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Mugabe said US had more eyes and ears in Zimbabwe than him

President Robert Mugabe told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee that the United States must help him fight corruption because it had more eyes and ears in Zimbabwe than him.

Mugabe admitted that corruption was rampant and out of control but he was determined to fight it. If the United States brought corrupt individuals, even family members, to his attention he would take action.

He said this during a one-on-one meeting with McGee just a month before the 2008 elections which he predicted that he would win and would stay in office for as long as he felt he could.

Mugabe told McGee that he could not understand the United States’ position on Zimbabwe, since Zimbabwe’s dispute, over land, was with the United Kingdom.

He said the sanctions that had been imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States and the European Union were “effective and encompassing” and “were hurting more than you know”.

Mugabe said he and Simba Makoni had been present at a meeting where the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said they needed US and UK approval for loans to Zimbabwe.

McGee asked why the African Development Bank did not provide financial assistance to Zimbabwe. Mugabe replied that it was controlled by the West. Even China was becoming less willing to help because of US pressure.

The US sanctions law, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, actually prevents the African Development Bank and the African Development Fund, among others, from giving loans to Zimbabwe unless this is approved by the US president.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE140, AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT MUGABE

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08HARARE140

2008-02-20 14:08

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXYZ0431

RR RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHSB #0140/01 0511408

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 201408Z FEB 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2502

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1784

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1910

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0489

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1187

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1544

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1966

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4395

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1037

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000140

 

SIPDIS

 

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: 02/20/2018

TAGS: PREL PGOV ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT MUGABE

 

Classified By: Amb. James D. McGee for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) In a February 18 meeting with Zimbabwean president

Robert Mugabe, the Ambassador emphasized that U.S. policy

toward Zimbabwe remained constant, but that the U.S. would

look favorably upon opening a dialogue with Mugabe. A

positive sign would be assurances of free and fair elections.

Mugabe responded that Zimbabwe was democratic and that the

U.S. was unfairly singling it out through sanctions — the

Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) — which

had curtailed international economic support and was largely

responsible for Zimbabwe’s economic plight. He could not

understand the U.S. position since Zimbabwe’s dispute, over

land, was with the United Kingdom. The Ambassador urged

Mugabe to invite international observers for the March 29

elections. Mugabe responded that Zimbabwe would not invite

individuals from pro-sanction countries; their minds were

already made up. A possible exception would be the Carter

Center as he had positive memories of the Carter

administration’s support leading up to Zimbabwe’s

independence. Looking toward the March elections and beyond,

Mugabe was dismissive of Simba Makoni. He expected to win

and would stay in office “as long as I feel I can.” The one

issue on which Mugabe purported to agree with the Ambassador

was corruption. The president agreed it was a problem and

said he was intent on fighting it.

 

2. (C) Mugabe was mentally alert and appeared physically

fit. From time to time he lapsed into reveries, but he

appeared to have a good grasp of the issues and was forceful

in making his points. END SUMMARY.

 

3. (C) The Ambassador met with Mugabe on February 18 in

Mugabe’s office at Zimbabwe House. The meeting was

bifurcated; notetakers left after the first half and the

Ambassador used a one-on-one with the Zimbabwean president to

emphasize that U.S. policies had not changed and to expand on

the discussion of the first half.

 

———————————-

U.S. Policy and Election Observers

———————————-

 

4. (C) The Ambassador told Mugabe that our principles and

policies remained the same. We would look favorably upon

opening a dialogue with him. A positive sign of his

willingness to engage would be assurances of free and fair

elections and a level playing field for all parties. The

Ambassador noted that election observers could be an

important part of this process.

 

5. (C) Mugabe responded by launching into a defense of

Zimbabwe’s democratic process. Zimbabwe had held regular

elections every five years and was not new at the game. The

government was “open, fair, legitimate, and transparent,” and

would not tolerate cheating or an unfair election result. In

fact, he added, in the area of elections Zimbabwe was a model

for Africa, for developing countries, and for many developed

countries.

 

6. (C) Mugabe stated that observers from friendly countries

would be welcome in order to allay any concerns about the

elections. Observers from pro-sanction countries, however,

would not be invited. They were biased and already had their

minds made up. In particular, he said, no one from the

United Kingdom would be invited. In response to a question

from the Ambassador, Mugabe said an invitation to the Carter

Center would be considered. The Jimmy Carter administration

had been “good, kind, and supportive,” and had saved the

constitutional process at Lancaster House in London in 1979.

It had also offered to assist on the land issue. Mugabe

added that some in his administration had already suggested

an invitation to the Carter Center, but a decision on the

Center, or for that matter any other observers, had not yet

been made. Who to invite might be decided later in the week.

(NOTE: The Carter Center has informed USAID Harare that it

is too late for it to send an observation team. At the most,

it could send a survey team that would not publicly comment

on the elections. END NOTE.)

