Pius Ncube- the odd one out

Archbishop Pius Ncube was the only Catholic bishop speaking out against the Zimbabwean government as his colleagues pointed to the “Vision Document” as the solution to Zimbabwe’s political challenges, Cardinal Wilfred Napier said.

Napier, however, said the document also entitled the Zimbabwe We Want was too long-term to address the current crisis in the country.

Napier also criticized South African policy in Zimbabwe as ineffectual.

He recounted a "frustrating" meeting with Mbeki the previous year, where the President avoided their questions on Zimbabwe policy, instead providing a detailed and "belaboured" description of his past efforts to mediate between the Mugabe and the MDC.

By the time Mbeki finally finished, "you felt sorry for him" because Mbeki had convinced you he had tried everything.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07PRETORIA957, SOUTH AFRICA EXPRESSES "CONCERN" ABOUT ZIMBABWE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07PRETORIA957

2007-03-16 16:20

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO7900

RR RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #0957/01 0751620

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 161620Z MAR 07

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8763

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0943

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2030

RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 1022

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0497

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1139

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 6349

RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0442

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1023

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0058

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4076

RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PRETORIA 000957

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2017

TAGS: PREL ECON SF ZI

SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA EXPRESSES "CONCERN" ABOUT ZIMBABWE

CRACKDOWN

 

REF: HARARE 218 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Raymond Brown. Reasons 1.4(b) and (

d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Government of Zimbabwe's March 11

violent attack on opposition leaders has revitalized the

debate on Zimbabwe in South Africa and put pressure on the

South African Government (SAG) to act. DepForMin Pahad's

carefully worded March 13 statement, expressing concern about

the arrests, has been strongly criticized by a number of

leading civil society groups and opposition parties as

"shamefully weak." While the SAG has been cautious in

criticizing Mugabe in public, we are hearing reports,

including from the ANC Secretary General, that Mbeki and

other senior leaders are increasingly worried. The

deteriorating economic situation, growing rifts in ZANU-PF,

and increasing opposition activity could lead to an

acceleration and intensification of South Africa's engagement

-- especially if the SAG perceives there to be a looming

refugee crisis. END SUMMARY.

 

---------------------------------------

SAG's Carefully-Worded Public Statement

---------------------------------------

 

2. (U) Deputy ForMin Aziz Pahad expressed "concern" about

reports of arrests, detention and "reported" assault of

Zimbabwean opposition leaders, in a March 13 Department of

Foreign Affairs press release. He also pointedly highlighted

the SAG's concern about the "deteriorating political and

economic situation." Pahad urged the Government of Zimbabwe

"to ensure that the rule of law including respect for rights

of all Zimbabweans and leaders of various political parties

is respected." The statement also called for dialogue among

the key parties to solve the country's current challenges and

promised South African assistance to "ensure the objective of

dialogue among all political parties is realized." (For full

text of statement, see para 15.)

 

----------------------------

Civil Society More Outspoken

----------------------------

 

3. (U) Spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade

Unions (COSATU) Patrick Craven criticized Pahad's statement

as "shamefully weak" and "disgraceful in the face of such

massive attacks on democracy and human rights." COSATU

Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi said that the assaults in

 

SIPDIS

Harare showed that South Africa's "silent diplomacy" had not

worked. COSATU pledged support for the planned April 3-4

strike by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

 

4. (C) Zackie Achmat and Nathan Geffen, two leaders of the

leading HIV/AIDS advocacy group in the country, the Treatment

Action Committee (TAC), wrote a letter to the Cape Times

newspaper urging South African civil society to "act now with

sustained conviction" to strengthen COSATU's campaign on

Zimbabwe. Achmat and Geffen said that South African groups,

including TAC, had done "too little" on Zimbabwe and said "we

(government and civil society) are all responsible for the

human rights abuses, hunger and tyranny over our neighbors."

