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Zimbabwe: More WikiLeaks shocks
Posted: Sunday, December 12, 2010

Herald Reporters
December 11, 2010
The Herald

THE West tried various strategies, including a desperate attempt to ask China to influence the reform of Zimbabwe's security sector, in a futile attempt to effect regime change, according to the latest US classified cables released by WikiLeaks.

After most of their strategies dating back to the year 2000 such as civil unrest, the possibility of a coup and sanctions had failed, the United States and Germany resolved to work towards a reform of the security services.

US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Charles Ray held a meeting with his German counterpart Dr Albrecht Conze late last year where they discussed the need to persuade China to help them with security reforms in Zimbabwe.

The meetings were held under the pretext of improving economic stability in Harare.

In his brief on December 2, 2010 titled "Ambassador Ray's Visit with German Ambassador," the two diplomats explored ways to engage China.

"China is likely to be agreeable to efforts to improve economic stability and just might be helpful in achieving success in security sector reform," said Ambassador Ray.

"I met Dr Albrecht Conze, German Ambassador to Zimbabwe, at his embassy on December 1, 2009. Unlike most of the EU ambassadors who waited for me to ask them questions, Conze immediately began probing for the US position on a number of issues, most notably how to engage with the Government in the medium-term, and our views on security sector reform.

"He stressed that the need for success in dealing with the security chiefs cannot be underestimated. Without reform in this sector, our efforts at political and economic reform risk failure."

The diplomat said in his discussion with Dr Conze they noted that while China might not want to participate in "pro-democracy programmes, economic stability is clearly in their interest".

He wrote: "The People's Republic of China plays a significant role in Zimbabwe and the Western nations need to involve them more in co-operative activities wherever possible.

"He considered an invitation to the PRC (People's Republic of China) ambassador here to periodically attend the Fishmongers Head of Mission meeting to explore potential areas of co-operation," Ambassador Ray wrote.

Fishmonger is a group of US-Canada-Australia-EU ambassadors who meet weekly.

The ambassador wrote:

"Conze believes that the PRC might even be useful in moving security sector reform as it has a potential impact on economic stability and he does not believe South Africa will be really useful in this regard."

Ambassador Ray described Dr Conze's views on China as "intriguing."

"Conze is the first to acknowledge that China too is part of the problem and could possibly be part of the solution. His idea of involving them in security sector reform, however, is likely to cause strong pushback from some of the more conservative EU members, and in fact, his idea of inviting the Chinese ambassador to the Fishmonger's meeting is also likely to meet some resistance. This promises to be an interesting food fight.

"Conze agreed with me that we need to do more to identify the next generation of leadership in Zimbabwe and start influencing them now.

"He is concerned about the obsessive focus on Mugabe who is admittedly part of the problem but is also essential to its solution," he said.

Zimbabwe and China enjoy good bilateral relations dating back to the liberation struggle and have continued to co-operate in political, economic and cultural programmes.

Another cable report released by WikiLeaks reveals that Mr Tsvangirai considered together with the United States removing President Mugabe from office through illegal means

including mass action and a coup.

A cable classified by Ambassador Tom McDonald on 29 November 2000 gives details of a meeting between the then US assistant secretary Susan Rice and Mr Tsvangirai.

They discussed ways of removing President Mugabe from office.

Britain and France were all aware of this as the two countries were kept informed by the Americans on the developments.

The cable reveals that Mr Tsvangirai saw four potential scenarios emerging from the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

The first was that the people would have to wait for 18 months to "vote Mugabe out" and notes that this is the "most constitutional, but least likely scenario".

The second option was what he called an "accelerated, but still constitutional process, whereby Mugabe resigns or is eased out at the December Zanu-PF congress". That option too was unlikely to succeed, he noted.

He then suggested as a third option that mass action be undertaken to remove President Mugabe from office but he was hesitant.

He is quoted saying: "Mass action is undertaken, forcing Mugabe to leave the scene early. Tsvangirai stated that this option must be carefully considered, and he asked rhetorically: Do we want to push out an elected president before his term is up?"

