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MDC advisor said the party will fall apart as soon as Mugabe goes

The International Republican Institute country director for Zimbabwe Djordje Todorovic said the Movement for Democratic Change was a movement and not a political party and was likely to fall apart as soon as President Robert Mugabe was gone.

He told the United States ambassador to South Africa Eric Bost that for now the party shared the common goal of removing Mugabe but as soon as he was gone what little cohesion they had would quickly dissipate.

Todorovic called the MDC’s ideology “schizophrenic,” adding that the MDC was filled with everyone from anarchists to right wingers.

He said in working with party officials most had tended to be more interested in the money that he could give them than political advice.

Asked about Tsvangirai’s leadership, he said that there were jokes circulating within the MDC like, “Morgan may be driving the bus, but no one is in it,” or “The bus has stopped, but Morgan still thinks he’s driving”.

He added, however, that though he felt many in the MDC were unhappy with Tsvangirai, he did not see anyone who could easily take his place.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08PRETORIA1782, IRI DOUBTFUL THAT MDC WILL MEET ITS OWN

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA1782

2008-08-13 09:46

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO9383

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #1782/01 2260946

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 130946Z AUG 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5376

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5902

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 0071

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 001782

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2018

TAGS: PREL SF ZI

SUBJECT: IRI DOUBTFUL THAT MDC WILL MEET ITS OWN

EXPECTATIONS

 

PRETORIA 00001782 001.2 OF 002

 

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Raymond L. Brown. Reasons 1.4(b) an

d (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. On 8 August, PolOff met with IRI Zimbabwe

Country Director Djordje Todorovic to gather his impressions

of the MDC since moving to South Africa in March. He

admitted that he had difficulty getting started, but that MDC

members are much more responsive to him now, though he is

often left with the impression that they view him as a

funding opportunity more than a political resource. He said

the MDC equates itself with the ANC, and feels Zimbabwe’s

historical trajectory will mirror South Africa’s political

transition. However, the reality, he said, is that he fears

that the MDC is a fragmented party with no common ideology

that is likely to fall apart soon after Mugabe is gone. END

SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) On 8 August, PolOff met with IRI Zimbabwe Country

Director Djordje Todorovic to gather his impressions of the

MDC since moving to South Africa at the end of March. For

much of April and May, Todorovic said he found it difficult

to work with anyone in MDC as they were either hastily

preparing for the run-off or in a holding pattern waiting for

direction, with times where the party seemed equally split

among the two scenarios. With MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett’s

help and word of mouth among MDC circles in Johannesburg,

Todorovic said he has been able to make some progress. Over

the past two weeks, Todorovic has brought two groups down

from Harare for two-day training sessions. The first group

included 14 members of the MDC secretariat and the second one

included their information services (i.e., public relations)

department. Training focused on leadership skills, team

building, and what he called “basic party work” like

door-to-door campaigning, creating party databases, and

generating internal reporting mechanisms to keep everyone

informed. Todorovic said both groups had been through

generic team-building/leadership exercises before, but that

it was obvious that they had not received training on party

mechanics.

 

————————————-

FIRST IMPRESSIONS CENTER AROUND MONEY

————————————-

 

3.(C) Overall, Todorovic said he was impressed with everyone

who attended his training sessions. They all seemed

motivated and committed, and worked well together, he said.

More specifically, he said two people stood out among the

rest: Toendepi Shonhe, Director General, and Luke

Tamborinyoka, Director of Information and Publicity. Shonhe,

he said, was extremely responsive and “the person you go to

when you want something done.” Tamborinyoka, a former

professional journalist, stood out as extremely intelligent

and good at what he does. Todorovic’s only complaint was

that everytime any idea was generated, either by him or the

group, their first response was how much money would he give

them to implement it.

 

4. (C) Asking if anyone else in the MDC stood out for better

or worse, he replied MDC Regional Office Spokesperson

Nqobizitha Mlilo and MDC Spokesperson George Sibotshiwe.

