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An apology from Tsvangirai could have prevented MDC split

An apology by Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai for overruling the party’s national council over its decision to participate in the Senate elections of 2005 could have saved the party from splitting.

The break-away faction that was loyal to secretary-general Welshman Ncube, a lawyer, was still loyal to Tsvangirai according to mediator Brian Raftopoulos, but was highly suspicious of the clique around Tsvangirai which they viewed as unelected, self-serving individuals who exerted undemocratic influences on the party.

The clique included Ian Makone, Dennis Murira and Gandhi Mudzingwa.

Raftopoulos said although the Ncube faction realised that Tsvangirai had popular support on his side, they were upset over Tsvangirai’s breach of party procedures and constitution in overriding the National Council’s decision to participate in the elections.

This “rule of law” issue was especially important to Ncube, a lawyer.

Raftopoulos said he was convinced that Ncube had absolutely no pretensions to national political leadership or to replace Tsvangirai atop the party, but needed some accommodation on process concerns.

Tsvangirai on the other hand had the support of civil society which supported a boycott. He had been meeting periodically with the National Constitutional Assembly’s Lovemore Madhuku and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union’s Wellington Chibebe and Lovemore Matombo to reinvigorate plans for a way forward.

Raftopolous said the ZCTU was weak and unprepared to contribute meaningfully to a confrontation with the regime. But the MDC and NCA, joined by resident associations and others in civil society, had enough wherewithal to do something.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE1508, MDC TALKS INCONCLUSIVE; SPLIT LOOMING?

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1508

2005-11-03 13:17

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001508

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV ASEC SOCI ELAB PHUM PREL ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC TALKS INCONCLUSIVE; SPLIT LOOMING?

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Brian Raftopolous, mediator in the opposition MDC’s

efforts to bridge the schism in the party over the Senate

elections, told poloff on November 2 Party President Morgan

Tsvangirai had won the battle for popular support for an

 

SIPDIS

election boycott but that his opponents in the party

leadership wanted an apology from him for ignoring party

procedures and wanted him to discipline his &kitchen

cabinet8 before agreeing to the boycott. Raftopolous said

he had proposed such a compromise at the end of the

leadership,s October 27 meeting. However, both factions had

hardened their positions prior to the October 31 meeting and

he was no longer optimistic that the compromise would be

agreed upon. A reconvened National Council meeting scheduled

for November 5 would attempt to resolve critical differences

but could instead result in a &separation8 that could lead

to a later divorce. Raftopolous added that civil society

leaders strongly backed Tsvangirai and were working with him

on a strategy to ramp up confrontation with the regime. End

Summary.

 

————————————–

Ncube Faction’s “Rule of Law” Concerns

————————————–

 

2. (C) In a meeting at his University of Zimbabwe office, the

UZ political science professor (who is also associated with

the Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition and Transparency International)

updated poloff on MDC talks he had been mediating over the

last two weeks. Raftopolous said the party,s Ndebele

leadership could not stomach yielding elected seats to

ZANU-PF and wanted to reinforce their political power in

Matabeleland. That said, they now realized that Tsvangirai

had popular support on his side. However, the Ncube faction

was upset over Tsvangirai’s breach of party procedures and

constitution in overriding the National Council’s decision to

participate in the elections. This “rule of law” issue was

especially important to Ncube, a lawyer. Raftopolous said he

was convinced that Ncube had absolutely no pretensions to

national political leadership or to replace Tsvangirai atop

the party, but needed some accommodation on process concerns.

 

 

3. (C) According to Raftopolous, most in the Ncube faction

were still loyal to Tsvangirai but viewed the clique around

him as unelected, self-serving individuals who exerted

“undemocratic” influences on the party and sought to counter

established party structures, especially the authority of the

National Executive or “Top Six” (Tsvangirai,

Secretary-General Ncube, VP Gibson Sibanda, Deputy Sec-Gen

 

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Gift Chimanikire, Chairman Isaac Matongo, and Treasurer

Fletcher Dhulini-Ncube). Tsvangirai allies most

objectionable to the Ncube faction in this regard were Ian

Makoni, Dennis Murira and Gandhi Mudzingwa. Raftopolous said

he had seen internal party files documenting allegations of

intra-party intimidation and violence although he could not

evaluate their veracity. He said the documents evinced a

possible plan by Tsvangirai supporters to oust Ncube,

Sibanda, and Dhulini-Ncube ahead of the Party Congress.

