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Swazi diplomat said Mugabe is a political Maradona

Swaziland principal secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Clifford Mamba described President Robert Mugabe as a “political Maradona” who was adept at keeping regional leaders on his side.

Speaking shortly after the political impasse within the inclusive government towards the end of 2009, Mamba said Mugabe was respectful not only to his fellow heads of state but also to fellow political cohabitant Morgan Tsvangirai.

Occasionally, however, he let this façade slip like when he remarked about Tsvangirai that “every village has its idiot”.

Mamba said Mozambican leader Armando Guebuza was not likely to do anything about Mugabe because of their historical background. The same applied to South African President Jacob Zuma. He did not want to do anything that would upset his relationship with Guebuza.

Mamba who said he was close to Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as they had served as ambassadors in New York at the same time, said Mumbengegwi had at one time told him that Tsvangirai had little influence in Zimbabwe.

“Yes, he may have won the election, but it was because of a protest vote,” Mamba reported him as saying.

Mamba said the way forward was for both Mugabe and Tsvangirai to step down and not contest any future presidential elections.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09MBABANE331, SWAZILAND: SADC’S IMMEDIATE NEXT STEPS ON

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09MBABANE331

2009-12-10 10:15

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Mbabane

VZCZCXRO2396

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHMB #0331/01 3441015

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 101015Z DEC 09

FM AMEMBASSY MBABANE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3804

INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MBABANE 000331

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2014

TAGS: PREL SADC PINR ZI WZ

SUBJECT: SWAZILAND: SADC’S IMMEDIATE NEXT STEPS ON

ZIMBABWE? PROBABLY NOTHING

 

Classified By: Ambassador Earl M. Irving

for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Clifford

Mamba told the Ambassador on December 10 that he doubts the

Southern African Development Community (SADC) will take

further action on Zimbabwe following the expiration of the

Maputo communique’s 30-day deadline for making progress on

the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Mamba reasons that

Mozambican President Guebuza shares too much political

baggage with Zimbabwean President Mugabe to push him hard,

and suggests that we look to the Zambian president for action

when he assumes the chair of SADC’s Organ on Politics,

Defense and Security next August. The Swazi diplomat ruled

out early intervention by South African President Zuma, who

must gauge carefully how his actions could affect his

relationship with Guebuza. According to Mamba, the way

forward in Zimbabwe is for both Mugabe and his prime minister

to withdraw from politics and allow a fresh candidate to

emerge to break the political stalemate. We believe that

because of his pedigree, Mamba, a seasoned Swazi diplomat, is

in a position to know well the positions of both his

government and the circle of traditionalists who surround

King Mswati III. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Swaziland Ministry of Foreign Affairs and

International Cooperation Principal Secretary Clifford Mamba

told Ambassador on December 10 that he expected little action

in the near to medium term from SADC, following the

expiration of the 30-day deadline given to Zimbabwe to

achieve progress in implementing the GPA. The deadline

follows the Maputo mini-summit’s communique on November 5.

Mamba explained that Mozambican President Armando Guebuza

currently has a lot on his plate and is hampered by the fact

that he is Mugabe’s neighbor and has a shared history of

anti-colonial struggle with the Zimbabwean president. Thus

he will not pursue resolution of the Zimbabwe question with

vigor. Indeed, Mamba reported, Guebuza asked the Swazis, as

chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense and Security, to

sort it out prior to passing the baton to Mozambique. The

senior Swazi diplomat suggested, instead, that the U.S. and

other interested Western countries focus their attention on

the plans of the next Organ chairman, Zambian President

Rupiah Banda, who will take over in August 2010. He

explained that Banda is politically aligned with Kenneth

Kaunda’s party and owes nothing to Mugabe, and therefore is

in a position to lead the SADC Organ more proactively.

 

3. (C) Asked whether he expected South African President

Zuma to assume a direct role as mediator, Mamba replied in

the negative. “Zuma has to gauge any action he takes with

how it would affect his relationship with Guebuza.” The Swazi

diplomat surmised that at the moment Zuma needed Guebuza for

more pressing matters. Simultaneously, he credited Mugabe

with being “a political Maradona,” extremely adept at keeping

the regional leaders “on side.” He continued that the

Zimbabwean head of state acted in respectful manner, not only

of his fellow heads of state, but also of fellow political

cohabitant, Morgan Tsvangirai. Occasionally, however, Mugabe

lets his facade slip, remarking about Tsvangirai that, “every

village has its idiot.”

 

4. (C) Mamba boasted that Zimbabwean Foreign Minister

Simbarashe Mumbengegwi was his friend and golfing partner,

whom he met when the two served in at the United Nations in

New York. When the two of them discussed Tsvangirai, the

Zimbabwean told the Swazi senior diplomat that Tsvangirai had

little influence within Zimbabwe. “Yes, he may have won the

election, but it was because of a protest vote,” Mamba

reported him as saying. He explained that this was because

Tsvangirai had become discredited from succumbing to too many

unspecified pressures along the way to the prime minister’s

chair. Moreover, Mamba alleged, Tsvangirai enjoys little

credibility among the SADC leaders.

 

5. (C) Regarding the way forward, the Swazi diplomat told

the ambassador that “everyone” in the region believes that

both Mugabe and Tsvangirai should resign their posts and not

contest any future presidential race. There should be a

two-to-three year cooling off period during which the

government would be headed by a caretaker figure who would

work to level the political playing field. At the end of

that period elections could be held to install a new,

legitimate government that would benefit the region. He

suggested that Tendai Biti might be an excellent candidate,

either for interim government head or future president.

 

6. (C) COMMENT: Mamba is the younger brother of Minister of

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ndumiso Mamba and son of a

former foreign minister. He has been an active diplomat

since 1990, when he was 27 years old, at which time King

 

MBABANE 00000331 002 OF 002

 

 

Mswati III appointed him ambassador in Belgium, accredited to

all of continental Europe and the European Commission. When

Mamba’s father was the Swazi high commissioner in London, he

was appointed guardian to the future Swazi king when the

latter was sent to England to study. The Foreign Affairs

principal secretary and the king grew up together and have a

close personal relationship. Moreover, the Mamba clan

historically has enjoyed a special status vis-a-vis the royal

household. For that reason, Clifford Mamba has a keen

understanding of the positions both of the government and the

king’s inner circle. We believe he has given an accurate

account not only of his government’s thinking but that of

other SADC members. While he admires Mugabe for his

shrewdness and sounds like he sides with the Zimbabwean head

of state, he understands that the situation in Zimbabwe is

untenable and a drag on the region, and must change. END

COMMENT.

IRVING

(6 VIEWS)

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