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MDC advisors preferred a Transitional Authority not GNU

Movement for Democratic Change advisors who met a United States congressional delegation on 3 July 2008, a week after Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front leader Robert Mugabe had been sworn in as President, insisted that a transitional authority, and not a government of national unity, was the way forward.

The advisors who met at Strive Masiyiwa’s house in Dainfern, Johannesburg, included: Masiyiwa himself, MDC vice-President Thokozani Khupe, MDC treasurer Roy Bennett, George Sibotshiwe a senior aide and campaign manager to Morgan Tsvangirai, and businessman Wellington Chadehumbe.

The congressional delegation was led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman.

The MDC team said the transition would only be for six months but they would accept 12 to 18 months to level the playing field for new elections. They wanted Tsvangirai to lead the transitional authority but wanted Mugabe out.

The advisors did not trust South African President Thabo Mbeki, the Southern African Development Community appointed mediator, and did not believe South Africa would help the transitional government.

Bennett and Masiyiwa directly pitched the delegation for funding of the MDC and Berman offered to push for a $5 million supplemental appropriation for promoting democracy in Zimbabwe.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08PRETORIA1832, CODEL BERMAN MEETS ZIMBABWEAN OPPOSITION IN SOUTH

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA1832

2008-08-18 13:42

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO2988

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO

DE RUEHSA #1832/01 2311342

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 181342Z AUG 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5443

INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN IMMEDIATE 5935

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN IMMEDIATE 0094

RUEHSA/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG IMMEDIATE 8300

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 001832

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S (MARBURG), AF/RSA, H (AMACDERMOTT)

DEPT PLEASE PASS TO HILL STAFFERS RKING, P-AMARSH, DBERAKA

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/15/2017

TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM OVIP ZA SF ZI

SUBJECT: CODEL BERMAN MEETS ZIMBABWEAN OPPOSITION IN SOUTH

AFRICA

 

REF: A. CODEL AND PAHAD

B. CODEL WRAP-UP

 

PRETORIA 00001832 001.2 OF 003

 

 

Classified By: A/DCM Donald Schenck for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

This is the third of three cables reporting on CODEL Berman’s

July 1-6, 2008 visit to South Africa.

 

1. (C) Summary: CODEL Berman met in Johannesburg on July 3

exile members of the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for

Democratic Change. They were told that: the June 27 run off

was a farce; Mugabe’s presidential claim was illegitimate;

and a Transitional Authority — not a Government of National

Unity — was needed to prepare the way out of the crisis via

new elections within the next 18 months. They decried the

“political culture” in Africa which allowed a loser who was

prone to violence to negotiate a power-sharing arrangement.

They expressed a complete lack of faith in South Africa’s

mediation effort, and the AU and the Southern African

Development Community to solve this crisis. They invested a

modest hope that the UN Security Council could do more.

“What we need,” one said, is “pressure from the USA and the

international community” to insist that the outcome of new

elections in Zimbabwe “reflects the will of the people.” End

Summary.

 

——————————————— —

Masiyiwa Hosts CODEL and Opposition MDC Insiders

——————————————— —

 

2. (C) CODEL Berman was hosted on July 3 in the upscale

Johannesburg gated suburb of Dainfern by Strive Masiyiwa, a

wealthy Zimbabwean businessman who has lived in South Africa

for years, and who has been a major player in opposition

initiatives against President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF

party. Masiyiwa invited members of the opposition Movement

for Democratic Change (MDC) to engage the CODEL and discuss

the post-June 27 runoff election crisis environment. The

participants included among the Zimbabweans: Masiyiwa

(Advisor to MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai) M. Thokozani

Khupe (MDC Vice President), Roy Bennett (MDC Treasurer once

elected to Parliament and later jailed by the GOZ), George

Sibotshiwe (Senior Aide and Campaign Manager to Tsvangirai),

and Wellington Chadehumbe (Zimbabwean businessman and MDC

Policy Advisor). U.S. participants included: House Foreign

Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), George

Miller (D-CA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Thomas Davis (R-VA), Jim

Costa (D-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Linda Sanchez (D-CA);

their staff, PolCouns (Note Taker), and EconCouns (Control

Officer). This meeting took place following a briefing by

the SAG DepForMin Aziz Pahad (septel) who conveyed to the

CODEL the SAG’s official policy and characterization of the

situation in Zimbabwe.

 

——————————

A Litany of Woe and Injustice

——————————

 

3. (C) Masiyiwa introduced his guests, and set the stage by

stating the opposition’s view that: the June 27 election was

a farce; that Mugabe’s claim to executive authority was

illegitimate; and the way forward to resolve the crisis

required a Transitional Authority (TA) — not a Government of

National Unity (GNU) — with the MDC in the majority as

QNational Unity (GNU) — with the MDC in the majority as

reflected in the March 29 elections and the ZANU-PF (without

Mugabe) in the minority. This TA would have a single

purpose: to set the stage for new elections in the future

that would reflect the will of the people. He lamented the

implicit recognition of the African Union (AU) Summit in

Sharm el-Sheik that allowed Mugabe’s participation as Head of

State, and suggested that if Zambian President Mwanamasa had

not been medically evacuated with a stroke, he would have led

an anti-Mugabe initiative at that summit along with

Botswana’s President Seretse Khama (who did not attend

either). In the absence of these critical voices, and the

lack of electoral and democratic credentials of too many

other African heads of state, Mugabe was able to take

Zimbabwe’s seat, and with the help of South Africa’s

President Thabo Mbeki, was able to divert the AU from taking

a strong stand on the crisis. He told the CODEL that prior

 

PRETORIA 00001832 002.2 OF 003

 

 

to their arrival, he received a call from the Zimbabwean

capital reporting that 200 refugees were at that moment

appealing to the U.S. Embassy in Harare for sanctuary, while

300 asylum seekers were also at the South African Embassy.