 

——————————————— ———–

Tsvangirai Impelled by Conviction, Leadership Imperative

 

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——————————————— ———–

 

4. (C) Raftopolous said that for his part Tsvangirai was

convinced of the wisdom of an election boycott and had been

taken aback by what he saw as a challenge to his leadership.

He had been unprepared for the National Council vote against

the boycott and perceived it as an affront to his authority.

Intra-party criticism of “his” people and the recent meeting

between Top Six principals and South African President Mbeki

only fueled Tsvangirai’s suspicions. Raftopolous expressed

concern that Tsvangirai was being advised especially poorly

by his kitchen cabinet, who feared for their future in an

accommodation and seemed hell-bent on ousting the Ncube

faction.

 

5. (C) Raftopolous said that he personally agreed with

Tsvangirai on the participation issue as did the vast

 

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majority of the party,s rank and file. However, a victory

on that issue could prove to be Pyrrhic if not achieved

properly. Addressing “democracy/rule of law” issues

meaningfully was essential – in part to keep the Ncube

faction on board but, more importantly, such issues would

continue to hamstring the party significantly if not

corrected. Raftopolous said he had privately pressed

Tsvangirai on the matter and had been hopeful that Tsvangirai

 

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would be prepared to acknowledge some fault in the interest

of keeping crucial disaffected constituencies on board and

assuring the party’s long term effectiveness.

 

——————————————— —–

Prospective Compromise Yielding to Re-Polarization

——————————————— —–

 

6. (C) In the October 27 meeting, Raftopolous said he had

proposed a compromise: guided by the Top Six’s

recommendations, the National Council would rescind its

earlier vote and approve a boycott, and the President would

acknowledge mistakes in previously bypassing party

procedures. All would agree to rationalize party structures

and lines of authority in accordance with the constitution

and party elections. Raftopolous said Tsvangirai and Ncube

had appeared to want a reconciliation and each side initially

seemed inclined to accept the compromise.

 

7. (C) However, Raftopolous said when the leadership

reconvened on October 31, each side appeared to have hardened

its position and no longer appeared prepared to compromise.

As a result, he said he had ceased mediation efforts for now.

There was now a real possibility that the National Council

meeting scheduled for November 5 could result in a

&separation8 followed by a more formal “divorce” at the

National Congress later in the year.

 

—————————————–

MDC-Civil Society Collaboration Continues

—————————————–

 

8. (C) Raftopolous said most of civil society had sided with

Tsvangirai in his intra-party travails, supported a boycott,

 

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and was willing to overlook procedural improprieties in favor

of moving forward with more public action. Tsvangirai had

been meeting periodically with the National Constitutional

Assembly’s Lovemore Madhuku and the Zimbabwe Congress of

Trade Union’s Wellington Chibebe and Lovemore Matombo to

reinvigorate plans for a way forward. Buoyed by his

intra-party scrap and engagement with civil society,

Tsvangirai seemed to be gaining energy to confront the regime

 

SIPDIS

more forcefully again.

 

9. (C) Raftopolous said ZCTU was weak and unprepared to

contribute meaningfully to a confrontation with the regime.

However, the MDC and NCA, joined by resident associations and

others in civil society, had enough wherewithal to do

something. He reported that the NCA had made substantial

progress in connecting with rural populations but that urban

centers still provided the optimal venues for public action,

provided action was sufficiently diffuse. Raftopolous

concluded that the regime was increasingly concerned about a

resurgence of public opposition.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

10. (C) While there is considerable risk that personal hubris

could lead to a real split in the MDC even though the

principal cause of disagreement has been resolved in

Tsvangirai’s favor, we still believe that the party is going

 

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through a necessary catharsis as it struggles to define

itself. While there has been much hand-wringing about a

possible MDC split being “tragic,” it should be remembered

that catharsis and the resolution of impossible tensions was

the very point of the ancient tragedies.

 

DELL

(17 VIEWS)

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