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Dell said Tsvangirai was the heart and soul of the MDC

Former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell said Morgan Tsvangirai was the heart and soul of the Movement for Democratic Change and party secretary-general Welshman Ncube knew this.

He said this just before the party split when Ncube argued that the MDC should contest the re-introduced senate elections while Tsvangirai called for a boycott.

Dell said Ncube and his supporters saw the MDC as a political party operating within the confines of the current system.

He was committed to gradual change from within the system, contesting every election and exerting whatever influence the MDC had to moderate government policies.

Tsvangirai, on the other hand, wanted to overthrow the system, a ruthless and corrupt dictatorship.

“More worrisome is that there is increasingly bad blood on both sides as they accuse each other of bribery and impugn each other’s motives. That said, Tsvangirai is the heart and soul of the MDC and without him the party would likely not exist,” Dell said.

“Ncube knows this and also knows that as an ethnic Ndebele he has no prospect of winning power in his own right.”

Though Dell believed that the MDC would find a way to bridge its differences, this never happened and the party split.

Two years later Dell said the United States could not rely on Tsvangirai because he was “not readily open to advice, indecisive and with questionable judgment in selecting those around him”.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE1421, TSVANGIRAI ON SENATE ELECTIONS; MDC DIVISIONS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1421

2005-10-18 14:53

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 001421

 

SIPDIS

 

DAS T. WOODS

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/18/2015

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ZI MDC

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI ON SENATE ELECTIONS; MDC DIVISIONS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai on October 18 told

the Ambassador that there was division within the MDC over

participation in Senate elections but no split of the party.

The party leadership was effectively divided in half, but the

party,s supporters strongly favored his position in favor of

non-participation. Tsvangirai expected that position to

ultimately prevail and vowed to lead a strong boycott

campaign. The Ambassador noted that this was an opportunity

for the MDC to put months of indecision behind them and take

the offensive by campaigning for an electoral boycott.

Tsvangirai agreed that it was a critical moment in the

 

SIPDIS

party,s history. End Summary.

 

————————–

Deep Divisions Over Senate

————————–

 

2. (C) Tsvangirai told the Ambassador that ever since the

formation of the Senate had been announced there had been

division within the MDC about how to respond. Those in favor

of non-participation, including Tsvangirai himself, had

argued that the Senate was part of Mugabe,s agenda and that

participation would only legitimize a powerless institution

designed to solve internal ZANU-PF problems. Moreover, not

only would the institution do nothing to solve the country,s

problems and help its increasingly poor and desperate people,

it would in fact make things worse by siphoning off scarce

resources to elect and support a new bureaucracy. Those in

favor of participation had argued that the MDC should not

concede electoral space to ZANU-PF without a fight and that

the party was and should be committed to contesting

elections.

 

———————

All Hell Breaks Loose

———————

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai said the party had decided to resolve the

impasse by having its provincial party structures sound out

the party faithful on their preferences. The response of the

people was overwhelming opposition to participation, save for

in Bulawayo and Matabeleland. However, not all the

provincial party structures had carried out their

instructions or faithfully reported the results. When the

party,s Executive Council had met last week the vote had

been six province in favor of participation and six against.

Those in favor of participation then forced a vote of the

Executive Council, which by a bare majority (33 to 31) had

voted in favor of participation.

 

4. (C) Tsvangirai said at that point he had intervened and

made a statement that the party,s leadership was closely

divided but that the people were opposed to participation and

that therefore his decision was that the party would not

participate. At that moment &all hell broke loose,8 and

his opponents subsequently accused him of anti-democratic

behavior and of ignoring the will of the majority. In fact,

they were the ones who had behaved anti-democratically by

ignoring the sentiment of the people out of their desire to

be elected and enjoy the perks of being Senators. Moreover,

he had heard reports that several Council members had been

bribed to vote in favor of participation, and he suspected

the CIO was responsible, both because the government wanted

MDC participation and wanted to sow confusion within the

party.

 

———-

Next Steps

———-

 

5. (C) Tsvangirai said both sides had argued with great

passion but that while the party was clearly divided it was

not splitting. Both sides were committed to staying together

despite the strong feelings. More worrisome was the

perception that the party was divided along ethnic lines.

This was a false impression. The issue was a national one

not regional or ethnic, but that perception could do the

party great damage. To that end his plan was to reconvene

the Executive Council next week t agree on a way forward )

not to revisit participation ) but to discuss a boycott and

other protest measures.

 

6. (C) The Ambassador responded that his impression was also

that most MDC supporters supported non-participation and that

Tsvangirai,s position was therefore the more democratic.

 

SIPDIS

With that in mind, this crisis represented an opportunity for

Tsvangirai to reassert his leadership of the people both in

 

SIPDIS

the party and in the country. It also represented an

opportunity to turn the tables on Mugabe and ZANU-PF, which

had put the MDC on the defensive over the past six months

through their efforts to divide the party. A successful

boycott of the election would undermine the Senate,s

legitimacy, demonstrate the ruling party,s unpopularity, and

prove that Tsvangirai was in closer touch with the people of

Zimbabwe than either his MDC rivals or his ZANU-PF opponents.

This approach was not without risk. There was a chance that

a portion of the MDC might choose to break away but it could

still prove to be the right way to reenergize opposition to

the Mugabe regime. Tsvangirai agreed, noting that the party

had already begun to recapture the fighting spirit of 1999 in

anticipation of a boycott campaign.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

7. (C) The MDC is clearly at a crossroads. The Senate

elections have helped expose the fundamental disagreement

between Tsvangirai and his supporters, who see the MDC as a

revolutionary movement and Secretary General Welshman Ncube

and his supporters, who see it as a political party operating

within the confines of the current system. Ncube is

committed to gradual change from within the system,

contesting every election and exerting whatever influence the

MDC has to moderate government policies. Tsvangirai wants to

overthrow the system a ruthless and corrupt dictatorship.

 

8. (C) More worrisome is that there is increasingly bad blood

on both sides as they accuse each other of bribery and impugn

each other,s motives. That said, Tsvangirai is the heart

and soul of the MDC and without him the party would likely

not exist. Ncube knows this and also knows that as an ethnic

Ndebele he has no prospect of winning power in his own right.

We believe the MDC will find a way to bridge its differences

and we believe that successful boycott of the Senate

elections would be the right way to do so. A low turnout

would put the government on the defensive and would be far

easier for the MDC and the international community to monitor

and verify.

DELL

 

(7 VIEWS)

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