in Stories

SA refused to bow down to pressure to force Mugabe to step down

Despite the stalemate following the signing of the Global Political Agreement which was to usher Zimbabwe’s government of national unity, the South African government showed no inclination at all to force President Robert Mugabe to step down.

It also refused to change its negotiating team which was still headed by ousted President Thabo Mbeki and his team. Mbeki was accused of being too soft and too close to Mugabe.

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai even asked Mbeki to recuse himself but the South African government argued that appointing new facilitators would delay the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis because the new team would have to build trust with the parties to the negotiations and might be rejected by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

Political analyst and Untied States embassy contact Sydney Masamvu said the South African facilitators were pushing for a quick resolution of the Zimbabwean political crisis to take international and domestic pressures off Mugabe and South Africa itself.

South Africa’s director of Foreign Affairs Ayanda Ntsaluba said Pretoria was pushing for an inclusive government and was not bowing down to international pressure to force Mugabe to step down.

“The posture that we are assuming now, is not the posture of pressurizing President Mugabe to step down. The pressure on President Mugabe and ZANU-PF is for them to move with greater speed to successfully implement the agreement that was signed on 15 September 2008 so that an inclusive government can be established,” he said.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08PRETORIA2716, SOUTH AFRICA FEELING THE HEAT ON ZIMBABWE CRISIS

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

Released

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA2716

2008-12-15 16:33

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

P 151633Z DEC 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6743

INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY

AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN PRIORITY

AMCONSUL DURBAN PRIORITY

AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG PRIORITY

USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L PRETORIA 002716

 

 

USUN FOR AF A/S J. FRAZER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2018

TAGS: KDEM PGOV PREL ZANU SF ZM

SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA FEELING THE HEAT ON ZIMBABWE CRISIS

 

Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Madeline Q. Seidenstricker.

Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary: South African leaders have recently stepped

up their level of activity and pronouncements on the Zimbabwe

political and humanitarian crises. Former President Thabo

Mbeki’s facilitation team, without Mbeki, remain engaged with

the political parties, pressing for the quick establishment

of an inclusive government. South African Government (SAG)

high-level officials have led fact-finding missions to

Zimbabwe and the South African region that borders Zimbabwe

to assess the humanitarian crisis and make recommendations

for the SAG’s response. African National Congress (ANC)

leaders are speaking out on suspected abductions in Zimbabwe.

Civil society organizations are calling directly on South

Africa as well as the region and the international community

to take action against Mugabe and for the people of Zimbabwe.

Although South African engagement is increasing on many

levels, the SAG firmly supports an inclusive government and

shows no inclination to demand that Mugabe step down. End

summary.

 

—————————————-

MBEKI TEAM CONTINUES AS SADC FACILITATOR

—————————————-

 

2. (C) On November 26, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

leader Morgan Tsvangirai called for Mbeki to recuse himself

as the facilitator for negotiations between the political

parties. Tsvangirai spokesman George Sibotshiwe told poloff

on December 10 that the South African facilitators “don’t

understand” the issues at stake. Department of Foreign

Affairs (DFA) Deputy Director of Zambia and Zimbabwe John

Vilakazi told poloff in a December 9 meeting that the SAG did

not support a new facilitator because it could delay

resolution of the crisis. He said that to appoint a new

facilitator at this date “would not make sense” as that

person would have to build trust with the parties and might

be rejected by ruling Zimbabwean party Zanu-PF. He said

President Kgalema Motlanthe, as the chair of the Southern

African Development Community (SADC), would consult the rest

of the SADC countries on this issue. Mbeki’s facilitation

team (his former legal advisor Mojanku Gumbi and former

Minister of Safety and Security Sydney Mufamadi) has

continued informal discussions with the political parties,

according to Sibotshiwe.

 

——————————————— ———

SAG PRESSES FOR QUICK ADOPTION OF INCLUSIVE GOVERNMENT

——————————————— ———

 

3. (U) At a December 9 seminar on the Zimbabwe crisis hosted

by reputable think tank Institute for Democracy in South

Africa, Zimbabwe analyst Sydney Masamvu said the facilitation

team was pushing for a quick resolution to the political

crisis in order to take international and domestic pressures

off Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and off South Africa.

