Wikileaks has claimed its first scalp in the wake of its leaks of diplomatic cables. Unfortunately it has been used by Zimbabwean strong man Robert Mugabe as a basis for a treason investigation into one of his key political rivals.
According to the Atlantic,details of a meeting between Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and representatives from the US, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and the European Union were amongst those leaked.
Tsvangirai and his political party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are Zimbabwe’s greatest hope for getting Mugabe out of power. Other than death by old age, of course.
Tsvangirai was appointed prime minister earlier that year as part of a power-sharing agreement after a bogus 2008 presidential election.
In the meeting 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.
He told them that sanctions on Zimbabwe “must be kept in place” to induce Mugabe into giving up some political power.
Sanctions are deeply unpopular with Zimbabweans, and knowing he supported them would kill off democratic reformer’s political career.
Zimbabwe’s Mugabe-appointed attorney general announced he was investigating the Prime Minister on treason charges. While it would be difficult to make that charge stick, even in Zimbabwe, the damage is done.
Mugabe can portray Tsvangirai as an agent of evil foreign governments working against Zimbabwe and can abandon the coalition government that allowed Tsvangirai to become prime minister in 2009.