The United States piled pressure on the African Union to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis because it did not believe that President Robert Mugabe could be a credible power-sharing partner.
It piled the pressure on AU and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and AU Commission chairperson Jean Ping who had to call a special Heads of State summit to deal with the issue.
Despite the pressure, Ping said he doubted whether the heads of state would go as far as calling for Mugabe’s resignation, and given Mugabe’s refusal to accept even “minor things,” he also did not believe Mugabe would accept a proposal for new elections.
He dismissed a call by Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga for Mugabe to resign, saying that Odinga had made such statements in the past and “this is nothing new”.
Ping said that if the US wanted the option of Mugabe’s resignation to be on the table, it would need to reach out to the attendees of the mini-summit.
Viewing cable 08ADDISABABA3336, USAU: AU HOPING TO MOBILIZE AFRICAN LEADERS
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DE RUEHDS #3336/01 3451514
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P 101514Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3070
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7632
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 003336
STATE PASS TO AF/FO, AND AF/RSA FOR WHALDEMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2018
SUBJECT: USAU: AU HOPING TO MOBILIZE AFRICAN LEADERS
Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOHN A. SIMON, REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).
¶1. (C) Summary: African Union Chairperson and President of
Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete is going to convene certain African
heads of state in Pretoria on December 14 in hopes that they
can forge a strong enough message to deliver to Zimbabwe’s
President Robert Mugabe to pressure him to implement a
power-sharing agreement. The USAU Ambassador encouraged the
AU leadership to act decisively against Mugabe, noting
failure to do so could extend the crisis and lead to others
in the international community taking their own initiatives
outside the AU. End Summary.
¶2. (C) AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping met with USAU
Ambassador on December 10 to discuss an initiative by AU
Chairperson and President of Tanzania Kikwete aimed at
pressuring Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe to implement a
power-sharing agreement with his rival, Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Ping said
Zimbabwe’s political deadlock necessitated AU action.
¶3. (C) At Kikwete’s request, Ping said he contacted
individual ambassadors representing countries currently
chairing the eight African regional economic commissions
recognized by the AU: CEN-SAD (Benin), COMESA (Rwanda), EAC
(Kenya), ECCAS (Democratic Republic of Congo), ECOWAS
(Burkina Faso), IGAD (Ethiopia), SADC (South Africa), and UMA
(Libya). He informed them of Kikwete’s plan and asked them
to invite their respective heads of state to a summit meeting
in Pretoria on December 14. At that meeting, which Kikwete
and Ping will attend, the heads of state will attempt to
agree on a common message to deliver to Mugabe during a
follow-on meeting in Harare, potentially the following day.
(Note: Ping opined that Libya’s Qadhafi would not attend
because of South Africa’s opposition to union government.
¶4. (C) When the South African Ambassador to the AU first
heard of Kikwete’s plan, he apparently was not pleased,
viewing it as a “new initiative” that would limit SADC’s
mediation role in the Zimbabwe crisis. However, Ping said
Kikwete had already reached out to South African President
Mothlante and agreed to hold the summit in Pretoria. Ping
said that the AU’s resolution on Zimbabwe adopted last July
in Sharm-El-Sheikh provided for its involvement in the
process as well as giving SADC the overall lead.
¶5. (C) USAU Ambassador expressed the USG’s hope that the
proposed summit on Zimbabwe would “lead to something
decisive” and not be a “step backward” that could further
entrench Mugabe’s regime. He added that the USG wanted to
see representational government in Zimbabwe that could bring
an end to the humanitarian crisis, including the current
cholera epidemic threatening the Zimbabwean people. Given
recent events — including the disintegration of state
institutions, the unconstitutional re-appointment of the
Central Bank Governor, and the continuing violence and
intimidation — the U.S. doesn’t believe Mugabe can be a
credible power-sharing partner.
¶6. (C) Ping said he doubted whether the heads of state would
go as far as calling for Mugabe’s resignation, and given
Mugabe’s refusal to accept even “minor things,” he also did
not believe Mugabe would accept a proposal for new elections.
He dismissed a call by Kenyan Prime Minister Odinga for
Mugabe to resign, saying that Odinga has made such statements
in the past and “this is nothing new.” That said, Ping was
obviously concerned about the possibility of Mugabe being
ousted by force. A recent interview on France 24 seems to
have persuaded him that an “outside force” is being readied.
¶7. (C) The Ambassador noted the time had passed for Mugabe to
have a veto over the resolution of the crisis. Ping replied
that if the U.S. wanted the option of Mugabe’s resignation to
be on the table, it would need to reach out to the attendees
of the mini-summit. He noted the USG has missions in all of
the relevant countries.
¶8. (C) The Ambassador said that unless the AU adopts a
stronger stand against Mugabe, other countries and
organizations will act on their own. “We want to see the AU
be the lead organization in solving Africa’s problems,” he
said. “Others might not be as effective and (their
intervention) would hurt the long-term goal of the AU.”
ADDIS ABAB 00003336 002 OF 002
¶9. (C) Ping, who cast himself as Kikwete’s messenger,
appeared to have his own doubts about the likelihood of this
mini-summit succeeding in changing Mugabe’s mind. He noted
that Mugabe had rebuffed an earlier attempt by Kikwete to
resolve the situation last spring, even refusing to talk to