President Robert Mugabe’s repeated claims that the United States, and in particular Christopher Dell, its Ambassador to Zimbabwe from July 2004 to July 2007, wanted regime change in the country have been proven right according to documents released by Wikileaks through the New York Times. “Having said my piece repeatedly over the last three years, I won’t offer a lengthy prescription for our Zimbabwe policy,” Dell wrote before his departure to another trouble spot, Afghanistan. “My views can be stated very simply as stay the course and prepare for change. Our policy is working and it’s helping to drive change here. What is required is simply the grit, determination and focus to see this through. Then, when the changes finally come we must be ready to move quickly to help consolidate the new dispensation”.
The international community’s concern that Zimbabwe is a threat to the region is unfounded because most of the countries in the Southern African Development Community can take care of themselves. This is the view of several think-tanks on the relations between Zimbabwe and its former colonial master Britain and the United States government expressed in one of the confidential cables just released by Wikileaks. Analysts for the think tanks said that while Zimbabwe would remain a top priority for the British government, the United Kingdom’s bossy attitude towards Zimbabwe had only served to solidify President Robert Mugabe’s status as a colonial liberation leader and rallied South Africa’s unwavering support.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year requested Western governments to help bring about change in Zimbabwe because progress by the inclusive government had been too slow. He held a meeting with ambassadors of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, and a representative of the European Union on December 24 and told them that he needed their help because ZANU-PF was now using a strategy of reciprocity, using western sanctions as a cudgel against the MDC, according to the latest cables released by Wikileaks.
Four prominent Zimbabwean businessmen living in South Africa discussed with United States officials ways to ease President Robert Mugabe out of power and replace him with a “technocratic” Prime Minister who would run the country and get it back on its feet. The four whose names have been removed from the Wikileaks cable just released met the US officials on January 27, 2007 and suggested that their strategy was based on the assumption that Mugabe would never voluntarily give up power.They suggested the extending of his term to 2010 but he would share power with a Prime Minister during that period. Mugabe’s term of office expired in 2008.
The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front has been likened to a troop of baboons incessantly fighting among themselves but coming together to fight an external threat. The party is badly fractured and is like a stick of TNT, susceptible to ignition and disintegration. This is one of the observations on the political landscape and United States-Zimbabwe relations filed by United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray on 10 February this year. The observations, released by Wikileaks, were done by an analyst whose name was deleted from the cables.
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African Consolidated Resources chief executive officer Andrew Cranswick told United States officials on November 6, 2008 that high-ranking Zimbabwean officials including central bank governor Gideon Gono, First Lady Grace Mugabe and Vice-President Joyce Mujuru were looting diamonds from Chiadzwa in Marange. According to one of the cables by the United States embassy in Harare released by Wikileaks, Cranswick also said others benefitting were Mines and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi, Defence Forces Chief General Constantine Chiwenga and his wife Jocelyn, Central Intelligence Director Happyton Bonyongwe and Manicaland Governor Chris Mushowe.
South Africa’s Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has made headlines for calling President Robert Mugabe “the crazy old man” but what seems to have gone unreported is that her host United States ambassador to Pretoria Donald Gips seems to have thought very little of her strong statements on Zimbabwe and Mugabe. In the comment to his cable following his meeting with the minister on November 2, last year Gips wrote: “The Foreign Minister made strong statements on Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe, but our sense is that her department does not have the lead within the SAG (South African government) on the Zimbabwe agenda.”
Central bank governor Gideon Gono was cut out of the Marange diamonds when the military moved in in November 2008, according to one of the United States embassy cables released by Wikileaks. One of Gono’s chief buyers Tendai Makurumidze, known as Gonyeti, was arrested and three of his vehicles were seized. Trading which had been dominated by Gono who was bringing freshly printed Zimbabwe dollar notes shifted to foreign currency.
James McGee, the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe during its turmoil from 2007 to 2009, seemed to be observed with the country’s diamonds from Marange because he believed they were being used to prop up Mugabe’s patronage system. His three cables released by Wikileaks so far are all on diamonds from Marange. When the military moved in and the government was expected to move about 20 000 people according to a local chief commented that the relocation of the villagers, if it occurred, was the next preparatory step by the government to use the Chiadzwa diamond fields to bail out the failed Zimbabwean economy and prop-up Mugabe.
