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Gono planned to start his own party

Central bank governor Gideon Gono told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGhee in August 2008 that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and President Robert Mugabe were so weak that he intended to start his own party.

Mugabe had just won the presidential elections run-off and his party was negotiating a settlement with both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change.

McGhee was sceptical that Gono would start an alternative party, but said since he was soclose to Mugabe his appraisal of Mugabe and ZANU-PF was a strong indication that all was not well within the party.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE747, THE ZIMBABWE CRISIS: NEXT STEPS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE747

2008-08-28 10:58

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2233

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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

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RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1502

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000747

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR G. GARLAND

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: THE ZIMBABWE CRISIS: NEXT STEPS

 

REF: A) HARARE 741 B) HARARE 730

 

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

 

——-

Summary

——-

1. (C) Tendai Biti, MDC Tsvangirai (MDC-T)

secretary-general, believes that the MDC-T’s gameplan on

negotiations and the way forward includes renewed

international outreach beyond SADC. Biti said the MDC-T’s

success in naming a speaker of the Assembly confounded Mbeki

and ZANU-PF plans. MDC Mutambara (MDC-M) members consider

MDC-M president Arthur Mutambara a serious liability. Cracks

in ZANU-PF are growing and the USG can help strengthen the

prospects for change by encouraging Tsvangirai to reach out

to expand his base while increasing pressure on ZANU-PF

insiders with expanded snctions.

 

—————————————-

Biti on Negotiations and the Way Forward

—————————————-

 

2. (C) Biti told polecon chief on August 27 that heads of

state and government at the August 16-17 SADC Summit had

supported Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and MDC

Mutambara (MDC-T) president Arthur Mutambara in efforts to

pressure MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai to sign the

power-sharing agreement prepared by Thabo Mbeki, the SADC

mediator, the previous week in Harare. The most important

part of the agreement (Septel) outlines the role of the prime

minister. Tsvangirai rejected the agreement during

negotiations in Harare on August 9 and 10, and he did so

again at the Summit because he believed Mugabe would retain

excessive executive power.

 

3. (C) Frustrated with MDC-T and Tsvangirai, Biti said Mbeki

helped draft the Communique of the Heads of State and

Government which called for the Zimbabwean parliament to be

convened, even though this was in contravention of the July

21 MOU between ZANU-PF and the MDC. Mbeki’s expectation,

according to Biti, was that a ZANU-PF–MDC-M coalition would

win the important position of House of Assembly speaker,

thereby refuting MDC-T claims that it had a majority in the

House, and that Tsvangirai therefore deserved to be head of

government.

 

4. (C) Biti told us he believed that SADC and Mbeki were

floored by Monday’s vote to elect MDC-T’s Lovemore Moyo House

speaker. He believed that SADC now understood the MDC’s

strength and Mugabe’s weakness. Nevertheless, Biti believed

Mbeki remained ineffective and the MDC needed to pursue a

strategy outside of SADC.

 

5. (C) Biti related that Tsvangirai met with the South

African ambassador to Zimbabwe on August 27. Tsvangirai made

the case that Mbeki was ineffective. He also complained

about the continued lack of humanitarian access (Septel), the

arrests of MDC-T MPs, and argued that Mugabe in making

senatorial and gubernatorial appointments had violated the

July 21 MOU.

 

6. (C) MDC-T, according to Biti would next launch a

diplomatic offensive aimed at securing UN-AU facilitation for

ZANU-PF–MDC negotiations. Based on ZANU-PF’s failure (in

MDC-T’s view) to negotiate in good faith, the refusal of

humanitarian access, and continuing arrests and violence,

MDC-T would lobby for another UN resolution condemning

ZANU-PF and imposing sanctions.

