SA ambassador said Mugabe was well versed with talks


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South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Jeremiah Ndou said South African President Thabo Mbeki had found President Robert Mugabe well versed with details of the informal talks that were taking place between his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the Movement for Democratic Change.

 This was in stark contrast to Mugabe’s public statement that he was not well informed about such discussions.

Ndou said that principal issues to be resolved were how to approve a new constitution, by parliamentary vote or referendum, when joint presidential and parliamentary elections should be held, what transitional mechanisms should be put in place, and how election preparations, such as selection of an independent election commission should be chosen.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE41, SOUTH AFRICAN AMBASSADOR HOPES FOR EARLY PROGRESS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE41

2004-01-08 11:01

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000041

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/08/2013

TAGS: PGOV PREL SF ZI

SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICAN AMBASSADOR HOPES FOR EARLY PROGRESS

ON ZIMBABWE

 

REF: 03 HARARE 2443

 

Classified By: Joseph G. Sullivan for reasons 1.5(b) and (d)

 

1. Summary: South African Ambassador Ndou presented a

positive description of possibilities for progress toward

resolution of Zimbabwe’s political crisis based on President

Mbeki’s Dec 18 visit. Ndou believed the next steps were for

ZANU/PF and MDC negotiators to finalize their discussions on

the constitution and transitional mechanisms to ratify the

constitution and agree on transitional mechanisms to hold

simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections in

2005. End summary.

 

2.(C) South African Ambassador (formerly High Commissioner)

Jeremiah Ndou offered the Ambassador, Jan 8, a predictably

positive description of possibilities for expedited progress

toward resolution of Zimbabwe’s political crisis. He said

that President Mbeki had found President Mugabe very well

versed on the details of informal talks between ZANU

negotiator Patrick Chinamasa and MDC negotiator Welshman

Ncube over a new constitution, notwithstanding Mugabe’s

public statement that he was not well informed about such

discussions. Ndou thought that Mugabe’s absence for a

month-long working vacation in Asia should not impede

progress since Mugabe had called in Chinamasa and other

ZANU-PF negotiators after his meeting with Mbeki to give them

clear instructions. Ndou said that principal issues to be

resolved were how to approve a new constitution, by

parliamentary vote or referendum, when joint presidential and

parliamentary elections should be held, what transitional

mechanisms should be put in place, and how election

preparations, such as selection of an independent election

commission should be chosen. Mugabe had cited March as the

traditional month for parliamentary elections, excluding the

year 2000, and asked whether election preparations would be

able to be put in place by March, 2005, Ndou acknowledged

that election preparations steps could have been taken over

the past several months if ZANU-PF had been willing to

finalize the negotiations earlier, but he was inclined to

excuse ZANU-PF delay due to distractions of the Commonwealth

meeting and the ZANU-PF Conference rather than attribute it

to bad faith.   Chinamasa and Ncube would also be expected

to negotiate an agenda and terms for initiation of a formal

MDC/ZANU-PF dialogue.

 

3. (C) Ndou said that President Mbeki had not rased directly

during his visit the delicate issue of precisely when Mugabe

would leave nor the “environmental issues of dismantlement of

youth brigades, respect for judicial decisions permitting

reopening of the “Daily News”, nor revision of the repressive

public order and media legislation. Ndou said that Mbeki had

chosen to focus on the core issue of agreement on a

constitution and a presidential and parliamentary election.

Ndou acknowledged that Mugabe had failed to fulfill prior

commitments to revise repressive POSA and AIPPA legislation,

since revisions only made legislation worse.

 

4. (C) Ndou said that he would be responsible for follow-up

with the parties, but acknowledged that he had no indication

of progress since Mbeki’s visit and that Chinamasa would only

be returning to Harare this next week. He said that Mbeki

would call Mugabe as necessary and would visit if required.

 

5. (C) Ndou said that he believed it would be important to

have the next election conducted, not just observed, by the

United Nations or the African Union to assure its

credibility. He also suggested international supervision of

the media during the pre-election period. (It was not clear

here whether these were set SAG positions, but we do not

believe they have yet been proposed to the GOZ.) Ndou

acknowledged that there would be Government resistance to

such an idea on the basis of national sovereignty, but

thought that the recent request from Justice Minister

Chinamasa for UN assistance with 2005 parliamentary elections

provided an entry point. Ndou was clear that current GOZ

election mechanisms were inadequate and must be changed. He

also stressed the need to find a means to agree on how to

choose and constitute an independent election commission, as

provided in the new draft constitution.

 

6. (C) On a separate issue, Ndou said that previously

discussed South African food assistance to Zimbabwe was now

less likely in view of drought conditions in South Africa.

He noted his observation that this year’s poor plantings

assured that current crop production would also be poor.

 

7. (C) Comment: Ndou had to be upbeat in view of President

Mbeki’s stake in the success of his quiet diplomacy.

However, Ndou’s description of Mugabe’s commitments to Mbeki

gives a bit more room for hope that progress might be made in

the context of 2005 elections. But Mugabe’s failure to

fulfill previous commitments to Mbeki on repressive POSA and

AIPPA legislation as well as his continued playing for time

on an election date raise serious questions. We come to the

same conclusion as in last month’s reftel that meaningful

engagement by ZANU-PF will require sustained and perhaps more

forceful pressure by Mbeki.

 

8. (C) The UNresrep has treated the GOZ request for election

assistance with kid gloves in view of GOZ past and present

conduct of elections. We intend to discuss further with

resrep the potential of a somewhat more activist UN response

which could have the effect of adding to pressure for free

and fair elections.

SULLIVAN

 

(2 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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