President Robert Mugabe is fixated on land reform and sanctions and is almost trance-liked in discussing these subjects, United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray said in his cable to Washington the very day he presented his credentials to Mugabe on December 9 last year. Ray said though Mugabe was generally alert and can keep up with a conversation, physically he was frail and appeared uncomfortable when seated. “He slouches and frequently turns his body as if to find a better position, and then sits straight and speaks in a louder voice for a few seconds before lapsing back into the barely audible soft voice,” Ray said.
ZANU-PF will become irrelevant as soon as Robert Mugabe leaves the scene, either through death or retirement, the United States and German ambassadors to Zimbabwe agreed at a meeting in December last year. The ambassadors said it was therefore important to identify the next generation of the country’s leadership and begin the process of influencing them. In a cable by United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray released by Wikileaks, the ambassadors also agreed that there was a strong need to reform the security sector because without this none of the efforts at political reform would be assured.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told a visiting European Union delegation in September last year that he must not be excluded from any discussions because he was the only one who could shut up President Robert Mugabe. Everyone else was afraid of him. Mutambara leads the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change which has only three cabinet ministers and 10 seats in the lower house. But he impressed one of the European Union delegates as “very sharp, young, engaging, and very, very dangerous”.
Diplomatic life must be very exciting. United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray in his weekly summary of events on Zimbabwe in November last year reported that his arrival had been delayed because of an accident involving an Air Zimbabwe flight to Bulawayo. The aircraft struck a group of five warthogs and veered off the runway, destroying some of the runway lights. But what was more interesting about the cable is that Ray appeared to be worried that the government did not comment on the fate of the warthogs. According to the ambassador’s cable released by Wikileaks passengers were stuck in the plane for two hours and were forced to surrender any photographic evidence of the crash before they were allowed to leave.
The United States advised Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai way back in November 2000 not to resort to mass action to remove President Robert Mugabe, but urged him instead to engage in dialogue with moderates in the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front, “even if privately”. According to one of the cables released by Wikileaks, Tsvangirai was given this advice at a meeting with then US assistant secretary for African Affairs, Susan Rice, who is now the US ambassador to the United Nations.
Elton Mangoma, one of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s closest advisors, told the United States government in October last year that the Movement for Democratic Change intended to buy out Zimbabwe’s military and service chiefs by setting up a trust fund for them so that they could have something to fall back on because most of them had not made any meaningful investments.
Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, a “shady white” Zimbabwean businessman with links to the British intelligence and the Zimbabwean business community were all frantically working to easy President Robert Mugabe out soon after the 2000 parliamentary elections which the Movement for Democratic Change lost narrowly to ZANU-PF but he turned down the offers. A September 2000 cable from the United States embassy in Harare released by Wikileaks says Annan made the offer to Mugabe when the Zimbabwean leader was in New York for the Millennium Summit. Annan’s deal allegedly involved a package from Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi. Qadhafi has been in power longer than Mugabe. He became leader of Libya in 1969.
The cholera outbreak that killed more than 4 000 people in Zimbabwe in 2008-2009 did not pose any threat to American embassy officials and staff. Instead, they were more worried about the political, security and logistical issues. The embassy was actually on “Growing Potential for Drawback” since the political violence of March 2007 which saw Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai being severely assaulted and detained by the police. A US embassy cable on the cholera alert said the situation was under control because the embassy had adequate fresh water supplies, but it needed another water truck and authority to hire another driver.
New Zealand had to seek clarification urgently about what to do with Harare when the Zimbabwean government paid back US$120 million to the International Monetary Fund in August 2005. Zimbabwe owed US$290 million and was at the time facing an economic crisis at home. According to a cable released by Wikileaks, New Zealand wanted to know whether the United States would now consider Zimbabwe to be in compliance with its IMF obligations.
President Robert Mugabe was facing a difficult time after the disputed 2008 elections which he lost to Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai because he did not want to talk to most African leaders because they were too young, according to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni told former United States Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, that he had talked to Mugabe soon after the elections and the Zimbabwean leader had told him that he was confident that he was going to win in the second round of elections, according to a cable released by Wikileaks.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has described South African President Jacob Zuma as a “man of the people” who likes to make promises without necessarily knowing how to fulfil them. In contrast, he described his predecessor Thabo Mbeki as a “great man” who even his adversary Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had agreed should be honoured for bringing peace to Zimbabwe. Mugabe described Mbeki as “judgmental and calculating” and cautious with policies and felt that Mbeki had been treated badly by being removed from office in the midst of helping Zimbabwe.
