By insisting that the three key political parties in Zimbabwe enter into an inclusive government, the Southern African Development Community had essentially “bought and owned the store and the conundrum for the sub-region that is Zimbabwe” so it had to do everything it could to fix the problem.
This was the view of the United States when Botswana Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani convoked resident G-8 missions France, Germany, Japan, the US, Britain and the European Union to solicit help for Zimbabwe.
The official said by appealing for international help, SADC was “now seeking to shift the onus, costs, and title to this bill of goods they have helped to create”.
The G-8 diplomats stressed that there would be no change from them on financial flows to Zimbabwe or the lifting of sanctions, or their support for Zimbabwe-related initiatives within the Bretton Woods institutions, until there was tangible evidence of positive change and good governance in Harare.
The United States representative said that about six years ago, then Secretary of State Collin Powell had counselled President George Bush that if the United States broke Iraq, “we would own it”.
“All would attest to American ownership of the current situation in Iraq, and we continue to work to address and fix the problem. However, to those Americans (and others) who follow the sorrow of a broken Zimbabwe, it sure looks like SADC owns this Mugabe-driven mess and must accept responsibility for its resolution,” the diplomat said.
Viewing cable 09GABORONE174, ZIMBABWE, SADC, THE WEST — WHO OWNS THE STORE?
O 081448Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5596
INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
C O N F I D E N T I A L GABORONE 000174
DEPARTMENT FOR AF AND AF/S
ADDISS ABABA FOR USAU
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/08/2019
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE, SADC, THE WEST — WHO OWNS THE STORE?
REF: PRETORIA 427
Classified By: DCM Philip R. Drouin; Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
¶1. (C) Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani convoked resident
G-8 Missions France, Germany, Japan, the U.S. and the UK as
well as the EU on March 6 to brief on current GOB thinking on
Zimbabwe and Sudan (septel). He and President Khama had “had
a chat” earlier in the day and discussed, inter alia, the
financial pressures confronting Zimbabwe. Citing GOZ Finance
Minister Tendai Biti’s appeal at the February 26-27 SADC
Council of Ministers meeting in Cape Town (reftel) for a
financial rescue package for Zimbabwe ($5 billion total, $2
billion right away), Skelemani acknowledged that there was
much sentiment within SADC member states to look to
international donors and the IFIs to bail out the sinking
ship in Zimbabwe. However, the GOB recognizes that the
actions and words of some elements in Zimbabwe’s Government
of National Unity, notably ZANU-PF, are making it hard for
the international community to re-engage and lend a helping
hand financially to the troubled people of Zimbabwe.
Skelemani also shared with us a March 5 MFA press release on
this subject (text at pargraph 5).
¶2. (C) The rebuttal from G-8 diplomats was universal and
predictable, with the UK High Commissioner and EU Ambassador
stressing there will be no change from them on financial
flows to the GOZ or lifting of sanctions, or their support
for Zimbabwe-related initiatives within the Bretton Woods
institutions, until there is tangible evidence of positive
change and good governance in Harare. The DCM echoed much of
this sentiment and added that the United States continues to
focus on humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe and remains the
largest contributor of food aid there. The DCM also noted
that about six years ago, then SecState Powell had counselled
President Bush (refering to the Pottery Barn’s policy) that
if the United States broke Iraq, “we would own it.” All
would attest to American ownership of the current situation
in Iraq, and we continue to work to address and fix the
problem. However, to those Americans (and others) who follow
the sorrow of a broken Zimbabwe, it sure looks like SADC owns
this Mugabe-driven mess and must accept responsibility for
¶3. (C) Comment: While Botswana continues its lonely advocacy
within SADC, Skelemani recognizes that the GOB also
acquiesced in the less-than-perfect, “best deal possible at
the time” Global Political Agreement that is proving to be a
bear to implement. Skelemani agreed with us that by its
insistence to have the parties sign in Zimbabwe (with many
putting pressure on MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai), SADC has
essentially bought and owns the store and the conundrum for
the sub-region that is Zimbabwe, and it needs to do
everything it can to fix the problem. Other SADC member
states are less enthusiastic about this necessity, and it is
not surprising to us that SADC is now seeking to shift the
onus, costs, and title to this bill of goods they have helped
to create. The Foreign Minister nodded and took our point
that “Extraordinary” SADC Summits (another is in the offing,
time and venue TBD) are increasingly viewed as “less than
ordinary” elsewhere in the international community,
especially when Zimbabwe is on the agenda.
¶4. (C) Comment Continued: As a tragic epilogue to all this,
later on March 6 Zimbabwean Prime Morgan Tsvangirai was
injured in a road accident in Zimbabwe, in which his wife was
killed. The GOB Chief of Protocol told Emboff on March 7
that Foreign Minister Skelemani went to Harare on Saturday to
visit with Tsvangirai in the hospital. We have since seen
CNN and BBC reports that Tsvangirai has traveled to Botswana
to convalesce. Tsvangirai was a frequent visitor to Gaborone
during much of 2008. When driving by the GOB’s main guest
house (just down the street from SADC Secretariat
headquarters) on a quiet March 8 Sunday afternoon in
Gaborone, we could see many cars parked there, with security
officials and staffers standing out front, just like when
Tsvangirai has come calling here in the past. End Comment.
¶5. (U) Begin Text of GOB MFA Press Release:
Gaborone, March 05, 2009 — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and International Cooperation welcomes the release on bail of
some of the MDC activists arrested over allegations of plots
of banditry and terrorism. The Ministry, however, remains
concerned that the continued detention of the remaining MDC
activists and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate,
Mr. Roy Bennett can only serve to undermine the
implementation of the Global Political Agreement and efforts
to attract international goodwill and the much needed
economic, financial and technical assistance for the
rehabilitation and reconstruction of the economy in Zimbabwe.
For as long as some elements in government, notably, ZANU PF,
continue to encourage and engage in irresponsible acts and
make provocative statements, the international community is
unlikely to extend a helping hand and to re-engage Zimbabwe
for the benefit of its long suffering people.
The Government of the Republic of Botswana calls upon ZANU PF
to end unilateralism and create an atmosphere conducive to
building mutual trust and confidence as well as to live up to
the spirit of the Global Political Agreement wherein the
parties committed themselves to bring an end to polarization,
divisions, conflict and intolerance which has characterised
Zimbabwean politics and society in the recent past.
End Text of Press Release.