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Bishops said they would not allow ZANU-PF to swallow MDC

Bishops from Manicaland who were arranging for talks between the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the Movement for Democratic Change said they would oppose any move in which ZANU-PF would swallow the MDC like it had done to the Zimbabwe African People’s Union in 1987.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told United States ambassador Joseph Sullivan that initially Vice-president Joseph Msika poo pooed the MDC, calling them puppets of United States President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Bishops argued, however, that the country could not afford to proceed on its present course and asked President Robert Mugabe what it would take for him to meet Tsvangirai.

Mugabe wanted him to drop the presidential election results challenge among other things but the bishops said the court challenge was immaterial to the impasse between the two parties.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1548, TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS AMBASSADOR ON MEETINGS WITH

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1548

2003-07-31 15:37

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 02 HARARE 001548

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS AMBASSADOR ON MEETINGS WITH

BISHOPS

 

REF: A. HARARE 1532

B. HARARE 1491

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

Summary:

——–

 

1. (C) The Ambassador met with MDC President Morgan

Tsvangirai on July 29 to discuss the mediation effort by the

 

SIPDIS

Manicaland Bishops. Tsvangirai reported that when the

Bishops’ discussion with President Mugabe turned to the

possibility of a unity government, Bishop Mutume said they

would oppose any deal in which ZANU-PF swallowed MDC.

Tsvangirai asked the Ambassador for USG help to ensure South

 

SIPDIS

African accountability to better guarantee the negotiations

make progress, and also to put pressure on ZANU-PF to be

sincere. A key indicator of whether Mugabe takes this

initiative seriously will be the ZANU-PF position document,

if it is submitted, and if it is reasonable. End Summary.

 

Tsvangirai on Bishops’ Meeting with Mugabe

 

SIPDIS

——————————————

 

2. (C) In a meeting with the Ambassador on July 29, MDC

President Morgan Tsvangirai confirmed much of what was

reported (Ref A) on the meeting between President Mugabe and

the Manicaland Bishops on July 25. He added that the meeting

lasted about two hours. Tsvangirai said that initially Vice

President Joseph Msika poo pooed the MDC, calling them

puppets of Bush and Blair. The Bishops argued that the

country could not afford to proceed on its present course,

and that they were actually helping the GOZ. The Bishops

asked Mugabe what it would take for him to meet Tsvangirai.

Mugabe suggested what terms were necessary (Ref A). The

Bishops responded that the court challenge was immaterial to

the impasse between the two parties. When the discussion

turned to the possibility of a unity government, Roman

Catholic Bishop Patrick Mutume mentioned that they would

oppose any deal in which ZANU-PF swallowed MDC, noting he had

been involved in the interparty talks in 1987 when ZANU-PF

swallowed ZAPU.

 

Way Forward

———–

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai said there were no sticking points in the

MDC discussion with the Bishops on July 28. The Bishops said

they would remain in the process until the end. They said a

next step would be to explain to the South African Government

that they were taking this role. The idea was raised during

the MDC-Bishops’ meeting that the discussion with ZANU-PF

could start on constitutional issues, as a way of avoiding

the legitimacy issue. The two sides agreed to submit

documents to the Bishops outlining their positions. The

Bishops said they would compare the two and come up with an

outline for negotiations.

 

4. (C) Contrary to speculation in the local press, Tsvangirai

confirmed to the Ambassador that the MDC plans to pursue its

challenge of the March 2002 in court (currently scheduled for

November 3). However, pursuing that case could become

irrelevant depending on the amount of progress on talks with

ZANU-PF.

 

South Africa as Guarantor

————————-

 

5. (C) Tsvangirai also said that South African High

Commissioner Jeremiah Ndou had phoned him to pass along

President Mbeki’s thanks for Tsvangirai going to the opening

of Parliament on July 22. Tsvangirai told the Ambassador

that the Bishops do not want to exclude South Africa from the

mediation process, and that they could play an important role

as a guarantor. Tsvangirai said the Bishops would send a

team to South Africa soon to brief the SAG directly.

Tsvangirai said that MDC was speaking with civil society

 

SIPDIS

colleagues, such as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions

(ZCTU) to firm up alliances. None of MDC’s civil society

allies opposed exploring prospects for dialogue.

 

US Backing Needed

—————–

 

6. (C) Tsvangirai asked the Ambassador if the USG could help

to ensure South African accountability to better guarantee

the negotiations make progress, and also to put pressure on

ZANU-PF to be sincere. Tsvangirai mentioned that incidents

of violence were still being perpetrated on MDC candidates

(Ref B) and if ZANU-PF was sincere about reaching common

ground, these should stop. Tsvangirai said that the MDC was

raising the need to end political violence with Justice

Minister Patrick Chinamasa rather than making such cessation

a pre-condition for talks. Similarly, the MDC was

petitioning the courts to re-open the nomination process in

those urban councils where MDC was excluded (Ref B). MDC

would avoid setting any pre-conditions for dialogue in order

to keep the pressure on ZANU-PF to agree to unconditional

dialogue.

 

Comment:

——–

 

7. (C) The next important step is the position documents from

each side. We have no doubt the MDC will follow through with

theirs; however it is unclear whether and how Mugabe’s team

will follow through on their side. This will be a key

indicator of whether Mugabe might actually take this effort

seriously. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

(6 VIEWS)

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