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Mugabe is the worst hardliner there is

President Robert Mugabe is the worst hardliner there is and the West should not be fooled into thinking that he is being led by hardliners from his own party, deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told a visiting European Union delegation.

The delegation had concluded that Mugabe was physically fit, mentally sharp and charming, but was surrounded by hardliners who were dodgy, cold and lacked his intelligence.

Mugabe had indicated that he was willing to engage with the delegation but was not willing to give an inch.

When the delegation expressed concern about the slow reforms and continuing political violence, Mugabe said the violence consisted of small incidents involving youths.

He said the Movement for Democratic Change was also full of violent youths.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09BRUSSELS1399, EU COMMISSIONER DE GUCHT’S TRIP TO ZIMBABWE

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09BRUSSELS1399

2009-10-20 13:34

CONFIDENTIAL

USEU Brussels

VZCZCXRO4672

PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR

DE RUEHBS #1399/01 2931334

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 201334Z OCT 09

FM USEU BRUSSELS

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY

INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHOR/AMEMBASSY GABORONE PRIORITY

RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE PRIORITY

RUEHLS/AMEMBASSY LUSAKA PRIORITY

RUEHTO/AMEMBASSY MAPUTO PRIORITY

RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY

RUEHWD/AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BRUSSELS 001399

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/20/2019

TAGS: PREL ETRD ZU EU

SUBJECT: EU COMMISSIONER DE GUCHT’S TRIP TO ZIMBABWE

 

Classified By: USEU Charge d’Affaires Christopher Murray, for reasons 1

.4(b) and (d)

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The EU Commissioner for Development and

Humanitarian Aid, Karel de Gucht, along with the Swedish

International Development Cooperation Minister Gunilla

Carlsson, traveled to Zimbabwe on 12-13 September with an EU

delegation including representatives of the Council,

Commission, and the current and future Presidencies. While

there, they met with President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan

Tsvangirai, the Foreign and Justice Ministers, and civil

society members. They then traveled to South Africa where

they met with Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara. POLOFF, along

with Canadian and Australian counterparts, met with Louis

Amorim of the Council Secretariat on September 18, and then

with Maud Arnould and John Clancy from Commissioner de

Gucht’s Cabinet on October 1 to discuss the visit, the status

of the Global Peace Agreement (GPA), the Government of

National Unity, sanctions and the way forward. END SUMMARY

 

 

 

ATMOSPHERICS:

————-

 

2. (SBU) The EU delegation saw the visit as a success because

it drew media attention back onto Zimbabwe. This was the

first high-level EU visit since 2002, and the GOZ made a real

effort. But Mugabe’s anti-Western rhetoric continued in the

press, including public statements about “Bloody Whites”

coming to interfere with their internal affairs. The Foreign

Minister told the delegation not to worry as the remarks were

simply playing to the domestic constituency. The meetings

were very political and not at all technical. There were

huge differences of opinion, but open discussions, even with

President Mugabe.

 

 

MEETING WITH MUGABE

——————-

 

3. (C) President Robert Mugabe was willing to engage, which

the delegation took as a positive, but not willing to give an

inch. Mugabe acknowledged the important role the British

Labor Party (plus the Swedish, German and Danish) had in

helping Zimbabwe achieve independence. He clearly wanted to

be conciliatory here, particularly toward the Swedes. Then

he returned to the theme of a U.S. and U.K. conspiracy to

overthrow him.

 

4. (C) The delegation expressed concern about slow reforms,

the status of the GPA, and continuing political violence.

Mugabe resisted it all claiming, for example, that the only

violence today consists of small incidents involving youths.

The Movement for Democratic Change party (MDC), he added, is

also full of violent youths. In response, the Swedish

Minister was polite but very straightforward saying, “We

don’t share those views, even if it could be a question of

perception.” When pressed, Mugabe would say, “I will do the

right things and I will avoid the wrong things.”

 

5. (C) Throughout, Mugabe was a superb debater, always

looking for proof and asking his underlings regarding

details. (NOTE: Clancy advised it is better to stay out of

the weeds when trying to make points to Mugabe because “he

will turn details against you.” END NOTE) Mugabe stated the

GPA has been completely implemented and the Unity Government

was working well, so sanctions should be lifted. He claimed

there was an independent judiciary in Zimbabwe, so the fate

of imprisoned MDC Minister Roy Bennett was not in his hands.

He claimed no knowledge of other arrested parliamentarians

and turned to his Chief of Intelligence for details, who also

claimed to know nothing. Ignoring the view of the Southern

African Development Community (SADC) that certain

appointments, such as the Central Bank Governor and Attorney

General, must be made by the Unity Government, Mugabe claims

those appointments could not be deemed unilateral because he

was not required to consult. He admonished the delegation

not to let themselves be manipulated by the opposition on

these topics.