 

7. (C) Biti said that in the immediate future no

 

HARARE 00000747 002 OF 003

 

 

ZANU-PF–MDC talks were planned. He and other MDC officials

would travel to Lusaka for the Mwanawasa funeral on September

3 and hoped to engage SADC leaders. Biti did not dismiss the

idea of future Mbeki-mediated negotiations, but he was clear

in his opinion that they would go nowhere as long as Mugabe

insisted on remaining as head of government. (Note:

Subsequent to our conversation with Biti, we learned that

Mbeki decided to convene ZANU-PF and MDC working-level

negotiators in Pretoria today. The MDC is deciding whether

to participate. Tsvangirai will fly to South Africa

tomorrow; it is not clear whether he will participate in any

discussions. End note.)

 

————————

Mutambara on the Way Out

————————

 

8. (C) We talked separately about Arthur Mutambara this week

with MDC-M secretary-general Welshman Ncube, MP Abednico

Bhehbe, and former MP Trudy Stevenson. All were outraged at

Mutambara’s recent antics in cozying up to Mugabe on Heroes

Day and publicly blasting Tsvangirai and the West in

interviews. They believed that Mutambara should be replaced

as MDC-M president, but thought this was difficult while

negotiations were ongoing. Stevenson in particular commented

that Mutambara seemed a little mentally “off.” She also

thought he had done irreparable harm to MDC-M which was not

strong to begin with.

 

9. (C) Comment: MDC-M is a weak cousin of Tsvangirai’s

formation. Its 10 MPs, however, hold the balance of power in

the House of Assembly. Although 8 of them supported Lovemore

Moyo, the Tsvangirai candidate, for House speaker, and

presumably now believe themselves more closely aligned with

Tsvangirai than with MDC-M, they cannot formally switch to

MDC-T. To do so would result in expulsion from MDC-M, loss

of their parliamentary seats, and by-elections to replace

them. End Comment.

 

——————–

Ambassador’s Comment

——————–

 

10. (C) Despite concerns that he would cave in during

negotiations and make concessions leaving Mugabe with

significant executive power, Tsvangirai has stood his ground

against Mugabe, Mutambara, and SADC. His steadfastness

combined with the MDC-T’s important victory in the House

speaker contest, has left the MDC stronger than before

negotiations began. At the same time, Mugabe and ZANU-PF

have been weakened by the loss of the speakership, by

Mugabe’s humiliation at the convening of Parliament, and by

expanding fissures within ZANU-PF. Four ZANU-PF MPs, who we

believe are affiliated with the Solomon Mujuru camp, voted

for the MDC-T speaker candidate. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

governor Gideon Gono told me earlier this week that he

believes ZANU-PF and Mugabe are so weak that he intended to

start his own party. While we are skeptical that Gono will

start an alternative party, he is among Mugabe’s few

confidantes, and his appraisal of Mugabe and ZANU-PF is a

strong indication that all is not well within the party.

Finally, we continue to receive reports of disaffection

within the military and police.

 

11. (C) What can we do to support Tsvangirai and pressure

ZANU-PF? While our tools are limited, I believe our focus in

Harare should be to encourage Tsvangirai to reach out to a

broad spectrum of Zimbabwean society. His weakness, I

believe, has been to focus on his own party and especially on

its leadership to the exclusion of others who are just as

interested in political and economic change. He has largely

 

HARARE 00000747 003 OF 003

 

 

neglected civil society, the trade union movement (from which

he came), and other political actors, such as MDC-M and Simba

Makoni, in mounting an opposition to Mugabe. For months, I

and my Embassy colleagues have stressed to Tsvangirai and the

MDC the importance of a broad-based opposition. We will

place renewed emphasis on this. The Mugabe regime must know

that it faces increasing opposition from throughout Zimbabwe.

I believe the AF bureau should reach out to Tsvangirai’s

advisor in Washington to pass the same message. He needs to

hear this from as many trusted voices as possible.

 

12. (C) The other important focus should be sanctions. We

have heard that the latest rollout of sanctions directed

against businesses and parastatals has caused significant

heartache both among those directly affected, and among those

who fear being the next targets. Additional sanctions now or

in the immediate future would send a clear signal to Mugabe,

ZANU-PF insiders, and SADC that the status quo is

unacceptable and that the results of the March 27 election

must be respected. End Ambassador’s Comment.

 

MCGEE

 

(5 VIEWS)

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