Zimbabwe’s premier Morgan Tsvangirai privately urged Western countries to maintain sanctions against the southern African nation but publicly back calls for their removal, latest Wikileaks show. The document also cites strong anti-Mugabe sentiments expressed by Ugandan President Museveni and South African Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
In the latest leaked American documents of controversial US diplomatic cables Tsvangirai is said to have admitted in private meetings with US and European ambassadors accredited to Harare that his approach on the sanctions issue was beginning to “cause problems”.
Early this year, the premier told visiting Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Soren Pind: “We want the sanctions removed.” However, the Wikileaks revelations suggest the MDC-T leader may have been speaking with a forked tongue.
But basing on information sent in December 24, 2009 to Washington, Ambassador Charles Ray, reports that Tsvangirai had conceded during their meeting that “his public statements calling for easing of sanctions versus his private conversations saying they must be kept in place have caused problems”.
He appeared to change tack as the Global Political Agreement talks between Zanu PF and MDC were on the verge of collapse. Zanu PF insisted it would not make further concessions on the so-called outstanding issues until the sanctions were removed.
Tsvangirai urged the US and the European Union to come up with “some kind of concrete roadmap that all can agree on, linking easing of sanctions with identifiable and quantifiable progress”, adding that “If necessary,” he and deputy prime minister “Mutambara (could) quietly meet with Western leadership to develop a plan on the issue of sanctions”.
Tsvangirai also told the ambassadors he was considering ways of controlling Mugabe who, despite being “mentally acute” appeared “old and very tired”.
“Tsvangirai said his goal now is to find a way to ‘manage’ Mugabe himself. One way perhaps,” Ambassador Ray wrote whilst expressing skepticism over the plans noting: “We are … worried a bit at what appears to be naivete on Tsvangirai’s part.”
And whilst the Wikileaks saga continues, Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni has said Mugabe was a failure who had become an embarrassment to the continent.
Reports reveal that Museveni believes Mugabe is responsible for Zimbabwe’s political crisis due to his lack of understanding of economics and that Mugabe was in the habit of snubbing fellow African leaders on the pretext that they are “too young to advise him”.
Museveni was in conversation with former US assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer when he had gone to America in 2008 to attend his son’s graduation at a US millitary college.
“Museveni thought Zimbabwe’s faltering economy and Mugabe’s poor understanding of the private sector were at the root of Zimbabwe’s political problems. He said a discussion of the economy would provide an entry point to tell Mugabe that he has failed and is embarrassing liberation leaders.
“He noted that Mugabe is unwilling to take calls from most African leaders saying they are not his age-mates,” said the Ugandan leader. Commentators say Mugabe, who has in the past claimed to be a close ally of Museveni, is likely to be shocked by the views and is likely to discover more African leaders who despise him in private.
South African Minister of International Relations, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is also quoted in the sensational Wikileaks cables describing Mugabe as a “crazy old man.” She said this during a meeting with US ambassador to Pretoria, Donald Gips.