WikiLeaks: Robert Mugabe is a 'crazy old man'
Robert Mugabe is a "crazy old man" who cannot be dealt with through "quiet diplomacy" forever, South Africa told the United States, according to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
The assessment of Mugabe, the 86-year-old president of Zimbabwe, was made by a downbeat minister who conceded South African efforts to resolve its neighbour's political and social crisis had failed.
It was sent back to Washington in November last year by Donald Gips, the US ambassador to Pretoria. Another, from the US mission to the EU, said Mugabe had "lost the plot of normal human interaction".
During a meeting between Mugabe and EU officials "a strong young man entered with a bowl and pitcher of water on a silver tray", the cable said.
The man "knelt in front of Mugabe, who made a show of washing his hands with this subservient man at his feet," it said.
However at the same time Mugabe's skills were praised in leaked memos. One described him as a "superb debater, always looking for proof". Another said he was "fit, mentally sharp, and charming". Meanwhile Thabo Mbeki, who was president of South Africa from 1999 to 2008, was described as "thin-skinned", "prickly" and "hypersensitive".