Some elements of the Central Intelligence Organisation were keeping Emmerson Mnangagwa, then Speaker of Parliament, a step ahead of his adversaries, Movement for Democratic Change senior officials Welshman Ncube and Paul Themba Nyathi told United States embassy officials.
Ncube was secretary general of the MDC before it split up while Themba Nyathi was the party spokesman.
The two said the growing factionalism within the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front was an offshoot of a concerted effort by former army commander Solomon Mujuru, former Finance Minister Simba Makoni and other members of an internal anti-corruption committee to bring down Mnangagwa.
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi were also reported to be involved in the struggle against Mnangagwa.
Ncube said he had been told by an ally of Mnangagwa Joram Gumbo that once untouchable pro-Mnangagwa business elites were in detention and under torture in an attempt to implicate Mnangagwa in corruption.
“Ncube said that, thus far, pro-Mnangagwa elements within the CIO had tipped Mnangagwa off and kept him a step ahead of his adversaries. He said that the continued detention of Telecel Chairman James Makamba is only peripherally connected to this struggle — Grace Mugabe’s infidelity with Makamba was the root cause of Makamba’s plight,” the cable says.
Viewing cable 04HARARE580, WIDE RANGING DISCUSSION WITH SENIOR MDC OFFICIALS
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
051445Z Apr 04
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000580
PARIS FOR NEARY
LONDON FOR GURNEY
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER
NSC FOR SENIOR DIRECTOR FRAZER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2009
SUBJECT: WIDE RANGING DISCUSSION WITH SENIOR MDC OFFICIALS
IDENTIFIES AMPLE COMMON GROUND
REF: A. A) HARARE 553
¶B. B) HARARE 397
¶C. C) HARARE 188
Classified By: DCM REWHITEHEAD DUE TO 1.5 (B) AND (D).
¶1. (c) Comment. On April 2, the Ambassador and DCM met with
MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube and MDC Spokesman Paul
Themba Nyathi to discuss, inter alia, South African
President Mbeki’s effort to broker interparty talks between
the MDC and ZANU-PF. Ncube detailed March 1 meetings with
Mbeki in South Africa, including proposed electoral calendars
and the possible motives for Mbeki’s premature public
statement that both sides have agreed on joint
parliamentary/presidential elections. The MDC officials
asserted that ZANU-PF factionalism is being driven by a well
orchestrated attempt to undercut the position of Speaker of
Parliament Emerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s heir apparent. They
admitted that MDC morale was low after the loss of the
Zengeza by-election, a result of the MDC’s internal
wrangling. Ncube called for a strategic approach to bring
African pressure to bear on Mugabe that would team Mbeki with
Presidents Mkapa and Chissano, an outcome that we also favor.
¶2. (c) The lunch time exchange commenced with a discussion
of the shooting of an MDC activist in Zengeza, reportedly by
Minister without Portfolio Elliot Manyika (ref a). Ncube
confirmed that the authorities had pressured the family to
bury the youth immediately and without at autopsy. Shortly
after the shooting, Ncube said that he had spoken with Police
Commissioner Chihuri and Security Minister Goche, both of
whom claimed ignorance of the incident. Elections
Commissioner Gula-Ndebele had subsequently stepped in to
provide an alibi for Manyika, claiming that he had spoken
with Manyika on a land line telephone in Bindura just after
the shooting. Ncube said that while the MDC had not yet
accused Manyika, eyewitness accounts all pointed to Manyika.
Nonetheless, Ncube expected it would be difficult to bring
him to trial even on a charge of manslaughter.
¶3. (c) Ncube spoke at length on a March 1 de facto proximity
talks in Pretoria between President Mbeki and MDC and ZANU-PF
delegations headed by Ncube and Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa. After initially declining a meeting with the MDC,
in Johannesburg to launch the MDC’s RESTART program, Mbeki
had relented and agreed to meet with Ncube, Gift Chamanikire
and Gibson Sibanda for a briefing on progress toward
interparty talks and the mood shift in Harare since December.
Mbeki had initially proposed a meeting that included
Chinamasa, to clarify why there had been little progress and
when the rules of engagement would be ready, but when MDC
accepted and Chinamasa declined a joint meeting, Mbeki met
separately with ZANU-PF and MDC delegations.
¶4. (c) Ncube said that Mbeki had summoned them back to State
House for a second meeting the same day during which he
reported that he had met with the ZANU-PF delegation.
Chinamasa had blamed MDC intransigence for the lack of
progress on talks and specifically accused Ncube of allegedly
avoiding Chinamasa throughout December. Chinamasa claimed
that only a few minor details remained under discussion and
that both sides had agreed on an independent electoral
commission, access to voter rolls, etc.
