ

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

reasons 1.4(b,d).

 

Summary

——–

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

summary.

 

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).

 

Somalia

——-

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

power.”

 

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.

 

Zimbabwe

——-

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.

 

Lesotho

——-

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

sides.

 

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

U.S.

DELLY

 

(4 VIEWS)

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