Cablegate: Mugabe Visits Mozambique, Claims Zimbabwe Is On

Published: Wed 3 Nov 2004 05:30 AM
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
Sensitive but Unclassified - Not for Internet Distribution
1. (SBU) Summary: Zimbabwean President Mugabe visited
Mozambique on October 10 - 12, with stops at Cahora Bassa Dam
and the resort town of Vilankulos. Mugabe told reporters his
country was overcoming its political and economic crisis and
announced that Zimbabwe was paying back its USD 8.5 million
debt to the dam operating company. President Chissano
accompanied Mugabe to the dam, praising GOZ efforts on
electoral reform and what he said were recent economic
improvements. Although GRM officials and mainstream press
put a positive spin on the visit, independent press articles
were critical, and some journalists privately described it as
a staged effort by Chissano to create an impression of
increased stability in Zimbabwe and by Mugabe to secure
continued Mozambican support after Chissano leaves office.
End Summary.
Zimbabwe Makes Payments Despite Crisis
2. (U) Zimbabwean President Mugabe visited Mozambique on
October 10 - 12. He was accompanied by President Joaquim
Chissano on a visit to the Cahora Bassa Dam, after which he
traveled to the Indigo Bay tourist center in the resort town
of Vilankulos, Inhambane. During the three-day visit, Mugabe
told reporters that his country was overcoming its political
and economic crisis and that it was paying its overdue debts
to both the Mozambican port and rail company, CFM, and HCB,
the concession that operates the Cahora Bossa Dam.
3. (SBU) HCB currently supplies 170 megawatts of electricity
to Zimbabwe and has transmission capacity to send up to 500
megawatts. According to local press reports, Mugabe pledged
that the Zimbabwean electricity company (ZESA) would comply
with the timetable for paying off its debt to HCB, which
stands at approximately USD 8.5 million. ZESA intends to pay
USD 2.25 million a month to HCB. According to an October 11
press report, HCB confirmed that regular payments had been
made by ZESA. At least one newspaper has reported in the
past that the GOZ would like to purchase 25 percent of HCB
once the GRM buys the Portuguese government's 82 percent
stake. (Comment: Whether or not Zimbabwe could pay for a
quarter of the dam may be a moot point, as the GRM does not
appear to be making headway in its effort to buy the
Portuguese stake before Chissano leaves office in January.
The sticking point is reported to be HCB's $2 billion debt to
the Portuguese government. End Comment.)
4. (U) Accompanying Mugabe on his visit to the dam, President
Chissano praised Zimbabwe for meeting its obligations to
Mozambique despite the enormous difficulties it has been
facing. He congratulated the Zimbabwean government on what
he called its improved economic and political outlook.
Chissano also stated that he was pleased with the reform of
electoral laws in Zimbabwe, which he asserted were in keeping
with the spirit of the Southern African Development Community
guidelines and principles on elections.
5. (SBU) Although GRM officials put a positive spin on the
visit, some journalists commented privately that the visit
was orchestrated by Chissano, a close friend of Mugabe, and
aimed at perpetuating a false impression of stability in
Zimbabwe. They also asserted that the visit was an effort by
Mugabe to secure Mozambique's continued support and sympathy
in a post-Chissano FRELIMO government. Some independent
newspapers carried articles harshly critical of the GRM's
lenient stance towards Mugabe. Articles cited Chissano's
support of the Zimbabwean government in the face of electoral
violations and economic policies, including agrarian reform,
that have "destroyed the economy that, not long ago, was the
most prosperous in Africa."
6. (SBU) Mugabe's visit came during Chissano's prolonged
farewell to his country and his international friends. The
two men share a history of struggle against colonialism that
has made Chissano reluctant to acknowledge or address
Mugabe's shortcomings. Although we do not believe ruling
party presidential candidate Armando Guebuza shares
Chissano's personal history and identification with Mugabe,
we doubt he would be eager to pressure the GOZ. End comment.
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