(COMMENT: TAC involvement in the Zimbabwe debate is

potentially positive, as TAC is one of the most effective

civil society organizations in the country. TAC deserves

much of the credit for the shift in SAG policy on HIV/AIDS,

particularly the provision of ARVs. It is a noteworthy

departure for TAC, which previously has focused solely on

HIV/AIDS-related issues. END COMMENT.)

 

5. (U) The South African Council of Churches (SACC) also

criticized the SAG, arguing that the "silence of the South

African Government is aggravating the situation. Our leaders

must show they are committed to helping the people of

Zimbabwe find rapid solutions to the many problems

 

PRETORIA 00000957 002 OF 004

 

 

confronting them." Catholic Cardinal Wilfred Napier,

speaking with Reverand Useni Sibanda from Zimbabwe's

Christian Alliance, said publicly March 14 that he was

concerned about the Zimbabwean government's lack of respect

for human rights.

 

6. (C) During a private March 13 meeting with Durban CG and

PolOffs, Napier said Zimbabwe is a sensitive issue since the

church leadership in Harare does not want him to speak out.

He said that the Zimbabwean Catholic bishops, except for Pius

Ncube, continue to point to the so-called "Vision Document"

as the solution to Zimbabwe's political challenges, a

document Napier believes is too long-term and vague to

address the current crisis. Napier also criticized South

African policy in Zimbabwe as ineffectual. He recounted a

"frustrating" meeting with Mbeki last year, where the

President avoided their questions on Zimbabwe policy, instead

providing a detailed and "belabored" description of his past

efforts to mediate between the Mugabe and the MDC. By the

time Mbeki finally finished, "you felt sorry for him" because

Mbeki had convinced you he had tried everything.

 

7. (C) The MDC organized a protest march on the Zimbabwean

Consulate in Johannesburg, which about 300 people attended.

MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett told PolOff March 15 that he was

frustrated by poor organization and the ethnic divisions that

emerged during the protest planning and event, with several

Ndebeles holding up signs calling for an independent

Matabeleland. (COMMENT: The Zimbabwe exile community in

South Africa is unlikely to become a significant factor in

policymaking. Many in the community are undocumented, and

thus try to keep a low profile. The community is largely

divided along ethnic lines and not well organized. END

COMMENT.)

 

---------------------

SAG Worries Privately

---------------------

 

8. (C) Despite the SAG's cautious public posture, we are

receiving reports that key leaders in the government and

ruling African National Congress (ANC) are increasingly

worried about the situation in Zimbabwe. ANC

Secretary-General Motlanthe met March 6 with Institute for

 

SIPDIS

Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) analyst and close Embassy

contact Sydney Masamvu. Motlanthe told Masamvu that SAG and

ANC leaders now agree that "getting Bob out" is the first

step toward change in Zimbabwe. Motlanthe said that Mbeki

believes it will be impossible for Zimbabwe to move forward

as long as Mugabe remains in power.

 

9. (C) According to Masamvu, Motlanthe said that both the

Mnangagwa and Mujuru ZANU-PF factions have visited Motlanthe

in recent weeks to ask for South African help in easing

Mugabe out of power. In late February, ZANU-PF Chairman John

Nkomo also visited Motlanthe and quietly made the same

request. (NOTE: Masamvu believes that the sympathies of

Nkomo, a long-time Mugabe supporter, ultimately lie with the

Mujuru camp. END NOTE.) South Africa's preferred scenario,

Masamvu reported, is for Zimbabwe to hold elections in 2008

under a new constitution. ZANU-PF would put forward someone

besides Mugabe, perhaps Simba Makoni, as their presidential

candidate.

 

10. (SBU) President Mbeki met with President Mugabe March 6

in Accra on the margins of Ghana's 50th independence

celebrations, Mbeki's spokesman confirmed. (NOTE: Our

interlocutors in the SAG have been tight-lipped about the

details of the meeting, but unconfirmed press reports suggest

that Mbeki advised Mugabe not to extend his presidential term

to 2010. END NOTE.)