Britain planned to tighten sanctions on Zimbabwe including an investment ban immediately after the controversial elections of 2008. Although the Netherlands supported further sanctions, it felt hat an investment ban would be difficult to implement because Britain and the United States had too many investments in Zimbabwe. Instead it urged creativity in pursuing these additional sanctions saying governments could, for example, use “moral suasion”. These were the views of the Netherlands Director for Sub-Saharan Africa in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wepke Kingma, contained in a cable from the Hague filed by the United States political-economic counsellor Andrew Mann in July 2008.
United States President Barack Obama asked the Southern African Development Community to put pressure on Zimbabwe for Mugabe to exit, six months after the formation of the inclusive government, according to one of the cables just released by Wikileaks. The request was made by Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson to Botswana Vice- President Mompati Merafhe when they met on 2 July 2009 on the margins of the African Union Summit in Sirte, Libya.
Britain was so optimistic two days before a United Nations Security Council meeting in July 2008 that China and Russia would support a resolution to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe that Prime Minister Gordon Brown felt that his “nose had been bloodied” by the Russians when they vetoed the resolution. Britain was so devastated that it decided to give Zimbabwe “a break in the security council for a while”. Instead Brown decided to pursue further sanctions on the Southern African country through the European Union but once again faced resistance as some members such as Germany were opposed to the sanctions.
The European Union last year partially lifted sanctions on Zimbabwe at the request of Finance Minister Tendai Biti who is also secretary general of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, a United States embassy cable released by Wikileaks says. The cable says the UK had agreed to support the de-listing of eight parastatals requested by Zimbabwean “Foreign” (Finance) Minister Tendai Biti, any persons on the list who has died, a Lebanese national, and former ZANU-PF supporter Dr. Dumiso Dabengwa after “tortuous” discussions of the EU’s sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi two years ago that the UK would not support the Zimbabwean government until President Robert Mugabe was gone, raising questions as to what the European Union will do next week when the sanctions are due for renewal. According to one of the United States embassy cables released by Wikileaks, the UK was put under pressure just two months after the formation of the inclusive government to support the lifting of European Union sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Botswana President Ian Khama, one of the strongest critics of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, called on the British government to resume aid to Zimbabwe barely a month after the formation of the inclusive government saying it would be a grave mistake not to do so, one of the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks says. Khama is reported to have said this on 16 March 2009 during a consultative meeting just before the London Economic Summit which was scheduled for 2 April. Zimbabwe’s inclusive government which saw Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai become Prime Minister while Mugabe remained president, was sworn in on 11 February 2009.
Britain was so frustrated by South African President Thabo Mbeki’s failure to put pressure on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down after losing the 2008 elections that Prime Minister Gordon Brown arranged a 30-minute meeting with African National Congress president Jacob Zuma to discuss Zimbabwe though British officials were worried about corruption allegations against Zuma and what they termed other “political baggage”. The UK was also frustrated by the inaction of the Southern African Development Community that it decided to threaten to bring the Zimbabwe crisis before the United Nations Security Council because it believed that “just the threat of doing so would serve as a swipe at SADC and South African diplomacy, and (might) prod Mbeki and SADC to take more effective, and vocal, diplomatic action toward Zimbabwe”.
Britain instructed its foreign office two years ago to push the Kimberley Process to investigate Zimbabwe’s eligibility to the diamond controlling body and to approach leading non-governmental organisations Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada to do research and report on Zimbabwe’s trafficking in conflict diamonds because the KP was too slow, a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks says. The cable dispatched on 21 January 2009 says the instructions were issued by Foreign and Commonwealth Minister for Africa Mark Malloch-Brown but both Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada said they had never been approached by the British government to do any reports.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai within hours of his being sworn in that he was “disappointed” with the power sharing negotiations and would not be sympathetic to requests for assistance until there was proof that the power sharing was truly being implemented according to one of the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. The team of advisers that had just joined Brown’s office was even more adamant. One felt that the power-sharing would fail and suggested that Britain should start consulting the United States about moving forward after the power-sharing regime fails, but this time the issue should be moved out of SADC hands to the United Nations.
