US opposed Zim power sharing
29 November 2010, 20:01
Harare - A former US ambassador to Harare warned three years ago that a power-sharing government would only prolong Zimbabwe's political crisis, in a diplomatic cable published on website WikiLeaks.
"Less attractive is the idea of a South African-brokered transitional arrangement or government of national unity," Christopher Dell said in a 2007 cable to Washington outlining options to end Zimbabwe's political crisis.
"This solution is more likely to prolong than resolve the crisis and we must guard against letting Pretoria dictate an outcome which perpetuates the status quo at the expense of real change and reform," he said.
The cable, sent on July 13 2007 during Dell's stormy tenure as ambassador, was published on whistleblower WikiLeaks' internet site.
Just over a year later, in September 2008, President Robert Mugabe and his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai signed a power-sharing agreement aimed at easing tensions in the aftermath of a bloody presidential run-off election and mending an economy ravaged by years of hyperinflation.
The power-sharing government has restored a measure of economic stability, but its work has been hamstrung by constant haggling over the allocation of top government posts.
Last Friday, South African President Jacob Zuma, who is mediating disputes between the two sides on behalf of the Southern African Development Community regional bloc, met with Mugabe and Tsvangirai to try to prevent the collapse of the compromise government.
He told journalists after the meeting that there had been a communication breakdown between the two leaders.
Clever and ruthless
In his 2007 cable, Dell described Mugabe as "more clever and more ruthless than any other politician in Zimbabwe".
"To give the devil his due, he is a brilliant tactician and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly change the rules of the game ... and force everyone else to react to his agenda," the former envoy said.
During his tenure in Harare, Dell clashed several times with Mugabe, earning himself the tag of "Dell from Hell" from the long-time ruler, who has been in power since Zimbabwean independence in 1980.
His criticism did not spare Tsvangirai, the politician credited with posing the most serious challenge to Mugabe's rule.
"Morgan Tsvangirai is a brave, committed man and by and large a democrat," Dell said.
"But Tsvangirai is also a flawed figure, not readily open to advice, indecisive and with questionable judgment in selecting those around him."
He said Tsvangirai's party had failed itself by not forging stronger alliances with civil society groups.