Masamvu said the facilitators pressed the political parties

to gazette the draft version of Amendment 19 agreed to on

November 27 by the negotiating teams of Zanu-PF, MDC-T and

MDC-M. On December 13, the ruling Zanu-PF gazetted Amendment

19, which will establish the framework for a power-sharing

Q19, which will establish the framework for a power-sharing

government, including creating the position of prime minister

and deputy prime minister. Although normal parliamentary

procedure in Zimbabwe allows for debate of proposed

amendments for 30 days before going to a vote, the SAG wants

the parties to bypass this process and put it to a vote

without delay, according to a December 9 press briefing by

DFA Director General Ayanda Ntsaluba. On December 13,

President Kgalema Motlanthe issued a statement welcoming the

draft amendment and said he expected the prime minister and

deputy prime minister to be sworn in “with immediate effect.”

Mbeki issued a separate statement urging the parties to form

an inclusive government “as soon as possible.”

 

4. (C) Going against the wave of recent calls from global

leaders for Mugabe to step down, the SAG continues to favor

an inclusive government. Ntsaluba said during the December 9

press briefing, “The posture that we are assuming now, is not

the posture of pressurizing President Mugabe to step down.

The pressure on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF is for them to

move with greater speed to successfully implement the

agreement that was signed on 15 September 2008 so that an

inclusive government can be established.” Irish Ambassador

Colin Wrafter told econoff that a December 9 meeting of

European Union chiefs of missions to South Africa on Zimbabwe

focused on the SAG’s military capacity for intervention.

Regarding that possibility, Ntsaluba said during the press

briefing, “As to whether South Africa would ever contemplate

deploying troops – I cannot see that arising. I do not

believe that is on the agenda of the South African government

at all although I cannot predict what will happen in the next

twenty years. But for now, and of course, in the current

debate, I do not think that the South African government is

persuaded that that is the right way to go.”

 

——————————————— ———

SAG MOTIVATED BY HUMANITARIAN CRISIS AND SELF-INTEREST

——————————————— ———

 

5. (C) The SAG is taking note of the worsening humanitarian

crisis in Zimbabwe and its impact on South Africa. On

December 8, former Director General of the Presidency and key

player on Zimbabwe policy under Mbeki Reverend Frank Chikane

led a delegation of SAG officials and a SADC representative

to Zimbabwe to determine what humanitarian assistance South

Africa and SADC should provide. They met with the UN’s World

Food Program, Food and Agriculture Organization and

Children’s Fund as well as churches and farmers’ unions. SAG

spokesman Themba Maseko said the aid package would be

announced this week. On December 9 Health Minister Barbara

Hogan led a delegation to assess the cholera outbreak in

Limpopo Province along the border region with Zimbabwe, which

has experienced a massive influx of Zimbabweans escaping the

crisis. Following the visit, the Limpopo Provincial

Government (LPG) declared the Vhembe district, which borders

Zimbabwe, a cholera disaster area due to the number of

cholera-related deaths and infected persons. LPG spokesman

Mogale Nchabeleng said the disaster status would free up

funding, focus relief efforts and reduce response time. The

Limpopo River, which touches South Africa, Zimbabwe and

Mozambique, has tested positive for cholera.

 

————————————

ANC ESCALATES INVOLVEMENT ON ZIMBABWE

————————————

 

6. (C) On December 10 the ANC and ANC Women’s League issued

statements of concern over the disappearance of human rights

activist Jestina Mukoko and other suspected abduction

victims. While the ANC statement urged the political parties

in Zimbabwe to come to agreement on a political solution, the

ANC Women’s League directed its demand for a resolution to

the leadership of the SADC region. The Women’s League will

convene a meeting of progressive women organizations in the

SADC region to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis.

 

7. (C) On December 12, the United Kingdom (UK) Minister for

Africa, Asia and the UN Mark Malloch-Brown met with ANC

Treasurer General Matthews Phosa, according to British High

Commission Officer on regional issues Mark Norton. Norton

said the ANC is looking for ideas on how South Africa can

help resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe. Phosa is planning a

trip to the UK December 15-17 where he will meet with

Malloch-Brown as well as with the UK Foreign Ministry’s

QMalloch-Brown as well as with the UK Foreign Ministry’s

Zimbabwe team. Phosa will report to ANC President Jacob Zuma

upon his return. Norton said UK officials are developing

ideas to share with Phosa and they think this is a positive

indication of potentially greater South African involvement

in bringing the crisis to a resolution. Norton said SAG

Foreign Minister Dlamini-Zuma has asked for a meeting with

British Foreign Secretary Miliband in January.

