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Mugabe walks out on EU team

President Robert Mugabe walked out of a meeting with a European Union delegation when they asked about election observers for the 2002 presidential elections saying they should leave Zimbabwe alone because it was capable of conducting elections on its own.

Mugabe is reported to have said something along the lines: “We don’t need your help; we don’t want you to organize our elections. Leave us alone.”

He is also reported to have remarked that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was “a lady you can talk to”.

A visibly irritated Mugabe is then reported to have stood up and left the room, with not a word or handshake leaving the EU delegation “flabbergasted”.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 01HARARE3539, PRESIDENT MUGABE WALKS OUT ON EU TEAM

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE3539

2001-11-26 12:52

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

261252Z Nov 01

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ1356

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 03539 01 OF 03 261353Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   AID-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 WHA-00   SRPP-00 EAP-00

EB-00   EUR-00   VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00

L-00     AC-01   NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02   OMB-01   PA-00

PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   SS-00   STR-00

TRSE-00 T-00     USIE-00 PMB-00   PRM-00   DRL-02   G-00

SAS-00     /007W

——————431794 261353Z /48

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0368

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

AMEMBASSY OSLO

AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM

AMEMBASSY CANBERRA

AMEMBASSY OTTAWA

AMEMBASSY KINGSTON

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 003539

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL. 11/26/11

TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: PRESIDENT MUGABE WALKS OUT ON EU TEAM

 

 

CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF MATT HARRINGTON. REASONS:

1.5 (B) AND (D).

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) A SENIOR EU TEAM HAD A VERY ROCKY MEETING WITH PRESIDENT

MUGABE ON NOVEMBER 23. THE PARTICIPANTS ENGAGED IN A NORMAL

DIPLOMATIC DISCUSSION OF THE DRC INTERNAL DIALOGUE AND THE

INVOLVEMENT OF FOREIGN TROOPS IN DRC, BUT MUGABE BECAME

INCREASINGLY IRRITATED AS THE CONVERSATION SHIFTED TO THE RECENT

UN REPORT ON EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES. MUGABE DISMISSED THE

REPORT AS “ABSOLUTE NONSENSE” INSPIRED BY THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT.

EVERYTHING ZIMBABWE HAD DONE IN THE DRC, HE INSISTED, HAD BEEN

DONE IN COOPERATION WITH THE KINSHASA GOVERNMENT. WHEN THE EU

DELEGATION PRESSED THE IMPORTANCE OF INTERNATIONAL ELECTION

OBSERVERS PARTICIPATING IN ZIMBABWE’S ELECTORAL PROCESS, MUGABE

LASHED OUT. HE SAID THE EU SHOULD LEAVE ZIMBABWE ALONE, AS THE

GOZ COULD RUN ITS OWN ELECTION. IT DID NOT NEED THE EU’S HELP.

VISIBLY ANGRY, HE WALKED OUT OF THE MEETING WITHOUT A WORD,

LEAVING HIS EU INTERLOCUTORS “FLABBERGASTED.” THE EU OFFICIALS

DID NOT EVEN TRY TO PUT A POSITIVE PUBLIC SPIN ON THE ENCOUNTER

AND LATER TOLD JOURNALISTS THAT THEY HAD NOT HAD A MEETING OF THE

MINDS WITH MUGABE AND THAT THE EU WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE THE OUTCOME

OF THE ELECTION UNLESS MINIMUM CONDITIONS WERE RESPECTED. FOR ITS

PART, THE GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED PRESS APPLAUDED MUGABE IN BANNER,

ABOVE-THE-FOLD HEADLINES FOR TELLING OFF THE EU. END SUMMARY.

