Zimbabwe’s growing list of enemies


While Zimbabwe “was soaked in its anti-imperialist rhetoric and conspiracy theories”, it had a growing list of enemies including its own neighbours according to a cable from the United States embassy in Harare.

Top of the list was Botswana, followed by Nigeria and even Libya which had bailed out the country during its fuel crisis was distancing itself.

Britain remained the perennial enemy.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2004-05-05 08:18

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

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


050818Z May 04

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000751









E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/03/2009






Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5 b/d


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Soaked in anti-imperialist rhetoric and

conspiracy theories, Zimbabwe’s official press continues to

view other nations exclusively through the prism of the

ruling party’s “with-us-or-against-us” framework. On the

enemies list, the West has been joined by Botswana, Nigeria

and, most recently, the SADC Parliamentary Forum, with Libya

apparently next in line. A front page story May 4 warns of

coming pressure on the GOZ from selected African nations at

the behest of the United Kingdom. END SUMMARY.


Botswana Tops the List



2.   (U) Since Gaborone distanced itself from SADC’s public

support for Zimbabwe on the margins of December’s

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), it has

found itself Zimbabwe’s Public Enemy Number One in Africa.

Recent transgressions spotlighted in lurid front page reports

on Botswana include alleged targeting of Zimbabweans for

floggings by Botswanan authorities, labor exploitation, the

erection of border fences, and Botswanan support for VOA

broadcasts (ref C). Information Minister Jonathan Moyo’s

confrontation with the Botswanan Ambassador over such issues

was given prominent coverage and official editorials

alternately portray the GOB as seduced, bullied, or bought

out by Western interests.


Nigeria Running Second



3. (SBU) Nigeria has been a distant second to Botswana on

the enemies list, more prominently featured but in less

venomous terms. Election violence, opposition crackdowns,

and Abuja’s open door to Zimbabwe’s white farmer class are

favorite themes in news coverage here, and editorials since

CHOGM have pilloried Obasanjo repeatedly. Most recently, an

editorial in the Government-controlled Herald editorial on

April 16 “condemned” Obasanjo’s “grandstanding antics” in

trying to attract Zimbabwe’s white farmers, suggesting rather

implausibly that were he an “impartial broker” on Zimbabwe he

would have encouraged the farmers to remain in Zimbabwe to

farm on “permissible” sizes of land. (Note: After having

their entire farms and investments seized, the farmers were

technically eligible to apply for new plots under land

reform. End note.) A Harare-based Nigerian diplomat

confirmed that Obasanjo had been incensed by the GOZ’s

intransigent posture during the run-up to CHOGM and had since

been inclined to keep his distance from Zimbabwe’s crisis.


Suspicious of Others



4. (SBU) Other African diplomats report that the GOZ

monitors their governments’ statements in the media and

international fora religiously, calling in diplomats for a

dressing down if such statements are deemed critical. In

February, Mugabe blasted an unnamed “majority” of his African

counterparts for succumbing to Western influence and turning

against African revolutionary causes. The GOZ and the

official press generally have remained cautiously respectful

of the South African Government.


5. (U) The official press has reported Libya’s rapprochement

with the West in extremely negative terms, attributing it to

neo-colonialist British pressure and Libyan economic

desperation. The ruling party-affiliated Sunday Mirror asked

in a May 2 editorial “Has Gaddafi sold his soul to the West?”

and forecast that his relations with Mugabe “seem destined to

become difficult.” Until late last year, Mugabe counted

Gaddafi as among his most prominent allies, and the official

media trumpeted each of the frequent high level visits

between Harare and Tripoli. Harare-based diplomats in

contact with the Libyan mission here tell us that its access

to the GOZ has been reduced markedly since Gaddafi shook

hands with Tony Blair.


6. (U) Foreign-based media, especially from South Africa,

continues to be a principal enemy of the state. The

government press has given repeated play to Information

Minister Jonathan Moyo’s recent characterization of foreign

correspondents and those who collaborated with them as

“terrorists.” A Herald editorial (often a precursor to

government policy) last week cast those who contributed to

the portrayal of Zimbabwe in a negative light as “traitors”

and urged that they be prosecuted for treason, in absentia if

necessary (ref B).


The “Un-African” SADC Parliamentary Forum



7.   (U) In his weekly pseudonymous column in the Herald on

May 1, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo blasted SADC-PF

Election Norms and Standards as an “un-African, anti-African

case of ventriloqual nonsense from the West, by the West, all

to reluctant Africa.” He suggested that the norms were

forced on parliaments by “treacherous half-sons” and

emphasized that they were invalid and non-binding.


British Plot Exposed



8. (U) In a front page feature on May 4, The Herald reported

that the British Government was mounting a diplomatic

campaign to engineer pressure on the GOZ through a series of

high profile visits by regional leaders. According to the

article, Zambian President Mwanawasa, Malawian President

Muluzi, South African Mbeki and the Prime Minister of

Mauritius were expected to visit, while former Kenyan leader

Daniel arap Moi would come as a special envoy of Kenyan

President Kibaki. The article closed with an assertion by an

unnamed government spokesman that “there is peace and

tranquility and the economic prospects are so good today that

we do not believe any African country would want to spoil

this for the benefit of the British.”





9. (C) Ruling party exploitation of its monopoly over the

country’s daily media has become a central feature of GOZ

foreign policy. As in so many other sectors, this means that

policy is driven as much if not more by the insidious

Information Minister than by cabinet members formally

assigned relevant portfolios. The centrality of

neo-colonialism and race to all media treatment of

international relations is designed to fuel a seige mentality

among domestic constituencies and to intimidate African

neighbors into support for ZANU-PF. The “expose” on the

alleged British plot appears intended to pre-empt any

diplomatic or public pressure by Africans and foreshadows a

shrill response — by Moyo, at least — to any such



10. (C) Moyo continues to be an influential wild card in

factional struggles within the ruling party. Much of his

effort lately appear geared against the camp of Speaker of

the Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was Zimbabwe’s

signatory to the SADC-PF Electoral Norms and Standards. (For

his part, the beleaguered Mnanagagwa appears unlikely to

stand up for the SADC-PF standards; ref A.) In the

witch-hunt atmosphere engendered by Mugabe’s anti-corruption

campaign, Moyo remains one of the paralyzed party

leadership’s most confident operators. His relentless and

single-minded attack mode, which appears to suit Mugabe for

now, may come back to haunt him later, though, as he lacks a

natural constituency and continues to accumulate enemies at

home and abroad.


11. (C) Zimbabwe’s relations with Libya had grown more

distant even before Gaddafi’s westward shift, more for

economic than political reasons. Libya faced little prospect

of meaningful returns on its $360 million reported fuel deal

with Zimbabwe’s parastatal, to which it had cut off supplies

for non-payment. Nonetheless, political relations until

recently had remained close, at least in rhetorical terms,

and Gaddafi’s volte face presents a difficult challenge for

the GOZ’s indefatigable propaganda machine. Zimbabweans will

likely follow Gaddafi’s treatment by the West closely in two

contexts: the impact it will have on Africanist Gaddafi’s

solidarity with erstwhile close ally Mugabe and, perhaps more

significantly, as an indicator of how quickly an

international pariah can rehabilitate relations with the




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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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