 

——————————————— –

CIVIL SOCIETY CALLS FOR MUGABE TO STEP DOWN…

——————————————— –

 

8. (U) On December 11 non-governmental organization South

African Liaison Office (SALO) hosted a seminar geared at

building international consensus on Zimbabwe. A broad range

of civil society leaders directed their recommendations for

saving Zimbabwe to South Africa, regional organizations and

the UN. Rights activist and Open Society Initiative for

Southern Africa Program Director Isabella Matambanadzo

remarked that this was the first SALO event where there was

consensus that Mugabe must step down from power. An

important exception to this consensus was MDC-M President

Arthur Mutambara, who said there were three options for

moving forward: popular uprising, forcing Mugabe out and

forming an inclusive government. He said the first two were

not practical at the moment. Mutambara felt by forming an

inclusive government, the opposition could then change the

constitution and prepare the country for free and fair

elections. He criticized Western governments for not being

willing to use military force to oust Mugabe. He warned that

if the country collapsed, Tsvangirai would not necessarily be

able to take power and Zimbabwe could become the next

Somalia.

 

——————————

…AND SOUTH AFRICA TO STEP UP

——————————

 

9. (U) Deputy Speaker of Parliament and ANC Member of

Parliament Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge said South Africa should

not recognize Mugabe as head of state. She recommended a

boycott of South African companies that are profiting from

the crisis in Zimbabwe. Leader of the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn

party Simba Makoni, former Zanu-PF Minister of Home Affairs

Dumiso Dabengwa and Matambanadzo called for SADC to take a

position on the June 2008 SADC observer mission report, which

stated that the presidential runoff elections did not

represent the will of the people and did not conform to

SADC’s principles governing democratic elections.

Matambanadzo called on South Africa to condemn the abductions

and forced disappearances of activists and others in Zimbabwe

and for a new framework for mediation. Father Michael

Lapsley of the Institute for the Healing of Memories said

South Africa should remove visa requirements for Zimbabweans.

He lamented, “I feel a sense of shame about (South Africa)

failing the people of Zimbabwe. We failed ourselves, our

history.”

 

——————————————— —

REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND UN NEED TO GET TOUGH

——————————————— —

 

10. (U) Madlala-Routledge emphasized the “responsibility to

protect” of the African Union and the UN. Women of Zimbabwe

Arise representative Jenni Williams urged the UN to change

its food distribution model to allow access of all hungry

Zimbabweans to food assistance. She said the system in place

now legitimizes Zanu-PF and prevents most activists from

accessing food aid. UN High Commission for Human Rights

Officer David Johnson welcomed the call for greater UN

involvement. He said there needs to be a specific call for

UN human rights monitoring in Zimbabwe to lower the

occurrence of violations. He said regional leaders, not

Western countries, must lead this initiative in order to gain

necessary support for implementation. Mutambara said calls

from Western leaders for Mugabe to go were well-intended, but

“played into Mugabe’s hands” and were ineffective. He said

regional leaders such as Motlanthe and Angolan President Jose

Eduardo dos Santos needed to send strong messages to Mugabe.

 

11. (C) Comment: South Africa is seized with the Zimbabwe

crisis at several levels. The leadership is increasingly

cognizant of the damage that implosion of the Zimbabwe

political and economic structures is having on South Africa’s

domestic front and international reputation. The cholera

outbreak may yet arouse citizen anger if the SAG fails to

Qoutbreak may yet arouse citizen anger if the SAG fails to

respond adequately. While the SAG appears to be addressing

the cholera crisis, it is willfully ignoring the larger

problem of massive numbers of sick and desperate Zimbabweans

entering South Africa. The SAG has no coherent policy that

addresses the influx of Zimbabweans, which may trigger

renewed xenophobic attacks or may become an issue in next

year’s national elections. Importantly, the crisis has the

potential of becoming a significant domestic political issue

at a time when the ANC looks to be losing its position of

total dominance in the Parliament. The ANC is taking steps

to place itself at the front of the Zimbabwe issue. While

there is reason to hope for greater levels of SAG engagement

on Zimbabwe, the political leadership is holding strong on

its official support for the Mbeki mediation process and an

inclusive government. So far the SAG demonstrates no

appetite for getting tough on Mugabe.

 

 

BOST

(40 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment