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Another MDC advisor said party had no plan to move ahead

Another Movement for Democratic Change advisor Kathi Walther on 30 April revealed that the Johannesburg-based MDC leadership did not have a concrete plan for moving ahead.

It was growing alienated from MDC members in Harare and was suffering from serious cash flow problems.

The leadership believed a run-off the worst-case scenario and was seriously considering the idea of a government of national unity.

United States embassy officials agreed with Walther that there was a growing disconnect between MDC Johannesburg leadership and the MDC on the ground in Harare. This was largely due to the continued absence of Tsvangirai from Zimbabwe.

“There is apparently little communication between Tsvangirai and South African-based brain trust of Strive Masiyiwa, Roy Bennett, and Walther (supplemented by Melinda Farris and Tendai Biti when they are in Johannesburg) and MDC leaders in Harare,” officials said.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08PRETORIA921, MDC LEADERSHIP GROWING DISCONNECTED FROM HOME

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA921

2008-05-02 10:37

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO3848

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #0921/01 1231037

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 021037Z MAY 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4313

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE 3643

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5560

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9778

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 000921

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/30/2018

TAGS: PREL SF ZI

SUBJECT: MDC LEADERSHIP GROWING DISCONNECTED FROM HOME

 

PRETORIA 00000921 001.2 OF 002

 

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Raymond L. Brown. Reasons 1.4(b) an

d (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. MDC Advisor Kathi Walther (protect) on 30

April revealed to PolOff that the Johannesburg-based MDC

leadership does not have a concrete plan for moving ahead, is

growing alienated from MDC members in Harare, and is

suffering from serious cash flow problems. The MDC

leadership believes a run-off the worst-case scenario, and is

seriously considering the idea of a government of national

unity (GNU). However, details have not yet been worked out

and not everyone is on board. Walther assessed that most MDC

leaders are open to the idea (which still has to be fleshed

out), but believes those on the front-line inside Zimbabwe —

the youth, activists, civil society, victims of political

violence — would have to be convinced. More to the point,

the devil is likely not in the details, but in the

overarching question of who would lead a GNU since many

ruling stalwarts would prefer a Mugabe-led GNU (at least at

first), while the MDC would prefer a Tsvangirai-led GNU. It

is not clear how this impasse could be resolved, but to do so

would require extensive negotiations. END SUMMARY.

 

—————————————

LEADERSHIP DISCONNECTED FROM GRASSROOTS

—————————————

 

2. (C) On 30 April, PolOff met with MDC advisor Kathi

Walther (protect) to discuss MDC’s immediate plans for the

future. Walther said she and another MDC advisor were

discussing exactly that late last night, but did not seem to

have a specific plan. She admitted the party needs a way

forward because there is a growing disconnect between MDC

members on the ground and the MDC leadership in Johannesburg.

As an example, Walther said that MDC members in Zimbabwe

have been convinced by state-run media that there will be a

run-off and consequently are preparing. Walther was

incredulous that MDC members would think a run-off was even a

viable option given the current circumstances, especially

since MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC Spokesperson

Tendai Biti have publicly stated they will not participate in

a run-off unless conditions change drastically. (NOTE:

Sydney Masamvu also told PolOff on 25 April that MDC MPs in

Zimbabwe have complained to him that they have received no

direction from MDC leadership and are unsure of what they are

supposed to be doing. END NOTE)

 

——————————————— ———

NOT EVERYONE ON BOARD FOR GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY

——————————————— ———

 

3. (C) The idea of a government of national unity, which

Walther referred to as a “government of national healing

(GNU),” has been discussed, but has not been universally

accepted by all MDC members. Walther said the MDC intended

to hold a “workshop” to flesh out the idea on 28 April, but

that the workshop was not as “robust” as it should have been

because many MDC members went instead to meet ANC President

Jacob Zuma. To date, the MDC envisions a GNU with 18 cabinet

positions to be split among ZANU and MDC according to the

percentage of votes won in the election. According to

Walther, the MDC originally considered only 15 positions but

expanded it to 18 after the inclusion of Mutumbara’s MDC

faction on 28 April. Walther could not remember which

ministries would stay or be streamlined but promised to find

Qministries would stay or be streamlined but promised to find

out. She also said that Tsvangirai firmly believes that the

Ministry of Defense should stay with ZANU-PF, something she

knows will not go over well with many who will argue they

have been main perpetrators of violence against the MDC.

