The latest release from the whistleblower website WikiLeaks says President Robert Mugabe regards Sadc facilitator to the Zimbabwe crisis South African President Jacob Zuma as “man of the people who likes to make promises without necessarily knowing how to fulfil them”.
The website also says President Mugabe views former SA leader Thabo Mbeki as a “great man” who is “judgmental and calculating and cautious with policies”.
According to a confidential 16-page cable leaked to WikiLeaks, dated June 2, 2009, and titled: “Tea with Mugabe”, President Mugabe also believes that Mbeki was unfairly treated when he was recalled from office by the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
The cable was reportedly originated after a meeting between President Mugabe, Zimbabwean government officials, former US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee and US Democratic Party congressman Donald Payne at State House on May 30 2009.
Responding to McGee’s questions about the new administration in South Africa, President Mugabe allegedly noted it was “still the ANC” but said “that he didn’t think they treated Thabo (Mbeki) well, particularly as he was in the midst of helping Zimbabwe”.
“(President) Mugabe continued to note that ‘to us (Mbeki) is a great man’,” read the cable.
“In contrast, (President) Mugabe considers Zuma a ‘man of the people’ who likes to make promises without necessarily knowing how to fulfil them,” the cable reads.
Rugare Gumbo, Zanu PF spokesperson, said in an interview on the latest cable releases he was unaware of President Mugabe’s comments although he believed information released by WikiLeaks was credible.
“I don’t know anything about that. I cannot comment on what I don’t know. We do not attend such meetings (by the Head of State and diplomats) so I can’t say anything on what I don’t know,” he said.
However, Gumbo said Zanu PF believed in WikiLeaks because the website was not only touching on issues to do with Zimbabwe but the rest of the world.
“WikiLeaks is a website that is touching on different countries and even what the MDC-T is said to have told Western countries in their plot to effect regime change. They did not dispute that. We believe their reports,” he said.
President Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba could not be reached for comment while Information minister Webster Shamu refused to comment over
the phone. He suggested an interview be arranged by end of day, but he went unreachable thereafter.
Strenuous efforts to contact Zuma’s advisor Lindiwe Zulu proved fruitless as her mobile phone went unanswered on Wednesday evening.
According to the cable, however, President Mugabe “noted that the South African people want to see their social needs attended to. While Zuma has made promises, it remains to be seen if they will come true.”
“(President) Mugabe opined that in order to fulfill his campaign promises, Zuma will have to take from the haves – the whites – and give to the have-nots. The question, (President) Mugabe believed, is if they (the whites) are willing to share their businesses with blacks.
“He said it was ‘easier’ in Zimbabwe where there were ‘not that many whites,’ but ‘South Africa has four million whites… plus the Indians.”
President Mugabe is said to have spoken fondly of former US President George H.W. Bush and said they became friends when Bush was Reagan’s vice president and that he later visited Washington at President Bush’s invitation.
President Mugabe was, however, unhappy that Bush agreed only to restore health assistance and not the land reform assistance as promised at Lancaster House.
“Speaking more forcefully and loudly, (President) Mugabe went on to describe former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s response to Zimbabwe’s fast track land reform. (President) Mugabe explained that because Blair ‘couldn’t honestly say Zimbabwe was wrong’ Blair had to ‘look for the usual thing (to fault Zimbabwe) – democracy, human rights, rule of law.” read the cable.
President Mugabe also told the Americans sanctions had hurt ordinary people and called for their removal.
“He went on to deny turning away from democracy, recalling that he was in prison for 11 years because he fought for democracy.”
President Mugabe is said to have been “clearly stuck in the past” and also painted himself “as the victim of international abuse and broken promises.” He lectured the US officials on the history of Zimbabwe and also declared he wanted to engage with the world.
He did not confirm nor deny allegations of human rights abuses in the country.
The cable says President Mugabe was alert and articulate throughout the three hour meeting, describing him as “possibly the healthiest 85-year-old in Zimbabwe.”
Throughout the discussions, the Americans keenly studied President Mugabe for signs of ill-health and came to the conclusion that he was in very good health.
“While he could not “sit still and constantly pulled up his socks, he appeared to be a vigorous 85-year-old in superb health”, read the cable.