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Cablegate: Zimbabwe: Zambia Prepares for Special Sadc Summit

VZCZCXRO8625
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLS #0412/01 1011221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101221Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5680
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LUSAKA 000412

SIPDIS

FOR AF/DAS CAROL THOMPSON
FOR AF/S MARY JO WILLS, STEVE HILL, MATT SHIELDS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SADC ZA ZI
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE: ZAMBIA PREPARES FOR SPECIAL SADC SUMMIT

REF: A. LUSAKA 408

B. LUSAKA 407
C. 07 LUSAKA 963

1. (SBU) Summary: Zambian Foreign Ministry and cabinet office
officials have confirmed that President Mwanawasa called a summit of
Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state to
discuss Zimbabwe for Saturday, April 12 in Lusaka. The Ambassador
and emboffs underscored USG messages on the Zimbabwean elections
during April 10 meetings with key government officials. We
understand President Mugabe is on the invite list and opposition
candidate Morgan Tsvangirai may add a Saturday stop in Lusaka to his
southern African itinerary. Post has commended the Zambians for
taking this initiative and tried to "buck then up" as they prepare
for what many anticipate will be intense closed discussions. End
summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador Martinez spoke with Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Permanent Secretary Tens Kapoma at OOB on April 10, and Kapoma
confirmed plans for a Saturday summit of Southern African
Development Community leaders to discuss Zimbabwe. He corroborated
reports that Zimbabwean President Mugabe had been invited, but noted
that the Government of Zambia was still awaiting replies from all
SADC Heads of State. Foreign Minister Kabinga Pande will return
from India in time for the meetings, Kapoma told the Ambassador.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador welcomed the SADC Chairperson Mwanawasa's
initiative, noting that the USG supports African governments'
efforts to resolve African problems. She also stressed the
importance the USG places on the release of the Zimbabwean
presidential election results, and underscored that the presidential
vote tabulation must be seen by the citizens of Zimbabwe and the
rest of the world as having been transparent and credible.

4. (SBU) Later on April 10, DCM and Poloff called on Secretary to
the Cabinet Joshua Kanganja - the highest ranking and most
influential civil servant in government. DCM praised President
Mwanawasa for his statesmanship, and for "doing the right thing" by
convening SADC leaders, noting Washington's support for the
initiative. Subtly challenging Zambia to show resolve during the
weekend meetings, DCM discussed the already intense international
media coverage of the summit, observing that the "world's eyes will
be on Lusaka this Saturday." DCM encouraged Zambia to call for the
immediate release of Zimbabwe's election results. Although Kanganja
said Zambians "do not want to interfere" in another country's
internal matters, in principle he supported the need for immediate
release of the results. "The voters have cast their ballots and
they need to see the results," he said.

5. (SBU) Kanganja balanced the urgency of resolving the Zimbabwean
crisis with a need for prudence. Citing the humanitarian, security,
and economic impacts on neighboring countries that turmoil in
Zimbabwe could have, Kanganja said Zambia "cannot afford to get it
wrong." He reminded Emboffs of the economic costs to Zambia of
regional freedom struggles and southern and central African civil
wars in previous years, and suggested that Zambia could not afford
the consequences of civil strife in Zimbabwe.

6. (SBU) DCM said Zambia provided positive examples for its
neighbors, including first President Kaunda's surprise at, but
acceptance of, the results of the 1991 multiparty elections,
Zambia's peaceful resolution of close polls in 2001, and the rapid
release of election results in Zambia's 2006 tripartite election.
Kanganja agreed and said "it was in the best interest of everyone"
to help find a solution in Zimbabwe.

7. (U) Local independent daily The Post carried President
Mwanawasa's comments at an April 8 press briefing where he announced
his call for a summit on Zimbabwe, explaining "...because of the
deepening problems in the country, I felt that this matter should be
dealt with at the Presidential level." He reportedly said he called
the extraordinary summit "to discuss the ways and means of assisting
the people of Zimbabwe with the current impasse as well as adopt a
coordinated approach to the situation in the country." He appealed
to Zimbabweans for "peace and patience" amid the high tension in the
wake of "inconclusive" presidential election results.

8. (U) PAO has heard rumors that Zimbabwean opposition presidential
contender Morgan Tsvangirai, on a swing through SADC states this
week, plans to stop off in Lusaka during the SADC summit. Local
media authorities confirm a flood of requests for international
media to cover Saturday's SADC meeting.

9. (SBU) According to Dutch diplomats, EU ambassadors in Lusaka
plan to meet in Lusaka on Friday, April 11 to confer on a
coordinated response to the summit. An Irish embassy official told
Poloff that she expected low turnout at the Lusaka summit since so
many SADC leaders were attending the Indo-African meetings in New

LUSAKA 00000412 002 OF 002


Delhi.

10. (SBU) Comment: We are not completely sure of the genesis of
the call for the summit, but if Mwanawasa was indeed the catalyst
(and given several opportunities, Kanganja did not deny this), it is
a rather gutsy move for him, particularly after his experience at
the SADC Heads of State meeting in August 2007 (Ref C). Local
observers believe that access to the summit will be limited; press
conferences and diplomatic corps briefings (if held at all), will
likely be tardy and anodyne. Emboffs hope to leverage the visit of
Zimbabwean civil society representatives and journalists and the
presence of foreign press to drive home U.S. messages during the
summit.

MARTINEZ

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