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Biti thought Tsvangirai was weak

Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Tendai Biti said party leader Morgan Tsvangirai was weak and was listening to the wrong people, some of whom were tired of the present situation and favoured what for him was an unacceptable compromise.

He said this soon after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding paving the way for negotiations between the two factions of the MDC and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front following the indecisive 2008 elections.

Biti said that because of his personal hard line position both sides had talked of replacing him.

Biti had been part of the negotiating team for more than five years.

His comments echoed those of former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell a year earlier, though Dell’s comments were only revealed three years later.

Biti stressed that he would fight such a compromise and “would not give an inch” and would not be part of one.

He thought Elton Mangoma was a capable co-negotiator and he was glad to work with him.

He was suspicious of Mutambara faction negotiators Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who he thought, given the weakness of their faction, might be willing to cut a deal with ZANU-PF.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE621, MDC SEEKS AU ROLE IN NEGOTIATIONS BEFORE SIGNING

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE621

2008-07-18 10:52

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO0757

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0621/01 2001052

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 181052Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3193

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2156

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2275

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0807

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1552

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1910

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2331

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4762

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1421

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000621

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: MDC SEEKS AU ROLE IN NEGOTIATIONS BEFORE SIGNING

MOU

 

REF: A) HARARE 607 B) HARARE 605

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU),

which would provide a framework for negotiations between

ZANU-PF and the MDC, is on hold awaiting talks today in South

Africa between South African president Thabo Mbeki and Jean

Ping, chairperson of the African Union commission. The MDC

hopes that an agreement for AU participation in the mediation

process will emerge. Regardless, it appears that the MOU

will be signed early next week and negotiations will begin a

week later. Given the entrenched positions of the two sides,

a favorable outcome to the negotiations appears as of now

unlikely. END SUMMARY.

 

————

MOU Contents

————

 

2. (C) Negotiators for ZANU-PF and the two MDC factions have

drafted an MOU outlining an agenda for substantive

negotiations. The draft MOU has as its goal the creation of

“a genuine, viable, permanent and sustainable solution to the

Zimbabwe situation….” Substantive areas of discussion

include economic, political, security and communication

goals, and the framework for a new government. Additionally,

the parties agree to take measures to end violence; support

the rule of law and its fair application; and ensure the

safety of displaced persons and their return home, and the

ability of NGOs to render necessary assistance. The MOU

“envisages” a time frame of two weeks for negotiations. It

is to be signed by President Robert Mugabe, MDC faction

leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, and Mbeki.

 

3. (C) As part of the MOU, the parties agree not to

negotiate in the media or to take any decisions on matters

included in the agenda. In practice, this means Mugabe has

agreed to defer 33 Senatorial appointments, granted him by

the Constitution, and to postpone cabinet appointments and

the convening of Parliament.

 

4. (C) According to the MDC, ZANU-PF has undertaken some

confidence-building measures contemplated by the MOU.

Violence is down–although not eliminated–and some IDPs are

returning safely to their villages. Police are no longer

seeking to arrest a number of MDC MPs-elect who had been

targeted.

 

————–

An AU Mediator

————–

 

5. (C) The MDC is distrustful of Mbeki and has been pushing

for an expanded mediation team. Tsvangirai wrote twice to

SADC asking that Mbeki be replaced or that a co-mediator be

appointed, and at the AU Summit in Sharm El Sheikh the MDC

asked for an AU role. SADC rebuffed Tsvangirai, and the AU

Resolution at the end of the Summit called for the parties to

negotiate but did not address an AU role.

 

6. (C) Ping is scheduled to meet today in South Africa with

Mbeki. According to MDC sources, he has told them he will

push for an AU role, but the MDC believes he has told Mbeki

that the AU will support him as the sole mediator. (Note:

According to news reports, UN assistant secretary general for

political affairs Haile Menkarios, who visited Zimbabwe, in

 

HARARE 00000621 002 OF 002

 

 

June, will also meet with Ping and Mbeki. End note.)

 

7. (C) The MOU was completed last week with a goal of

signing it on July 16. Tsvangirai decided not to sign in the

hope that the Ping-Mbeki meeting would result in an AU role.

While there is substantial sentiment within the MDC not to

proceed with negotiations absent an AU mediator, MDC

secretary general (and negotiator) Tendai Biti told us today

he expected Tsvangirai to defer to Ping. In other words, if

after the Ping-Mbeki meeting, Ping blesses a sole mediator

role for Mbeki, Tsvangirai will sign the MOU. Biti expected

the signing to take place at the beginning of the week with

negotiations to begin a week later.

 

————————

Outlook for Negotiations

————————

 

8. (C) ZANU-PF is seeking a government of national unity and

is intent on maintaining power, while the MDC favors a

transitional government led by the MDC (based on the March 29

election) (Ref B). The MDC’s Biti told us both sides were

entrenched in their positions and he couldn’t see the

negotiations succeeding.

 

9. (C) Biti commented that because of his personal hard line

position, both sides had talked of replacing him. He though

Tsvangirai was “weak” and was listening to the wrong people,

some of whom were tired of the present situation and favored

what for him (Biti) would be an unacceptable compromise. He

stressed he would fight such a compromise–he “would not give

an inch”– and would not be part of one.

 

10. (C) Biti thought Elton Mangoma was a capable

co-negotiator; he was glad to work with him. He was

suspicious of Mutambara faction negotiators Welshman Ncube

and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga who he thought, given the

weakness of their faction, might be willing to cut a deal

with ZANU-PF.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

11. (C) ZANU-PF realizes Zimbabwe is becoming increasingly

ungovernable and that it therefore needs MDC involvement in

government and international reengagement. As we concluded

Ref B, however, and as confirmed by Biti, it is difficult to

see how negotiations can succeed given the respective

positions of the parties. We believe the MOU will be signed

shortly and that negotiations will begin. But there is no

light yet at the end of the tunnel.

Dhanani

(48 VIEWS)

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