The political and media establishment’s assault on WikiLeaks has had the unfortunate effect of creating two camps — one for which WikiLeaks is a band of cyber-terrorists and the other in which WikiLeaks’ embattled status fosters a sense that all challenges are unwarranted.
At this point, I still believe that WikiLeaks’ actions pose a legitimate challenge to the cancerous growth of secrecy in the West’s nominal democracies. If however I was living under the oppressive rule of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, I don’t think I’d have a favorable view of Julian Assange and his cohorts. Indeed, in this instance, I’d say WikiLeaks fucked up — perhaps catastrophically.
Christopher R. Albon writes:
Last year, early on Christmas Eve morning, representatives from the U.S., United Kingdom, Netherlands, and the European Union arrived for a meeting with Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Appointed prime minister earlier that year as part of a power-sharing agreement after the fraud- and violence-ridden 2008 presidential election, Tsvangirai and his political party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are considered Zimbabwe’s greatest hopes for unseating the country’s long-time de facto dictator Robert Mugabe and bringing democratic reforms to the country.
The topic of the meeting was the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by a collection of western countries, including the U.S. and E.U. Tsvangirai told the western officials that, while there had been some progress in the last year, Mugabe and his supporters were dragging their feet on delivering political reforms. To overcome this, he said that the sanctions on Zimbabwe “must be kept in place” to induce Mugabe into giving up some political power. The prime minister openly admitted the incongruity between his private support for the sanctions and his public statements in opposition. If his political adversaries knew Tsvangirai secretly supported the sanctions, deeply unpopular with Zimbabweans, they would have a powerful weapon to attack and discredit the democratic reformer.
Later that day, the U.S. embassy in Zimbabwe dutifully reported the details of the meeting to Washington in a confidential U.S. State Department diplomatic cable. And slightly less than one year later, WikiLeaks released it to the world.
In Zimbabwe’s The Standard, Nqaba Matshazi writes:
The recent WikiLeaks cable releases could have afforded President Robert Mugabe ammunition to call for elections next year, with his main argument that his coalition partner, Morgan Tsvangirai was in bed with the West.
For years now, Mugabe has claimed that Tsvangirai was a pliant tool for Britain and America and revelations that the Prime Minister called for the West to maintain sanctions against Zimbabwe will only strengthen the veteran leader’s resolve to hold elections.
The removal of sanctions is listed as one of the priority issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and hawks in Mugabe’s Zanu PF party are already screaming treason and are using the cables as an excuse to call for the end of the inclusive government.
Political analysts last week told The Standard that the leaked cables were fitting well into Zanu PF’s agenda and they would use them to confront the government.
Trevor Maisiri said Zanu PF would now use the cables as an excuse to call for the end of the inclusive government charging that they were getting rid of imperialist influences in the government.
“Zanu PF will obviously see these leaks as a bonus to their already rubber-stamped position of early elections,” he said.
“What Zanu PF may then do is craft their message upon the urgency of having election so as to retire the MDC-T out of government and thereby ensure that there is a blockade of the USA influence in Zimbabwean affairs.”
South Africa’s Business Day reports:
Zimbabwean government’s threat to investigate treason charges against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai over his confidential talks with US diplomats disclosed by WikiLeaks was Zanu (PF)’s opening salvo ahead of proposed elections next year, analysts said yesterday.
The South African government yesterday refused to speculate on how new treason charges, if instituted against Mr Tsvangirai, would affect President Jacob Zuma ’s mediation efforts.
Siphamandla Zondi, executive director at the Institute for Global Dialogue, said the WikiLeaks revelations would hurt Mr Tsvangirai’s political stature, and were likely to be exploited by President Robert Mugabe to discredit him and reinforce negative perceptions spread by Zanu (PF) that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was “the political surrogates and puppets” of western powers.
The attorney-general, Johannes Tomana, reportedly said he intended appointing a commission of five lawyers to examine whether recent disclosures amounted to a breach of the constitution.