Zambian Foreign Minister says there is no crisis at all in Zimbabwe


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Zambia’s Foreign Minister Kabinge Pande told a press conference soon after the Southern African Development Community summit that the situation in Zimbabwe was “not a crisis at all” and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai who had won the 29 March elections but had been denied his victory should be pleased with the outcome “because we’ve taken care of all his concerns”.

Pande held the press conference together with Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Tendai Biti.

The MDC leadership, which participated in the meetings to some extent, expressed satisfaction with the results.

Biti called the summit “a major improvement” over Mbeki’s attempts at mediation. He said that the communiqué “exposes the limitations of quiet diplomacy in comparison to the constructive engagement, which other countries pursued against the apartheid regime in South Africa”.

He praised the SADC leaders for their courage in holding an emergency summit, which he said was “an acknowledgement that things were not right in Zimbabwe”.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08LUSAKA427, SADC SUMMIT CONCLUDES WITH HALF-HEARTED RESULTS

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

Released

Classification

Origin

08LUSAKA427

2008-04-14 14:58

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Lusaka

VZCZCXRO7136

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHLS #0427/01 1051458

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 141458Z APR 08

FM AMEMBASSY LUSAKA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5696

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE IMMEDIATE

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LUSAKA 000427

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/FO, AF/S, AND AF/PD

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/13/2018

TAGS: SADC PREL ZA ZI

SUBJECT: SADC SUMMIT CONCLUDES WITH HALF-HEARTED RESULTS

 

REF: A. LUSAKA 424

 

B. LUSAKA 423

C. LUSAKA 421

 

Classified By: DCM Michael Koplovsky for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary. The Southern African Development Community

(SADC) Heads of State Summit concluded with little to show

for the leaders’ efforts. South African President Thabo

Mbeki seems to have prevailed by containing efforts to forge

a stronger SADC position on Zimbabwe. The Summit communique

calls for the immediate release of election results, but

fails to address the widespread deceit, intimidation, and

violence following the March 29 national elections in

Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean opposition party members, however, were

pleased with the Summit, which they described as “an

improvement” over Mbeki’s mediation efforts. Although the

communique was weak, and lends truth to criticism about South

Africa’s dominance within SADC, it marks a step forward in

calling attention to problems in Zimbabwe and points to

Mugabe’s growing isolation within the region. End Summary.

 

2. (SBU) On April 12, SADC convened a Heads of State Summit

to discuss the deadlock following Zimbabwe’s national

elections on March 29. The meeting began with strong opening

remarks from Zambian President (and SADC Chair) Mwanawasa

(Ref B), who said that he had called the Summit because of

the failure of Zimbabwean officials to publish the results of

the March 29 presidential election. He recommended a

solution that “reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

He appealed to Zimbabwean leaders to put national interests

above all other interests, to “embrace humility,” and to turn

over a new leaf in history “in order to make Zimbabwe, the

SADC region, and Africa proud.”

 

3. (C) If Mwanawasa took umbrage from Mugabe’s refusal to

speak with him in the days preceding the summit (Ref C), he

was careful to hide his annoyance. Perhaps with a tinge of

irony, however, Mwanawasa said that “it is unfortunate that

owing to circumstances beyond his control, (Mugabe) is unable

to be with us. But he has sent three representatives and I

hope they will be able to enrich our deliberations.”

Mwanawasa did not excuse Mugabe for his absence, noting that

Mugabe is “expected to share his perspectives on the matter.”

 

 

4. (C) Following the opening of the Summit, the SADC leaders

withdrew to a closed session that was scheduled to last two

hours. Unable to reach agreement, the Heads of State

deliberated for over twelve hours, concluding at 5:00 A.M.

Mugabe’s representatives refused to interact with the

Zimbabwean opposition members, who were also present by SADC

invitation. Zimbabwean journalists told Emboff that Mbeki

and Mwanawasa had “locked horns” throughout the meetings.

The journalists also said that, according to their sources in

the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Mbeki had blocked

Mwanawasa’s efforts to achieve greater results. They also

conveyed considerable disagreement over how to describe the

situation in Zimbabwe, with Mwanawasa’s camp preferring to

call it a “crisis,” and an Mbeki-led faction insisting that

it be referred to as an “impasse.” Additionally, the

Zimbabwean journalist had heard from their MDC sources that

Mwanawasa had chided the Zimbabwe delegation “for several

hours” over offensive statements about him in the Zimbabwean

state press.

 

5. (U) The communique (see Ref A for the full text) stated

that Zimbabwe opposition candidates confirmed that the

elections were held in a free, fair, and peaceful

environment. It urged election authorities to verify and

tabulate results in the presence of candidates and/or their

agents and to expeditiously release the results. It

encouraged all parties to accept the results, when announced.

If run-offs become necessary, the communique urged the

Government of Zimbabwe to ensure a “secure environment.”

 

6. (C) It appears that Mbeki prevailed in containing efforts

to call for stronger SADC action. The communique failed to

capture the vision outlined by Mwanawasa during his opening

remarks. In seeking consensus, it appears as though the SADC

leaders complied with the lowest common denominator. The

communique makes no reference to the widespread deceit,

intimidation, and violence following the March 29 polls in

Zimbabwe. Nor does it single out Mugabe for his presumed

role in blocking the release of the election results.

Although the communique calls for the Zimbabwe Electoral

Commission to comply with the SADC Principles and Guidelines

governing democratic elections, it fails to note that these

protocols have already been breached.

 

LUSAKA 00000427 002 OF 002

 

 

 

7. (U) Following the release of the communique, Zambian

Foreign Minister Kabinge Pande together with MDC Secretary

General Tendai Biti fielded questions from the press. In his

public statements, Pande said the situation in Zimbabwe “is

not a crisis at all,” echoing Mbeki’s statement in Harare

after his meeting with Mugabe on April 12 en route to the

Summit. He said Zimbabwe opposition leader Tsvangirai should

be pleased with the outcome “because we’ve taken care of all

his concerns.”

 

8. (C) Perhaps gratified by the show of support from some

SADC Presidents, MDC leadership, who participated in the

meetings to some extent, expressed satisfaction with the

results. Biti called the Summit “a major improvement” over

Mbeki’s attempts at mediation. Biti went further to say that

the communique “exposes the limitations of quiet diplomacy in

comparison to the constructive engagement, which other

countries pursued against the apartheid regime in South

Africa.” He praised the SADC leaders for their courage in

holding an emergency summit, which he said was “an

acknowledgement that things were not right in Zimbabwe.”

 

9. (C) Comment. In many respects, it was SADC, not Mugabe,

that was on trial as the world watched to see whether SADC is

capable of acting with impartiality and authority. To some,

SADC’s half-hearted, mealymouthed resolution was a

disappointment, and lends truth to criticism that South

Africa continues to wield too much influence within SADC.

According to the MDC, however, “SADC has acquitted itself

fairly well.” Biti interpreted the communique “within the

context of African diplomacy” to mean that Mugabe had delayed

the results, abused the law, and perpetrated violence.

Indeed, implicit in the communique–and explicit in many

parts of Mwanawasa’s speech–is the acknowledgement that the

electoral process in Zimbabwe has gone awry. Mwanawasa (and

other like-minded Presidents) is to be praised for his

leadership on the issue, and willingness to arbitrate (and

confront Mbeki) throughout the night, despite his failing

health. Notwithstanding the weakness of the communique, the

Summit marks a step forward in SADC’s willingness to call

attention to Zimbabwe and it points to Mugabe’s growing

isolation within the region.

 

MARTINEZ

 

(18 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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