Cablegate: Media Report Kansteiner/Natsios Briefing;

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. The transcript of a press briefing by USAID
Administrator Natsios and A/S Kansteiner on food aid to
Southern Africa received prominent placement in the
government-controlled daily "The Herald." The
independent weekly "The Financial Gazette" also
published a Reuters account of the Natsios/Kansteiner
press briefing.

2. Under headline "Plot to oust President: U. S.
masterminds plan; SADC states deny involvement" the
"Herald" (08/22) carried the following lead story:

"The U. S. claims it is working with the
European Union (EU) and three SADC countries to
topple President Mugabe and his government from
office but the African governments yesterday
scoffed at the American claims. U. S. Assistant
Secretary for African Affairs Mr. Walter
Kansteiner claimed his government was working
with South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, the EU,
several other countries throughout the world,
civil society and some journalists in the
private media in Zimbabwe to remove the
President and government from office. But South
Africa, Botswana and Mozambique yesterday
distanced themselves from Mr. Kansteiner's
statement, saying they were not aware of any
such plans.

"South Africa's presidential spokesman Mr. Bheki
Khumalo said his government was not aware of any
plans to remove the Zimbabwean government from
office. `I don't know anything about it. I
don't know where it (Mr. Kansteiner's statement)
comes from,' said Mr. Khumalo. Botswana denied
it was working closely with the U. S., South
Africa and Mozambique to find ways of isolating
President Mugabe. `Botswana is not involved in
such a scheme,' Botswana foreign affairs
spokesman Mr. Clifford Maribe told `The Herald.'
`We are not aware of these reports. We will not
participate in such schemes. Issues related to
Zimbabwe are being handled by Zimbabwe as a
sovereign country,' Mr. Maribe said. `Botswana
will never meddle in the internal affairs of
another country.' Mozambique also denied the
statement by the U. S. official, saying it was
not aware of such a plan to remove the
government of Zimbabwe from office. `I am not
aware of any initiative of that kind with us.
Our approach to Zimbabwe is to bring everybody
on board to find solutions,' Reuters quoted
Mozambican Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Leonardo
Simao as saying.

". . .USAID head Mr. Andrew Natsios, speaking at
the same press conference, said the current food
shortage in Zimbabwe were a result of drought
but went on to attack the government's land
reform program, claiming that white commercial
farmers whose farms have been acquired for
resettlement were being prevented from farming
to feed the nation. Statistics, however, show
that smallholder and communal farmers produce a
large proportion of Zimbabwe's staple crop,
maize. . . He also accused the government of
distributing food along political lines. But
investigations by the EU and World Food Program
offices in Zimbabwe have shown that aid was not
being distributed according to political
affiliation. Representatives of the two
organizations said at a recent Press conference
in Harare that food was going to deserving

3. Under headline "Club gears up to expel Zim" (a
page-one report on the possibility that the
Commonwealth could expel Zimbabwe), the "Financial
Gazette" (08/22) also mentioned A/S Kansteiner's
remarks: ".In a sign of growing impatience by the
international community over Harare's conduct, U. S.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter
Kansteiner this week said Washington did not recognize
Mugabe's presidency and wanted him isolated further.
. . .Zimbabwe accused the U. S. and Britain
yesterday of a `racist' campaign to isolate
Mugabe internationally and maintain white
economic dominance in southern Africa. . .' The
legitimacy of our political system or our
President is not dependent on America, Britain
or any other country but on Zimbabweans,' a
senior Zimbabwean official said. `The bullying
tactics that America and Britain are using
against us are meant to frustrate our quest for
social and economic justice, to stop our program
to redistribute some of the very large tracts of
land held by whites here to the indigenous black
people,' he said."


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