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Mwanawasa parroted what Britain and US wanted him to say

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa told the extraordinary summit of the Southern African Development Community that was supposed to address the Zimbabwe crisis what the United States and Britain wanted him to say.

A cable dispatched by the United States embassy in Lusaka about the summit said “Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa echoed US points delivered throughout the week in a short but pointed speech”.

It also stated: “UK diplomats tell us HMG recommended Zambia deliver a strong message or no message at all”.

Mugabe did not attend the summit.

He sent Emmerson Mnangagwa instead.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08LUSAKA423, SADC SUMMIT: MANAWASA URGES “HUMILITY” AND A “NEW

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08LUSAKA423

2008-04-12 16:02

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Lusaka

VZCZCXRO6276

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHLS #0423/01 1031602

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 121602Z APR 08

FM AMEMBASSY LUSAKA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5691

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LUSAKA 000423

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/FO, AF/S, AF/PD, AND SES-O

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/12/2013

TAGS: PREL SADC ZA ZI

SUBJECT: SADC SUMMIT: MANAWASA URGES “HUMILITY” AND A “NEW

LEAF” IN ZIMBABWE

 

REF: A. LUSAKA 412

 

B. LUSAKA 421

C. LUSAKA 422

 

Classified By: DCM Michael Koplovsky for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary: In his opening speech to an extraordinary

Southern African Development Community Summit, Zambian

President Levy Mwanawasa echoed U.S. points delivered

throughout the week in a short but pointed speech. He called

for “humility” by Zimbabwean politicians and indicated it was

time to turn over a new leaf. Mwanawasa underscored

democratic principles and the need for patience and

non-violence as SADC reaches a common strategy for helping

its neighbor (whose house, he implied, was on fire) find

answers that reflect “the will of the people.”

 

2. (U) On April 12, the Southern African Development

Community (SADC) held an Extraordinary Summit of SADC Heads

of State and Government in Lusaka aimed at addressing the

political crisis in Zimbabwe following the March 29 general

elections. Heads of State from eight of SADC’s 14 Member

States attended the meetings, including Angola, Botswana, the

Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,

South Africa, and Zambia. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe,

who chose not to attend (Ref C), sent his Ministers of

Information, Justice, and Foreign Affairs to represent him.

 

3. (SBU) Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai also

attended by SADC invitation. Although Tsvangirai remained

stoic and tight-lipped in the front row throughout, he was

surrounded by the paparazzi like a rock star for several

minutes. Despite rumors that he would be present, Zimbabwean

presidential candidate Makoni did not appear at the opening

session. About 200 people that nearly filled the hall

included mainly diplomatic corps (out in force), SADC

entourages, and journalists, included BBC, New York Times,

and Reuters reporters based in South Africa. The Summit

began over two hours late, due to the late arrival of South

African President Thabo Mbeki, who made a stop in Harare en

route to Lusaka. In a press statement afterwards in Harare,

Mbeki reportedly said there was “no crisis” in Zimbabwe. A

half dozen demonstrators outside the conference center

demonstrated before a banner calling for release of

Zimbabwean presidential election results.

 

4. (U) Zambian President and SADC Chair Levy Mwanawasa

opened the summit with a speech that urged “calm and

patience” but also laid down a clear marker stating the

purpose of the summit was for SADC to develop a common

approach to help Zimbabwe find an answer to the current

situation that “reflects the will of the people.” “We want

to identify ways to help our Zimbabwean brothers and

sisters.” He appealed to Zimbabwean government and

opposition leaders to “embrace humility” and “turn over a new

leaf in the history of Zimbabwe.” He said that great men and

women must take bold steps and that the time to do this is

now. Mwanawasa warned that no leader should condone violence

because violence breeds violence. SADC has a responsibility

for democratic governance and accountability in the region

and leaders must accept the people’s verdict.

 

5. (U) The Zambian president said SADC cannot stand by and

do nothing when one of its members is in trouble. Quoting a

local idiom, Mwanawasa said it would be like turning a blind

eye when the neighbor’s house is on fire. SADC, he said,

must lend a helping hand. However, Mwanawasa praised South

African President Mbeki’s efforts that resulted in

“successful holding of elections in Zimbabwe” and also

reiterated the SADC electoral observer team’s assessment that

the polls were “free and fair.”

 

6. (C) Concluding with straight-faced sarcasm, Mwanawasa

took pains to reassure the absent Mugabe that he was welcome

to share his perspectives through his envoys since “events

beyond his control” had kept him from attending. Mwanawasa

underscored that this extraordinary summit was not meant to

“put Mugabe in the dock.” (Note: Local diplomats

conjectured Mugabe feared leaving Zimbabwe during this

unstable time.)

 

7. (C) Comment: Although he threw Mugabe and his supporters

in SADC a few bones, in contrast to past SADC events,

Mwanawasa stood tall and delivered the right points,

particularly on democracy and violence. UK diplomats tell us

HMG recommended Zambia deliver a strong message or no message

at all. Mugabe’s bitter memories of Mwanawasa’s “sinking

Titanic” comments in March 2007 regarding Zimbabwe will

 

LUSAKA 00000423 002 OF 002

 

 

certainly be eclipsed by images of burning houses and turning

leaves. With Mwanawasa drawing lines in the sand, the closed

session discussions should be lively. Post will report on

any communiques and results of the summit, although we do not

expect leaders to emerge until late on April 12.

 

MARTINEZ

 

 

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