Botswana official says Zuma is a big disappointment


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A Botswana Foreign Affairs official Zibane Ntakhwana said South African President Jacob Zuma had been the biggest disappointment in the Zimbabwean crisis because he had made very positive noises about taking a tougher line on Zimbabwe before being elected president but had done nothing drastically different from former President Thabo Mbeki since taking over.

He said South Africa’s overarching focus on stability hindered any initiative toward bold action and this was disappointing because South Africa was the only country in the region that could put the screws to Mugabe if it really wanted to.

Though he hoped for “divine intervention” in terms of Mugabe’s departure from office, he was worried about the possibility of a power vacuum if Mugabe died unexpectedly because ZANU-PF had not sorted out its succession debate.

He was also worried about the Movement for Democratic Change’s capacity to govern in a post-Mugabe environment.

Ntakhwana said many in the Botswana government had serious doubts about the leadership qualities of Prime Minister Tsvangirai, whom he said “is malleable, vacillates too much, and is easily compromised”.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09GABORONE847, MFA’S THOUGHTS ON ZIMBABWE SITUATION

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09GABORONE847

2009-10-27 11:14

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Gaborone

VZCZCXRO1099

PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHOR #0847/01 3001114

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 271114Z OCT 09

FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6138

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0248

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0231

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0416

RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC

RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 GABORONE 000847

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/S

LONDON, PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

NSC FOR AFRICA DIRECTOR

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2019

TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM BC ZI

SUBJECT: MFA’S THOUGHTS ON ZIMBABWE SITUATION

 

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen J. Nolan, Reason 1.4(b)

 

1. (C) Summary: From Botswana’s point of view, Zimbabwe’s

Global Political Agreement (GPA) is deeply flawed and

unlikely to lead to any meaningul power sharing in the

foreseeable future, accoding to Ambassador Zibane Ntakhwana,

Africa and Asia Department Director in the Ministry of

Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Botswana has

been skeptical of the agreement since it was signed last

year, and ZANU-PF’s recent harassment of Roy Bennett clearly

shows that ZANU-PF is not acting in good faith. Ntakhwana

described Botswana’s current relations with Zimbabwe as poor,

although he said Gaborone maintains contact with several

ZANU-PF and security service leaders. SADC shows little sign

of taking on Mugabe, and Ntakhwana said South Africa under

President Zuma does not seem to be taking a harder line than

it did under Mbeki. End summary.

 

—————–

GPA DEEPLY FLAWED

—————–

 

2. (C) In a 20 October meeting with Poloff, Ntakhwana said

that seeking to resolve the political impasse in Zimbabwe

remains at the top of Botswana’s foreign affairs agenda,

particularly given the extensive resources the GoB is forced

to spend on returning and caring for economic migrants from

its neighbor. However, Ntakhwana said the GoB does not think

the unity government that resulted from last year’s GPA is

the answer. While hoping for the best, Ntakhwana said the

GoB has been skeptical of the agreement from the start, on

the premise that they never trusted that Mugabe and ZANU-PF

would treat the agreement in good faith. Given recent

events, particularly the prosecution of MDC leader Roy

Bennett, Ntakhwana thinks GoB skepticism was justified.

 

——————————————— ——

RELATIONSHIP POOR, BUT LINES OF COMMUNICATION EXIST

——————————————— ——

 

3. (C) Ntakhwana described current bilateral ties with

Zimbabwe as poor, stemming from President Khama’s willingness

to publicly criticize Mugabe. Botswana’s outspokenness is

what led to Zimbabwean allegations last year that the GoB was

providing paramilitary training to MDC cadres. Ntakhwana

said Botswana acceded to a SADC investigation that determined

that the allegations were “rubbish”, but even though a report

was tabled at the September SADC Summit in Kinshasa, the

relationship remains poor.

 

4. (C) That said, Ntakhwana told Poloff that the GoB still

maintained ties to senior ZANU-PF leaders. He said ZDF

Commander Constantine Chiwenga is “someone we know quite

well,” although Ntakhwana said he is a committed hardliner

and Mugabe loyalist. Other GoB contacts include State

Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi (“a gentleman”),

Transport Minister Nicholas Goche, and CIO Director Happyton

Bonyongwe. Ntakhwana said Bonyongwe is actually quite

moderate, but said some of the guys under him are “tough

nuts.”

 

——————

SADC DISAPPOINTING

QSADC DISAPPOINTING

——————

 

5. (C) Ntakhwana said SADC’s response on Zimbabwe continues

to be disappointing, and he sees no change on the horizon.

Botswana has few allies in SADC when it comes to taking a

harder line on Zimbabwe, with only Tanzania, Mauritius, and

sometimes Malawi showing willingness to take a stand. As for

the rest, Ntakhwana said Namibia “is radical as ever”, Angola

“has the same ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ approach it’s

always had”, and SADC chair Congo “is preoccupied with its

 

GABORONE 00000847 002 OF 002

 

 

own problems.” Mozambique too has been a disappointment in

not leaning harder on Mugabe.

 

6. (C) Ntakhwana said the biggest disappointment, however, is

South Africa. Jacob Zuma, he noted, made very positive

noises about taking a tougher line on Zimbabwe before he was

elected, but since taking office in April, he has done

nothing drastically different than former President Mbeki.

Ntakhwana said South Africa’s overarching focus on stability

hinders any initiative toward bold action, which is

disappointing since South Africa is the only country in the

region that can put the screws to Mugabe if it really wanted

to.

 

————————————

LONG TERM WORRIES ABOUT POWER VACUUM

————————————

 

7. (C) Asked about his thoughts on the ultimate resolution of

Zimbabwe’s impasse, Ntakhwana said that while he hopes for

“divine intervention” in terms of Mugabe’s departure from

office, he worries about the possibility of a power vacuum if

Mugabe dies unexpectedly. ZANU-PF has not sorted out its

succession debate, and the securocrats in the party and

military will ensure that their interests are protected after

Mugabe goes. Ntakhwana said that these securocrats are going

to need ironclad deals that protect them from prosecution for

war crimes (particularly “lunatics” like Air Force Commander

Perence Shiri) and provide them payoffs. That said, after

the prosecution of Charles Taylor, it is going to be very

difficult to get these guys to trust any guarantees.

 

8. (C) Ntakhwana also said he worries about the MDC’s

capacity to govern in a post-Mugabe environment. When

looking at the party, Ntakhwana said many in the GoB have

serious doubts about the leadership qualities of Prime

Minister Tsvangirai, whom he said “is malleable, vacillates

too much, and is easily compromised.” However, Ntakhwana

noted that the GoB thinks the party does have some other

strong leaders — the GoB is very impressed with Finance

Minister Tendai Biti, as well as with Commerce Minister (and

MDC-Mutambara faction leader) Welshman Ncube.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

9. (C) Given recent events in Zimbabwe and the region, the

GoB’s skepticism about both ZANU-PF’s commitment to

powersharing and SADC’s willingness to take on Mugabe ring

quite true. Of particular interest was Ntakhwana’s admission

that the GoB maintains contact with senior Zimbabwean

securocrats despite poor bilateral ties. Given the

securocrats’ current prominence and likely importance in a

post-Mugabe dispensation, Botswana’s ties to them suggest

Gaborone could prove a valuable go-between if contact from

Washington needed to be established, particularly in a crisis

situation like Mugabe’s sudden demise. End comment.

NOLAN

(40 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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