afrol News, 29 November - In a 2007 report from the US Embassy in Harare, a possible national unity government in Zimbabwe is described as "less attractive." President Robert Mugabe is called "the devil" and Morgan Tsvangirai is described as "a flawed figure."
Among the 243,270 US State Department documents released this night by WikiLeaks, is a larger report from outgoing US Ambassador Christopher Dell, at the time still based in Harare, dated 13 July 2007. Here, "the End" (of the Mugabe regime) is analysed.
"The optimal outcome, of course, and the only one that doesn't bring with it a huge risk of violence and conflict, is a genuinely free and fair election, under international supervision," Ambassador Dell reported. But he did not have much faith in mediator Thabo Mbeki - then President of South Africa - when it came to achieve that goal.
Rather, Ambassador Dell correctly understood President Mbeki's priorities, which ended up in the negotiated establishment of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe. This unity government, headed by President Mugabe and current Prime Minister - then MDC opposition leader - Tsvangirai, still is in power in Harare.
Ambassador Dell described this option as "less attractive" in his report. A "South African-brokered transitional arrangement or government of national unity" was seen as "more likely to prolong than resolve the crisis and we must guard against letting Pretoria dictate an outcome which perpetuates the status quo at the expense of real change and reform."
President Mbeki in the report is criticised for being more worried "about the chaos to its north" than about real change and democratic reform in Zimbabwe. "Mbeki has always favoured stability and in his mind this means a [ruling party] ZANU-PF-led [government of national unity], with perhaps a few [opposition] MDC additions."
Discussing what "the end [will] look like," Ambassador Dell also lists other possible "less attractive" scenarios. "A popular uprising would inevitably entail a bloodbath, even if it were ultimately successful; Mugabe's sudden, unexpected death would set off a stampede for power among ZANU-PF heavy weights; a palace coup, whether initiated within ZANU-PF or from the military - in which Mugabe is removed, killed, exiled or otherwise disposed of, could well devolve into open conflict between the contending successors."
The analysis leaves it clear that, even though President Mugabe is demonised by the US diplomat, the alternatives to Zimbabwe's seasoned leaders are far from perfect. "Zimbabwe's opposition is far from ideal and I leave convinced that had we had different partners we could have achieved more already," Ambassador Dell writes.
The MDC leadership was said to have "little executive experience and will require massive hand holding and assistance should they ever come to power." Ambassador Dell called for the US and other donors to stand ready for this "massive hand holding" to make sure Zim
US Ambassador Christopher Dell with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
babwe experiences fast advances should the MDC take over.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is described as "a brave, committed man and, by and large, a democrat. He is also the only player on the scene right now with real star quality and the ability to rally the masses. But Tsvangarai is also a flawed figure, not readily open to advice, indecisive and with questionable judgment in selecting those around him."
Mr Tsvangirai further was described as "the indispensable element for opposition success, but possibly an albatross around their necks once in power. In short, he is a kind of Lech Walesa [Poland's first post-Communism leader] character: Zimbabwe needs him, but should not rely on his executive abilities to lead the country's recovery."
Ambassador Dell is even more concerned about other MDC heavyweights. Arthur Mutambara is described as "attracted to radical, anti-western rhetoric." Welshman Ncube had "proven to be a deeply divisive and destructive player in the opposition ranks and the sooner he is pushed off the stage, the better."
The US diplomat is worried that, "with few exceptions - Tendayi Biti, Nelson Chamisa - the talent is thin below the top ranks [of the MDC]. The great saving grace of the opposition is likely to be found in the diaspora. Most of Zimbabwe's best professionals, entrepreneurs, businessmen and women, etc., have fled the country," the report sums up.
But the worst of all possible leaders in Zimbabwe, according to Ambassador Dell's report, is incumbent President Mugabe. The "Old Man" is described as "more clever and more ruthless than any other politician."
"To give the devil his due, he is a brilliant tactician and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly change the rules of the game, radicalise the political dynamic and force everyone else to react to his agenda," the US diplomat explains.
But the powers of President Mugabe were described as diminishing, as the Zimbabwean leader had plaid out most of his cards. Mr Mugabe was "fundamentally hampered" by "his ego and belief in his own infallibility; his obsessive focus on the past as a justification for everything in the present and future;" and "his deep ignorance on economic issues," which was "coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him the authority to suspend the laws of economics, including supply and demand."
Since the July 2007 report, Ambassador Dell changed office and is now the US Ambassador in Kosovo. President Mugabe is still in power, with Mr Tsvangirai holding the office of Prime Minister. Next year may see an end to the national unity government, as Zimbabwe is preparing for elections. It remains to be seen if 2011 could see the end of the Mugabe regime.
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