The United States piled pressure on Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who was chairman of the Southern African Development Community, to show strong leadership on the crisis in Zimbabwe, following the indecisive 29 March 2008 elections.
US ambassador to Zambia Carmen Martinez told Mwanawasa that there was need for a strong leadership because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which had taken more than a month to release the results of the presidential election did not comply with SADC’s request for an inclusive verification process.
Martinez said according to the Movement for Democratic Change, the ZEC had refused to provide documentation to substantiate its preliminary results, which differed significantly from those posted publicly at polling stations.
“The massive irregularities in the electoral process, both before and after the March 29 election, undermine the credibility of the election results and the independence of the ZEC. We hope there will be an opportunity for SADC to engage with the ZEC and the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that both comply with the process for counting and verification as stipulated by the April 13 SADC communiqué,” Martinez wrote Mwanawasa.
Viewing cable 08LUSAKA546, MWANAWASA ON ZIMBABWE AND VIEWS OF SADC’S ROLE
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLS #0546/01 1411410
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201410Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5822
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 LUSAKA 000546
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: MWANAWASA ON ZIMBABWE AND VIEWS OF SADC’S ROLE
REF: LUSAKA 463
¶1. (SBU) Summary. Following the visit to Zambia of Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer and
National Security Council Senior Director Bobby Pittman (Ref
A), the Ambassador and President Mwanawasa exchanged views on
Zimbabwe through a series of letters. In his May 5 letter
(para 2), President Mwanawasa acknowledged President Bush’s
letter that A/S Frazer delivered on April 26 and expressed
his appreciation for A/S Frazer’s visit. On May 6, the
Ambassador underscored the need for continued SADC engagement
to ensure free elections and to address reports of gross
human rights violations (para 3). On May 12, President
Mwanawasa responded, noting the need for a strong SADC
electoral observer mission as well as a possible delegation
to meet with President Mugabe, comprised of President Dos
Santos, President Jakaya Kikwete, and King Mswati (para 4).
President Mwanawasa also conveyed reports that Zimbabwe’s
Electoral Commission is ill-prepared to organize the runoffs,
primarily due to inadequate resources, and expressed his
intention to seek financial support from the United Nations.
¶2. (SBU) On May 5, President Mwanawasa sent the following
letter to President Bush, expressing his appreciation for A/S
Frazer’s visit and acknowledging President Bush’s letter that
A/S Frazer hand-delivered on April 26 (Ref A):
Dear Mr. President,
I thank you for your letter dated 21st April, 2008, and I was
pleased to receive your Special Envoy, the Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs and we had a very good
discussion concerning the crisis in Zimbabwe. I am pleased
to note that you will continue working with us in the region
to resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Please accept, Mr. President, assurances of my highest
Dr. Levy P. Mwanawasa, SC
President of the Republic of Zambia
¶3. (SBU) On May 6, the Ambassador sent the following message
to President Mwanawasa, emphasizing reports of gross human
rights violations in Zimbabwe, the need for free and fair
elections, and the importance of continued SADC leadership:
I wish to express my government’s gratitude for the
hospitality that you extended to Assistant Secretary of State
for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer and National Security
Council Senior Director Bobby Pittman during their recent
visit to Zambia. I especially appreciate your readiness to
accommodate our request for a meeting on such short notice
and your willingness to meet with us on a Saturday night.
As SADC Chair, you have made essential contributions to
regional stability by acknowledging the crisis in Zimbabwe
and bringing it, once again, to the forefront of the SADC
agenda. Your leadership on this issue is a credit to both
you and the Republic of Zambia. Indeed, it is consistent
with Zambia’s historical role as a facilitator for peace
within southern Africa.
The need for strong leadership is critical to the challenging
period ahead, in the wake of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission’s (ZEC’s) announcement of the presidential
election results. We understand that the ZEC did not comply
with SADC’s request for an inclusive verification process.
According to the Movement for Democratic Change, the ZEC has
refused to provide documentation to substantiate its
preliminary results, which differ significantly from those
posted publicly at polling stations.