 

--------------

Press Reaction

--------------

 

PRETORIA 00000957 003 OF 004

 

 

 

11. (U) The crackdown on the MDC and civil society protesters

has generated significant press coverage in South Africa,

including a series of front page stories in the major

newspapers. The photo of injured MDC leader Morgan

Tsvangirai walking to court was widely reprinted. Following

 

SIPDIS

are a samples of some of the front page headlines: "Bloodied

but Unbowed" (3/14/07 BusinessDay), "Tsvangirai held in

protest mayhem" (3/12/07 BusinessDay), "Brain Scan for Morgan

(3/15/07 Citizen), "MDC leader rejects medical care" (3/14/07

Pretoria News), "Zim cops beat MDC leader to a pulp" (3/13/07

Pretoria News), "Tsvangirai Battered and Bruised" (3/14/07

Star), "Tsvangirai brutally beaten after rally" (3/13/07

Star), "Go Hang: Mugabe tells West after opposition beating

(3/16/07 Citizen), and "Zimbabwe: The Endgame?" (3/16/07 Mail

& Guardian).

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

12. (C) The Government of Zimbabwe's March 11 violent

crackdown has reengerized the public debate in South Africa

on Zimbabwe policy -- which had been largely dormant since

Operation "Restore Order" in 2005 -- and put pressure on the

SAG to act. The arrest and assault on MDC leader Tsvangirai

enhanced his and the MDC's credibility in South Africa,

almost overnight. We had often heard the criticism that

Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders had not "sacrificed"

 

SIPDIS

enough for their cause, as the ANC did during the

anti-apartheid struggle. Photos of a bruised and beaten

Tsvangirai help defuse this (unfair) charge.

 

SIPDIS

 

13. (C) We agree that Pahad's statement was overly cautious.

However, the public call on the Government of Zimbabwe to

respect human rights and the recognition of the

"deteriorating political and economic situation" is more than

the SAG has said in the past, especially from a government

that has been reluctant to even hint at public criticism of

Mugabe. The SAG continues to believe that strong public

criticism will lead Mugabe to cut off all contact with them

and undermine their leverage with Harare.

 

14. (C) South Africa's overall agenda remains the same. The

SAG wants a peaceful transition to a new, "responsible"

ZANU-PF government, ideally with some opposition

participation, and a new constitution. Mugabe has stymied

their efforts to put this plan in place, outplaying Mbeki at

every turn. However, the deteriorating economic situation,

growing rifts in ZANU-PF, and increasing opposition activity

could lead to an acceleration and intensification of South

Africa's engagement -- especially if the SAG perceives there

to be a looming refugee crisis.

 

---------------------

Text of SAG Statement

---------------------

 

15. (U) The text of the March 13 Department of Foreign

Affairs statement:

 

South African Government Statement on the current situation

in Zimbabwe

 

The South African Government has noted reports emanating from

Zimbabwe regarding the current difficulties being experienced

by the political leadership in the country including the

arrests, detention and reported assault of some opposition

leaders.

 

"South Africa expresses its concerns about these reports as

well as the deteriorating political and economic situation in

Zimbabwe. In this regard, we are of the view that the

current difficulties are symptomatic of the broader political

and economic challenges facing Zimbabwe," said Deputy

 

PRETORIA 00000957 004 OF 004

 

 

Minister Aziz Pahad.

 

"Accordingly, South Africa has consistently maintained and

moved from the premise that only dialogue among the main

political protagonists can help bring about a lasting

solution to the current political and economic challenges

facing Zimbabwe.

 

"In this context, South Africa will continue to monitor the

situation closely and work with all parties in Zimbabwe in

the political, economic, trade and social sectors to ensure

the objective of dialogue among all political parties is

realized," continued Deputy Minister Pahad.

 

"Pursuant to this objective, South Africa urges the

Zimbabwean Government to ensure that the rule of law

including respect for rights of all Zimbabweans and leaders

of various political parties is respected.

 

"Similarly, we appeal to leaders of opposition political

parties to work towards a climate that is conducive to

finding a lasting solution to the current challenges faced by

the people of Zimbabwe," concluded Deputy Minister Pahad.

BOST

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