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US embassy sad Mugabe was firing a dud

The United States embassy brushed off reports that Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had planned to assassinate President Robert Mugabe saying this was just another attempt to discredit Tsvangirai ahead of the presidential elections.

An Australian television station and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation had broadcast a grainy video in which Tsvangirai was supposed to have discussed a plot to eliminate Mugabe with Canadian Ari Ben Menashe.

The embassy described the entire broadcast as a comic farce.

“Unless Mugabe and his backers have more compelling evidence than that presented in the broadcast, it is difficult to imagine that Tsvangirai and his associate are in much danger of being convicted in an impartial court of law,” the embassy said.

“We obviously do not discount the ability of the goz to string out the case and harass Tsvangirai at the time of its own choosing. The monty-pythonesque nature of the ZBC broadcast offers little to convince the international community that the entire affair is more than just another item pulled out of the goz’s bag of dirty tricks.

“In terms of elections, we think that the entire affair is a non- event. Those inclined to believe the tape probably will do so, and those not so inclined will not. We note, however, that in terms of good judgment and adequate staff work, the Montreal meeting was not Morgan Tsvangirai’s finest hour.”

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 02HARARE572, MORE ON TSVANGIRAI’S ALLEGED “PLOT” TO

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE572

2002-03-05 12:30

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

051230Z Mar 02

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ4658

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00572 01 OF 02 051236Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 DOTE-00 DS-00

EAP-00   EB-00   FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00   TEDE-00 INR-00

VCE-00   NSAE-00 SSO-00   SS-00   EPAE-00 DSCC-00 DRL-02

NFAT-00 SAS-00     /002W

——————6FA3F5 051236Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1096

INFO AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000572

 

SIPDIS

 

FOR AF, PDAS BELLAMY; ALSO FOR AF/S

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/03

TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PGOV PINR ZI

SUBJECT: MORE ON TSVANGIRAI’S ALLEGED “PLOT” TO

“ELIMINATE” MUGABE

 

REF: A) HARARE 411 B) HARARE 501

 

CLASSIFIED BY DCM REWHITEHEAD DUE TO 1.5 (B) AND (D).

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. THE GOZ FIRED ANOTHER OFF-TARGET

SALVO IN ITS CONTINUING ATTEMPT TO DISCREDIT MDC

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MORGAN TSVANGIRAI THROUGH

ACCUSATIONS THAT HE APPROACHED THE CANADIAN DICKENS AND

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00572 01 OF 02 051236Z

MADSON LOBBYING FIRM, HEADED BY ONE ARI BEN MENASHE, TO

ARRANGE THE “ASSASSINATION” OF PRESIDENT MUGABE (REFS A

AND B). A MARCH 3 ZBC TELEVISION BROADCAST AGAIN SHOWED

FILM CLIPS OF TSVANGIRAI TALKING WITH BEN MENASHE AND

OTHER UNIDENTIFIED OBSERVERS. A SECOND SEGMENT OF THE

ZBC PROGRAM FEATURED AIR FORCE COMMANDER PERENCE SHIRI

DESCRIBING A SECOND MEETING WITH MDC MPS JOB SIKHALA AND

TAFADZWA MUSEKIWA, WHOM SHIRI CLAIMED HAD OFFERED HIM A

HEFTY FEE TO ASSIST THE MDC WITH A SMOOTH TRANSITION TO

POWER AFTER THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. THE ENTIRE ZBC

PROGRAM WAS AMATEURISH TO THE EXTREME AND OFFERED LITTLE

CONVINCING EVIDENCE TO BUTTRESS THE GOZ’S CASE (OR

ELECTORAL STRENGTH). ADDITIONAL INFORMATION GLEANED

FROM CANADIAN DIPLOMATS SHEDS LIGHT ON TSVANGIRAI’S

MOTIVE FOR MEETING BEN MENASHE AND COMPANY, BUT BRINGS

INTO QUESTION HIS JUDGMENT IN THIS AFFAIR. END SUMMARY.

