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Biti had no respect for Mbeki

Movement for Democratic Change shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Tendai Biti told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan that he did not think much of South African President Thabo Mbeki who was one of the mediators in the Zimbabwe crisis describing him as a “cold, calculating politician”.

Biti, instead, preferred Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo who was also one of the negotiators describing him as a consummate bridge-builder.

Biti and party secretary-general Welshman Ncube told the ambassador that they were comfortable with Obasanjo’s efforts to facilitate dialogue with ZANU-PF than with Mbeki’s.

Ncube advised the United States government against pressing publicly for a new election, encouraging it instead to push South Africa and Nigeria to take the public lead on the issue.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE786, ZIMBABWE: MDC URGES USG TO LET SOUTH AFRICA AND NIGERIA

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE786

2002-03-26 13:06

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.

 

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTO2310

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00786 01 OF 02 261323Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 USNW-00 DODE-00 DS-00

EUR-00   E-00     VC-00   TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00   LAB-01

VCE-00   NSAE-00 OIC-02   IRM-00   DSCC-00 DRL-02   NFAT-00

SAS-00     /005W

——————7AA877 261323Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1318

INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY

USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000786

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/12

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE: MDC URGES USG TO LET SOUTH AFRICA AND NIGERIA

PUSH FOR NEW ELECTION

 

REF: A) HARARE 748 B) HARARE 721

 

CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF MATT HARRINGTON. REASONS:

1.5 (B) AND (D).

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITION MDC LEADERSHIP ARE

MORE COMFORTABLE WITH PRESIDENT OBASANJO’S EFFORTS TO FACILITATE

DIALOGUE WITH ZANU-PF THAN WITH PRESIDENT MBEKI’S. THE PARTY’S

SECRETARY-GENERAL, WELSHMAN NCUBE, ADVISED THE USG AGAINST

 

SIPDIS

PRESSING PUBLICLY FOR A NEW ELECTION AT THIS STAGE, INSTEAD

ENCOURAGING US TO PUSH SOUTH AFRICA AND NIGERIA TO TAKE THE

PUBLIC LEAD ON THIS ISSUE. NCUBE DESCRIBED THE PARTY’S

INTERACTIONS WITH THE CANADIAN COMPANY AT THE CENTER OF THE

ALLEGED ASSASSINATION PLOT AGAINST PRESIDENT MUGABE. DANGER

SIGNS OF A SETUP WERE EVIDENT FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE COMPANY’S

APPROACH TO THE MDC, AND THE PARTY’S FAILURE TO RECOGNIZE THOSE

AT THE TIME REVEALS A SURPRISING POLITICAL NAIVETE. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) THE AMBASSADOR, ACCOMPANIED BY POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF,

MET AT HIS RESIDENCE ON MARCH 22 WITH MDC SECRETARY-GENERAL

WELSHMAN NCUBE. NCUBE WAS JOINED BY THE MDC’S SHADOW FOREIGN

MINISTER AND MP TENDAI BITI.

 

TALKS WITH MBEKI, OBASANJO

————————–

 

3. (C) WE ASKED TENDAI BITI, WHO HAD PARTICIPATED IN MORGAN

TSVANGIRAI’S POST-ELECTION TALKS ON MARCH 18 WITH PRESIDENTS

 

SIPDIS

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00786 01 OF 02 261323Z

MBEKI AND OBASANJO (REF B), FOR HIS IMPRESSIONS OF THOSE

DISCUSSIONS. BITI APPROVINGLY DESCRIBED OBASANJO AS A CONSUMMATE

BRIDGE-BUILDER WHO DID AN IMPRESSIVE JOB OF BREAKING THE ICE IN A

MEETING WHICH WAS AWKWARD AT FIRST. HE THOUGHT MUCH LESS OF

PRESIDENT MBEKI, WHOM HE DESCRIBED AS A “COLD, CALCULATING

POLITICIAN.” BITI CONFIRMED THAT THE TWO PRESIDENTS DID NOT

PRESS FOR A GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL UNITY AS THE WAY FORWARD BUT

DID ENCOURAGE AN MDC-ZANU-PF DIALOGUE.

 

4. (C) NCUBE NOTED THAT THE FACILITATORS NAMED BY MBEKI AND

OBASANJO — ANC SECRETARY-GENERAL KGALEMA MOTHANTHE AND NIGERIAN

ACADEMIC PROFESSOR ADBEYO ADEDEJI — HAD ARRIVED IN ZIMBABWE AND

WERE CURRENTLY TOUCHING BASE WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF BOTH PARTIES.

