Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai gave President Robert Mugabe two weeks to release party activists who had been abducted by security agents otherwise he would not continue to work with the Mugabe regime.
He told a press conference inn Gaborone where he was staying but said he was just visiting and was not in exile.
Tsvangirai also denied reports that Botswana hosted training camps for his party cadres.
Viewing cable 08GABORONE1111, MORGAN TSVANGIRAI ADDRESSES MEDIA IN BOTSWANA
O 191515Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY GABORONE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5447
SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS GABORONE 001111
STATE FOR AF
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: MORGAN TSVANGIRAI ADDRESSES MEDIA IN BOTSWANA
¶1. Zimbabwe Movement for Democratic Change Leader Morgan Tsvangirai
spoke to and took questions from some 50 local and international
media December 19 at a hotel in Gaborone. Tsvangirai addressed
issues including the abductions of MDC party members in Zimbabwe,
the Global Political Agreement, Robert Mugabe’s claim that MDC
insurgents are being trained in Botswana, mediation by the Southern
African Development Community, the cholera epidemic, and his status
¶2. On the status of abducted MDC party members, Tsvangirai said
that he could not negotiate while his organization is being
violated. He set a date of January 1, 2009 for there to be
resolution of the abductions or he could not continue to work with
the Robert Mugabe regime.
¶3. Referring to the Global Political Agreement signed September 15
with Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai said that a partnership must have
willingness on both sides for it to work. Mugabe wants to stay in
power at all costs and have the MDC as only a junior partner.
Zimbabwe has no government, according to Tsvangirai.
¶4. Asked about the South African President’s reported assertion
that a deal would be struck by the end of this week, Tsvangirai
found no basis for this since the necessary change to the Zimbabwe
constitution (Amendment 19) to allow for a power-sharing arrangement
would require at least a month to go through Parliament.
¶5. Tsvangirai denied Mugabe’s claim that MDC insurgents are being
trained in Botswana and added that it is not being done anywhere.
He also said that South Africa has reported that there is no
foundation for the allegation.
¶6. Addressing political mediation by Zimbabwe’s neighbors,
Tsvangirai called for SADC’s continued engagement. While it is said
that SADC’s role is key to resolving the situation in Zimbabwe,
Tsvangirai wondered why more progress had not been made. Answering
a question, he later said that he respected the South African
President as SADC chair and considered him to be an important
influence to resolving the crisis.
¶7. Speaking to the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said
that Harare is the center of it and that the MDC-controlled city
council could have access to the means to address the outbreak if
Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party didn’t stand in the way.
¶8. Taking a question about his status in Botswana, Tsvangirai noted
that he was not a “leader-in-exile” but rather in the country
temporarily while he waited for his travel documents. He said that
the MDC has no status in Botswana — it is just a visiting political
party from Zimbabwe — but he asks that Botswana be sympathetic to
the plight of Zimbabweans here.