He, however, remained stoic and tight lipped in the front row throughout, according to a cable released by Wikileaks.
Tsvangirai had been invited to the summit by SADC but his main rival President Robert Mugabe did not pitch up. He was represented instead by Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The opening session was delayed by two hours due to the late arrival of South African President Thabo Mbeki who had to pass through Harare. Mbeki surprised everyone on his arrival when he announced that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe.
Zambian President and SADC Chair Levy Mwanawasa urged "calm and patience" but said 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,"
Mwanawasa said that the extraordinary summit was not meant to "put Mugabe in the dock".
Viewing cable 08LUSAKA423, SADC SUMMIT: MANAWASA URGES "HUMILITY" AND A "NEW
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
STATE FOR AF/FO, AF/S, AF/PD, AND SES-O
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/12/2013
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
¶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.