Movement for Democratic Change Shadow Minister of Justice David Coltart approached Senegalese leader Abdoulaye Wade and former South African President Nelson Mandela to put pressure on South African President Thabo Mbeki to be more forceful with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
He said Wade was non-committal but intrigued and Coltart’s meeting with him went longer than originally scheduled as he explored the idea.
Mandela was negative toward Mugabe and said that Mugabe would never leave without definitive resolution of the issue of his immunity from future prosecution.
Viewing cable 03HARARE2204, MDC LEGAL AFFAIRS SECRETARY ON RECENTLY CONCLUDED
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
051500Z Nov 03
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 002204
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/05/2013
SUBJECT: MDC LEGAL AFFAIRS SECRETARY ON RECENTLY CONCLUDED
ELECTION PETITION HEARINGS, PARTY’S REGIONAL OUTREACH,
REF: (A) HARARE 2185 (B) HARARE 2141 (C) HARARE 2123
(D) HARARE 1792
Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5(b)(d)
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: MDC Secretary for Legal Affairs David
Coltart on November 4 confirmed to the Embassy the party’s
expectation that the court would delay issuance of judgment
on the election petition (hearings on which concluded
November 4) before eventually rejecting it. He outlined to
Ambassador Sullivan efforts to engage Senegalese President
Wade and other liberal African leaders to press South African
President Mbeki to be more forceful with President Mugabe.
Coltart recounted a recent meeting he had with Nelson
Mandela, and was hopeful that Mandela would work behind the
scenes to energize Mbeki on Zimbabwe. He reconfirmed that
the MDC and ZANU-PF had not reached agreement on transitional
arrangements but advised that Chinamasa’s office had drafted
an instrument that may have been served to the South African
government as a deal between the parties. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Upon the unexpectedly early conclusion November 4 of
court hearings on the MDC’s election challenge, Coltart told
the Embassy that the government’s courtroom presentation
offered little beyond mostly political rather than legal
arguments raised in its written submissions. The only twist
was a government request that the court defer decision on the
legal arguments in phase one until after hearings had
concluded on phase two. (As suggested in refs A and C, the
MDC wants the court to rule first on phase one; a ruling in
its favor would obviate the need for phase 2.) Coltart
reaffirmed MDC expectations that, despite the petition’s
strong merits, the court would find for the government after
¶3. (C) Coltart related to the Ambassador separately on the
same day an account of his recent contacts outside Zimbabwe.
On the margins of his participation in a Liberal
International Congress in Dakar last month, he had a lengthy
meeting with Sengalese President Wade. Coltart said that he
had pitched Wade on the idea of “surrounding” Mbeki with more
pressure on Zimbabwe. Mbeki was caught between domestic
priorities and his interest in being an African bridge to the
West; positive pressure from liberal African leaders would
enable him to take a more forceful position toward Mugabe.
Kenyan President Kibaki, Ghanaian President Kufuor, and
Malawian President Muluzi (who already displayed willingness
to engage on Zimbabwe) were candidates to participate in such
an effort. MDC had positive relations with the Ghanaian and
Kenyan ruling parties and hoped that Kibaki or Kufuor might
be willing to join in such an effort. According to Coltart,
Wade was non-commital but “intrigued”, and the meeting went
longer than originally scheduled as he explored the idea.
¶4. (C) Coltart also recounted a meeting he had with Nelson
Mandela while in South Africa last month. Mandela generally
was very negative toward Mugabe. He was out of touch on the
status of inter-party talks in Zimbabwe but was surprised to
hear that so little actual progress had been made. Mandela
asserted that Mugabe would never leave without definitive
resolution of the issue of his immunity from future
prosecution — an issue that had not been touched. Coltart
was encouraged by Mandela’s interest and thought he could be
useful behind the scenes, particularly in neutralizing some
of the domestic and regional pressures hemming in Mbeki’s
potential forcefulness with Mugabe.
¶5. (C) Coltart denied that any meaningful progress on
transitional arrangements had been made, as reported by South
African High Commissioner Ndou (ref B). Coltart added that a
reliable source had reported to him that Justice Minister
Chinamasa’s office had prepared a paper detailing
transitional arrangements but had yet to convey it to the
MDC. He hypothesized that ZANU-PF was passing off the
material to the South Africans as a deal agreed to by the
parties in an effort to mollify Mbeki and to dampen
¶6. (C) COMMENT: Coltart’s outreach to additional African
countries appears to be a continuation of efforts already
underway to stimulate SADC governments to engage Mbeki (ref
D). We would appreciate any feedback from Embassies Dakar,
Nairobi, and Accra on potential resonance the MDC’s pitch
might have with host governments. There remains a
considerable disconnect between what we are getting from the
MDC and what the South Africans reportedly are getting from
ZANU-PF regarding progress on talks. In any event, ZANU-PF’s
ongoing inward focus in the run-up to its annual party
conference next month suggests that it will remain reluctant
to move forward with meaningful inter-party talks for now.