The United States, which was not happy with the Global Political Agreement signed by the three main political parties in Zimbabwe, had contingency plans in case the agreement failed which included recognising a government in exile.
It also planned to intensify sanctions on Zimbabwe and to press for internationally supervised elections.
Some of the proposed measures were:
- Pressing SADC and the AU to press Mugabe: SADC and AU refusal to recognise the legitimacy of a Mugabe presidency and a ZANU-PF government that did not adhere to the framework of the September 15 agreement would be a critical first step.
- Intensification of bilateral sanctions: With sanctions on parastatals the US had begun to move beyond narrowly targeted sanctions toward measures that affected the Zimbabwean economy.
- UNSC resolutions and sanctions.
- Elimination of elements of normal relations: The US could take such steps as discontinuing routine visa issuance in Harare, stopping support for cultural events, or reducing diplomatic presence in Harare.
- Recognition of a government in exile.
- Suspension of humanitarian assistance: Post believes this should not be considered except as a last resort.
Viewing cable 08HARARE960, PLANNING FOR FAILURE
OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0960/01 2971536
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231536Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3609
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2374
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2494
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1000
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1770
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2125
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2550
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4978
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1643
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000960
AF/S FOR B.WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2018
SUBJECT: PLANNING FOR FAILURE
REF: A. HARARE 932
¶B. HARARE 947
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: While planning for reengagement with a
reformist government, the USG should also plan a response to
failure of political dialog. Efforts will be needed to force
the Mugabe regime to accept internationally supervised
elections; regional organizations will be required to show
greater resolve than they have in the past. END SUMMARY.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
¶2. (C) Since President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara signed an agreement to form an “inclusive
government” on September 15, both the USG and the
international community have focused Zimbabwe policy on three
tasks: encouraging the implementation of the agreement in
such a way as to provide the MDC a significant share of
power; establishing common donor benchmarks and guidelines to
determine whether a new government meets the threshold for
donor reengagement; and planning for assistance to a new,
reformist Zimbabwean government. Our perception that a new
government formed under the September 15 agreement will be
far from perfect is implicit in this agenda. The decisions
we make about reengagement will be critical since the
reformers’ chances of determining policy will be strengthened
or weakened by our actions. Appropriately, this agenda is
the principal focus of the meeting in Ottawa on October 30.
WHAT IF IT FAILS?
¶3. (C) Post believes that, important as our current focus is,
the USG must also plan for alternative contingencies. The
unambiguous failure of the September 15 agreement is one
possible scenario which would offer both opportunities and
risks. This could occur in the veryshort term if
negotiations to allocate ministriescollapse. It could also
come about if, after moths of fruitless efforts to advance a
reform ageda as part of an “inclusive government,” the MDC
were to withdraw. Post believes that in the event of such a
failure the MDC would call for internationally supervised new
elections. (In fact, some within the MDC, and the Botswana
government, are already calling for new elections.)
¶4. (C) The international community’s response to such a
scenario involves two major challenges. First, it would be
necessary to overcome ZANU-PF rejection of internationally
supervised elections. Second, the human, financial and
material resources required to carry out electoral
observation would be significant.
WAYS TO PRESSURE THE REGIME
¶5. (C) If MDC leaders withdrew from the September 15
agreement, ZANU-PF’s preference would be to govern with the
participation of co-opted or compromised opposition
politicians. (Ref B describes one tactic of the regime’s
strategy to compromise MDC politicians.) The first order of
business for the international community would be to make
this alternative impractical. It is notable that since the
signing of the September 15 agreement Mugabe has behaved (and
been permitted to behave) as if his right to the presidency
is unassailable despite the fact that the implementation of
HARARE 00000960 002 OF 003
the agreement is incomplete. If the October 27 Southern
African Development Community (SADC) troika meeting does not
result in an agreement on allocation of ministries, Post
suggests that the USG and like-minded governments begin
immediately to press the point publicly and with regional
interlocutors that recognition of Mugabe as President of
Zimbabwe in the absence of implementation of the September 15
agreement is inappropriate, since all agreed that the June 27
elections were not a valid representation of the will of the
Zimbabwean people. With an unambiguous failure of the
agreement, we should press SADC and the African Union (AU) to
refuse Mugabe standing. While ostracism by the West has
become a badge of pride for ZANU-PF, legitimacy in Africa
matters to Mugabe. ZANU-PF did not steal the March 29
election through obvious fraud because it knew that such
blatant disregard for democracy would have sacrificed
legitimacy. Mugabe might again accept a new election as the
price of legitimacy.
¶6. (C) While Mugabe and ZANU-PF might accept an election,
they will resist at all costs a degree of international
supervision that would prohibit voter intimidation,
manipulation and fraud. The following are among measures
Post believes we should consider over the medium term to
exert pressure on the regime:
–Pressing SADC and the AU to press Mugabe: SADC and AU
refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Mugabe presidency
and a ZANU-PF government that did not adhere to the framework
of the September 15 agreement would be a critical first step.
We should consider what leverage we have over these
institutions and whether we are prepared to use it.
–Intensification of bilateral sanctions: With sanctions on
parastatals we have begun to move beyond narrowly targeted
sanctions toward measures that affect the Zimbabwean economy.
If we are serious, we need to include critical institutions,
most notably the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
–UNSC resolutions and sanctions.
–Elimination of elements of normal relations: We could take
such steps as discontinuing routine visa issuance in Harare,
stopping support for cultural events, or reducing our
diplomatic presence in Harare.
–Recognition of a government in exile.
–Suspension of humanitarian assistance: Post believes this
should not be considered except as a last resort.
PLANNING FOR INTERNATIONALLY SUPERVISED ELECTIONS
¶7. (C) When pressing Mugabe to accept international
supervision, we will need to have a clear idea of the minimum
requirements for successful elections in Zimbabwe. We will
need to reach a consensus with the UN, the African Union and
SADC about the roles of regional and international
organizations. We will also need to identify resources to
support such an effort.
¶8. (C) The continuum of possible scenarios in Zimbabwe
includes alternatives to the imperfect but acceptable outcome
that would prompt reengagement and complete collapse. An
“inclusive government” could muddle along for an extended
HARARE 00000960 003 OF 003
period without completely falling apart or reaching the
threshold for renewed international development assistance.
The MDC leadership could be co-opted into a status quo
policy. Either contingency would require a different policy
¶9. (C) In some ways, an unambiguous failure will be the
easiest scenario for the U.S., the UK, and other Mugabe
regime critics: we will be able to respond with unambiguous
condemnation. But such a failure will be the hardest to
endure for the people of Zimbabwe. While the Mugabe regime’s
continuation in power as a rogue state would offend our
values, it would condemn millions of Zimbabweans to continued
deprivation of basic human rights, hunger and disease. END