 

6. (C) Mugabe stated that land reform was an irreversible

decision. He said he was not completely against some kind of

land ownership system, and a leasing idea, “does not shock

him.” He argued that resolving the land issues would require

a comprehensive land survey, for which Zimbabwe would need

 

BRUSSELS 00001399 002 OF 004

 

 

financial and human resources. The direct implication was

that unless donors provide the resources, the GOZ is not

going to do it. (NOTE: In a later meeting, the Foreign and

Justice Ministers repeated these points, adding the

threatening comment, “This is the one issue about which

people take up arms.” END NOTE)

 

IMPRESSIONS OF MUGABE

———————

 

7. (C) Our EU interlocutors said Mugabe appeared physically

fit, mentally sharp, and “charming.” When asked if his

position had either weakened or been consolidated, Amorim

answered that it was very strong. He remains powerful but is

clearly surrounded by hardliners who are “dodgy,” “cold,” and

lack Mugabe’s intelligence. (NOTE: Mutambara cautioned the

delegation not to be fooled into thinking that Mugabe was

being lead by hard-liners, saying, “He is the worst hardliner

there is.” END NOTE)

 

8. (C) In both meetings with our EU interlocutors, they told

the same illustrative anecdote: during the delegation’s

meeting with Mugabe, a strong, young man entered with a bowl

and pitcher of water on a silver tray. He knelt in front of

Mugabe, who made a show of washing his hands with this

subservient man at his feet. The delegation thought Mugabe

intended it as a show of his strength and power, but instead,

as Clancy put it, “it showed that Mugabe has lost the plot of

normal human interaction and the responsibility of leaders

toward their people.”

 

MEETING WITH TSVANGIRAI: CHALLENGES AND PRIORITIES

——————————————— —–

 

9. (C) The delegation then went to Bulawayo and met with

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and separately with Minister

of Education David Coltart. Tsvangirai was much more

positive in Brussels in June about the GPA than he was in

this meeting. He gave a structured, concise description of

challenges and priorities. The challenges included the

disputed appointments of the Attorney General and Central

Bank Governor. He blamed the latter for the complete

economic meltdown and said, “We cannot have him there.”

There were allegations that the Central Bank Governor had

faked signatures to access IMF funds, but Biti was able to

block it to keep foreign currency reserves. (NOTE: POLOFF

was unsure if Amorim was saying this as an aside, or if it

was discussed in the meeting. END NOTE)

 

10. (C) Tsvangirai discussed political harassment,

particularly the serious accusations against Roy Bennett.

The fact that he is “white” matters, Tsvangirai said, since

ZANU-PF is concerned that Bennett will defend the white

farmers. Tsvangirai said the spirit of the Unity Government

is threatened by ZANU-PF. He insisted there is no

alternative to the Unity Government, but added that he did

not know “how much longer we can take this.” He is very

disappointed that the SADC extraordinary session on Zimbabwe

did not happen, and that there has been little progress since

June. Minister Carlsson asked if there was a risk of the

Unity Government collapsing, and he said “no.”

 

11. (C) As for priorities, he highlighted that the MDC heads

all the ministries that promote the population’s well-being,

such as education, health, and housing, among others. MDC

was originally unhappy with the distribution, especially with

ZANU-PF’s control of all the “hard” sectors, but then saw

that the only resources coming from outside supporters were

for service provision. If MDC can make its sectors work

(through aid or other means), they can make the Unity

Government work, and people will see a difference in their

lives. Amorim noted that Tsvangirai’s analysis seems

accurate. Everyone he spoke with who was not a government

official confirmed that things are better – schools are open

and stores have food. Tsvangirai remains concerned about

food security, however. He explained the goal of providing

one million homes with seeds and fertilizer, saying they had

already done half and asked the EU to fund the rest.

 

MEETING WITH MUTAMBARA

———————-

 

12. (C) Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara impressed Amorim as

being “very sharp, young, engaging, and very, very

dangerous.” Arnould said Mutambara was a “strong

personality” who was talking for the camera – he made a long

 

BRUSSELS 00001399 003 OF 004

 

 

speech to the press about the importance of his faction in

the government, and the imperative to lift sanctions.

Mutambara was livid that the United States met with Mugabe

and Tsvangirai but did not meet with him. Amorim summarized

Mutambara’s main message to the delegation as, “You have to

count me in. If you do not include me, I can wreck this.”

He claimed he was “the only one who can shut up Mugabe,” and

that everyone else is afraid of him. When asked if others in

the government shared Mutambara’s assessment of his

importance, Amorim replied that while Mutambara only has

three seats, they tipped the balance and allowed the MDC to

claim a majority. Mutambara knows that he could pull out and

destroy the whole thing. Mutambara stated that he considers

the SADC communique of January to be part of the GPA and

implementation will not be complete without it. He sees the

GPA as irreversible, “there is no Plan B.”

