Although South Africa was appointed facilitator for the Zimbabwe talks at the Southern African Development Community meeting in Dar es Salaam on 29 March 2007, it did not publicly announce the meetings of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change. But here is how the talks progressed.
Viewing cable 07PRETORIA3640, CHRONOLOGY OF SOUTH AFRICAN FACILITATION IN
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SUBJECT: CHRONOLOGY OF SOUTH AFRICAN FACILITATION IN
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(b) and
¶1. (C) Following is a chronology of key events in the South
African mediation in Zimbabwe since the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) appointed President Thabo Mbeki
as “facilitator” at its March 29, 2007 summit in Dar es
Salaam. The South African Government (SAG) has not publicly
announced the meetings with ZANU-PF or the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), so many of the events
are not/not confirmed and based on reports from various press
and privileged sources.
March 27-29: SADC Extraordinary Summit in Dar es Salaam.
Summit “mandates” Mbeki to “continue to facilitate dialogue
between the opposition and government” in Zimbabwe and report
on progress. Also “mandates” Executive Secretary to
undertake “study of economic situation” and propose measures
for assisting Zimbabwe.
Early April: Mbeki sends letters to ZANU-PF and two MDC
formations explaining his plans for the mediation and
requesting papers on their views on the crisis. Mbeki
appoints Minister for Provincial and Local Government Sydney
Mufamadi as his lead negotiator for the Zimbabwe talks.
Other members of the SAG team are Director General in the
Presidency Frank Chikane, Presidential Legal Advisor Mojanku
Gumbi, and Department of Foreign Affairs Director General
April 4: Mufamadi and SAG team meet with MDC
Secretary-Generals Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube in Pretoria.
April 11: MDC presents joint negotiating paper to SAG,
focusing on necessary conditions for free and fair elections.
May 4: MDC presents follow-up joint paper at request of SAG,
identifying possible areas of “contention” during upcoming
Early May: Mufamadi and SAG team travel to Harare for talks
with ZANU-PF, including key negotiators GOZ Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa and Labour Minister Nicholas Goche.
June 1: Government of Zimbabwe/ZANU-PF presents negotiating
paper to SAG, highlighting role of U.K. and sanctions in
June 17-18: First round of South African/SADC-facilitated
talks takes place in Pretoria; agreement on five-point agenda
(constitution, electoral laws, security legislation,
communications, and political climate).
June 30: SADC Executive Secretary completes report on
economic situation in Zimbabwe.
July 7: ZANU-PF no-show at scheduled facilitation talks in
Pretoria. Mbeki reportedly angry, calls Mugabe.
Mid-July: ZANU-PF and MDC meet privately in Harare. ZANU-PF
negotiators travel to Pretoria. SAG pressure on ZANU-PF to
July 29: Following SAG Cabinet retreat, Mbeki says he is
“quite confident” that agreement in Zimbabwe will be reached.
Stresses that election results “should not be contested.”
August 13: SAG briefs Zimbabwe civil society in Johannesburg
on talks. Civil society complains about exclusion from
August 16-17: SADC Summit in Lusaka. Mbeki presents report
on political facilitation. SADC Executive Secretariat
reports on economic situation. Communique “commends” Mbeki
and “welcomes progress” in negotiations.
September 1-2: ZANU-PF and MDC negotiators meet in Pretoria
on electoral process and constitutional reforms.
September 14-15: Mbeki meets with MDC Presidents Tsvangirai
and Mutumbara, and Secretary-Generals Tendai Biti and
Welshman Ncube in Pretoria; convinces them to support
Constitutional Amendment 18.
September 17: SAG briefs Zimbabwean civil society for second
time in Johannesburg.
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September 18: Zimbabwean Parliament agrees on Constitutional
Amendment 18 with support of ZANU-PF and MDC.
September 19: South African Cabinet “welcomes” recent
breakthrough on constitutional amendments in Zimbabwe.
September 19-28: MDC and ZANU-PF meet regularly in Harare on
new constitution and other issues.
September 26: In UNGA speech criticizing U.S. and U.K.,
Mugabe expresses “gratitude” to Mbeki for “successfully
facilitating” dialogue between ZANU-PF and MDC. Mbeki and
Mugabe meet privately on margins of UNGA.
September 29-30: MDC and ZANU-PF initial new constitution in
Harare; SAG officials Mufamadi, Gumbi, and Chikane witness
agreement. New constitution includes elements of rejected
2000 constitution, 2004 initialed document, and NCA draft.
Early October: Mufamadi and Chikane meet ZANU-PF and MDC in
October 5: In public remarks with German Chancellor Merkel,
Mbeki states that Zimbabwe talks “going very well,” and he is
“confident that they will reach an agreement.”
o/a October 17: Select SADC Finance Ministers, including SAG
FinMin Manuel, to meet in Harare on economic crisis.
Ongoing: MDC and ZANU-PF negotiators meeting in Harare to
finalize remaining agenda items: repressive legislation,
diaspora vote, sanctions, voters roll, timing of elections,
and timing of implementation of constitution.
October 30: MDC and ZANU-PF negotiators scheduled to return
to Pretoria to report on progress.
November: Target date for conclusion of South African/SADC
March 2008: Current date for Zimbabwe parliamentary and
presidential elections; could be delayed to September or
¶2. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Harare.