Mugabe acts like a caged animal when cornered


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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe acted like a caged animal when cornered so the Mozambican government was not going to publicly criticise him, President Armando Guebuza’s chief of staff Antonio Sumbana told a United States embassy official.

He said Mozambique was very concerned by the political crisis in Zimbabwe and for years had encouraged Mugabe to make political reforms.

Representatives from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF frequently came to Mozambique, he claimed, to complain about Mugabe and his negative impact on the country.

“Zimbabwe still has the potential to destabilize Mozambique, both physically and psychologically,” Sumbana said noting that Mugabe could disrupt energy flows, commerce, and border migration between their two countries, all which would hurt Mozambique.

He said that Mugabe could destabilise Mozambique psychologically by raising fears along the border and creating a negative political environment.

Sumbana made it clear that Mozambique saw little benefit in publicly challenging Mugabe, though in private it would support an organised political transition.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07MAPUTO956, MOZAMBIQUE–DISPARATE VIEWS ON MUGABE

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

Classification

Origin

07MAPUTO956

2007-08-14 08:10

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Maputo

VZCZCXRO9437

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHTO #0956/01 2260810

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 140810Z AUG 07

FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7736

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0752

RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 1287

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MAPUTO 000956

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2017

TAGS: KDEM MZ PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: MOZAMBIQUE–DISPARATE VIEWS ON MUGABE

 

REF: STATE 109638

 

Classified By: CDA Todd Chapman, reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: President Guebuza’s Chief of Staff Antonio

Sumbana told Charge of private GRM concerns about the ongoing

political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe, but that the GRM

saw little benefit in publicly challenging Robert Mugabe.

“Zimbabwe still has the potential to destabilize Mozambique,

both physically and psychologically,” he said. Veteran

Frelimo politician Marecelino dos Santos supported Zimbabwean

President Robert Mugabe and his right to participate in the

December European Union-African Union (EU/AU) summit.

Despite holding no official government position, dos Santos

is extremely influential within the party. Foreign Minister

Alcida Abreu issued a similar defense of Mugabe in late June.

Given the GRM’s sensitivities to upsetting a potential

regional troublemaker, look for Guebuza to play a supportive

rather than a leading role at the upcoming SADC leaders

meeting.   END SUMMARY.

 

——————————

THE OFFICIAL VIEW—IN PRIVATE

——————————

 

2. (C) The Charge met August 8 with Antonio Sumbana,

President Guebuza’s Chief of Staff, to review deteriorating

situation in Zimbabwe and present points in Reftel. Sumbana

stated that the GRM was very concerned by the political

crisis in Zimbabwe and for years had encouraged Mugabe to

make political reforms. Representatives from ZANU-PF

frequently came to Mozambique, he claimed, to complain about

Mugabe and his negative impact on the country.

 

3. (C) Sumbana continued, however, that the GRM would not

publicly criticize Mugabe because he acts like a caged animal

when cornered. “Zimbabwe still has the potential to

destabilize Mozambique, both physically and psychologically.”

The Chief of Staff noted that Mugabe could disrupt energy

flows, commerce, and border migration between their two

countries, all which would hurt Mozambique. He elaborated

that Mugabe could destabilize Mozambique psychologically by

raising fears along the border and creating a negative

political environment. Sumbana made it clear that the GRM

saw little benefit in publicly challenging Mugabe, though in

private the GRM would support an organized political

transition.

 

4. (C) For these reasons the GRM believed it imperative

that SADC approach the Mugabe problem as a block, so as not

to imperil any one country.   Acknowledging that the

Mbeki-led efforts had not met with serious engagement by the

Zimbabwean Government, Sumbana said that new ideas were to be

discussed at the August 16 leaders meeting, though he did not

elaborate. Sumbana particularly appreciated the USG position

that we recognized the importance of an African solution to

this regional problem. He welcomed the offer of discrete

support for a SADC initiative but identified no specific way

in which the USG could assist at this time.

 

——————————-

THE UNOFFICIAL VIEW—IN PUBLIC

——————————-

 

5. (U) Marcelino dos Santos, one of the most powerful members

of the Frelimo inner circle, said on July 30 at a conference

in Portugal that it was “unthinkable” that the African Union

would accept the notion that Mugabe be prevented from

participating in the UE/AU summit in December. Dos Santos

equated this with a colonial mentality and said that Africa

and Europe should be on equal footing whereby no restrictions

are imposed on the participation of any African or European

Head of State.

 

6. (U) While his outspoken manner has sometimes been

controversial, dos Santos’s influence has been pronounced

during the Guebuza administration. Although not a member of

an official government body, dos Santos has made public

statements on important and controversial topic such as labor

law and the privatization of the national airline that are

normally reserved for government officials.

 

7. (U) Dos Santos’ comments run counter to the official GRM

policy of “quiet diplomacy” in relation to the Zimbabwean

crisis. Analysts and the local press have criticized the

GRM’s approach, noting that Mozambique has considerable

leverage over Zimbabwe, particularly due to Mugabe’s history

in Mozambique and because of the critical trade link provided

by the port of Beira. However, dos Santos is not the first

influential FRELIMO politician to come to Mugabe’s defense.

 

MAPUTO 00000956 002 OF 002

 

 

On June 22, Foreign Affairs Minister Alcida Abreu expressed

similar support for Mugabe’s participation at the EU/AU

summit, despite EU sanctions barring his travel abroad, but

we have seen not further public statements from her on the

matter.

 

——————————————— –

COMMENT: GRM TO TAKE A SUPPORTING ROLE AT SADC

——————————————— –

 

8. (C) Mugabe has always been a cherished figure for the

FRELIMO old guard, who view him as a kindred spirit in the

struggles for independence more than three decades ago. FM

Abreu’s and dos Santos’ comments taken together suggest that

significant underlying support for Mugabe remains, though the

President’s Chief of Staff clearly recognized a need for

change in the neighborhood. Given the GRM’s sensitivities to

upsetting a potential troublemaker, look for Guebuza to play

a supportive rather than a leading role at the upcoming SADC

leaders meeting. That said, it appears there will be few

Mozambican regrets once Mugabe departs the regional political

stage. End Comment.

Chapman

 

(20 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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