THE MDC HAD SHARED ITS NEGOTIATING PRINCIPLES WITH THE

FACILITATORS AND WOULD WAIT TO SEE WHAT THE OTHER SIDE CAME UP

WITH. ASKED WHETHER THE FACILITATORS WERE FAIR BROKERS, NCUBE

SAID HE DID NOT KNOW THE NIGERIAN BUT HAD HEARD GOOD THINGS ABOUT

HIM. IT WAS TOO EARLY TO TELL, HE SAID, WHETHER THE ANC

SECRETARY-GENERAL WOULD PLAY A POSITIVE ROLE. HE WAS PLEASED

 

SIPDIS

THAT MOTHANTHE HAD STATED HIS OBJECTIVE AS PROMOTING SUFFICIENT

RECONCILIATION TO HAVE A UNITY GOVERNMENT BEFORE AND AGAIN AFTER

NEW ELECTIONS.

 

WAY FORWARD: NEW ELECTION?

————————–

 

5. (C) ASKED WHAT THE MDC’S CURRENT OBJECTIVES WERE, BITI SAID

HE SUPPORTED FORMATION OF AN INTERIM GOVERNMENT, THEN DRAFTING OF

A NEW CONSTITUTION WHICH WOULD GOVERN NEW ELECTIONS. BITI

INSISTED THAT THE CONSTITUTION-DRAFTING PROCESS WOULD NOT TAKE

LONG, AS SIGNIFICANT MATERIAL HAD BEEN GLEANED SINCE THE MOVE FOR

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 00786 01 OF 02 261323Z

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM BEGAN IN 1999. NCUBE ADDED THAT KEY

ELEMENTS OF THE PARTY LEADERSHIP WOULD BE GATHERING AT A RETREAT

NEAR BULAWAYO OVER THE WEEKEND TO STRATEGIZE ON NEXT STEPS.

(COMMENT: HEAVY SURVEILLANCE BY POLICE AND CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

ORGANIZATION AGENTS OF THE PLANNED VENUE IN THE MATOBO HILLS

TOURIST AREA FORCED PARTICIPANTS TO RECONVENE IN BULAWAYO. WE

WILL BE SEEKING A READOUT OF THE LEADERSHIP’S DISCUSSIONS. END

COMMENT.) THE AMBASSADOR ASKED WHETHER IT WOULD BE HELPFUL FOR

THE UNITED STATES TO PRESS PUBLICLY FOR A NEW ELECTION. NCUBE

SAID SUCH AN APPROACH AT THIS EARLY STAGE WOULD BE

COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, PLAYING INTO MUGABE’S EFFORTS TO DEMONIZE THE

WEST. HE ADVISED US TO ENCOURAGE SOUTH AFRICA AND NIGERIA

QUIETLY TO TAKE THE LEAD ON THIS ISSUE.   ASKED WHETHER THE MDC

HAD IN PLACE A PLAN IN CASE ITS LEADERSHIP WAS ARRESTED, NCUBE

SAID THE SIMPLE ANSWER WAS “NO, WE HAVE NO PLAN B TO DEAL WITH

SUCH A SCENARIO.”

 

DICKENS AND MADSON SAGA

———————–

 

6. (C) NCUBE HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH TREASON ALONG WITH MDC LEADER

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTO2311

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00786 02 OF 02 261323Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 USNW-00 DODE-00 DS-00

EUR-00   E-00     VC-00   TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00   LAB-01

VCE-00   NSAE-00 OIC-02   IRM-00   DSCC-00 DRL-02   NFAT-00

SAS-00     /005W

——————7AA889 261323Z /38

P 261306Z MAR 02

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1319

INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY

USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 000786

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/25/12

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE: MDC URGES USG TO LET SOUTH AFRICA AND NIGERIA

PUSH FOR NEW ELECTION

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00786 02 OF 02 261323Z

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI AND THE PARTY’S SHADOW AGRICULTURE MINISTER,

RENSON GASELA, IN THE ALLEGED ASSASSINATION PLOT AGAINST

PRESIDENT MUGABE. NCUBE TOLD US THAT THE COMPANY AT THE CENTER

OF THE ALLEGED PLOT, DICKENS AND MADSON, HAD HIRED RUPERT

JOHNSON, A LONG-TIME FRIEND OF GASELA’S, TO MAKE THE INITIAL

PITCH TO THE MDC. ACCORDING TO NCUBE, JOHNSON WAS AN UNWITTING

PAWN IN THE WHOLE AFFAIR — HE WAS RECRUITED TO WORK IN DICKENS

AND MADSON SOME MONTHS EARLIER; IT TURNS OUT ONLY TO SET UP

TSVANGIRAI AND HE HAS SINCE BEEN DISMISSED BY THE COMPANY.