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 03539 01 OF 03 261353Z

 

2. (C) BELGIAN DCM ALEXIS DE CROMBRUGGHE GAVE POLITICAL SECTION

CHIEF A READOUT OF A DIFFICULT NOVEMBER 23 MEETING IN HARARE

BETWEEN PRESIDENT MUGABE AND A HIGH-LEVEL EU DELEGATION COMPRISING

BELGIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND FOREIGN MINISTER LOUIS MICHEL,

EU ENVOY JAVIER SOLANA, COMMISSIONER CHRIS PATTEN, EU SPECIAL

ENVOY FOR THE GREAT LAKES ALDO AIELLO AND SPAIN’S DIRECTOR-GENERAL

FOR AFRICA. CROMBRUGGHE SAID THE DELEGATION MET WITH CIVIL

SOCIETY REPRESENTATIVES AND WITH OPPOSITION LEADER MORGAN

TSVANGIRAI, BUT THE MEETING WITH MUGABE WAS THE CENTERPIECE OF

 

SIPDIS

THEIR ONE-DAY VISIT AND THE ONE WHICH GARNERED THE MOST MEDIA

ATTENTION.

 

3. (C) CROMBRUGGHE SAID ONLY THE BELGIAN AMBASSADOR JOINED THE

FIVE-PERSON EU DELEGATION IN THE MUGABE MEETING. THE ZIMBABWEAN

PRESIDENT WAS JOINED BY FOREIGN MINISTER MUDENGE, MFA PERMANENT

SECRETARY WILLARD CHIWEWE, DEFENSE MINISTER SEKERAMAYI, AND CHIEF

 

SIPDIS

OF DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE GENERAL CHEDONDO.

 

DRC

 

4. (C) ACCORDING TO CROMBRUGGHE, MICHEL BEGAN BY SAYING THE MAIN

PURPOSE OF THE DELEGATION’S VISIT WAS TO DISCUSS DEVELOPMENTS IN

THE DRC, BUT THAT IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO AVOID RAISING THE DOMESTIC

SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE AS WELL. HIS INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

APPARENTLY PROVOKED NO NEGATIVE REACTION FROM THE ZIMBABWEAN SIDE,

AND PRESIDENT MUGABE WAS DIPLOMATIC AND FORTHCOMING AT THE OUTSET.

MUGABE STAYED TRUE TO FORM BY PROVIDING HIS DETAILED HISTORICAL

PERSPECTIVE ON ZIMBABWE’S INVOLVEMENT IN THE DRC, EMPHASIZING THAT

HIS GOVERNMENT HAD BEEN INVITED IN.

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 03539 01 OF 03 261353Z

 

WITHDRAWAL OF FOREIGN FORCES

—————————-

 

5. (C) MUGABE STRESSED THE GOZ’S COMMITMENT TO THE LUSAKA

PROCESS, BUT WARNED THAT A WITHDRAWAL BY ZIMBABWEAN FORCES NOW

WOULD CREATE SECURITY PROBLEMS. THUS ZIMBABWE WOULD WAIT TO

WITHDRAW UNTIL THE UNITED NATIONS DEPLOYED FULLY. WHEN SOLANA

PRESSED HARD FOR THE WITHDRAWAL OF FOREIGN TROOPS, MUGABE SAID

TROOPS CAN BE WITHDRAWN AT ANY TIME BUT REITERATED THAT THIS STEP

SHOULD HINGE UPON THE CREATION OF A SUFFICIENTLY SECURE

ENVIRONMENT. MICHEL SAID HE WAS NOT SURE THAT MONUC WOULD BE ABLE

TO DEPLOY THE LARGE NUMBERS DESIRED BY MUGABE BUT THAT HE HOPED

DDRR COULD PROCEED IN THE MEANTIME. MUGABE MAINTAINED THAT

ZIMBABWEAN TROOPS HAVE COMPLIED WITH THE REQUIREMENT TO WITHDRAW

15 KM FROM THE FRONT LINE, IN CONTRAST TO RWANDA, WHICH HAD MERELY

REPLACED ITS SOLDIERS WITH FIGHTERS FROM RCD-GOMA. MUDENGE INSISTED

THAT ZIMBABWE WOULD NOT MAINTAIN ITS MILITARY PRESENCE IN THE DRC

ANY LONGER THAN NECESSARY BECAUSE OF THE EXPENSE.

