Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett told the acting Australian High Commissioner to South Africa, Jane Lambert, that the MDC would only agree to a presidential election run-off if the United Nations observed the elections.
He said this after a stalemate in the presidential elections results of 2008 after his party had won the parliamentary elections but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission delayed announcing the results of the presidential elections which his party believed its leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won.
He said that if the United Nations was not allowed to observe the elections, the MDC would walk away.
It was also going to start demanding that the Southern African Development Community be held accountable for its decision to bless the election.
Lambert said Bennett was in a “feisty mood” when they met.
Viewing cable 08PRETORIA744, AUSTRALIAN ASSESSMENT OF ZIMBABWE DEVELOPMENTS
RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #0744 1001614
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 091614Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4095
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0652
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5497
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9722
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L PRETORIA 000744
DEPT FOR AF/S
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2018
SUBJECT: AUSTRALIAN ASSESSMENT OF ZIMBABWE DEVELOPMENTS
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(
b) and (d).
¶1. (C) Acting Australian High Commissioner Jane Lambert
(protect) on 08 April called PolOff to share the points she
planned to make to her Foreign Minister, who was expected to
call later that afternoon for a Zimbabwe update. Lambert
said she would emphasize that her contact within the MDC told
her that Tsvangirai came away from his meeting with ANC
President Jacob Zuma on 07 April “very pleased.” However,
Lambert said she would caution Canberra that Zuma is a
chameleon and could have promised Tsvangirai anything given
Zuma’s penchant for telling people what they want to hear.
According to her contact, Tsvangirai’s visit was part of the
MDC’s new strategy of pressuring regional leaders, especially
the ANC (not President Mbeki), to urge the release of
election results. (NOTE: Zuma publicly criticized Zimbabwe
on 08 April, saying “keeping the nation (and international
community) in suspense was wrong” and that “I don’t think it
augurs very well.” END NOTE)
¶2. (C) Lambert also confirmed that SAG officials are pushing
for a transitional government. However, Lambert is worried
that both MDC and ZANU-PF leaders are becoming increasingly
“rigid” and will be less and less amenable to a unity
government the more time passes. She believes that the fact
that MDC has stopped making any overtures toward ZANU-PF is
one indication of their growing inflexibility. MDC Treasurer
Roy Bennett, especially, seems to be hardening his stance,
she said, saying that Bennett was in a “feisty mood.”
Bennett told her on 08 April that the MDC would only agree to
a run-off if the UN observed; otherwise, they are prepared to
walk away. MDC is also going to start demanding that SADC be
held accountable for its decision to bless the election.
¶3. (C) As for South Africa’s role, Lambert’s assessment for
Canberra is South Africa will eventually “kick the can down
the road,” as they have done before with Zimbabwe. She
believes that South Africa wants to avoid at all costs having
Zimbabwe come before the UN Security Council while it is
holding the UNSC Presidency. Lambert argued that South
Africa will be put in the uncomfortable position of either
being seen as ignoring the current crisis or criticizing
Mugabe and ZANU-PF, in which case South Africa will be viewed
by other African nations as “doing the bidding of the West.”