Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Tendai Biti said President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front were stupid not to offer any compromises to solve the Zimbabwean crisis.
He told this to United States embassy officials after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had met Mugabe on a one-on-one meeting on 22 January 2009.
Tsvangirai had requested the meeting to satisfy himself that he had exhausted all reasonable options to form a government of national unity.
The parties had failed to implement an agreement that they signed on 15 September 2009 with hardliners from each of the two parties refusing to concede any ground.
Biti was against joining ZANU-PF especially if the government included Mugabe and seemed to have the support of the party’s national council.
He said Tsvangirai “would have grabbed at any crumbs thrown by Mugabe” to finalise a deal and at one time said his idiocy was shocking.
Embassy officials seemed to be backing Biti’s position.
Viewing cable 09HARARE55, MUGABE-TSVANGIRAI MEET PRIVATELY
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Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and MDC-T
president Morgan Tsvangirai met privately last week as
Tsvangirai attempted to salvage a deal by gaining concessions
from Mugabe on outstanding issues. Mugabe refused to budge
and ZANU-PF and MDC remain deadlocked. It is unlikely the
SADC Summit today in Pretoria will produce results. The MDC
will pursue a solution at the AU Summit in Addis Ababa but is
not hopeful. It is likely ZANU-PF will soon form a
government without the MDC either before or after the AU
Summit. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe held a one-on-one
meeting with MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai on January 22.
MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told polecon chief that
Tsvangirai requested the meeting to satisfy himself that he
had exhausted all reasonable options to form a government of
national unity. Biti, who is against joining ZANU-PF in a
government under any circumstances, said Tsvangirai would
have grabbed at any crumbs thrown by Mugabe, and would have
tried to convince MDC officials to finalize a deal. Mugabe
and ZANU-PF were stupid, according to Biti, in not offering
any compromises. The result was that the standoff remains.
¶3. (C) Biti opined that Tsvangirai, a number of his
advisors, and a good percentage of the MDC Executive were in
favor of joining government if ZANU-PF made some concessions.
Nevertheless, the National Council, which would ultimately
have to approve an agreement, was solidly against joining
ZANU-PF under any circumstances. He believed this was the
general sentiment of the MDC rank and file who blame
Zimbabwe’s economic miseries on Mugabe and his party.
¶4. (C) Biti saw no hope that the SADC Extraordinary Summit
taking place today in Pretoria would resolve the deadlock.
He said the MDC had dispatched emissaries to various African
countries in advance of the AU summit in Addis Ababa. The
MDC would make a push to have the AU take over from SADC and
oversee an intensive mediation process, but again he was not
¶5. (C) Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba, writing his
weekly column under the pen name Nathaniel Manheru in The
Herald on January 24, publicly revealed the Mugabe-Tsvangirai
meeting for the first time. He said that Tsvangirai had
pleaded that MDC hardliners were obstructing a deal and asked
Mugabe for concessions that he could sell to his party.
Mugabe, according to Charamba, refused to offer concessions,
stating he had similar difficulties with hardliners.
¶6. (C) The Herald went into full spin mode in today’s
edition in attacking Tsvangirai. It claimed Tsvangirai had
sought the meeting after realizing he had “blundered” by
rejecting the SADC proposal (essentially the ZANU-PF
proposal) to form a government earlier in the week during the
SADC mediation (Reftel). The Herald went on to claim that
former A/S Jendayi Frazer late last year told South Africa’s
foreign minister Dlamini-Zuma that the U.S. would not allow
Tsvangirai to join the government because he was “too weak”
to deal with Mugabe.
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¶7. (C) It appears that Tsvangirai and some close advisors
would like to join the government if ZANU-PF would make some
concessions on the outstanding issues (Reftel). It is
doubtful ZANU-PF will give any ground. Even if it did, the
MDC National Council has been clear that absent satisfaction
of outstanding issues, the MDC will not agree to form a
government with ZANU-PF.
¶8. (C) We agree with Biti that the SADC Extraordinary Summit
today in Pretoria is unlikely to produce results. A ZANU-PF
negotiator publicly said last week that if the Summit fails,
he expected SADC to support the unilateral formation of a
government by Mugabe. Absent some unexpected turns in
negotiations, it is likely ZANU-PF will soon form a
government, either before or immediately after the AU Summit.