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How church leaders tried to open dialogue between ZANU-PF and MDC

Church leaders from the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Christian Council and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference all tried to open dialogue between the Movement for Democratic Change and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front but made no headway.

Interestingly both parties wanted to talk but the MDC felt that ZANU-PF had to make a public commitment that it was prepared to negotiate.

ZANU-PF, on the other hand, continued to harass leaders of the MDC and even arrested party leader Morgan Tsvangirai on further treason charges this time of trying to get President Robert Mugabe out of power through mass action.

Here is how the United States embassy reviewed efforts by the church leaders to open negotiations.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1251, CHURCH LEADERS TRY TO FACILITATE DIALOGUE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1251

2003-06-19 14:09

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 001251

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

DS/OP/AF

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2008

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI

SUBJECT: CHURCH LEADERS TRY TO FACILITATE DIALOGUE

 

Classified By: Political Officer Peggy Blackford for reasons 1.5b/d

 

Summary

——–

1. (C) A group of church leaders representing the

Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), the Zimbabwe

Council of Churches (ZCC) and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops

Conference have held two meetings with leaders of ZANU-PF and

the MDC in an attempt to get the parties to the negotiating

table. Talks have been slow and produced little to date

though ZANU has, in theory, agreed to an MDC demand for a

public commitment to the process. This commitment has not

yet been forthcoming however. Although many groups appear to

be interested in breaking through the current impasse, so far

success is elusive.

 

Church group meets with leaders on both sides

———————————————

 

2. (C) Following up on an article in the Zimbabwe Independent

of June 13 which reported that church leaders were

facilitating dialogue between ZANU-PF and the MDC, AID

officers spoke with Trevor Manhanga, President of the EFZ who

confirmed that a group of nine pastors from the EFZ, the ZCC

and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference had come

together to lead this initiative. Although they had agreed

to keep their meetings quiet until Mugabe committed himself

to the process, clearly someone in the group had leaked the

story to the Independent. Given this leak, Manhanga agreed

to keep the mission informed but asked that we keep the

matter confidential.

 

3. (C) Thus far, the group has held two meetings with each

side. The first occasion was during the second or third week

in May when the pastors met with ZANU-PF and the MDC in back

to back meetings. The ZANU delegation was composed of Nathan

Shamuyarira, the party’s secretary for information and

publicity, Willard Chiwewe, Foreign Affairs senior secretary

and a member of the President’s office whose name Manhanga

could not remember. As the pastors had anticipated,

Shamuyarira started off with a 40 minute lecture on

patriotism, land, the war of liberation, etc. When he

finished the pastors said that they did not plan to respond

to those issues but instead were there to talk about

negotiations. They said that as church leaders they could

not sit by and just watch. They wanted to interact with both

sides and get the dialogue going. The ZANU representatives

promised to report back to Mugabe and the Politburo and get

back to them.

 

4. (C) The group next met with the MDC’s top leadership,

President Morgan Tsvangirai, Vice-President Gibson Sibanda,

Secretary-General Welshman Ncube and Presidential Advisor,

 

SIPDIS

Gandi Mudzingwa. They said that they welcomed the church

initiative but wanted a public commitment from ZANU and asked

if the initiative was strictly the church’s idea or ZANU’s.

The pastors assured them that they had initiated the process

themselves. Their end game is a free and fair election where

the people decide on a government of their choice.

 

5. (C) Both sides were quiet until the week of the stayaway

(June 2-6) when ZANU got in touch and offered to answer the

pastors. The meeting, originally scheduled for June 4,

finally took place on June 9. At that meeting Chiwewe, John

Nkomo, a party bigwig, and Flora Buka, former Minister of

State for Land Reform, represented ZANU and agreed to put

their commitment in writing. Chiwewe is apparently drafting

the response which has not yet been received.

 

6. (C) Later the same day the pastors met with Mudzingwa and

several other lower ranking MDC members; however, with

Tsvangirai imprisoned and Ncube in hiding, they were unsure

 

SIPDIS

how to proceed. The pastors encouraged them to make

Tsvangirai’s arrest part of their response. Mudzingwa

 

SIPDIS

advised the pastors June 17 that a letter had been drafted

and was on its way. Once both letters are received then the

pastors hope to begin the negotiation process in earnest.

They are drawing on USAID funds under the advocacy grant made

to EFZ to finance this activity.

 

Comment

——-

7. (C) It is clear that there is a lot of talking going on

behind the scenes in Zimbabwe and a number of actors who want

to facilitate genuine dialogue, but it not clear what is

required to get the key players to the table. When it takes

weeks to even get a commitment to write a letter, one has to

wonder about the sincerity of ZANU, and without some movement

from ZANU, the MDC can not get to the negotiating table.

SULLIVAN

 

(33 VIEWS)

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