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Dell once again glossed over MDC differences

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell, who had denied the simmering differences within the Movement for Democratic Change for more than a year, continued to hope against hope even after the pro-Senate faction fielded candidates to contest the elections defying an order by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai to boycott the election.

Tsvangirai had met leaders of the break-away faction for four hours but they had failed to agree. Dell, however, insisted they should focus on their struggle against President Robert Mugabe rather than their internal differences.

He had been told by Tsvangirai that the MDC leaders had failed to resolve their differences over participating in the elections but they had agreed that their dispute must not outweigh their collective determination to stay united in the struggle against Mugabe.

Dell said that ZANU-PF was likely to use any means at its disposal to prevent a successful boycott and that the MDC needed to be ready. In particular, there were reports that the ruling party would use food as a weapon to encourage voters to turn out. A purple thumb would result in a bag of maize.

He suggested that a hunger strike by Tsvangirai and other MDC leaders might be one way to counteract that tactic.

The ambassador said that the MDC should also try to anticipate Mugabe’s next moves after the election. Mugabe might, for instance, look for a way to distract people from his government’s failures by “discovering” some sort of coup attempt or other conspiracy and in the process try to get rid of subordinates he considered disloyal.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE1490, MDC LEADERS LOOKING TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES, TAKE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1490

2005-10-28 11:19

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 001490

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI MDC ZANU PF

SUBJECT: MDC LEADERS LOOKING TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES, TAKE

FIGHT TO ZANU-PF

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) In an evening meeting on October 27, MDC President

Morgan Tsvangirai told the Ambassador that his meeting

earlier that day with the MDC,s other leaders had gone well.

They had not resolved as yet the issue of participation in

the Senate elections but had agreed that the struggle against

President Mugabe outweighed their internal differences. The

leadership was to meet again after the weekend at which time

he expected a &face-saving8 solution to the dispute that

would include agreement on an electoral boycott as the first

step in a national program of action. The Ambassador

encouraged Tsvangirai to prepare in advance for President

Mugabe,s counter-moves, such as using food to get out the

vote. He warned that Mugabe might also try to distract

attention from GOZ failures through some radical new

initiative for which the MDC needed to be prepared. End

Summary.

 

———————————–

Intra-MDC Negotiations: Saving Face

———————————–

 

2. (C) Tsvangirai told the Ambassador that the MDC,s six

senior leaders had met for over four hours earlier in the day

to try to iron out differences over participation in the

upcoming Senate elections. He said that from his perspective

the meeting had gone well. The MDC leadership had not yet

resolved their differences over participating in the Senate

elections but they had agreed that the dispute must not

outweigh their collective determination to stay united in the

struggle against Mugabe.

 

3. (C) Moreover, Tsvangirai said that Brian Raftopoulos, a

well-respected leader of Zimbabwe,s civil society who had

mediated the meeting, told the six that while Tsvangirai

might have committed some technical breaches of the party,s

constitution, his view represented the true wishes of the

party,s rank and file. The other six, all of whom favored

participation, had not disputed this, particularly in the

wake of the nomination process, when nine of the twelve MDC

provinces had backed Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai said the

leadership had agreed to meet again on Monday next week and

to agree on a face-saving way out of their current

disagreement.

 

4. (C) The Ambassador said he hoped such a solution would not

obscure for the other leaders the reality that Tsvangirai,s

had prevailed and that MDC supporters wanted the party to

fight the regime not cooperate with it. Tsvangirai said he

hoped his &Bulawayo colleagues8 would realize just that

following the weekend. They were clearly feeling pressure

from public opinion, even in Matabeleland, and really had no

other good options. The Ndebele people would never

countenance an alliance with ZANU-PF or Jonathon Moyo, and

forming a party on their own made little sense. He also

agreed with the Ambassador,s assessment that they had hurt

their image further by their trip to Pretoria to see

President Mbeki. It had made them look both weak and

disloyal.

 

——————————————— —-

Reenergized MDC,s First Step: An Election Boycott

——————————————— —-

 

5. (C) Tsvangirai said the dispute had actually helped

galvanize the party and its supporters and the key now was to

agree on a national program of action against the regime.

The first step in that national program should be a

successful boycott, which would deny Mugabe the legitimacy he

hoped to attain from the Senate elections. The Ambassador

noted that in that regard that the 26 MDC candidates who had

filed had done Tsvangirai a favor, since otherwise there

would have been no election to boycott. The ZANU-PF

candidates, running unopposed, would simply have been

declared the winners, as had happened in nineteen districts.

The best outcome now, to which Tsvangirai agreed, would be to

convince the candidates themselves to actively campaign for a

boycott.

6. (C) The Ambassador also noted that ZANU-PF was likely to

use any means at its disposal to prevent a successful boycott

and that the MDC needed to be ready. In particular, there

were reports that the ruling party would use food as a weapon

to encourage voters to turn out. A purple thumb would result

in a bag of maize. He suggested that a hunger strike by

Tsvangirai and other MDC leaders might be one way to

 

SIPDIS

counteract that tactic. Tsvangirai said he had also given

this thought and that another approach would be to encourage

voters to take the food but then to spoil their ballots.

 

——————

After the Election

——————

 

7. (C) The Ambassador said the MDC also should try to

anticipate Mugabe,s next moves after the election. In that

regard, the Ambassador noted the increasing number of reports

that the military and police were demoralized by their poor

salaries and were being downsized to save money. Mugabe

might, for instance, look for a way to distract people from

his government,s failures by &discovering8 some sort of

coup attempt or other conspiracy and in the process try to

get rid of subordinates he considered disloyal.

 

8. (C) Tsvangirai said the reports were true and that the

situation was becoming increasingly dangerous as discontent

within the ranks increased. He was convinced, however, that

if the MDC took to the streets many of the police and

military would refuse orders to break up the demonstrations.

The Ambassador noted that Tsvangirai,s recent speech, in

which he had criticized the government for not providing for

the welfare of the troops, doubtless helped build that sort

of good will.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

9. (C) Tsvangirai was relaxed and confident that he has

carried the day. With nine of twelve provinces clearly

backing him, we would agree. He believes his rivals within

the MDC, principally the Ndebele leaders, are now in an

untenable situation and will have to climb down from their

position and to that end he is prepared to agree to an

agreement that allows them to do so without being humiliated.

However, his generosity risks being misconstrued by some of

his rivals, who are also committed to fighting the Mugabe

regime, but from within a political system that is rigged

against them. As we have noted before, the regime may be

fragile but the opposition is in no position to capitalize on

its weakness until it resolves its own internal debate over

how best to confront the regime. That debate may finally be

over next week.

DELL

 

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