A leading security analyst based in South Africa has warned of growing tensions among the country’s political leaders saying the leaking of United States government secrets about Zimbabwe was “dangerous” for the region, and could lead to instability and violence ahead of the election pencilled for next year.
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS), headquartered in Pretoria, South Africa, said the revelations by WikiLeaks had the potential to destabilise Zimbabwe and the region in the coming few months.
Though Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has remained calm in the wake of the WikiLeaks exposé, President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have started lambasting him with others calling for his immediate prosecution and / or resignation from office.
“For southern Africa, the WikiLeaks Zimbabwe revelations are most significant, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say they could destabilise Zimbabwe,” said Liesl Louw-Vaudran of the ISS.
“I am not saying WikiLeaks did not have the right to make the information public. I am merely exploring the possible ramifications now that this information is out there,” she said.
Signs of soiled relations have begun to manifest with Zanu PF apologists saying Tsvangirai should be prosecuted for what he is alleged to have said regarding the situation in Zimbabwe.
A war of words has since erupted with the MDC-T calling those advocating for Tsvangirai’s prosecution “certifiable idiots”.
Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo and pro-Zanu PF commentator Gabriel Chaibva said Tsvangirai had to be prosecuted for holding conversations with US diplomats on the way to end Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis.
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku yesterday said what Moyo and other Zanu PF activists were calling for was “absurd” and not feasible.
“Tsvangirai’s status has grown beyond that cheap politics. Popular politicians like Tsvangirai are not charged for that because it will translate into politics.
Any case against him will be seen as a political issue that needs a political solution,” he said.
“There is nothing new in this WikiLeaks as it has been said before and the call by Moyo that Tsvangirai should be prosecuted is absurd,” he said.
WikiLeaks recently began publishing thousands of previously confidential communications between the US State Department in Washington, DC and its embassies around the world.
The New York Times has published a secret communiqué leaked to WikiLeaks, from former US ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell, to Washington in 2007 that reveals the US’s preference for an end to President Mugabe’s rule, in close cooperation with the MDC-T.
Louw-Vaudran said: “I do fear that the revelations (are) really going to give ammunition to President Mugabe, especially while we are facing a new election in Zimbabwe next year.”
“We are sitting with a very tense situation, very delicate, where we’ve got a dictator now for the last 25 years here in Africa, absolutely insistent that any opposition to him is being instigated by the West. And now he has that on paper, and that is dangerous,” says Louw-Vaudran.
In his reaction to the WikiLeaks revelations, the MDC-T leader has said he’s “not bothered” and that they won’t negatively influence his relationship with America.
He also claims Dell’s opinions are at odds with those of the majority of Zimbabweans, who voted for him in the 2008 polls – widely believed to have been “stolen” by Zanu PF.
Louw-Vaudran says the WikiLeaks revelations have “opened up a fresh and possibly very negative angle” to Zimbabwean politics, at a time when Zimbabweans are “growing increasingly nervous” about the future.