Biti says Mbeki is now part of the Zimbabwe problem


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Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Tendai Biti told diplomats in the Ghanaian capital Accra that Southern African Development Community mediator and South African President Thabo Mbeki had become part of the Zimbabwe problem because of his unwillingness to push Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

He said other regional governments including Botswana, Zambia and Tanzania had a desire to be more helpful but there was a tendency for leaders to defer to Mbeki is his role as mediator.

Biti hoped that one Southern African leader would break ranks with Mbeki and openly say that the current impasse in Zimbabwe was unacceptable.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08ACCRA527, MDC GENERAL SECRETARY IN ACCRA: SEEKS GREATER

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08ACCRA527

2008-04-17 16:13

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Accra

VZCZCXRO0907

PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO

DE RUEHAR #0527 1081613

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 171613Z APR 08

FM AMEMBASSY ACCRA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6428

INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L ACCRA 000527

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/FO, AF/W, AF/RSA

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2028

TAGS: PREL PGOV ZI SF GH

SUBJECT: MDC GENERAL SECRETARY IN ACCRA: SEEKS GREATER

PRESSURE ON MUGABE

 

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Sue K Brown for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D

)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On April 16, Zimbabwe’s Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary General Tendai Biti, who is

visiting Accra to see President Kufour, met with Western

diplomats to discuss the post-election situation in Zimbabwe.

Biti said that the MDC would call on the international

community to impose economic sanctions against Zimbabwe if

President Mugabe continued in office past June 1, and that

the MDC would urge countries to withdraw recognition of

Mugabe’s government. Biti added that South African President

Mbeki’s role as SADC mediator is “becoming part of the

problem.” Biti met later in the day with Kufour to update him

on the situation in Zimbabwe. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) MDC General Secretary Biti, accompanied by party

offical Issac Maposa, met with diplomats from the U.S., UK

and Dutch embassies in Accra on April 16 (NOTE: The meeting

took place at the MDC’s request. END NOTE). Biti, who is in

Accra to meet with President Kufour, restated MDC positions

on the election, saying that President Mugabe seeks to

prolong the current period of uncertainty to play for time,

and hopes for an outcome to his advantage. The MDC believes

that election results should be released as soon as possible,

noting that Mugabe’s term is legally over, and that he is

technically a caretaker president. If a runoff does occur,

the MDC would press for three conditions: 1) a new Electoral

Commission, 2) an end to violence and 3) that the Southern

African Development Community provide security forces to

insure a peaceful election. Biti said that participating in

the March 29 election was a major decision for the MDC given

the GOZ’s pre-election attempts to skew voting. He called the

results a “miracle.”

 

3. (C) The MDC officials underlined the need for

international pressure on Mugabe to continue. They said the

MDC would call for economic sanctions against Zimbabwe should

Mugabe attempt to remain in power, along with the withdrawal

of diplomatic recognition. Maposa said that sanctions would

hurt ZANU-PF leaders who are now profitting from black market

conditions.

 

4. (C) Discussing the role of SADC in negotiating a solution

to the crisis, Biti said South African President Mbeki is now

becoming “part of the problem” due to his perceived

unwillingness to push Mugabe, and that criticism should be

directed toward Mbeki. Other govenments, including Botswana,

Tanzania, and Zambia, have expressed a desire to be more

helpful, but there is a tendency for leaders to defer to

Mbeki in the role of mediator. The MDC officials hoped that

one southern African leader would break ranks with Mbeki and

openly say that the current impasse was not acceptable. Biti

and Maposa left the meeting to meet with President Kufour.

Biti told POLOFF that he wanted to present the facts of the

current situation to Kufour.

 

5. (C) Biti commented that the crisis has the capacity to

become a Kenya-like situation, with violence. He said that

the MDC was trying to pursue “legitimate efforts” through the

courts and diplomacy, and while they have the option, they

have chosen not to send people into the streets to “throw

stones and bend things.” POLOFF asked Biti about the MDC’s

contacts with Zimbabwean security forces. Biti said that

senior military leaders approached the MDC prior to the

election, concerned about their economic status in a

post-ZANU-PF Zimbabwe, and assurances were provided. Biti

added that the MDC was talking with other opposition parties

in Zimbabwe.

 

6. Later on April 16 POLOFF spoke with Maposa following the

MDC meeting with Kufour. Maposa termed it a productive

meeting. When asked if Kufour would issue a statement, Maposa

said no, “not if he wants to remain effective.” When asked if

Kufour would contact Mbeki, Maposa was evasive.

 

7. (C) COMMENT: At this stage, we believe it is unlikely that

President Kufour will speak out publicly on the Zimbabwe

situation. During its first term, the Kufuor administration

publicly criticized Mugabe, but these statements were not

well received in Ghana, where Mugabe has long-standing

connections (having taught here and married a Ghanaian).

This assessment is shared by our UK colleagues, who were in

contact with the GOG prior to the MDC meeting. Kufour may

lobby Mbeki quietly, however. END COMMENT.

BROWN

(10 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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