Swaziland’s Prime Minister Barnabus Dlamini did not believe that President Robert Mugabe would last more than three or four months in office though the three major political parties in Zimbabwe had signed the Global Political Agreement three months earlier.
He believed that the military would take action within that time frame but did not provide any specifics to justify his position.
Dlamini said Mugabe was a tough and difficult man to deal with.
Apart from Botswana’s President Ian Khama, African leaders did not believe in interfering with the internal affairs of other nations.
Viewing cable 09MBABANE4, SUBJECT: PRIME MINISTER DISCUSSES U.S./SWAZI
P 071114Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MBABANE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3377
INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L MBABANE 000004
DEPT FOR AF/S (MHARRIS); S/GAC (CHOLMES)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2019
SUBJECT: SUBJECT: PRIME MINISTER DISCUSSES U.S./SWAZI
RELATIONS IN 2009
Classified By: AMB Maurice S. Parker for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)
¶1. (U) SUMMARY: On December 31, Ambassador Maurice Parker
met with Swazi Prime Minister Barnabus Dlamini. The PM
requested the meeting to gauge GKOS’ standing with diplomatic
missions accredited to Swaziland, and to request U.S.
financial assistance in building a new state-of-the-art
hospital. The conversation also covered SADC’s position on
Zimbabwe, Iran-Swazi relations, and the continued
imprisonment of an opposition leader. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) In response to an invitation from the Office of the
Prime Minister, Ambassador Parker met with Prime Minister
Dlamini on December 31 to discuss U.S./Swazi relations in
¶2009. The PM began the meeting by trying to assess the
current state of relations between the GKOS and the U.S.
Government, due to the ongoing imprisonment of opposition
leader Mario Masuku under Swaziland’s new Suppression of
Terrorism Act. Ambassador Parker expressed his concern over
the continued imprisonment of Mario Masuku, President of the
opposition party the Peoples United Democratic Movement
(PUDEMO), for statements supporting terrorism and sedition.
The PM stated that Masuku prefers to stand on principal and
remain imprisoned, because his bail is affordable (between 50
) 100 U.S. dollars). When the Ambassador noted that Masuku’s
charges appears to be related to public statements he has
made, rather than conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, the
PM confided that the GKOS has evidence that PUDEMO was
involved in planning the attempted bombing near Lozitha
Palace, and their plan was hatched in Blomfontein, South
Africa. He continued by commenting that Mario strongly
advocated for the bombing and other terrorist acts. He said
that Mario’s case will be brought to trial early in 2009, but
that he will leave the decision regarding Mario’s guilt or
innocence to the courts.
¶3. (C) The PM commented that Swaziland would like to
enhance the Suppression of Terrorism Act, modeled upon
American anti-terrorism laws. To ensure consistency with a
similar message delivered by DAS Carol Thompson recently to
Deputy Prime Masuku, during his recent visit to the
Department, the Ambassador agreed that terrorism is a
globally-shared concern that must be addressed. He stated
that governments have the responsibility, however, to ensure
that counterterrorism laws do not lead to the repression of
civil society or political participation. The Prime Minister
responded by stating that he will take the Embassy’s concerns
regarding the Suppression of Terrorism Act under advisement.
CONSTRUCTION OF NATIONAL REFERRAL HOSPITAL
¶4. (U) The Prime Minister then presented the Ambassador
with a written proposal requesting U.S. financial assistance
in constructing and equipping a National Referral Hospital
for Swaziland in Swaziland. He referred to a serious
automobile accident on a highway outside Mbabane on December
30, which critically injured Attorney General Majahenkhaba
Dlamini, who was airlifted to a nearby hospital in South
Africa. The PM said that Swaziland would like to have a
hospital with a well-equipped trauma center that could assist
all Swazis, and not have to transfer the seriously injured
citizens, like the Attorney General, to South Africa. The PM
said that King Mswati III had recently discussed the project
with S/GAC Ambassador Mark Dybul, and DAS for Southern
African Affairs Carol Thompson, during their meeting on the
margins of UNGA. The Ambassador cautioned the Prime Minister
that it might be difficult for the USG to commit to a project
of such magnitude during the international economic crisis.
However, he reminded the PM that Swaziland could make a
concerted effort to improve its scorecard in an effort to
join the Millennium Challenge Account.
¶5. (C) The Ambassador and PM discussed SADC’s perspective
on the Zimbabwe power-sharing agreement. The PM stated that
he doubts Mugabe could last in office more than three or four
months. He said that most SADC members believe the military
will take action within that timeframe, but did not provide
specifics to justify his position. He said the King will
resume the Chairmanship of the SADC Troika when he comes out
of seclusion in early February, but he is doubtful that the
Troika, or SADC, will be able to influence Mugabe. He stated
Robert Mugabe is a tough and difficult man and that, with the
exception of President Khama of Botswana, African leaders do
not believe in interfering in the internal affairs of other
nations. When reminded that neither Zimbabwe nor South
Africa would be free of apartheid without sanctions imposed
by the USG and the EU, the PM said that interference and
sanctions were not the African way.
¶6. (C) PM Dlamini confirmed that he met with Iran,s Deputy
Foreign Minister (DFM) for African Affairs Ali Bagheri in
November. The PM stated that DFM Bagheri visited Swaziland
with the intention of meeting the King. Since the King was
in seclusion, Bagheri met with the PM in his office. PM
Dlamini was guarded regarding the topics he discussed with
the Iranian, but stated that DFM Bagheri wanted to deliver a
quote pleasant greeting unquote to the King. He mentioned
that he received the greeting and delivered it to the King.
The PM said that Swaziland is looking forward to improving
relations with other Middle Eastern countries, particularly
Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, but was not planning to
develop bilateral relations with Iran. As far as he is
concerned, Iran is not of interest to Swaziland, but the
decision to expand Swazi/Iranian relations is up to Minister
of Foreign Affairs Lutfo Dlamini.
¶7. (C) COMMENT: The PM’s New Year’s message to the
Ambassador indicated that Swaziland will not dramatically
change political or economic direction in 2009. The GKOS
will continue to limit freedom of assembly and speech among
its people, under the guise of enhancing counterterrorism
programs; seek international donations to support their
favorite infrastructure development programs without
demonstrating a greater willingness to rule justly or invest
in its people; and will not provide stronger leadership in
the SADC Organ of Politics, Defense and Security. Change
comes slowly to Swaziland.