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Diplomats questioned Tsvangirai’s ability to deliver

Although several diplomats were stressing the need for Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai to return to the country before the presidential elections run-off of 2008, some had started questioning his ability to deliver.

According to a cable released by Wikileaks, during a diplomatic lunch at the Irish Ambassador’s residence on 9 May 2008, the consensus around the table, which included the International Monetary Fund, France, the European Union, Belgium, Sweden, New Zealand, and American embassy officials, was emphatically that Tsvangirai must return to provide leadership to what was becoming a rudderless MDC inside Zimbabwe.

“However, deeper into the conversation, it also became clear that many diplomats questioned what Tsvangirai is capable of achieving with reports of increasing violence, a ban on political activities, and a yet to be defined strategy for a way forward. Diplomats believe the worst case scenario would be where Tsvangirai is taken out of the picture, either by being jailed or killed, leaving the party decapitated,” the cable says.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08PRETORIA997, MDC LEADERSHIP DELAYS RETURN TO HARARE AMIDST

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA997

2008-05-09 15:06

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO9825

PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #0997/01 1301506

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 091506Z MAY 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4425

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE PRIORITY 3656

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN PRIORITY 5584

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN PRIORITY 9801

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 000997

 

SIPDIS

 

PLEASE PASS TO AF/S

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/09/2019

TAGS: PREL SF ZI

SUBJECT: MDC LEADERSHIP DELAYS RETURN TO HARARE AMIDST

PARTY TENSIONS

 

REF: PRETORIA 966

 

PRETORIA 00000997 001.2 OF 002

 

 

Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Mary Deane Conners. Reas

ons 1.4(b) and (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s return to

Harare will now be delayed until at least Sunday 11 May due

to increased security concerns for not only Tsvangirai, but

also MDC Spokesperson Tendai Biti. At least one SAG

official, however, doubts that Tsvangirai will return anytime

soon. Western diplomats at a lunch on 09 May felt Tsvangirai

needed to return to Harare to give direction to the MDC on

the ground, but at the same time had reservations about

Tsvangirai’s ability to deliver. Diplomats believe the worst

case scenario would be where Tsvangirai is taken out of the

picture, either by being jailed or killed, leaving the party

decapitated. Tsvangirai’s “imminent” return comes amidst

internal bickering over whether or not MDC should reengage

with South Africa in its role as SADC mediator for Zimbabwe.

END SUMMARY.

 

————————-

TSVANGIRAI RETURN DELAYED

————————-

 

2. (C) According to MDC Advisor Kathi Walther (protect),

European diplomats, and IDASA analyst Sydney Masamvu, MDC

Leader Morgan Tsvangirai has delayed his return to Harare

until “at least” Sunday 11 May due to increased security

concerns (reftel). Walther believes the final call about

whether Tsvangirai returns on Sunday will not be made until

Saturday 10 May. The leader of the South African mediation

team, Kingsley Mamabolo, told a European Commission diplomat

on 09 May that he does not believe Tsvangirai will return any

time soon.

 

3. (C) Though new concerns about Tsvangirai’s security have

been raised (NFI), Walther added that the MDC right now is

more concerned about the welfare of MDC Spokesperson Tendai

Biti, who is not returning to Harare anytime soon. Biti has

been warned that the state is seeking to charge him with

inciting violence by declaring the MDC winner of the 29 March

election (reftel). The MDC parliamentary caucus planned for

09 May also has been canceled, according to Masamvu, who

spoke to MDC parliamentarians last night who said they are

unsure about what the MDC’s plan is and are waiting word from

MDC leadership about how to proceed.

 

4. (C) Whenever Tsvangirai does return, Walther told PolOff

that Tsvangirai would like to be greeted at the airport by as

many diplomats as possible. A British diplomat based in

Pretoria told PolOff that Harare-based British High

Commissioner Pocock plans on greeting Tsvangirai in a show of

support. Masamvu also revealed that the Botswana government

will be transporting a fleet of cars for Tsvangirai to use

once in Harare. (NOTE: Tsvangirai also told Masamvu that

Tanzanian President Kikwete provided Tsvangirai with a full

motorcade during his visit to Dar es Salaam and called him

“Your Excellency” throughout the meeting. END NOTE)

 

—————————————–

TENSIONS RISE BETWEEN TSVANGIRAI AND BITI

—————————————–

 

5. (C) Amidst planning for Tsvangirai’s return this week,

Mbeki’s legal advisor Mojanku Gumbi sent Biti several text

messages after Tsvangirai refused to meet with Mbeki,

according to British diplomat Marianne Young. Without

Tsvangirai’s knowledge, Biti agreed to meet Gumbi at Mbeki’s

QTsvangirai’s knowledge, Biti agreed to meet Gumbi at Mbeki’s

diplomatic guesthouse in Pretoria, according to Young. Ten

minutes into the meeting, Mbeki showed up. Young said that

Tsvangirai found out after the meeting had occurred and is

furious with Biti for going behind his back. (NOTE: Young

did not reveal a readout of the meeting between Biti, Mbeki,

and Gumbi and did not know exactly which night the meeting

took place, only that it occurred this week. END NOTE)

 

6. (C) Masamvu told PolOff that tensions have been building

between Tsvangirai and Biti for a couple of weeks over

Tsvangirai’s refusal to engage with the South African

government on Zimbabwe. Masamvu said that Biti, like

Welshman Ncube, has always been more open to negotiations

than Tsvangirai. Young also confirmed that Welshman Ncube

 

PRETORIA 00000997 002.2 OF 002

 

 

(of the Arthur Mutambara faction of the MDC) has an “open

door” to both President Mbeki and Gumbi.

 

——————————————

TSVANGIRAI’S ABILITY TO DELIVER QUESTIONED

——————————————

 

7. (C) During a diplomatic lunch at the Irish Ambassador’s

residence on 09 May, the consensus around the table, which

included the IMF, France, EU, Belgium, Sweden, New Zealand,

and PolOff, was emphatically that Tsvangirai must return to

provide leadership to what is becoming a rudderless MDC

inside Zimbabwe. However, deeper into the conversation, it

also became clear that many diplomats questioned what

Tsvangirai is capable of achieving with reports of increasing

violence, a ban on political activities, and a yet to be

defined strategy for a way forward. Diplomats believe the

worst case scenario would be where Tsvangirai is taken out of

the picture, either by being jailed or killed, leaving the

party decapitated.

BALL

(7 VIEWS)

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