Coltart asked Wade and Mandela to put pressure on Mbeki


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.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2003-11-05 15:00

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

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






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

considerable delay.


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

international pressure.


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.




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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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