 

INTERNAL DIALOGUE

—————–

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ1358

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 03539 02 OF 03 261353Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   AID-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 WHA-00   SRPP-00 EAP-00

EB-00   EUR-00   VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00

L-00     AC-01   NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02   OMB-01   PA-00

PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00    SS-00   STR-00

TRSE-00 T-00     USIE-00 PMB-00   PRM-00   DRL-02   G-00

SAS-00     /007W

——————4317A0 261353Z /48

O 261252Z NOV 01

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0369

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

AMEMBASSY OSLO

AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM

AMEMBASSY CANBERRA

AMEMBASSY OTTAWA

AMEMBASSY KINGSTON

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 03 HARARE 003539

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 03539 02 OF 03 261353Z

E.O. 12958: DECL. 11/26/11

TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: PRESIDENT MUGABE WALKS OUT ON EU TEAM

 

6. (C) MICHEL REGRETTED THE FAILURE OF THE INITIAL INTERNAL

DIALOGUE MEETING IN ADDIS ABABA, BUT REPORTED THAT PRESIDENT

KABILA AND FACILITATOR MASIRE HAD AGREED WITH HIM IN KINSHASA ON

THE NEED FOR ANOTHER MEETING SOON, BUT ONE THAT WOULD BE PRECEDED

BY SMALLER, PREPARATORY DISCUSSIONS. AIELLO SAID THE EU

RECOGNIZED THAT PRESIDENT KABILA WOULD BE PRESIDENT DURING A

TRANSITION PERIOD LEADING TO ELECTIONS, BUT NOTED THAT, IN SOME

COUNTRIES, A TRANSITION PERIOD FOLLOWED AN ELECTION. PATTEN ADDED

THAT THERE WAS AGREEMENT WITHIN THE EU THAT KABILA SHOULD LEAD THE

TRANSITIONAL PERIOD, AND MICHEL SAID HE THOUGHT THE REBELS WOULD

ACCEPT THIS. MUGABE ASSERTED THAT PRESIDENT KABILA RISKS BEING

TOPPLED IF THE TRANSITION PERIOD COMES FIRST, BUT SAID THAT

DECISION IS UP TO THE CONGOLESE PEOPLE. HE HOPED THAT MASIRE

WOULD MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS ON THIS POINT.

 

UN REPORT ON EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES

————————————–

 

7. (C) WHEN MICHEL SOLICITED MUGABE’S COMMENT ON THE RECENT UN

REPORT ON THE EXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES IN THE DRC, THE

CONVERSATION BEGAN TO GO DOWNHILL QUICKLY, CROMBRUGGHE REPORTED.

MUGABE CALLED THE REPORT “ABSOLUTE NONSENSE,” SAYING EVERYTHING

ZIMBABWE HAD DONE IN THE DRC HAD BEEN DONE IN CONSULTATION WITH

THE KINSHASA GOVERNMENT. THE DRC GOVERNMENT, HE INSISTED, HAD

NEVER COMPLAINED ABOUT ZIMBABWE’S INVOLVEMENT. HE DISMISSED THE

REPORT COMPLETELY, SAYING IT HAD BEEN INSTIGATED BY THE BRITISH.

THE EU TEAM, MUGABE SAID, WAS PUTTING ITS CREDIBILITY ON THE LINE

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 03539 02 OF 03 261353Z

BY EVEN MENTIONING IT. MUDENGE ADDED THAT THE REPORT HAD NOT BEEN

ENDORSED BY THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL. SOLANA EMPHASIZED THAT THE

REPORT EXPRESSED THE POSITION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. NO,

IT DOESN’T, MUGABE REPLIED, IT EXPRESSES ONLY THE POSITION OF THE

BRITISH GOVERNMENT.

