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Mutharika described Mugabe as an African hero

Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika described President Robert Mugabe as “a true democrat in every sense of the word” because he had unified Zimbabwe’s two liberation forces.

He called Mugabe and African hero and said he believed that Zimbabwe’s economy would soon bounce back because of some of the economic policies that Mugabe had put in place.

Mugabe was on a four-day state visit to Malawi which included officiating at a highway that was named in his honour.

Civil society in Malawi opposed the visit and the naming of the highway after Mugabe because it viewed this as honouring a human rights violator.

Mugabe called those Malawians who opposed his visit “blacks speaking for their white masters”.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 06LILONGWE391, MUTHARIKA HAILS “AFRICAN HERO” MUGABE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06LILONGWE391

2006-05-08 15:46

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Lilongwe

VZCZCXRO7220

RR RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR

DE RUEHLG #0391 1281546

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 081546Z MAY 06

FM AMEMBASSY LILONGWE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2715

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0214

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0109

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC 0444

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION WASHDC

UNCLAS LILONGWE 000391

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/S GABRIELLE MALLORY

STATE FOR INR/AA

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV KDEM KCOR MI

SUBJECT: MUTHARIKA HAILS “AFRICAN HERO” MUGABE

 

REF: LILONGWE 365

 

1. (SBU) Summary: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe ended

his four day state visit to Malawi on May 6, after opening a

road named in his honor and publicly condemning the West.

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika played the part of

amiable host, asking donors to resume support to Zimbabwe and

calling Mugabe a “true democrat” and an “African hero.” For

his part, Mugabe called those Malawians who opposed his

visit, “blacks speaking for their white masters.”

Referencing the travel sanctions placed on him, Mugabe stated

at the public opening of the Robert Mugabe Highway that he

is, “not a Briton and does not desire to live in Europe.” End

Summary.

 

2. (SBU) Mutharika went to great pains to ensure that

Mugabe’s visit went smoothly, despite the objections of some

civil society organizations (reftel). Mutharika had

previously convinced a number of NGOs to go along quietly

with the Mugabe visit by promising them that he would set up

an audience for them with Mugabe, to discuss human rights

violations in Zimbabwe. Despite civil society disappointment

and anger when this meeting, predictably, failed to take

place, there were no large scale protests while Mugabe was in

the country.

 

3. (SBU) The GOM made numerous efforts to welcome Mugabe,

prominently placing his picture alongside that of Mutharika

at round-abouts in the capital. Mugabe was feted with a full

honor guard upon arrival and departure, presentation of the

freedom of the city of Lilongwe, a state dinner, and a large

formal ceremony to open the highway, near Blantyre. All the

events received prominent coverage in the state-run media.

There was a heavy and visible police presence in Lilongwe

throughout the visit.

 

4. Mutharika took every available opportunity to publicly

sing Mugabe’s praises. Departing from his prepared remarks

at the state dinner, Mutharika called Mugabe “a true democrat

in every sense of the word” because he had unified Zimbabwe’s

two liberation forces. Mutharika extolled Zimbabwe as a

great investment opportunity, telling Mugabe, “I believe the

economy will soon bounce back because of some of the economic

policies your government has put in place.” Mutharika has a

number of connections to Zimbabwe, including a large farm

there and his Zimbabwean wife, which have led to his close

relationship to Mugabe.   Although rumors abounded that

Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was set to

sign an agreement with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF during the visit,

according to government sources nothing came of it.

 

5. (SBU) Comment: From the government’s perspective, Mugabe’s

visit went relatively smoothly, in large part due to

Mutharika’s effectiveness in quieting civil society, who had

loudly questioned the rationale of honoring a human rights

abuser. While Mutharika has clearly shown that he has no

fear of cozying up to an international pariah such as Mugabe,

the visit itself will not likely do lasting damage to

Malawi’s international standing. The real harm to Malawi’s

reputation will come from Mutharika’s own actions. The

arbitrary arrest and detention of a dozen opposition leaders

apparently in connection with this visit, along with a

continuing pattern of intimidation of political opponents by

actual and threatened prosecutions, is of serious concern to

all those who wish for a healthier democracy in Malawi.

Mugabe,s visit provided an opportunity for a great many

Malawians to ponder whether Mutharika is beginning to adopt

Mugabe,s Zimbabwe example on human rights.

EASTHAM

 

(5 VIEWS)

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