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Mugabe regarded Mbeki as little more than a boy

South African President Thabo Mbeki was unlikely to solve the Zimbabwe crisis because President Robert Mugabe regarded him as little more than a “boy” and was going to run circles around him, buying time to destroy the political opposition.

Britain was the only player that could solve the Zimbabwe crisis and former Agriculture Minister Denis Norman, who was now living in the United Kingdom, could act as a mediator.

These were the views of Mugabe biographer, Heidi Holland, author of: Dinner with Mugabe. Holland has since died after committing suicide.

She said that despite his harsh anti-UK rhetoric, Mugabe idealised the British and craved their respect.

The only possibility of getting Mugabe out of power before he died -which could be a long time, Holland said, noting that his mother lived to be nearly 100- was direct British engagement with Mugabe.

The ideal person to serve as the link between the UK and Mugabe was Denis Norman.

Mbeki solved the Zimbabwe crisis by negotiating for the three leading political parties to sign an Global Political Agreement in September 2008.

Zimbabwe has been under an inclusive government brought about by Mbeki since February 2009.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08PRETORIA1570, MUGABE BIOGRAPHER SAYS MBEKI MEDIATION WILL FAIL;

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA1570

2008-07-17 15:23

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO0019

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #1570/01 1991523

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 171523Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5122

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1550

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1393

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 0004

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5830

RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 8230

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0559

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 001570

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S, INR

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL KDEM PINR SF ZI

SUBJECT: MUGABE BIOGRAPHER SAYS MBEKI MEDIATION WILL FAIL;

URGES U.K. OUTREACH

 

PRETORIA 00001570 001.2 OF 002

 

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Mugabe biographer Heidi Holland doubts that

the Zimbabwean leader is serious about the South African-led

talks. Mugabe will continue to “run rings” around South

African President Mbeki, as he has done for years. She fears

a vengeful Mugabe is intent on destroying the Zimbabwean

opposition. In her view, only direct U.K. talks with Mugabe

could possibly lead to his departure from office, a point she

recently made to U.K. Foreign Secretary Miliband. Holland

recommends using former Zimbabwean Minister Denis Norman, one

of the few people Mugabe trusts, as the link between Harare

and London. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) PolOff met on July 15 in Johannesburg with Heidi

Holland, author of the recently-published biography of

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe entitled “Dinner with

Mugabe.” Working through Mugabe confidante Father Fidelis

Mukonori, Holland secured a 2 1/2 hour interview with Mugabe

in January 2008 (Mugabe’s last interview with Western media

was three years earlier). Holland also interviewed dozens of

people who know Mugabe well, and worked closely with

psychologists to flesh out the portrait of Mugabe.

 

—————

Mbeki Will Fail

—————

 

3. (C) Holland painted a picture of a paranoid, sad, lonely

and vengeful Mugabe, intent on holding onto power at all

costs. Holland doubts that Mugabe is serious about the South

African-led negotiations with the opposition Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC), noting that Mugabe has no respect

for the MDC and regards Mbeki as little more than a “boy.”

As he has done since 2000, Mugabe will run circles around

Mbeki, buying time to destroy the political opposition.

 

———————

Only U.K. Can Succeed

———————

 

4. (C) According to Holland, Mugabe continues to believe

(however falsely) that his real problem is the United

Kingdom. This reflects Mugabe’s deep-seated belief that the

British failed to hold up their end of the Lancaster House

bargain. Despite his harsh anti-U.K. rhetoric, Mugabe

idealizes the British and craves their respect. In Holland’s

view, the only possibility of getting Mugabe out of power

before he dies — which could be a long time, Holland said,

noting that his mother lived to be nearly 100 — is direct

British engagement with Mugabe. Holland met with U.K.

Foreign Secretary Miliband during his July 6-8 trip to South

Africa to make her pitch for direct talks with Mugabe. She

says Miliband listened to her arguments, although was

skeptical.

 

5. (C) The ideal person to serve as the link between the U.K.

and Mugabe, Holland suggested, is Denis Norman, the white

Zimbabwean who served as a minister in Mugabe’s government

and now lives the U.K. Holland said that Mugabe has

confidence in Norman, one of only a few people he trusts (she

also mentioned Father Mukonori and former EU advisor Tim

Sheehy). Holland did not see a major role for the USG in her

proposed outreach to Mugabe, but noted that Mugabe respected

former Secretary of State Kissinger.

 

6. (C) Holland suggested that Mugabe might be willing to

accept a “best person government,” with Mugabe as Head of

State but “technocrats” running the ministries. This is much

QState but “technocrats” running the ministries. This is much

more palatable than a “government of national unity” or

“transitional government,” and could be sold to Mugabe as

resembling his first term as president (1980-85), a period

Mugabe remembers fondly.

 

———————

Sad, Lonely, Vengeful

———————

 

7. (SBU) The Zimbabwean president is isolated and lonely,

Holland suggested, and has been much of his life. Mugabe was

abandoned by his father at a young age; as a child, “books

 

PRETORIA 00001570 002.4 OF 002

 

 

**************** ZFR ********** ZFR ************ ZFR ************

 

BOST

 

(13 VIEWS)

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