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Did MDC and ZANU-PF Karangas plan a pact in 2008?

Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Tendai Biti, who was totally opposed to any inclusive government that included President Robert Mugabe, told United States embassy officials that a Karanga faction of the MDC had held talks with Emmerson Mnangagwa but he did not say what the talks were about.

Biti said former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri and former head of the women’s league in the MDC, Lucia Matibenga, were among the group that had talked with Mnangagwa and the two were potential future threats to the party.

Mudzuri was appointed Minister of Energy and Power in the first inclusive government though he was later fired.

Matibenga is currently Minister of Public Services.

Biti himself and party leader Morgan Tsvangirai are Karanga though Tsvangirai is sometimes classified as Manyika becomes he now comes from Buhera.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE583, HARARE: TENDAI BITI ON NEGOTIATIONS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE583

2008-07-02 13:55

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/02/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: HARARE: TENDAI BITI ON NEGOTIATIONS

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti spoke with PolEcon

Chief July 2 on negotiations with ZANU-PF, his views of MDC

president Morgan Tsvangirai, the status of the rival MDC

faction, and his future.

 

—————

On Negotiations

—————

 

2. (C) Biti said the MDC would negotiate with ZANU-PF for a

“transitional” government, defined as a government of limited

mandate and term, which would in turn be superseded by a

government resulting from new elections and under a new

constitution. The MDC was not interested, he emphasized, in

a government of national unity (GNU) which would

theoretically be an expansion of the current government

subject to its five-year term.

 

3. (C) Biti assumed that in a transitional government,

ZANU-PF would insist that Mugabe stay in power for up to 18

months. The MDC had few allies in its effort to force Mugabe

out, according to Biti. South Africa and a number of other

African countries wanted him to remain. The MDC Mutambara

faction (MDC-M) would probably accept Mugabe. Within the MDC

Tsvangirai faction, some were tired and willing to accept a

Mugabe-led transitional government in order to buy time and

reorganize — as unsavory as the thought was. Even

Tsvangirai, for whom Biti said he had great respect, might

decide it was better not to hold out and see people die but

rather allow himself to be swallowed up by ZANU-PF as did

Joshua Nkomo in 1987.

 

4. (C) Biti said he himself was opposed to any government

that included Mugabe. He thought ZANU-PF was interested in a

GNU or transitional government in order to get western

assistance. He therefore urged the U.S. to make clear that

we would not deal with any government that included Mugabe.

 

—————–

The MDC-T faction

—————–

 

5. (C) Biti thought the MDC with Tsvangirai back in Zimbabwe

was running smoothly and, mostly, was cohesive. He did note

that there was a Karanga faction within the party which

included Elius Midzuri, the former mayor of Harare, and Lucia

Matibenga, former head of the MDC women’s league. Midzuri

had held talks with Emmerson Mnangagwa, also a Karanga, and

Biti saw Midzuri and Matibenga as potential future threats to

the party.

 

6. (C) Biti was critical of the MDC-M. Although he

considered Welshman Ncube a friend, and noted they had spent

months as negotiating colleagues in the SADC process, he

noted that MDC-M had not spoken out during the post-March 29

election violence. He further remarked that Ncube had been a

beneficiary from ZANU-PF of a farm and other largesse. Biti

saw the MDC-M faction as weak and opportunistic. He

mentioned that MDC-M spokesman Gabriel Chaibva had attended

Mugabe’s inauguration, and afterward spoken of the importance

of letting bygones be bygones.

 

7. (C) That said, Biti acknowledged it was important to

maintain an alliance with MDC-M. From the March 29 election

and the three by-elections on June 27, MDC-T had 100 seats in

the House of Assembly, MDC-M had 10 seats, ZANU-PF had 99

seats, and there was one independent. A majority would allow

MDC-T to elect the speaker, an important position in the

House of Assembly. MDC-T therefore needed the support of

MDC-M. (NOTE: ZANU-PF is aware that the absence of a

 

HARARE 00000583 002 OF 002

 

 

handful of MDC parliamentarians could rob the opposition of

its majority when an election is held for speaker. In recent

weeks, it has arrested and harassed a number of newly-elected

MDC parliamentarians. MDC-T treasurer Elton Mangoma told us

today that five MDC parliamentarians are outside of Zimbabwe

now because of threats on themselves or their families. One

MDC parliamentarian was arrested today. And Mangoma and

about eight others, according to him, are n a list of MDC

parliamentarians targeted for arest; as a result he and

others are avoiding publi places and not sleeping in their

homes. END NOE.)

 

————-

Biti’s Future

————

 

8. (C) Biti told us he is not fully recovere from his jail

ordeal (he reportedly suffers fro diabetes and high blood

pressure) and he hoped to have a medical check up in South

Africa. He said he was so angry at Patrick Chinamasa that he

was unsure he should continue as a negotiator. He explained

that after months across the table from Chinamasa in

negotiations, Chinamasa was clearly aware that Biti was not

the author of the fraudulent document allegedly outlining the

MDC’s plans once in office that is the basis of the treason

charge against Biti. Yet Chinamasa, the justice minister,

did nothing to protect Biti from arrest when he returned from

South Africa in June, collaborated in his interrogation in

jail, and did not say what he knew: that the document was

fraudulent.

 

9. (C) Nonetheless, Biti said he would negotiate out of

duty. But he would not be part of a GNU or transitional

government. He wanted to continue to fight the Mugabe

regime, but feared as a symbol of protest he would not be

safe here or in South Africa. Therefore, he was interested

in living and working in the U.S. and carrying on the fight

from there.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (C) Biti is tired, angry, and bitter after his own

experience and ZANU-PF’s campaign of terror. He has been

forced to neglect his family for long periods of time. His

desire for some breathing time is understandable. But his

absence, if he does in fact leave, would deprive the MDC of

intellectual and strategic strength. It is regrettable that

Tsvangirai has not paid more attention to Biti. END COMMENT.

 

 

McGee

(26 VIEWS)

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