Biti says MDC is ready for GNH but without Mugabe


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Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Tendai Biti said his party was ready for a government of national healing which included the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front as long as the “destabilising” Mugabe was not included.

He told this to the United States ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad in a private meeting in New York.

The Southern African Development Community was reported to be pushing for a government of national unity because it did not believe that an election runoff would solve the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Biti complained to Khalilzad about South African President Thabo Mbeki’s bias towards the ZANU-PF and said the South African position had been confirmed by its permanent representative to the United Nations, Dumisani Khumalo who said he did not see any need for intervention because SADC had not called for help.

Khumalo said South Africa had called on Zimbabwe to announce the results of the 29 March elections as soon as possible but added that members of the United Nations should wait for the results “like we are doing for Nepal to which no-one is talking about sending a fact-finding mission”.

Biti said there was need for international intervention because 40 to 50 MDC supporters had been killed by government supporters since the election. Some 7000 families had been displaced; every MDC office had become a refugee centre.

Khalilzad told Biti that he was impressed by his concept of a “government of national healing” and assured him that “the U.S. will do all it can to respect the vote for change of the people of Zimbabwe”.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08USUNNEWYORK404, SECURITY COUNCIL INTEREST IN ZIMBABWE GROWING

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08USUNNEWYORK404

2008-05-05 21:30

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

USUN New York

VZCZCXRO5817

OO RUEHBW RUEHDU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV

RUEHSR RUEHTRO

DE RUCNDT #0404/01 1262130

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 052130Z MAY 08

FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4217

INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 000404

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/02/2018

TAGS: PREL PGOV ZM

SUBJECT: SECURITY COUNCIL INTEREST IN ZIMBABWE GROWING

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador Alejandro Wolff for Reasons 1.4 B/D.

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. UN Under Secretary-General Pascoe briefed

Security Council members on April 29 on the situation in

Zimbabwe, describing a pre-election period marked by threats

of violence from government officials, a relatively open and

fair elections process, and a post-election surge in

government-encouraged violence against opposition MDC

supporters.   Pascoe conveyed the Secretary-General’s

readiness to lend his good offices in support of SADC and AU

efforts to monitor the vote validation process and a runoff

election if scheduled. Council members uniformly supported

those SADC and AU efforts but differed significantly about

whether the Council or Secretary-General should get directly

involved. Several members called for a special envoy or fact

finding mission, and several others (including all three

African members) strongly opposed both ideas. Zimbabwe

opposition leader Tendai Biti made a statement to the press

on the margins of the Council session and later met with

Ambassador Khalilzad and several Coucil members at USUN. In

his press statement, Biti criticized SADC’s performance, an

opinion he shared in more detail during the USUN session,

suggesting the AU and UN should become more directly involved

and maintaining that the opposition was not inclined to

participate in any runoff election the validation process

were to call for. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) In April 29 briefing requested by the U.S. and UK

among others, United Nations Under Secretary-General Lynn

Pascoe described recent events in Zimbabwe to the Security

Coucil in closed consultations (members only, no record).

Pascoe said Zimbabwe officials — including the commander of

the army and the police commissioner — had made clear prior

to the election that they would not accept an opposition

victory. Nevertheless, he said, the campaigns were

reasonably open and international observers had pronounced

the elections themselves to be credible. Prompt announcement

of results in the parliament and assembly contests were

followed by an extensive delay in announcing the presidential

results that Pascoe said “poisoned the atmosphere and

paralyzed the country” as the opposition claimed that the

published results from more than 8,300 polling stations were

easily tabulated and demonstrated a clear majority for the

opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

 

3. (SBU) Pascoe described a post-election “surge in

government-encouraged violence” targeting MDC supporters in

rural areas and including “an orchestrated campaign of

repression and retribution … being carried out under the

name ‘Operation Where Did You Put Your X’ – a campaign

against those who marked ballots for the opposition.” He

reported MDC allegations that 200 people were arrested during

a raid at its party headquarters, 15 MDC supporters killed,

hundreds injured, and thousands forced to flee their homes.

Pascoe also noted a statement by UN High Commissioner for

Human Rights Louise Arbour expressing concern “about reports

of threats, intimidation, abuse and violence directed against

NGO’s, election monitors, human rights defenders and other

representatives of civil society.”