 

MEETINGS WITH FOREIGN AND JUSTICE MINISTERS, CIVIL SOCIETY

——————————————— ————-

 

13. (C) Back in Harare on Sunday morning, the delegation also

met with Foreign Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi and Justice

Minister Patrick Chinamasa who were described as playing good

cop and bad cop, respectively. The Foreign Minister was

conciliatory, describing the visit as a crucial step to

normalization. The Justice Minister was confrontational,

asking, “Who are you to tell us how to run our business?” and

saying, “listening to you and listening to Tsvangirai is the

same thing.” The delegation had the impression it was hard

for them not to have all the control and to have Europeans

“telling them what to do.”

 

14. (C) In meetings with Civil Society leaders, they talked

of continued violence in the rural areas by ZANU-PF, but also

by MDC. In urban areas, there have been fragile gains on

human rights, including press freedom, but it depends on

Ministerial tolerance. It could all vanish tomorrow because

the laws remain unchanged. (Note: Tsvangirai and Biti said

that they want to see the Property Rights Act, the Freedom of

Media Act, and the Public Order Act all passed in the next

six months. END NOTE) But on constitutional reform, there is

deadlock. The July meeting started ominously, with

participants nearly coming to blows, and ZANU-PF members

saying they would not participate because MDC members were

getting paid and they were not.

 

SANCTIONS

———

 

15 (C) Sanctions were discussed in all meetings with

government officials. Mugabe portrayed the West as unfairly

targeting people in the Unity Government for no reason.

“What do you expect but hostility when you expel the children

of my collaborators from universities in your countries?

This hurts us.” He uses the sanctions in the media, saying,

“You are making the people of Zimbabwe suffer, trying to

force regime change from the outside.” Clancy noted, “One

would think that sanctions would be a gadfly to him – nothing

more than annoying. But they bother him enormously because

they do not apply to the MDC.” The officials with Mugabe

stated that the targeted travel measures do not matter, but

indicated the measures against parastatals do.

Unsurprisingly, Tsvangirai does not want sanctions lifted.

He says the process needs to be a two-way street, so there is

no reason to lift them when there has been no progress.

 

16. (C) Out of the three, Mutambara spoke the most about

sanctions and claimed they only help Mugabe. Without

sanctions, he said, the GPA could move ahead, as Mugabe would

have no excuse. (NOTE: Considering that Mugabe claims the

GPA is finished, the delegation did not share this

assessment. END NOTE) Mutambara asserted that the West must

follow the advice of Africa leaders. “If Zuma says so, then

you should not bat an eye.” He seemed surprised to hear from

the delegation that Tsvangirai did not agree. Mutambara said

that any progress would require considerable engagement with

Zuma. “You must get African leaders to put pressure on

Mugabe. He will not listen to you.”

 

17. (C) The Zimbabwean Ministers said the African Union and

SADC have asked that the sanctions be lifted, so “why don’t

you listen to them?” Minister Carlsson asked how they

reconcile asking for respect for SADC’s views on sanctions

when the GOZ had pulled out of the SADC Tribunal because of

its views (a reference to the case brought by Mike Campbell,

a white farmer). Displaying a capacity to “create reality”

 

BRUSSELS 00001399 004 OF 004

 

 

(Amorim’s words), the Ministers gave a very legalistic

response ending with, “the Tribunal does not exist.”

 

WHAT’S NEXT?

————

 

18. (C) Arnould stated that ZANU-PF is rebuilding and needs

money, but time is on their side. (She mentioned ZANU-PF has

an arrangement with the Iranians to supply oil.) Asked about

the way forward, Amorim said the EU is committed to the plan

for the dual roadmaps (in which the GOZ prepares a roadmap

for GPA implementation, and EU Heads of Mission prepare one

for normalizing relations; then they would link the two). He

stressed that the GOZ must accept the need to deal with the

Member States’ Heads of Mission in Harare on this, not always

with Ministers from capitals. The delegation’s message was

that they support the people of Zimbabwe and will continue to

do so, just not necessarily by going through the government.

The current visit should not be taken to imply that things

are fine now. It’s a long-term process. They sent the very

strong message that the reluctance of the GOZ to engage in

the roadmap is matched by European reluctance. Nothing has

moved in Harare, so the EU sees no reason to move from their

current position.

 

19. (C) In response to Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s 16 October

remarks on the lack of political progress in Zimbabwe,

Commissioner de Gucht issued a statement outlining again the

absolute necessity for all parties to implement the GPA

without further delay. De Gucht encouraged key regional

bodies, particularly SADC, to do all they can to assist the

parties to the GPA to resolve their differences for the

benefit of the Zimbabwean people.

 

MURRAY

.

 

(6 VIEWS)

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