 

ELECTION OBSERVERS

——————

 

8. (C) MICHEL THEN RAISED THE ISSUE OF INTERNATIONAL ELECTION

OBSERVERS, ELICITING A “VERY AGGRESSIVE” REACTION FROM MUGABE,

ACCORDING TO CROMBRUGGHE. MUGABE’S RESPONSE WAS ALONG THE LINES

OF “WE DON’T NEED YOUR HELP, WE DON’T WANT YOU TO ORGANIZE OUR

ELECTIONS. LEAVE US ALONE.” HE THEN ADDED, SOMEWHAT CRYPTICALLY,

THAT MARGARET THATCHER WAS “A LADY YOU CAN TALK TO.” MUDENGE

RAISED A POINT OF ORDER, NOTING THAT THE BELGIANS, IN THE NOTE

REQUESTING THE MEETING, HAD INDICATED THAT THE DELEGATION ONLY

INTENDED TO DISCUSS THE DRC. AT THAT POINT, A VISIBLY IRRITATED

MUGABE STOOD UP AND LEFT THE ROOM, WITH NARY A WORD OR HANDSHAKE.

THE EU DELEGATION WAS APPARENTLY “FLABBERGASTED,” AND MICHEL

COMMENTED PRIVATELY TO THE BELGIAN AMBASSADOR THAT MUGABE’S

REACTION HAD BEEN OVER THE TOP AND IRRATIONAL. MUDENGE APPEARED

TO HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY SURPRISE BY HIS BOSS’S UNEXPECTED WITHDRAWAL

FROM THE ROOM, AND SAID QUICKLY TO THE DELEGATION THAT THE GOZ

WOULD PARTICIPATE IN THE ARTICLE 96 DIALOGUE. LATER IN THE DAY, A

SENIOR MFA OFFICIAL PHONED THE BELGIAN EMBASSY TO CONVEY

OFFICIALLY THE GOZ’S AGREEMENT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ARTICLE 96

PROCESS.

 

PRESS CONFERENCE

—————-

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 03539 02 OF 03 261353Z

 

9. (C) CROMBRUGGHE SAID HE HAD ARRANGED A PRESS CONFERENCE IN THE

VIP DEPARTURE LOUNGE LATER IN THE DAY, BUT MINISTRY OF INFORMATION

OFFICIALS INITIALLY PROHIBITED THE PARTICIPATION OF JOURNALISTS

FROM THE INDEPENDENT PRESS. ONLY AFTER HE INSISTED THAT THEY BE

ADMITTED AND PERSONALLY ESCORTED THEM FROM A HOLDING ROOM AT THE

OTHER END OF THE AIRPORT WERE THEY ABLE TO INTERACT WITH MEMBERS

OF THE DELEGATION. THE EU OFFICIALS WERE UNUSUALLY CANDID WITH

THE REPORTERS, SAYING THAT THE TALKS WITH MUGABE HAD BEEN “VERY

FRANK AND VERY DIFFICULT.” SOLANA TOLD JOURNALISTS THAT “WE PUT

IT CLEARLY TO HIM THAT UNLESS THEY COMPLY WITH THE MINIMUM

CONDITIONS FOR THE RUNNING OF THE ELECTIONS, IT WILL BE VERY

DIFFICULT FOR THE ELECTION RESULTS TO BE RECOGNIZED BY THE EU.”

MICHEL SAID THE TEAM WANTED TO HAVE A FRANK DISCUSSION WITH MUGABE

BUT THAT “TODAY, IT WAS NOT EASY TO DO.” PATTEN ADDED THAT “ALL I

CAN SAY IS WE DID NOT HAVE A MEETING OF THE MINDS WITH PRESIDENT

MUGABE” AND THAT THE EU WOULD “INSIST ON THE BASIC MINIMUM

STANDARDS FOR CLEAN ELECTIONS.”