 

4. (SBU) Pascoe concluded by conveying UN Secretary-General

Ban’s offer to lend his good offices to reinforce Southern

African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU)

efforts to contain the crisis in Zimbabwe, adding that

“anything we do we do with SADC and the AU.” Members

invariably echoed this call for cooperation with the two

African organizations. Several members (U.S., France, UK,

Belgium, Italy, Panama) expressly called for a UN

fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe. France and the UK

suggested the Secretary-General might also consider naming a

special envoy. UK and Costa Rica called for an arms embargo.

 

5. (SBU) Russia said a runoff election would only exacerbate

the situation. China, Vietnam, Libya, Burkina Faso, and

South Africa warned against UN intervention unless expressly

requested by Zimbabwe or SADC/AU. South Africa PermRep

Kumalo offered extensive and emotional commentary in which he

sarcastically noted that SADC “has not asked for help” and

ridiculed Commissioner Arbour for “reading newspaper articles

and then expressing opinions.” Kumalo said South Africa has

expressed concern to Zimbabwe that the election results be

made public as soon as possible. Noting that recounts to

date had confirmed opposition victories, he urged members to

await final results “like we are doing for Nepal to which

no-one is talking about sending a fact-finding mission.”

 

6. (SBU) MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti, after meeting

privately with U/SYG Pascoe prior to the Council’s

consultations, took advantage of the press stakeout outside

the Council chamber to address the media. In a later private

meeting at USUN with Ambassador Khalilzad, Biti (accompanied

 

USUN NEW Y 00000404 002 OF 002

 

 

by MDC officials Wellington Chadehumbe and Eliphas

Mukonowesh) said he believed it had been very important that

the Security Council discussion and subsequent press events

had taken place, especially as a means of revealing the

position of South Africa. Biti told the Ambassador that

“today in the Council South Africa removed any little doubt

we had.” He said South Africa and PermRep Kumalo were

“playing a dangerous game … that had the ANC up in arms and

South African unions ready to go beyond talking.” He said

that the MDC had already written to SADC to complain about

“South Africa’s biased facilitation” and that the MDC would

consider participation in a “government of national healing”

that included ZANU-PF as long as the “destabilizing” Mugabe

was not included.

 

7. (C) In a follow-on meeting at USUN with several Council

member representatives (UK, France, Belgium, Burkina Faso,

Italy, Croatia, Panama), Biti continued his criticism of

South Africa, calling President Mbeki “a defender of the

(Zimbabwe) regime” and ridiculing SADC’s statement that

dialogue is underway between ZANU-PF and the MDC. On the

contrary, he said 40-50 MDC supporters had been killed by

government supporters since the election, 7,000 families had

been displaced, every MDC office had become a refugee center,

and the military is being deployed into civilian areas across

Zimbabwe in order to influence any runoff election. Under

these circumstances, Biti doubted MDC would agree to

participate in a runoff. He said the vote verification

should take a few people only a few hours with a calculator

because it amounted to a simple process of tabulating the

public results from 210 voting constituencies comprising more

than 8,300 polling stations, something he said MDC had

already done and which revealed on April 2 that MDC had

initially won 50.3 percent of the presidential vote and had

finally won 54.8 percent after all the isolated rural polling

stations were included.

 

8. (C) Although disdainful of South Africa-led SADC efforts,

he expressed confidence that the AU could “do what it did in

Kenya” if SADC could be circumvented. When UK Deputy PermRep

Pierce asked how the AU might be persuaded to ask for UN

assistance as had happened in Kenya, Mukonowesh replied that

individual African states (he named Botswana, Zambia, and

Tanzania) should be approached individually about approaching

the AU directly.

 

9. (C) Italian PermRep Spatafora and Burkina Faso PermRep

Kafando were surprised at Biti’s comments about SADC,

Spatafora saying, “The mantra in the Council has been ‘SADC

and AU together’ and now we are told we are wasting our time

with SADC.” Biti agreed with Mukonowesh, adding, “You are

better off approaching Kenya, Tanzania, even Gabon; there are

enough African countries to drive the process. If these

countries can get the AU to call a meeting, it would be hard

to say we must wait for SADC.” Koudougou said he had not

intended to speak because he had no instructions from

Ougadougou, but felt compelled to take the floor to agree

with Italy’s expression of surprise, adding that, “I have

taken note of your comments about SADC and will inform my

capital, which believes generally in taking problems to the

regional organization and then to the AU.” Ambassador

Khalilzad closed out this session by telling Biti he was

impressed by his concept of a “government of national

healing” and by assuring Biti that “the U.S. will do all it

can to respect the vote for change of the people of Zimbabwe.”

Khalilzad

(25 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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