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Gandi Mudzingwa said the MDC does not have anybody beyond Tsvangirai

Gandi Mudzingwa, the special advisor to Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, told a United States embassy official that like the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, the MDC had no clear succession mechanism and despite its wide popular support it lacked anybody beyond Tsvangirai who had the stature to command a national following.

He said the party had no contingency plans to pursue in the event that efforts to get ZANU-PF to the table failed.

The MDC had yet to become very proficient at planning, something at which ZANU-PF had always excelled, he conceded.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1594, MDC OFFICIAL OFFERS MIXED ASSESSMENT ON CHURCHES’

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1594

2003-08-08 10:10

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.

 

081010Z Aug 03

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001594

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2013

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: MDC OFFICIAL OFFERS MIXED ASSESSMENT ON CHURCHES’

INITIATIVE, SEEKS APPROACH TO MILITARY

 

REF: (A) HARARE 1571 (B) HARARE 1532

 

Classified By: POLITICAL OFFICER WIN DAYTON; REASON 1.5 (B) AND (D)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Gandhi Mudzingwa, MDC’s Director of

Presidential Affairs, on August 7 told poloff that mixed

signals from ZANU-PF underscored the uncertainty surrounding

the ongoing bishops’ attempt to jump start talks. He

reported that a ZANU-PF source had approached him about

derailing the effort but that Mugabe’s attitude on the talks

remained unclear. Emphasizing the potential importance of

the military in any resolution of Zimbabwe’s political

impasse, he signalled that the MDC would embark on a discreet

effort to engage key military figures. He urged the USG to

engage moderate ZANU-PF elements and to maintain pressure on

South Africa to push Mugabe to the table. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Mudzingwa opened by expressing dismay over ZANU-PF’s

failure to demonstrate clear commitment to the process

undertaken by the bishops (ref B), which he attributed to a

clash of “personal interests” among key insiders. A nephew

of Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa called Mudzingwa

on August 6 to urge that the bishops’ initiative be

terminated, noting that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa

and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo had convinced the

party that the bishops were not impartial. Mudzingwa

observed that Mnangagwa, who remains Mugabe’s favored

successor, was not involved in any of the intra-party

initiatives to communicate with the MDC and was likely to be

an obstacle to all such initiatives. Others posturing in the

run-up to potential negotiations, such as Chinamasa and

Information Secretary Nathan Shamuyarira, were seeking to

discredit each others’ efforts in an effort maximize each’s

own influence. He concluded that most accepted the need for

dialogue and change but ego clashes and mutual suspicion

thwarted their ability to pursue an obvious shared interest

in meaningful engagement.

 

3. (C) Tempering his pessimism, Mudzingwa opined that Mugabe

himself may yet be open to the bishops’ process

notwithstanding the squabbling and lack of consensus among

his subordinates. Mugabe repeatedly had made clear through

public signals and private communications that he wanted to

step down; if he believed that the bishops’s process could

produce the conditions he required to step down, the

initiative could still bear fruit. Mudzingwa detected signs

that Mugabe remained open to some kind of constructive

engagement with the MDC. ZANU-PF public characterizations of

the MDC were becoming more restrained. The cabinet (read:

Mugabe) reportedly had required Local Government Minister

Chombo to suspend his effort to have the MDC-dominated Harare

City Council dismissed. The country’s downward economic

spiral, buttressed by international pressure, had convinced

most ZANU-PF members from top to bottom that significant

change was necessary. Prominent members’ posturing, while

disruptive, evidenced their conviction that change would come

and that they wanted to shape it. Nonetheless, the talks, if

undertaken, were unlikely to go anywhere without the thorny

issue of Mugabe’s succession within ZANU-PF first being

resolved.

 

4. (C) Mudzingwa confided that the MDC had no contingency

plans to pursue in the event that efforts to get ZANU-PF to

the table failed. The MDC had yet to become very proficient

at planning, something at which ZANU-PF always had excelled,

he conceded. The MDC remained highly vulnerable on the

breadth of their leadership. Although the MDC had wide

popular support, Mudzingwa asserted, it lacked anybody beyond

Morgan Tsvangirai who had the stature to command a national

following. Like ZANU-PF, the MDC had no clear succession

mechanism.

 

5. (C) Characterizing the military as Mugabe’s “final

reliable pillar of support”, Mudzingwa emphasized its

potential importance in any political solution to the

country’s crisis. The MDC had yet to establish rapport with

any key military leaders, even though many were deeply

dissatisfied with the current situation and supported change.

Mudzingwa said he intended discreetly to reach out to some,

more to reassure them about the MDC’s posture toward the

military than to seek their support. He urged the USG

quietly to get the military to understand the need for

national political dialogue and to reassure key officials

about potential MDC governance. He said he intended to seek

similar engagement by South African officials but thought the

USG might offer “more muscle”.

 

6. (C) In closing, Mudzingwa conveyed gratitude for the many

facets of USG support for potential change in Zimbabwe. He

urged the USG to maintain pressure on South Africa to push

Mugabe to the table. The USG should “recognize” the bishops

effort discreetly, being careful not to so in a way that

might give ZANU-PF elements more fodder with which to

discredit them. Finally, Mudzingwa advised the USG to engage

with moderate ZANU-PF elements such as Shamuyarira and

Chairman John Nkomo, and those with strong ties to the

business community, such as Matumwa Mawere and Saviour

Kasukawire.

 

7. (C) COMMENT: The bishops’ initiative continues to

proceed on shaky ground. The timing and substance of

ZANU-PF’s overdue contribution to the talks’ agenda may be a

significant indicator of Mugabe’s interest, the decisive

factor in whether talks begin. Regarding its interest in

reassuring the military, the MDC does not appear to have a

policy for dealing with top military figures; an MDC approach

to the military could alarm ZANU-PF elements and further

disrupt nascent progress toward talks. Bishop Evangelical

Fellowship of Zimbabwe President Trevor Manhanga’s meeting

with the Charge on August 8 is reported septel.

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