 

10. (U) NOT SURPRISINGLY, THE GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED MEDIA PRAISED

MUGABE FOR STANDING UP TO HIS INTERLOCUTORS, INDICATED BY THE

ABOVE-THE-FOLD HEADLINE IN NOVEMBER 24 EDITION OF “THE HERALD” —

“PRESIDENT TELLS EU OFF.”   THE ARTICLE REPORTED THAT MUGABE HAD

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ1362

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 03539 03 OF 03 261354Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   AID-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 WHA-00   SRPP-00 EAP-00

EB-00   EUR-00   VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00

L-00     AC-01   NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OIC-02   OMB-01   PA-00

PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   SS-00   STR-00

TRSE-00 T-00     USIE-00 PMB-00   PRM-00   DRL-02   G-00

SAS-00     /007W

——————4317B1 261354Z /48

O 261252Z NOV 01

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0370

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

AMEMBASSY OSLO

AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM

AMEMBASSY CANBERRA

AMEMBASSY OTTAWA

AMEMBASSY KINGSTON

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 03 OF 03 HARARE 003539

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

BRUSSELS ALSO FOR USEU

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 03539 03 OF 03 261354Z

E.O. 12958: DECL. 11/26/11

TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: PRESIDENT MUGABE WALKS OUT ON EU TEAM

 

TOLD THE DELEGATION TO “KEEP OUT OF ZIMBABWE’S AFFAIRS” AND THAT

HE HAD DISMISSED AS “ABSOLUTELY NONSENSICAL” THE UN SECURITY

COUNCIL’S RECENT REPORT ON ZIMBABWE’S EXPLOITATION OF DRC

RESOURCES. AT A PUBLIC EVENT FOLLOWING THE FATEFUL MEETING,

MUGABE TOLD THE ASSEMBLED CROWD THAT THE EU SHOULD KEEP OUT OF

ZIMBABWE, AS “SOME OF THEM WERE OUR FORMER COLONIZERS. WE HAVE

ENOUGH EXPERIENCE IN HOLDING ELECTIONS AND WE DO NOT NEED THEIR

ASSISTANCE.”

 

COMMENT

——-

 

11. (C) PRESIDENT MUGABE’S ANGRY REACTION APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN

DISPROPORTIONATE, AND SUGGESTS THAT HE IS NOT INTERESTED IN

ENGAGING THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ON HOW TO EXTRICATE ZIMBABWE

FROM ITS CURRENT CRISIS, IF SUCH ENGAGEMENT IMPLIES ANY ACCEPTANCE

OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS COUNTRY’S PROBLEMS. THE NOVEMBER 23

EXCHANGE WILL LIKELY WORSEN AN ALREADY STRAINED EU-ZIMBABWE

RELATIONSHIP, BUT MUGABE SEEMS INCREASINGLY WILLING TO WAG HIS

FINGER — WHICHEVER FINGER — AT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.

MUDENGE, WHO IS OFTEN ONE OF THE GOZ’S MOST STRIDENT VOICES, WAS

APPARENTLY NONPLUSSED BY HIS BOSS’S BEHAVIOR, AND THE GOZ’S QUICK

ACCEPTANCE OF THE ARTICLE 96 DIALOGUE SO SOON AFTER THE

UNFORTUNATE MEETING WAS A CLEAR ATTEMPT AT DAMAGE CONTROL. WE ARE

COMING TO THE CONCLUSION, HOWEVER, THAT AS LONG AS MUGABE REMAINS

THE GOZ’S ONLY REAL DECISION-MAKER, WE ARE UNLIKELY TO SEE MUCH

PROGRESS ON THE ISSUES OF CONCERN TO US, THE EU, THE COMMONWEALTH,

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 03539 03 OF 03 261354Z

AND ZIMBABWE’S NEIGHBORS.

 

SULLIVAN

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

 

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