Britain was prepared to pour in nearly one million pounds in support of Zimbabwe elections soon after the controversial March 2008 general elections and was prepared to do this discreetly because the Southern African Development Community which was spearheading the negotiation process in the country was not accepting foreign contributions, one of the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks says.
Britain was so desperate to get the United Nations or the United States to condemn Zimbabwe’s March 2008 election results that it even tried to use former South African President Nelson Mandela to condemn them when he visited London for his 90th birthday celebrations, a cable released by Wikileaks says. The cable, dispatched four days before the presidential elections re-run, says Britain’s Zimbabwe desk officer Ben Llewelyn-Jones acknowledged that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was going to meet Mandela but the British government would weigh very carefully whether such an approach to Mandela would be effective.
The British government supported military action against Zimbabwe following the swearing in of Robert Mugabe as President of Zimbabwe after an election run-off that had been boycotted by first round winner Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change, one of the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks says. Britain, however, felt that this would be difficult to sell to the United Nations Security Council and therefore wanted to wait for a resolution from the African Union so that it would appear as if it was backing the African body.
Britain did not believe the Southern African Development Community could solve the crisis in Zimbabwe following the controversial 2008 elections and only agreed with the importance of the regional body one month after the signing of the Global Political Agreement, according to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks. The cable, one of the briefest, making it very difficult to interpret, was dispatched on 24 October 2008, more than a month after the three key political parties in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change had signed the GPA which led to the formation of the inclusive government that is running the country today.
Britain told Finance Minister Tendai Biti, two months after the formation of the inclusive government, that he should push the government of national unity to operate according to the agreements made if he wanted to win the confidence of the international community so that Zimbabwe could get aid. According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Biti was told this on April 30, 2009 by British Foreign Secretary David Milliband and Foreign Office Minister for Africa Lord Mark Malloch-Brown. He met the two separately with Zimbabwe’s ambassador to the United Kingdom Gabriel Machinga.
Zimbabwe makes interesting reading. The country has been dragged into an attempted US$60 million arms purchase by Swaziland. The only reason is that Swaziland did not allegedly need the array of weapons requested. Another ventured elsewhere is that the country was trying to make up for weapons from China that it had been stopped from getting. But even in the diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Zimbabwe was just mentioned in passing. According to the cable filed by Maurice Parker, United States ambassador to Swaziland, on 11 June 2009 Swaziland sought to buy the arms worth US$60 million in December 2009 from British weapons manufacturer Unionlet Limited. The British government, however, denied the request over end-use concerns.
Jocelyn Chiwenga has sent a lot of people scouring for cover. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, photographer Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi and Lawyer Gugulethu Moyo. She even bayed for blood when wanted to take over a farm from one white farmer. “I have not tasted white blood for 20 years,” she warned. According to a cable released by Wikileaks she called United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee on 18 June 2009 and insulted and threatened him. The cable says she had spoken with embassy staff on other occasions and criticised the United States with “profanity and abusive language”. But the US embassy did not believe she posed any physical threat. The embassy was however going to raise the issue with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The British government increased aid to Zimbabwe by 10 million pounds to bolster the Movement for Democratic Change when Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai visited the country four months after the formation of the inclusive government but British Prime Minister Gordon Brown questioned Tsvangirai’s ability to deliver on reforms and gave “clear instructions” to his ministers that additional support would not be released until there was more progress on the ground.
Britain may have forced African leaders to accept Robert Mugabe after his controversial victory in the run-off for the 2008 presidential elections because of the “big fuss” it made over Zimbabwe, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says in a cable released by Wikileaks. Mubarak told United States senator John Kerry on 2 July 2008, a day after the African Union summit that was held in Sharm El-Sheik in Egypt, that he could not stop Mugabe from attending the summit because Zimbabwe was a member of the African Union but he said some member states condemned Mugabe while others told him to form a unity government and find a role for the opposition parties.
