Zimbabwe Abductions: President Kikwete Asks Mugabe For Explanation

Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete, current Chair of the African Union

I have just been informed that Robert Mugabe was none too pleased to get a phone call from Jakaya Kikwete this afternoon, after the burial of Elliot Manyika, asking about the wave of abductions that have taken place in Zimbabwe over the last two weeks. Kikwete apparently said he was not phoning in his capacity as AU chairman and this was therefore not an official AU communication.
Kikwete asked Mugabe if he knew about these incidents and whether there was anything he could do to quieten the loud voices being raised. Mugabe told Kikwete that they were not abductions. He gave the Tanzanian president the line he has given SADC, that "this has to do with security matters and the sensitive investigations around the issue". I do not know whether Kikwete accepted the explanation.

This is interesting especially as it comes in the wake of petitions by Zimbabwean campaigners to the AU chairman and SADC to put pressure on Mugabe to release the detainees.
Mugabe has remained silent on the issue in public, refusing to acknowledge that anything is amiss. His conversation with Kikwete today becomes the first time I am aware of that a regional leader has expressed concern or at least desire to get to the bottom of this. Interesting that the AU chairman would specifically mention that he was calling simply as a concerned head of state and not chairman of the AU. That removes an obligation to explain on Mugabe and instead, simply say, as he did, that this was a sensitive matter that affects the security of the country. Kikwete was told that Mugabe does not want to interfere with the process "because it is bigger than me, it's about getting to the bottom of the security threat to the state."

I am monitoring the press releases from Dar es Salaam closely to see if President Kikwete will issue a statement and I will bring it to you here as soon as it happens. Kikwete runs quite a slick operation in Tanzania and his government makes regular updates online. I think you can even write directly to Kikwete through the web. Whether he answers is something else entirely. But at least he is more connected than any other head of state in Africa since Thabo Mbeki.

I remain in two minds about this. The source is impeccable for me, but I wonder why Kikwete would only be asking now? Did he not get the explanation that other SADc heads got when Tsvangirai was asking about his 15 activists who were abducted in Western Zimbabwe and have not been heard of since? Was the call really to ask about these abductions or was it more to hear whether there was an indication when the whole "insurgency" case might be finalised? Which is it? I have no doubt we will soon know. As I said before, this is the endgame of this whole cooked up "insurgency", which SADC and the Au seem to have bought and which, so far, has bought Mugabe not only time, but amazing latitude.

UPDATE: I have now sent a direct email to President Kikwete asking him to confirm that he has asked about the disappeared activists. The email was sent this evening and should there be reponse, we will, of course, inform all of you here.


  1. He was probably told to f**k off! Remember between the March elections and the June run-off, the EU reported that they had spoken to Kikwete who said he was alarmed that he could not get through to Mugabe on the phone. The old man just put his cellphone on silent and ignored all calls!

  2. @Jimalo: (lol). right you are! He went underground and would not take any calls from outside except Thabo Mbeki!


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