 

4. (C) Tsvangirai, Biti, and Welshman Ncube are all in favor

of a GNU, she believes. However, she has her doubts about

Roy Bennett, whose stance has recently hardened. She

described him as “more emotional, than rational” these days,

adding that “Roy has held more dead bodies and spent more

time in jail than any other MDC leader so his outlook is

different.” She also believes that “people on the

front-line” inside Zimbabwe — the youth, civic groups, MDC

activists, victims of political violence — would not be keen

on the idea, but ultimately could be persuaded by Tsvangirai

who is still well-respected for his courage.

 

5. (C) As for ZANU-PF members being keen on the idea of a

GNU, Walther could not name anyone in Mugabe’s inner circle

who would be willing to join a GNU and/or acceptable to MDC.

She added that Bennett had convinced a significant number of

 

PRETORIA 00000921 002.2 OF 002

 

 

ZANU-PF MPs to join a transitional government the week after

the 29 March election, but that now he is unsure since many

MPs who were previously willing to come over are now too

scared. (NOTE: Walther also said some MDC MPs are also

scared and that some have requested to leave Zimbabwe. END

NOTE)

 

——————–

MDC HURTING FOR CASH

——————–

 

6. (C) Walther told PolOff repeatedly over the past week that

the MDC is cash-strapped. Bennett budgeted for the election,

but did not anticipate the results would be delayed this

long. The lack of funding, she said, is starting to

seriously affect their day-to-day operations. As an example,

she said that they cannot print the latest (fourth) edition

of Tsvangirai’s “Presidential Newsletter,” which is

distributed to MDC members in Zimbabwe, because they have run

out of paper and ink. (NOTE: Walther also added that in

addition to running out of paper, computers and documents

that were taken away during the 25 April raid on MDC

headquarters in Harare also has hurt their operations. For

example, she said she wanted to send out congratulatory

letters to all new MDC MPs, but that no one could provide her

with a complete list of names since they were on a computer

that was confiscated. END NOTE)

 

———————-

EMBASSY HARARE COMMENT

———————-

 

7. (C) Walther is correct that there is a growing disconnect

between MDC Johannesburg leadership and the MDC on the ground

in Harare. This is largely due to the continued absence of

Tsvangirai from Zimbabwe. There is apparently little

 

SIPDIS

communication between Tsvangirai and South African-based

brain trust of Strive Masiyiwa, Roy Bennett, and Walther

(supplemented by Melinda Farris and Tendai Biti when they are

in Johannesburg) and MDC leaders in Harare. As to a GNU, the

devil is not in the details but in the overarching question

of who would lead a GNU. Elements of the ruling part have

expressed interest in a GNU, but with Mugabe remaining in

office for a period of time. A Tsvangirai-led GNU would be

unacceptable to them. Conversely, the MDC would expect,

based on election results, Tsvangirai to lead a GNU. It is

not clear how this impasse could be resolved, but to do so

would undoubtedly require extensive negotiations.

 

8. (C) It appears that the MDC and Tsvangirai at this point

in time are intending to boycott a runoff election because of

the ongoing violence. There are, however, Mugabe opponents

who believe the MDC should participate in an election, and

that it would have a good chance of success. Mutambara

faction secretary-general Welshman Ncube told diplomats on 29

April that he believed the MDC could win a runoff election,

despite the violence, due to strong and growing anti-Mugabe

sentiment. While he supported participation in such an

election, he acknowledged that the final decision would be

made by Tsvangirai and his MDC faction, and that the

Mutambara faction would go along. Ncube noted that the two

factions were not reunited; Mutumbara and his supporters had

agreed to support Tsvangirai in a runoff election, but beyond

that, including relations in parliament, everything was

subject to negotiation.

BALL

(10 VIEWS)

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