 

—————————–

U.S. Principles and Sanctions

—————————–

 

7. (C) As a prelude to a discussion on sanctions, Mugabe

queried the Ambassador as to why the U.S. had interjected

itself into the historical UK-Zimbabwe quarrel over land.

Zimbabwe had not offended the U.S. in any way. It had had

democracy for 27 years and, in contrast to the Smith regime,

had instituted majority rule, one man-one vote, and gender

equality. Yet President Bush thought Zimbabwe was as bad as

Sudan and maybe Pakistan. Mugabe concluded that the U.S. had

decided to impose sanctions as a demonstration of solidarity

with its fellow Anglo-Saxons, and as a reciprocal gesture to

Prime Minister Tony Blair for supporting the U.S. invasion of

Iraq.

 

8. (C) Mugabe said sanctions were “effective and

encompassing” and “were hurting more than you know.” Visa

sanctions were an irritant but financial sanctions, e.g.,

ZDERA, which the U.S. used to prevent international loans to

Zimbabwe, were at the heart of Zimbabwe’s economic problems.

He claimed he and Simba Makoni had been present at a meeting

where the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said

they needed U.S. and UK approval for loans to Zimbabwe.

 

9. (C) The Ambassador asked why the African Development Bank

did not provide financial assistance to Zimbabwe. Mugabe

replied that it was controlled by the West. Even China was

becoming less willing to help because of U.S. pressures.

 

10. (C) When Mugabe asserted the U.S. should reconsider its

policies toward Zimbabwe, the Ambassador responded that the

U.S. had made clear its principles regarding reengagement

with Zimbabwe. These included free and fair elections, a

return to the rule of law, respect for human rights, and

responsible economic policy. Mugabe in turn became animated.

“No rule of law? Look at the rest of Africa.” As for human

rights, Mugabe argued that in some respects Zimbabwe was

superior to the U.S. The Ambassador reminded Mugabe that

when he presented his credentials Mugabe had asked him to

view Zimbabwe for himself and not prejudge the situation. He

had done just that and had confirmed the beating of peaceful

demonstrators after President Mbeki’s visit to Zimbabwe in

January. Mugabe disingenuously replied that if we supplied

him with names of perpetrators of violence he would see they

were brought to justice.

 

—————————–

On Mugabe’s Future and Makoni

—————————–

 

11. (C) Mugabe indicated to the Ambassador that he assumed

he would win the March elections. He said he would stay on

as president “as long as I feel I can.” His successor would

be determined by the party, although he would obviously have

an interest and a say in the decision.

 

12. (C) The Ambassador tried to draw Mugabe out on Simba

Makoni. Mugabe did not express worry about Makoni, but also

appeared disinclined to discuss him. He did say that Makoni

was not as strong as he had expected. He also rhetorically

asked why Makoni had run as an independent. As president,

but without a party, under the Zimbabwean system he would

find it impossible to find ministers to form a cabinet.

(NOTE: As Mugabe explained, ministers must come from

Parliament. If parliamentarians abandon their party, they

lose their seat in Parliament. END NOTE.)

 

———————

A Note on Corruption

———————

 

13. (C) The Ambassador asked Mugabe about the rampant

corruption in the country in general, and in ZANU-PF in

particular. For once agreeing with the Ambassador, Mugabe

said it was out of control. He told the Ambassador that the

U.S. had more “eyes and ears” in Zimbabwe and South Africa

than he did. If we brought corrupt individuals, even family

members, to his attention he would take action.

 

—————–

Alert and Engaged

—————–

 

14. (C) Mugabe greeted the Ambassador with a firm handshake.

He was alert and mentally acute during the almost one-hour

meeting and was on top of the issues presented by the

Ambassador. He punctuated the discussion with recollections

stretching from the Lancaster House agreement to his

conversation with the Ambassador on November 24 when the

Ambassador presented his credentials. His voice was steady

and, for the most part, he maintained good eye contact with

the Ambassador. His only display of age came on a couple of

occasions when he engaged in reveries about the past. At one

point, for example, with a lowered voice and averted gaze, he

said to the Ambassador, “I had a profession. I gave it up

for my people and my country. I spent 11 years of my life in

prison for what I knew to be right. You lose a lot in 11

years in prison. I’m not Nelson Mandela, but I know I am

doing the right things for Zimbabwe.”

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

15. (C) Whether he is in denial, or isolated, or both,

Mugabe gives the impression that he believes Zimbabwe is

democratic and that its economic woes are the result of

unjustifiable Western actions. He appears to genuinely

lament the estrangement with the West, but of course places

all the blame on others. As he took his leave, the

Ambassador suggested they continue to talk. Mugabe

responded, “Come back and see me.” END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

 

(7 VIEWS)

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