Mbeki gave Mugabe three options before 2008 elections


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South African President Thabo Mbeki was still frantically working on a political solution for Zimbabwe two months before the harmonised elections of 2008 and gave the negotiating parties three options.

According to Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett and Idasa analyst Sydney Masamvu Mbeki had presented the MDC and the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front three options to break the deadlock:

  • Hold a referendum on a new constitution in February, followed by “free and fair” elections in March;
  • Hold a referendum on a constitution first, and delay the elections to a later date (likely June/July); or
  • Pass an interim constitution in parliament (without a referendum), delay elections (likely June/July), then hold a constitutional referendum.

Bennett and Masamvu said if Mugabe did not agree to one of these three options, Mbeki would report to SADC that he was not cooperating with the facilitation.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08PRETORIA100, MBEKI TO VISIT ZIMBABWE IN EFFORT TO CONCLUDE SADC

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA100

2008-01-16 14:49

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO3861

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #0100 0161449

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 161449Z JAN 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3189

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHDL/AMEMBASSY DUBLIN 0090

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5231

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9501

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L PRETORIA 000100

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S

HARARE FOR G. WARREN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/15/2018

TAGS: PREL ZI SF

SUBJECT: MBEKI TO VISIT ZIMBABWE IN EFFORT TO CONCLUDE SADC

TALKS

 

REF: HARARE 0016

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric M. Bost. Reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

 

1. (C) South African President Thabo Mbeki will visit

Zimbabwe January 17-18 in an effort to conclude the SADC

political facilitation, according to Movement for Democratic

Change (MDC) Treasurer Roy Bennett and U.K. diplomats. Mbeki

met with the key negotiators for the MDC and ZANU-PF in

Pretoria o/a January 14-15, and told them the negotiation

deadlock was “unacceptable.” (NOTE: Per reftel, the parties

are reportedly deadlocked over the timing of the elections

and implementation of a constitution. END NOTE.)

 

2. (C) According to Bennett and IDASA analyst Sydney Masamvu

(who spoke with MDC SecGen Tendai Biti), Mbeki presented the

MDC and ZANU-PF with three options to break the deadlock:

 

— Hold a referendum on a new constitution in February,

followed by “free and fair” elections in March;

 

— Hold a referendum on a constitution first, and delay the

elections to a later date (likely June/July); or

 

— Pass an interim constitution in parliament (without a

referendum), delay elections (likely June/July), then hold a

constitutional referendum.

 

Bennett noted that the MDC would prefer the second option,

whereas ZANU-PF would likely favor the first. However,

ZANU-PF would take a significant risk with the first option,

since the constitutional referendum could build momentum for

the MDC and help level the playing field for the elections

(although time is short). Masamvu said the first option was

meant to force Mugabe’s hand if he insisted on a March

election date.

 

3. (C) If Mugabe does not agree to one of these three

options, Mbeki would report to SADC that he is not

cooperating with the facilitation, according to Bennett and

Masamvu.

 

4. (U) Separately, Irish PM Ahern met with President Mbeki in

Pretoria on January 15. Ahern said in a press conference on

the 15th, which Mbeki did not attend, that South Africa was

“engaged in some of the final aspects” of the SADC

negotiations. Mbeki “is working very hard on this and is

hopeful that he will resolve some of the remaining

obstacles,” Ahern claimed.

 

5. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Harare.

BOST

(7 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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