 

————

FIRING A DUD

————

2. (U) THE MUCH ANTICIPATED TELEVISION EXPOSE ON MORGAN

TSVANGIRAI’S ALLEGED PLOT TO ASSASSINATE PRESIDENT

 

SIPDIS

MUGABE TURNED OUT TO BE MUCH ADO ABOUT LITTLE. THE

PROGRAM OPENED WITH A REBROADCAST OF THE GRAINY AND

OFTEN INAUDIBLE FILM CLIPS OF TSVANGIRAI, ARI BEN

MENASHE, BEN MENASHE’S CONSULTING COHORT, AND TWO OTHER

INDIVIDUALS WHO COULD NOT BE CLEARLY IDENTIFIED IN THE

TAPE. AN UNCONVINCING SPLICE JOB DID LITTLE TO ENHANCE

THE CREDIBILITY OF THE TAPE, IN WHICH TSVANGIRAI —

FOLLOWING CONSIDERABLE PROMPTING AND POSSIBLY SPLICED

OUT OF CONTEXT — REFERS TO THE “ELIMINATION” OF MUGABE

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00572 01 OF 02 051236Z

AND A THREE-PHASE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD THAT INCLUDES

DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS.

 

3. THE EXPOSE NEXT FEATURED CLIPS OF TSVANGIRAI DENYING

INVOLVEMENT IN ANY PLOT, THEN BEN MENASHE (AN OLD MUGABE

ACQUAINTANCE WHO FORMERLY HAD A BUSINESS ARRANGEMENT

WITH SHIRI) CALLING TSVANGIRAI A LIAR AND PIOUSLY

INTONING THAT HE HAD BEEN FORCED TO DO THE RIGHT THING

AND EXPOSE THE PLOT. AN AUSTRALIAN INVESTIGATIVE

FILMMAKER WHO HAD PRODUCED AN HOUR-LONG TELEVISION

SEGMENT OUT OF THE TAPE, LARGELY DEPENDING ON VOICE OVER

TECHNIQUES, DEFENDED HIS ROLE. THE ZBC BROADCAST THEN

RETURNED TO THE NEWS ANNOUNCER, WHO OPENLY GLOATED OVER

TSVANGIRAI’S PLIGHT. AIR FORCE COMMANDER SHIRI WAS NEXT

 

SIPDIS

IN LINE. FOLLOWING A TELEVISED PAN OF HIS FLEET OF

PLASTIC MODEL AIRPLANES, A CAMERA SHY SHIRI DESCRIBED

HOW MDC MPS SIKHALA AND MUSEKIWA HAD OFFERED HIM A 10

MILLION ZIMBABWEAN DOLLAR FEE TO HELP THE MDC ENGINEER A

SMOOTH TRANSFER OF POWER FOLLOWING THE PRESIDENTIAL

ELECTIONS. AS PROOF, SHIRI PLAYED A TAPE HE HAD MADE OF

THE MEETING. THE RECORDING WAS SO INAUDIBLE THAT AT

MOST TIMES IT WAS DIFFICULT TO ASCERTAIN WHAT LANGUAGE

THEY PARTICIPANTS WERE SPEAKING, LET ALONE WHAT THEY

WERE SAYING.

 

————-

A COMIC FARCE

————-

4. (C) THE ENTIRE BROADCAST CAME ACROSS AS FARCICAL.

IT BEGAN TWENTY MINUTES LATE AND WAS INTERRUPTED BY A

LONG PERIOD OF VIDEO MUSIC CLIPS BEFORE THE SHIRI

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04        HARARE 00572 01 OF 02 051236Z

SEGMENT BEGAN, PROMPTING ONE TO SPECULATE THAT SOMEONE

IN ZBC HAD SECOND THOUGHTS ON THE WISDOM OF EVEN AIRING

THE PROGRAM. THE TSVANGIRAI/BEN MENASHE SEGMENT

INDICATED THAT TSVANGIRAI DID IN SOME CONTEXT USE THE

WORDS “ELIMINATE” AND “MUGABE” IN PROXIMITY, BUT WITH NO

CLEAR REFERENCE TO WHETHER THIS WAS POLITICAL IN NATURE,

OR OTHERWISE. UNLIKE MANY OF HIS GOZ COLLEAGUES, SHIRI

IS NOT PARTICULARLY ADEPT AT PUBLICLY TWISTING THE TRUTH

AND CAME ACROSS AS MENDACIOUS AND ILL AT EASE. WERE THE

SUBJECT MATTER AND THE STAKES NOT SO SERIOUS, THE ENTIRE

AMATEURISH PRODUCTION WOULD HAVE BEEN GENUINELY COMICAL

FARE.