The massive irregularities in the electoral process, both
before and after the March 29 election, undermine the
credibility of the election results and the independence of
the ZEC. We hope there will be an opportunity for SADC to
engage with the ZEC and the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure
that both comply with the process for counting and
verification as stipulated by the April 13 SADC communique.
LUSAKA 00000546 002 OF 003
As discussed in your meeting with Assistant Secretary Frazer,
the violence carried out by the government of Zimbabwe
against its own people increases every day. The
international community is receiving credible, documented
accounts of torture bases and terror campaigns being used to
punish those who are members of, or even sympathetic to, the
political opposition. Zimbabweans who are thought to have
voted for the opposition have had their houses burned, have
been denied food, and have seen their family members raped
and murdered. That Zimbabwean security forces are
participating in these crimes makes it even more shocking.
It is an unacceptable role for an institution charged with
protecting its own citizens.
The great hardships that the Zimbabwean people are enduring
need to end. The number of displaced persons, the shortage
of food and medical care, and the escalating,
government-sanctioned campaign of intimidation and violence
must be of great concern to the entire southern African
region. As Assistant Secretary Frazer expressed in your
meeting, it is also of great concern to the United States.
Our government is prepared to support you, and other SADC
Heads of State, as you endeavor to find a solution to the
crisis in Zimbabwe that reflects the will of its people.
Once again, I thank you for meeting with us on April 26, and
for a fruitful and encouraging discussion. I look forward to
an opportunity to share your insights on this situation.
¶4. (SBU) In a May 12 letter, President Mwanawasa recognized
the need for a strong SADC electoral observer mission,
announced the possibility of a senior SADC delegation to meet
with President Mugabe, comprised of President Dos Santos,
President Jakaya Kikwete, and King Mswati, and conveyed his
concern that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission lacks the
resources to conduct the runoff elections:
I thank you for your letter dated 6th May, 2008, and indeed I
was also delighted for an opportunity to discuss Zimbabwe
with the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Jendayi Frazer and National Security Council Senior Director
Bobby Pittman and yourself recently.
I have received similar reports of violence in Zimbabwe as
you heard. The results have been announced although we very
much doubt their veracity. It is nevertheless felt in SADC
that there is nothing which can be done at the moment but for
SADC and other interested organizations to insist that the
run-offs should be free, fair and possess integrity. On our
part we have insisted to send a strong observer mission and
we have agreed that President Dos Santos who is Chairman of
the Organ of SADC together with other Heads of State who are
members of the Organ, namely his Excellency Jakaya Kikwete,
President of Tanzania and King Mswati of Swaziland should, as
soon as possible, travel to Zimbabwe to meet the Zimbabwean
government and the opposition to discuss issues of security
and fairness in this run-off.
We have received reports that the ZEC are not prepared for
this run-off apparently because they lack financial
resources. We want to assist and so does the African Union
but our resources are limited so we have asked the United
Nations to receive contributions from member countries who
are able to contribute some funding and such funding could be
availed to the ZEC and also to SADC to enable us to
participate in the observer Mission. After a long period of
hesitation, I am glad to note that recently Mr. Morgan
Tsvangirai announced that he will participate in the run-off.
We will now continue to work for the creation of a security
environment for free and fair elections to take place in
Once again I thank you for having called on me.
Dr. Levy P. Mwanawasa, SC
President of the Republic of Zambia
LUSAKA 00000546 003 OF 003
¶5. (SBU) Comment. Post will continue to build upon A/S
Frazer’s visit, emphasizing to President Mwanawasa and senior
GRZ officials that SADC can and should play an important role
in condemning human rights violations, calling for free and
fair elections, and supporting a democratic and stable
electoral process. Post also will continue to draw attention
to ZANU-PF’s record of violence and human rights abuse with
media outlets and non-governmental organizations. On May 19,
Deputy Chief of Mission hosted an event for civil society
leaders, during which he and the guest of honor referred to
the situation in Zimbabwe and underlined the critical role
that civil society can play in bringing about democratic