The former Deputy Foreign Minister of the Vatican Archbishop Celestino Migliore told a United States official in 2001 that President Robert Mugabe’s son was a key player in the exploitation of diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The cable does not name which son. Mugabe has two sons, Robert Junior and Chatunga. But it is not clear how any of the two could have been key players in diamond exploitation in the DRC as at the time both were under 10 years of age.
African nations have been siding with Mugabe despite the intense pressure from the international community because Africans are a proud people who share a sense of pan-Africanism, solidarity, sovereign independence and unity against external parties, Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa told a United States Military chief when he visited Tripoli in 2009.
Kusa was briefing the Commander of U.S. Africa Command General William Ward. He told the army chief that though Libya supported engagement with the U.S. military to tackle the continent’s security problems; it was against any US troops in Africa.
South African President Jacob Zuma was involved as an “unofficial peace mediator and diplomatic troubleshooter” in Zimbabwe long before he became President, a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks says. The cable released on 12 May 2009, a week after Zuma had been elected South African President is an analysis of how Zuma rose to power and how he was poised for greatness.
South African President Jacob Zuma takes his mediation role in Zimbabwe seriously and is pushing the Commonwealth to readmit the country, the director for Political Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat Amitav Banerji told the last Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in November 2009, according to one of the cables released by Wikileaks. The cable says the heads of government commented on Zimbabwe briefly in their communiqué stating that they welcomed the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and expressed hope that this would be implemented “faithfully and effectively”.
Foreign refugees in Zimbabwe were better off than locals at the height of the country’s economic crisis as they were getting adequate supplies with some even selling their food to locals, a cable released by Wikileaks says. The cable was dispatched on 19 October 2007 following a visit to Tongogara Refugee camp by United States embassy officials in Harare and representatives of the Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration. The cable says the refugees had adequate shelter, food, water and had access to basic health care. “The camp clinic was clean, well organised, and well stocked with drugs, supplies and equipment.”
The leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, said despite pressing humanitarian concerns in Zimbabwe, Western military intervention would be counterproductive because there was no regional support for intervention. Clegg made the remarks in June 2008 when there was a lot of tension in the UK over what to do over the impasse in Zimbabwe following the March elections which saw Morgan Tsvangirai beating Robert Mugabe in the presidential race. Tsvangirai, however, failed to score an outright win necessitating a run-off which was set for 27 June. Clegg’s remarks are contained in a United States embassy cable released by Wikileaks. The cable was dispatched on 3 July 2008.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office elevated Zimbabwe to a stand-alone unit within the African Directorate two weeks after the signing of the Global Political Agreement which ushered in the inclusive government because it now merited increased attention- a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks says. This was done by new FCO Africa director Adam Wood, on 29 September 2008, three months after his appointment to the FCO. Wood restructured the Africa directorate into four departments to balance work-loads and create “synergy” along common work strands.
President Robert Mugabe’s erratic treatment of foreign economic interests could see China, which has hitherto shown that it is willing to put its need for markets and raw materials above the need to promote internationally accepted norms of behaviour; change its uncritical stance towards pariah states like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma and Iran. This was the view of former United States ambassador to Beijing Clark Randt two years ago when he looked at the relations between the United States and China over the past 30 years and also at the 30 years to come. Randt was the longest serving US ambassador to Beijing.
The issue of Zimbabwe and what to do about President Robert Mugabe following his uncontested June, 2008 victory, which was not recognised by most Western governments, cost Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dearly as his actions gave the West the impression that he was not totally in control, a cable released by Wikileaks says. Medvedev took over from Vladimir Putin on 8 May 2008 and two months later he was at his first G8 meeting in Toyako on the northern island of Hokkaido in Japan. The G8 is made up of the eight richest, industrialised nations of the world- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s stance on Zimbabwe and other issues in his own country raised questions about his judgment leading United States ambassador to South Africa, Delano Lewis, to describe him as a brilliant but prickly leader of “Africa’s most important state” who did not accept criticism. In a cable dispatched on 23 January 2001, only 19 months after Mbeki had taken over as South African President, the ambassador said recent actions by Mbeki which included his views on AIDS had raised “caution flags about his ability to accept criticism and manage collegially”.
Zimbabwe seems to have become a good example of how not to announce election results especially when you are not sure about who is going to win. This was clearly expounded by three United States ambassadors when they reviewed elections in Afghanistan in 2009.