 

SIPDIS

 

7. (C) ACCORDING TO NCUBE, DICKENS AND MADSON HAD APPROACHED THE

MDC WITH AN OFFER TO REPRESENT THE PARTY IN THE UNITED STATES AND

CANADA. THE COMPANY CLAIMED TO HAVE EXCELLENT CONNECTIONS AT THE

VERY HIGHEST LEVELS OF THOSE GOVERNMENTS. DICKENS AND MADSON

CLAIMED FURTHER TO HAVE RAISED MONEY FROM DISGRUNTLED ZIMBABWEANS

LIVING ABROAD AND SAID IT WOULD SIMPLY DEDUCT ITS LOBBYING FEES

OUT OF THESE FUNDS. THE MDC ONLY WOULD BE REQUIRED TO TRANSFER A

SMALL SUM OF MONEY TO THE COMPANY, AS THEY WERE TOLD PROOF OF

SUCH A TRANSFER MUST BE PRESENTED WHEN A LOBBYING GROUP REGISTERS

IN THE UNITED STATES TO REPRESENT A FOREIGN ORGANIZATION. IN A

PROPHETIC STATEMENT, THE MDC’S TREASURER INITIALLY BALKED AT

MAKING THIS PAYMENT, COMMENTING THAT HE HOPED THE PARTY WOULD NOT

COME TO REGRET ITS ASSOCIATION WITH DICKENS AND MADSON.

 

8. (C) NCUBE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT, IN RETROSPECT, DANGER SIGNS

WERE EVIDENT FROM THE MOMENT DICKENS AND MADSON CONTACTED THE

PARTY. THE MDC IGNORED THEM, HOWEVER, AND REFRAINED FROM

VERIFYING THE COMPANY’S BONA FIDES AND THOSE OF ITS DIRECTOR, ARI

BEN-MENASHE, BECAUSE IT TRUSTED GASELA’S LONGSTANDING PERSONAL

RELATIONSHIP WITH RUPERT JOHNSON. NCUBE ADMITTED THAT THAT HAD

TURNED OUT TO BE A COLOSSAL MISTAKE. HE EXPRESSED CONFIDENCE,

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00786 02 OF 02 261323Z

HOWEVER, THAT THE CHARGES WOULD NOT HOLD UP IN COURT AND RELISHED

THE PROSPECT OF CROSS-EXAMINING BEN-MENASHE. THE AMBASSADOR

NOTED THAT THE USG HAD A GREAT DEAL OF DEROGATORY INFORMATION

ABOUT BEN-MENASHE, AND ENCOURAGED NCUBE IN FUTURE TO APPROACH US

WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT COMPANIES OR INDIVIDUALS CLAIMING TO HAVE

SENIOR CONNECTIONS WITHIN THE U.S. GOVERNMENT.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

9. (C) TENDAI BITI’S PREFERENCE FOR A NEW ELECTION HELD ONLY

AFTER NATIONAL ENDORSEMENT OF A NEW CONSTITUTION IS NOT PARTY

POLICY. MORGAN TSVANGIRAI HAS CALLED FOR A NEW ELECTION HELD

UNDER INTERNATIONAL SUPERVISION, BUT THE PARTY HAS NOT DETERMINED

THAT A NEW CONSTITUTION SHOULD BE A PREREQUISITE FOR ANOTHER

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION. WE SHARE FOR NOW NCUBE’S VIEW THAT A

VISIBLE USG ROLE IN PUSHING FOR A NEW ELECTIONS COULD BE

COUNTERPRODUCTIVE AT THIS STAGE AND THAT WE SHOULD, INSTEAD,

ENCOURAGE THE SOUTH AFRICANS AND NIGERIANS TO TAKE THE LEAD ON

THIS ISSUE. THE MDC DEMONSTRATED A SURPRISING POLITICAL NAIVETE

IN ITS HANDLING OF THE DICKENS AND MADSON AFFAIR, WHICH HAS

PROVIDED THE GOZ WITH A LEGAL EXCUSE — NO MATTER HOW THIN — TO

GO AFTER THE PARTY LEADERSHIP.

 

SULLIVAN

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

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