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Cablegate: Mwanawasa On Chinese Arms Shipment, Praises South

VZCZCXRO4499
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLS #0453 1131212
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221212Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5731
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS LUSAKA 000453

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/FO AND AF/S

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SADC PREL ZA ZI CH
SUBJECT: MWANAWASA ON CHINESE ARMS SHIPMENT, PRAISES SOUTH
AFRICA AND MOZAMBIQUE

REF: STATE 42016

1. (SBU) Summary. President Mwanawasa extolled South Africa
and Mozambique for refusing to offload a Chinese arms
shipment headed to Zimbabwe and called on other countries to
do likewise. He dismissed comments by a ruling party member,
George Chumbwe, recommending the violent overthrow of Mugabe.
The tide of Zambian public opinion is turning against
Mugabe, thanks in part to Mwanawasa's bold statements as well
as the Zimbabwean electoral impasse, which has shed light on
Mugabe's human rights abuses. End Summary.

2. (U) On April 21, President Mwanawasa publicly praised
South Africa and Mozambique for refusing to offload the
Chinese arms shipment headed to Zimbabwe (Reftel). He
expressed hope that other countries follow South Africa's and
Mozambique's lead, saying that "we don't want (to) escalate
the situation in Zimbabwe." In an unusually pointed remark,
Mwanawasa suggested that "the Chinese can play a very useful
role in Zimbabwe without the use of firearms."

3. (U) Mwanawasa also expressed regret for the statements of
a member of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD)
ruling party, Geoffrey Chumbwe, who called for the violent
overthrow of President Mugabe. Mwanawasa described the
comments by the Lusaka Province MMD Chair as "irresponsible."
He pointed to dialogue as the only answer to the crisis in
Zimbabwe, as he distanced himself and the MMD party from
Chumbwe's remarks.

4. (SBU) Chumbwe's comments, however, add to the chorus of
disapproval and public criticism of Mugabe in Zambia. Even
opposition party leader and former presidential candidate
Michael Sata joined the refrain when he stated on April 16
that the "crisis" in Zimbabwe is an "eye-opener" to all
African leaders and sheds light on Africa's problems. These
words came as a surprise to many, given Sata's affiliation to
Mugabe and his one-time intention to invite Mugabe to be his
guest of honor in the event of his victory in the 2006
presidential elections.

5. (SBU) Comment. Mwanawasa, through his leadership in SADC,
has helped open the discussion on Zimbabwe, demonstrating by
his own example that Zimbabwe's crisis is an internal African
problem and no longer "taboo." Mwanwasa's response to the
electoral impasse in Zimbabwe appears to be turning the tide
of Zambian public opinion against Mugabe. Many Zambians seem
to have reframed their perspective on Zimbabwe's problems,
looking beyond its economic woes (and land reform issues), to
broader issues of human right abuse, poor governance, and
disregard for democracy.
MARTINEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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