The fourth option they considered was "an army coup that removes Mugabe, possibly with a great deal of bloodshed, from which it would be very difficult for Zimbabwe to recover".

Ideally, Mr Tsvangirai told Ms Rice that the MDC "would like to see a transitional arrangement for the next two years where Zanu PF remained in control of the government but brought in MDC ministers, essentially a coalition government".

He said the MDC national council was to meet later and digest the matter.

"The MDC's national council, at least initially, will meet on November 24 2000 to consider mass action.

"If the executive decides to conduct a mass action, it will begin in mid December when children are at home from school and business begin to close anyway for the Christmas Holiday," Mr Tsvangirai was quoted saying.

But the MDC national council cancelled plans for a mass action at its November 24 2000 meeting.

"He (Tsvangirai) said the MDC understands the magnitude and seriousness of mass action and it tried to postpone it for as long as possible but the popular sentiment is to do it.

"A general stay-away is preferable to confrontation since it is not in the country's best interest to have violence or bloodshed."

Mr Tsvangirai told Ms Rice he feared the army would not hesitate to shoot the demonstrators especially in Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo, and Mutare.

Mr Tsvangirai is said to have claimed that the military was "one major influence" on President Mugabe and "the other two are Zanu-PF and regional leaders."

"If Mugabe is to be pressured to leave the scene, all three must turn against him," Tsvangirai told Ms Rice.

He also claimed that President Mugabe would only step down after "he has had his revenge against the whites".

Tsvangirai is said to have also tried to bring in former South African President Nelson Mandela but he was snubbed.

The website also released a document from the US-EU Charge d'Affaires Christopher Murray on Commissioner De Gucht's trip to Zimbabwe.

Commissioner De Gucht travelled to Zimbabwe with the Swedish International Development Co-operation Minister Gunilla Carlsson between September 12-13 last year.

The delegation included representatives of the council, commission, the future and current presidencies of the EU.

The cable acknowledged that the EU delegation got a taste of their own medicine after meeting Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Justice and Legal Affair Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

They described the ministers as playing "good cop and bad cop, respectively".

"The Foreign Minister was conciliatory describing the visit as a crucial step to normalisation.

"The Justice Minister was confrontational, asking, 'Who are you to tell us how to run our business?' and saying, 'listening to you and listening to Tsvangirai is the same thing.'

"The delegation had the impression it was hard for them not to have all the control and to have Europeans 'telling them what to do.'"

The delegation also took note of the resolute stance taken by President Mugabe and the ministers on the issue of sanctions.

"Sanctions were discussed in all meetings with Government officials. Mugabe portrayed the West as unfairly targeting people in the unity government for no reason.

"What do you expect but hostility when you expel the children of my collaborators from universities in your countries? This hurts us.'

"(John) Clancy (from Comm de Gucht's cabinet) noted, 'one would think that sanctions would be a gadfly to him nothing more than annoying. But they bother him enormously because they do not apply to the MDC.'

"The officials with Mugabe stated that the targeted travel measures do not matter, but indicated the measures against parastatals do.

"Unsurprisingly, Tsvangirai does not want sanctions to be lifted. He says the process needs to be a two-way street, so there is no reason to lift them when there has been no progress."

The document quotes members noting that Professor Arthur Mutambara was more vocal on sanctions.

"Mutambara asserted that the West must follow the advice of African leaders. 'If (Jacob) Zuma (South African President) says so, then you should not bat an eye'.

"He seemed surprised to hear from the delegation that Tsvangirai did not agree. Mutambara said that any progress would require considerable engagement with Zuma. 'You must get African leaders to put pressure on Mugabe. He will not listen to you.'"

The cable reveals that Mr Tsvangirai was glad that his party heads ministries that promoted the population's well-being, such as education, health and housing among others.

"MDC was originally unhappy with the distribution, especially with Zanu-PF's control of all the 'hard' sectors, but then saw that the only resources coming from outside supporters were for service provision..."

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