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Swazi Prime Minister did not believe Mugabe would last three months

Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabus Dlamini did not believe that President Robert Mugabe would last more than three or four months in office though the three major political parties in Zimbabwe had signed the Global Political Agreement three months earlier.

He believed that the military would take action within that time frame but did not provide any specifics to justify his position.

Dlamini said Mugabe was a tough and difficult man to deal with.

Apart from Botswana’s President Ian Khama, African leaders did not believe in interfering with the internal affairs of other nations.


Full cable:



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Reference ID





2009-01-07 11:14


Embassy Mbabane

P 071114Z JAN 09




C O N F I D E N T I A L MBABANE 000004





E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2019





Classified By: AMB Maurice S. Parker for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)



1. (U) SUMMARY: On December 31, Ambassador Maurice Parker

met with Swazi Prime Minister Barnabus Dlamini. The PM

requested the meeting to gauge GKOS’ standing with diplomatic

missions accredited to Swaziland, and to request U.S.

financial assistance in building a new state-of-the-art

hospital. The conversation also covered SADC’s position on

Zimbabwe, Iran-Swazi relations, and the continued

imprisonment of an opposition leader. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) In response to an invitation from the Office of the

Prime Minister, Ambassador Parker met with Prime Minister

Dlamini on December 31 to discuss U.S./Swazi relations in

2009. The PM began the meeting by trying to assess the

current state of relations between the GKOS and the U.S.

Government, due to the ongoing imprisonment of opposition

leader Mario Masuku under Swaziland’s new Suppression of

Terrorism Act. Ambassador Parker expressed his concern over

the continued imprisonment of Mario Masuku, President of the

opposition party the Peoples United Democratic Movement

(PUDEMO), for statements supporting terrorism and sedition.

The PM stated that Masuku prefers to stand on principal and

remain imprisoned, because his bail is affordable (between 50

) 100 U.S. dollars). When the Ambassador noted that Masuku’s

charges appears to be related to public statements he has

made, rather than conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, the

PM confided that the GKOS has evidence that PUDEMO was

involved in planning the attempted bombing near Lozitha

Palace, and their plan was hatched in Blomfontein, South

Africa. He continued by commenting that Mario strongly

advocated for the bombing and other terrorist acts. He said

that Mario’s case will be brought to trial early in 2009, but

that he will leave the decision regarding Mario’s guilt or

innocence to the courts.


3. (C) The PM commented that Swaziland would like to

enhance the Suppression of Terrorism Act, modeled upon

American anti-terrorism laws. To ensure consistency with a

similar message delivered by DAS Carol Thompson recently to

Deputy Prime Masuku, during his recent visit to the

Department, the Ambassador agreed that terrorism is a

globally-shared concern that must be addressed. He stated

that governments have the responsibility, however, to ensure

that counterterrorism laws do not lead to the repression of

civil society or political participation. The Prime Minister

responded by stating that he will take the Embassy’s concerns

regarding the Suppression of Terrorism Act under advisement.





4. (U) The Prime Minister then presented the Ambassador

with a written proposal requesting U.S. financial assistance

in constructing and equipping a National Referral Hospital

for Swaziland in Swaziland. He referred to a serious

automobile accident on a highway outside Mbabane on December

30, which critically injured Attorney General Majahenkhaba

Dlamini, who was airlifted to a nearby hospital in South

Africa. The PM said that Swaziland would like to have a

hospital with a well-equipped trauma center that could assist

all Swazis, and not have to transfer the seriously injured

citizens, like the Attorney General, to South Africa. The PM

said that King Mswati III had recently discussed the project

with S/GAC Ambassador Mark Dybul, and DAS for Southern

African Affairs Carol Thompson, during their meeting on the

margins of UNGA. The Ambassador cautioned the Prime Minister

that it might be difficult for the USG to commit to a project

of such magnitude during the international economic crisis.

However, he reminded the PM that Swaziland could make a

concerted effort to improve its scorecard in an effort to

join the Millennium Challenge Account.





5. (C) The Ambassador and PM discussed SADC’s perspective

on the Zimbabwe power-sharing agreement. The PM stated that

he doubts Mugabe could last in office more than three or four

months. He said that most SADC members believe the military

will take action within that timeframe, but did not provide

specifics to justify his position. He said the King will

resume the Chairmanship of the SADC Troika when he comes out

of seclusion in early February, but he is doubtful that the

Troika, or SADC, will be able to influence Mugabe. He stated

Robert Mugabe is a tough and difficult man and that, with the

exception of President Khama of Botswana, African leaders do

not believe in interfering in the internal affairs of other

nations. When reminded that neither Zimbabwe nor South

Africa would be free of apartheid without sanctions imposed

by the USG and the EU, the PM said that interference and

sanctions were not the African way.





6. (C) PM Dlamini confirmed that he met with Iran,s Deputy

Foreign Minister (DFM) for African Affairs Ali Bagheri in

November. The PM stated that DFM Bagheri visited Swaziland

with the intention of meeting the King. Since the King was

in seclusion, Bagheri met with the PM in his office. PM

Dlamini was guarded regarding the topics he discussed with

the Iranian, but stated that DFM Bagheri wanted to deliver a

quote pleasant greeting unquote to the King. He mentioned

that he received the greeting and delivered it to the King.

The PM said that Swaziland is looking forward to improving

relations with other Middle Eastern countries, particularly

Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, but was not planning to

develop bilateral relations with Iran. As far as he is

concerned, Iran is not of interest to Swaziland, but the

decision to expand Swazi/Iranian relations is up to Minister

of Foreign Affairs Lutfo Dlamini.


7. (C) COMMENT: The PM’s New Year’s message to the

Ambassador indicated that Swaziland will not dramatically

change political or economic direction in 2009. The GKOS

will continue to limit freedom of assembly and speech among

its people, under the guise of enhancing counterterrorism

programs; seek international donations to support their

favorite infrastructure development programs without

demonstrating a greater willingness to rule justly or invest

in its people; and will not provide stronger leadership in

the SADC Organ of Politics, Defense and Security. Change

comes slowly to Swaziland.





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