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Mugabe in denial

United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios said President Robert Mugabe was in denial about the increasing violence in the run-up to the 2008 presidential elections run-off claiming that some of the victims were feigning injuries to get assistance.

Mugabe had admitted that there had been some ZANU-PF violence immediately after the elections on the part of exuberant winners, but ZANU-PF had quickly put a stop to this.

He said MDC violence had continued, including assaults and the burning of houses and the government was taking the necessary steps to end the violence.

Mugabe complained to Menkerios that the international community would condemn his government, no matter what he did in trying to make the election fair.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE519, UN ENVOY BRIEFS DIPLOMATS ON ZIMBABWE VISIT

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08HARARE519

2008-06-19 13:36

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3042

INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 1945

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2061

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RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1459

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RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2238

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4669

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

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RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000519

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/19/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: UN ENVOY BRIEFS DIPLOMATS ON ZIMBABWE VISIT

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Glenn Warren for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Haile Menkerios, United Nations Assistant

Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed western

diplomats, including the Ambassador, June 17 on his mission

to Zimbabwe, and specifically on a meeting earlier in the day

with President Robert Mugabe. Menkerios said he came away

from the meeting with Mugabe with the impression that ZANU-PF

would do anything necessary to win. Mugabe denied that

ZANU-PF was responsible for the ongoing violence. He

defended the suspension of NGO humanitarian assistance by

alleging that NGOs had a political agenda. He claimed that

his efforts at dialogue with the MDC had been rebuffed.

Menkerios also discussed the importance of observers to deter

violence, both before and after the election, and said the UN

was supporting efforts by SADC, the AU, and ECOWAS to field

observation teams. END SUMMARY.

 

———–

The Mission

———–

 

2. (C) Menkerios said his mission was to deliver UN

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s message of concern regarding

the current atmosphere of violence and intimidation, and to

determine what could be done to encourage the government to

create an atmosphere for a free and fair election. To

effectively carry out his mission, he needed to see all

stakeholders. The GOZ had initially sought to restrict his

access to the opposition, western diplomats, and civil

society, but Mugabe, in their meeting earlier in the day, had

promised he could see whomever he wished. Menkerios told

diplomats he planned to meet with the opposition and civil

society. Menkerios commented that Mugabe had complained that

previous UN and other visitors had “betrayed” Zimbabwe by

their reports. Menkerios said he promised Mugabe he would be

truthful.

 

—————-

Mugabe in Denial

—————-

 

3. (C) Menkerios said he initiated the meeting with Mugabe

by telling him that ZANU-PF-organized violence would make a

fair election impossible. Mugabe responded that there had

been some ZANU-PF violence immediately after the election on

the part of exuberant winners, but ZANU-PF had quickly put a

stop to this. MDC violence had continued, including assaults

and the burning of houses. Mugabe added that the government

would take necessary steps to end it.

 

4. (C) Menkerios countered to Mugabe that he had heard

various reports of ongoing ZANU-PF violence and displacement

of people. SADC had told him of violence and African heads

of state had condemned it. The GOZ could not deny it.

Menkerios told Mugabe that if he wanted acceptance of the

election results the violence had to stop.

 

5. (C) According to Menkerios, Mugabe claimed that some

alleged victims of violence were feigning injuries to get

assistance. He denied ongoing ZANU-PF-organized violence.

 

———————————–

Suspension of NGOs an Inconvenience

———————————–

 

6. (C) Menkerios said he raised the issue of the suspension

 

HARARE 00000519 002 OF 003

 

 

of NGOs with Mugabe and asked how food would reach people.

Mugabe justified the suspension on alleged political

activities of some NGOs. Menkerios argued to Mugabe that

action should not be taken against all NGOs, but only

confirmed violators. Mugabe responded that the suspension

was short term and would be lifted after the election.

Because it was short term, people would not be significantly

affected.

 

—————————

Menkerios Urges Dialogue…

—————————

 

7. (C) Menkerios said he argued to Mugabe that the country

was divided; for stability there had to be dialogue. A

winner take all posture would be disastrous. Mugabe said he

had tried to engage the MDC in dialogue, but the MDC had not

been responsive. Mugabe said he would make another effort at

dialogue after the election. Menkerios interpreted Mugabe to

mean that ZANU-PF would win the election and then negotiate

from a position of strength. Mugabe did not respond when

Menkerios suggested the UN could facilitate a dialogue.

 

——————————-

…and a Free and Fair Election

——————————-

 

8. (C) Mugabe complained to Menkerios that the international

community would condemn his government, no matter what he did

in trying to make the election fair. Menkerios said he urged

Mugabe to make it impossible to blame him by actually having

a free and fair election. Government-sponsored arrests,

detentions, and violence would make it impossible for the

world to recognize a Mugabe victory. Menkerios further

argued to Mugabe that if the election were not free and fair,

there would be no international acceptance and the limited

(targeted) sanctions now in place might well be widened.

Menkerios said Mugabe, in response, implied it was not in

ZANU-PF’s interest to have a clean election, and ZANU-PF

would worry about the consequences afterward.

 

————————

UN Support for Observers

————————

 

9. (C) Menkerios said there were now about 180 SADC

observers in Zimbabwe. The UN was planning additional

financial support to bring this number to at least 300. SADC

was hoping for 400. The AU had 18 observers; with financial

support it was hoping to increase this number to 60. ECOWAS

had funding for 30 observers. Menkerios said the UN would

try to fund an additional 30. Menkerios noted that the GOZ

had said it would not limit the number of observers from

invited organizations like SADC.

 

10. (C) Several diplomats raised with Menkerios the fact

that the Zimbabwean Electoral Support Network (ZESN) had not

yet been accredited. Menkerios promised to in turn raise the

issue with GOZ officials.

 

————————————–

The Remainder of the Visit…and After

————————————–

 

11. (C) Menkerios said he came away from the meeting with

Mugabe with the impression that Mugabe and ZANU-PF would do

anything necessary to remain in power.

 

11. (C) Subsequent to the diplomatic briefing, Menkerios met

with MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai and representatives of

leading civil society organizations including Zimbabwe

 

HARARE 00000519 003 OF 003

 

 

Lawyers for Human Rights and Counseling Services Unit. He

was also to meet with high-ranking GOZ officials.

 

12. (C) Menkerios said he would depart Harare on June 20 and

travel to Gaborone to meet with the SADC Secretariat and

discuss election observation. In response to a question

about whether his report would be made public, he said

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would decide.

 

 

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

13. (C) Menkerios is well-informed and is meeting the right

people. We believe he will leave Zimbabwe with a clear

understanding of the current situation, and his impression

that Mugabe will do anything to remain in power is clearly on

the mark. What is most important is that his findings be

made public. While the Mugabe regime has claimed U.S. and

other western reports of violence are biased, it would have

more difficulty denying a UN report. In this regard, several

South African generals during the last month have been

investigating violence and the pre-electoral atmosphere

throughout Zimbabwe. By all accounts, they have been shocked

at what they have seen, and have reported to South African

president Thabo Mbeki. Their report, however, has not been

published. END COMMENT.

 

Warren

 

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