Todorovic described Mlilo as “young, smart, extremely

ambitious, and greedy because the first thing he always asks

me for is money.” Todorovic also singled Mlilo out because

he is a “Che Guevera-loving socialist and a pan-Africanist

who generally dislikes white people because he finds them

patronizing.” Todorovic said he gets on well with Mlilo, but

Qpatronizing.” Todorovic said he gets on well with Mlilo, but

he suspects it is in part because he is not American. As for

Sibotshiwe, Todorovic said he also comes across as extremely

ambitious. In fact, Mlilo and Sibotshiwe have become

inter-party rivals, he said. (BIO NOTE: Both Mlilo and

Sibotshiwe were “discovered” by Roy Bennett in Cape Town

sometime last year. Bennett hired Sibotshiwe, who has

ambitions to either star or make movies in Hollywood, to be

Tsvangirai’s personal assistant. According to MDC advisor

Stuart Doran, Sibotshiwe was initially devoted to Bennett and

would serve as his “spy.” However, at some point, Sibotshiwe

became more loyal to Tsvangirai than Bennett. Numerous MDC

contacts, as well as Todorovic, say they distrust Sibotshiwe,

with the most common complaint being “George takes care of

himself first.” Sibotshiwe “fled” to Johannesburg soon after

the June run-off, complaining that his life was in danger.

Few MDC and diplomatic contacts PolOff has spoken to,

however, believe he was in danger. END NOTE)

 

————————–

 

PRETORIA 00001782 002.2 OF 002

 

 

MDC COMPARES ITSELF TO ANC

————————–

 

5. (C) Todorovic said his interactions with the MDC give him

the impression that they mistakenly equate themselves with

the ANC. In fact, he said they act as if they have the same

international status as the ANC did during apartheid and

believe their transition should and will be identical to that

of the ANC’s. Todorovic added that MDC secretariat members

who traveled to South Africa for training told him they

needed time to meet with the ANC before they left. (NOTE:

Irish Ambassador Colin Wrafter (also accredited to Harare)

(protect) told PolOff on 7 August that MDC Leader Morgan

Tsvangirai is taking ANC counsel, including ANC heavyweight

Cyril Ramaphosa, Mandela’s former lawyer George Bizos, Mbeki

rival and ANC veteran Mac Maharaj, and Matthew Clarkson who

is the son of one of South Africa’s first Constitutional

Court judges post-apartheid. END NOTE)

 

———————————

MDC LACKS IDEOLOGY AND LEADERSHIP

———————————

 

6. (C) Coming directly from Iraq, Todorovic said he would

describe the MDC as a movement, rather than a party. He said

for now, they share the common goal of removing Mugabe, but

as soon as he is gone, what little cohesion they have now

will quickly dissipate. Todorovic called the MDC’s ideology

“schizophrenic,” adding that the MDC is filled with everyone

from anarchists to right wingers. Asked about rumors of

splits within Tsvangirai’s faction, Todorovic admitted that

many people he has spoken to complain about Tsvangirai’s lack

of leadership since the 29 March election. He said there are

jokes circulating within the MDC like, “Morgan may be driving

the bus, but no one is in it,” or “The bus has stopped, but

Morgan still thinks he’s driving.” However, while he feels

many in the MDC are unhappy with Tsvangirai, he said he does

not see anyone who can easily take his place. (COMMENT:

Numerous MDC contacts and civil society members over the past

two weeks have complained about the lack of information and

consultation coming out of the negotiations, fueling rumors

that Tsvangirai is about to “sell out.” MDC Advisor Stuart

Doran said on 7 August that even Secretary General Tendai

Biti is complaining about being cut out of the negotiating

process. While Tsvangirai has made it clear to US and other

diplomats that he is standing firm on principle, the secrecy

surrounding the negotiations is simply causing people to

speculate the worst. END COMMENT)

BOST

(23 VIEWS)

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