 

———————-

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

———————-

5. (C) CANADIAN DCM RONALD WILLSON PROVIDED THE DCM

WITH BACKGROUND ON THE BEN MENASHE MEETING THAT SHEDS

LIGHT ON HOW TSVANGIRAI HAD BEEN DUPED INTO THE

UNFORTUNATE ENCOUNTER IN THE FIRST PLACE. WILSON SAID

THAT MDC SECRETARY GENERAL WELSHMAN NCUBE HAD CONFIDED

TO HIM THAT THE TWO UNIDENTIFIED MEN IN THE TAPE HAD

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ4659

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00572 02 OF 02 051236Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 INL-00   DODE-00 DOTE-00

DS-00   EAP-00   EB-00   FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VC-00   TEDE-00

INR-00   VCE-00   NSAE-00 SSO-00   SS-00   DSCC-00 DRL-02

NFAT-00 SAS-00     /002W

——————6FA3FB 051236Z /38

O 051230Z MAR 02

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1097

INFO AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 000572

 

SIPDIS

 

FOR AF, PDAS BELLAMY; ALSO FOR AF/S

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/03

TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PGOV PINR ZI

SUBJECT: MORE ON TSVANGIRAI’S ALLEGED “PLOT” TO

“ELIMINATE” MUGABE

 

BEEN INTRODUCED TO TSVANGIRAI PRIOR TO THE MEETING AS,

RESPECTIVELY, THE DEPUTY DIRECTORS OF THE CIA AND NSA.

ACCORDING TO NCUBE, TSVANGIRAI HAD TAKEN THE CLAIMS OF

THE TWO IMPERSONATORS AT FACE VALUE. THE CANADIANS ALSO

INFORMED US THAT A SENIOR CIO OFFICIAL TRAVELED TO

MONTREAL AT THE TIME OF THE MONTREAL MEETING. STATE

SECURITY MINISTER GOCHE ALSO TRAVELED TO MONTREAL IN

FEBRUARY JUST PRIOR TO THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN AIRING OF

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00572 02 OF 02 051236Z

THE VIDEO.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

6. (C) UNLESS MUGABE AND HIS BACKERS HAVE MORE

COMPELLING EVIDENCE THAN THAT PRESENTED IN THE

BROADCAST, IT IS DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE THAT TSVANGIRAI

AND HIS ASSOCIATE ARE IN MUCH DANGER OF BEING CONVICTED

IN AN IMPARTIAL COURT OF LAW. WE OBVIOUSLY DO NOT

DISCOUNT THE ABILITY OF THE GOZ TO STRING OUT THE CASE

AND HARASS TSVANGIRAI AT THE TIME OF ITS OWN CHOOSING.

THE MONTY-PYTHONESQUE NATURE OF THE ZBC BROADCAST OFFERS

LITTLE TO CONVINCE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY THAT THE

ENTIRE AFFAIR IS MORE THAN JUST ANOTHER ITEM PULLED OUT

OF THE GOZ’S BAG OF DIRTY TRICKS. IN TERMS OF

ELECTIONS, WE THINK THAT THE ENTIRE AFFAIR IS A NON-

EVENT. THOSE INCLINED TO BELIEVE THE TAPE PROBABLY WILL

DO SO, AND THOSE NOT SO INCLINED WILL NOT. WE NOTE,

HOWEVER, THAT IN TERMS OF GOOD JUDGMENT AND ADEQUATE

STAFF WORK, THE MONTREAL MEETING WAS NOT MORGAN

TSVANGIRAI’S FINEST HOUR.

 

SIPDIS

 

SULLIVAN

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

(24 VIEWS)

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