¶5. (c) Mbeki then described a ZANU-PF proposal that
Chinamasa claimed had already been presented to and accepted
by MDC — a 2005 parliamentary election followed by joint
parliamentary and presidential elections in 2008. Ncube
responded that this was the first time the MDC had heard this
proposal. (Note: This conflicts somewhat with comments Ncube
made to Embassy officers during a January meeting.) Mbeki
initially said he supported this solution and that the MDC
should be able to live with Mugabe in power for three more
years. The MDC delegation responded that the ZANU-PF
proposal masked growing factionalism within ZANU-PF over who
their next presidential candidate might be, if Mugabe does
not stand. They added that it also reflected Chinamasa’s
lack of a mandate to agree on any electoral mechanism without
Mugabe’s explicit prior approval. Ncube suggested that Mbeki
should consult with Chissano and other regional leaders on
the need for them to ask Mugabe collectively about his
¶6. (c) Ncube said that at the conclusion of the Pretoria
meetings, Mbeki had urged both sides to agree to a joint
statement that confirmed progress on informal talks leading
toward the beginning of formal talks. When Ncube
subsequently met with Chinamasa in Harare, Chinamasa would
only agree on a statement that informal talks were ongoing,
thus echoing Mugabe’s public declaration of last December.
Chinamasa then proposed the same dual electoral dates he had
described to Mbeki and said that nothing else could come
under discussion until the MDC had agreed to the proposed
¶7. (c) Ncube told the Ambassador that subsequent to the
meetings in Pretoria (or about three weeks ago), Mbeki had
sent a letter to Mugabe. The MDC was unaware of the contents
and was uncertain about what might come next. He cited
Mbeki’s public statement after the Pretoria talks that both
sides had agreed to simultaneous presidential and
parliamentary elections and said that this could be
interpreted in three ways. First, Mbeki was simply referring
to the draft of the revised constitution, which does indeed
provide for joint elections. Secondly, Mbeki was attempting
to pressure Mugabe publicly. Finally, Mbeki was dissembling
to shore up his own position in the upcoming South African
elections. Ncube speculated that Mbeki might feel he has
greater latitude to confront Mugabe once these elections are
¶8. (c) Themba Nyathi said that the MDC expects ZANU-PF to
resort to the same bully tactics that carried the day in
Zengeza (ref b). Ncube said that his attempts to meet with
Lupane ZANU-PF chairman Jacob Mudenda and Matabeleland North
Governor Obert Mpofu to discuss minimizing violence had met
with no success — they appeared to be ducking him. He
claimed that ZANU-PF had amassed a 20-billion Zimbabwe dollar
war chest to buy votes but said that the good harvest
underway had eroded ZANU-PF’s ability to use food as an
¶9. (c) Although neither predicted the likely outcome of the
Lupane vote, they admitted that MDC morale was low (ref a).
The loss of Zengeza, an urban MDC stronghold, had been
devastating. Ncube blamed the party’s contentious candidate
selection process for the outcome and observed that the MDC
could not afford to take its urban constituency for granted.
He blamed party Chairman Isaac Matonga and two other senior
labor figures for insisting on a labor candidate without
local roots, but exempted MDC President Tsvangirai from
blame. He felt that several thousand MDC supporters had
protested the high-handed tactics of certain MDC officials by
switching their votes, thus providing ZANU-PF’s margin of
¶10. (c) Ncube and Themba Nyathi described growing
factionalism within ZANU-PF as an offshoot of a concerted
effort by Solomon Mujuru, Simba Makoni, and other members of
an internal anti-corruption committee to bring down Speaker
of the Parliament Mnangagwa. Police Commissioner Chihuri and
Defense Minister Sekeremayi are also involved in the struggle
against Mnangagwa, and possibly Security Minister Goche as
well. ZANU-PF whip Jerome Gumbo, a Mnangagwa ally, had
confided to Ncube that once untouchable pro-Mnangagwa
business elites were in detention and under torture in an
attempt to implicate Mnangagwa in corruption. Ncube said
that, thus far, pro-Mnangagwa elements within the CIO had
tipped Mnangagwa off and kept him a step ahead of his
adversaries. He said that the continued detention of Telecel
Chairman James Makamba is only peripherally connected to this
struggle — Grace Mugabe’s infidelity with Makamba was the
root cause of Makamba’s plight.
¶11. (c) Ncube concluded his comments by cautioning that the
U.S. should not grant Mbeki exclusive control over the
process of breaking the political impasse in Zimbabwe. Mbeki
had admitted that he wanted the joint MDC/ZANU-PF statement
after the Pretoria proximity talks partly to relieve the
pressure brought to bear on him by the U.S. and U.K. Ncube
thought that a broader approach that included Presidents
Mkapa and Chissano would fare better.
¶12. (c) Comment. For the most part, Ncube and Themba
Nyathi’s views coincide with our own. We agree that a
broader regional approach can intensify the pressure on
Mugabe, and simultaneously keep Mbeki on the straight and
narrow. Once Mbeki’s own election is safely behind him and
the Zimbabwe issue recedes as a factor in Mbeki’s political
calculations, we believe that the time will be ripe to engage
with Mbeki and other regional leaders again by organizing the
one-time visit by a specially designated U.S. envoy to
Harare, Pretoria, Maputo and Dar es Salaam.