 

———————–

Power, Fear and Poverty

———————–

 

4. (C) Ms. Khupe detailed the repression and violence

visited upon opponents of the ZANU-PF for the past twenty

five years. She emphasized the massacre of over 20 thousand

ZAPU supporters in the mid-1980s, the impact of the economic

crisis on the people throughout the 1990s with an

incomprehensible 2 million percent inflation rate today, the

intensity of the violent response of the ZANU-PF around

elections since 2000, and the inhumanity and desperation that

drove the most recent campaign of state-sponsored violence

prior to and beyond the June 27 “non-election election” run

off. In a climate of raw power, fear and poverty, she said,

this campaign was driven with a “heartless” determination in

a climate of “war against the Zimbabwean people.” Two

hundred thousand people were displaced, over 200 homes

destroyed, 86 people were known dead, but she feared the

total was much higher. She criticized the AU for conferring

a fig leaf of legitimacy on Mugabe and decried the “political

culture” in Africa which allowed “a negotiation for power

sharing if you lose an election and threaten violence.”   She

stressed that a Transitional Authority was needed in Zimbabwe

to prepare for free and fair elections. “Mugabe must

resign,” she declared, “Tsvangirai must head the TA, and

violence must cease.”

 

———————-

Genesis of Catastrophe

———————-

 

5. (C) Roy Bennett — a white Zimbabwean, once coffee farmer

and former MP — said the genesis of the catastrophe that was

unfolding in Zimbabwe was a conflict of values and

principals. The ZANU-PF’s claim to a right to rule rested on

its role in the liberation struggle, and this claim was not

based on democratic principles. Mugabe and his key

supporters hungered for the power and luxury that came from

Zimbabwe’s resources and held Zimbabweans for ransom, as a

sacrifice to their avarice. He expressed a complete lack of

faith in the AU or the Southern African Development Community

(SADC) to solve this crisis and hoped the UN Security Council

could do more.

 

6. (C) George Sibotshiwe, as MDC Campaign Director,

described the difficulties the opposition faced in their

campaign. He said Mugabe and the ZANU-PF were shocked and

surprised at the MDC electoral win on March and immediately

set out to make sure they did not lose the run off. The

security forces, supplemented by civilian thugs and

torturers, led the campaign of violence and intimidation.

Their campaign advance man was kidnapped, tortured and

murdered, and they were unable to organize mass rallies.

They then changed their campaign strategy from mass rallies

to a campaign caravan. Roadblocks were then established all

around the country that hindered the movement of the caravans

and undermined their ability to campaign. He explained that

Qand undermined their ability to campaign. He explained that

he and his colleagues (some of whom were tortured and others

murdered) had to flee Zimbabwe to South Africa and other

neighboring countries. He told a harrowing story about how

he escaped out the back of a house he was hiding in as GOZ

security officers were literally at the front door. He

stressed that the environment for the election was perverted

such that the MDC had to withdraw in order to save its

supporters from further harm. “What we need,” he said, is

“pressure from the USA and the international community” to

insist that the outcome of new elections in Zimbabwe

“reflects the will of the people.”

 

7. (C) Businessman Wellington Chadehumbe called for a

“strong, robust position in the UNSC” that recognizes,

promotes and supports democracy. He added that a resolution

of the crisis called for “broadening the context of

mediation” to include UN support for the AU working within

 

PRETORIA 00001832 003.2 OF 003

 

 

SADC enhancing South Africa’s intervention. These

“co-negotiators” would be a strategy to “weaken South

Africa’s grip” on the mediation effort. Additionally, there

was a need to “change the debate” from arguing the bogus

outcome of the June 27 farce in favor of the principle of

“the will of the people.”

 

————————–

The MDC’s Favored Solution

————————–

 

8. (C) The Zimbabwean opposition interlocutors reiterated

their position that a TA, not a GNU, is the way forward. The

MDC would not participate in a GNU in which they were a

“junior partner.” The TA would only need six months — but

they would accept 12 – 18 months — to level the playing

field for new elections. This strategy would be based on

“clear timelines” with “disincentives” at the end. In

response to questions from the Codel, they confirmed that

they did not trust South Africa to help them and that they

had lost confidence in President Mbeki as a mediator. They

understood that the media blitz characterizing the AU and

SADC effort as a breakthrough in negotiations for a GNU,

though false, were becoming the revealed truth as conveyed by

the international media. When asked what their plan was to

counter this trend, they emphasized their lack of access and

resources that constrained their activities. Bennett and

Masiyiwa directly pitched the Codel for funding of the MDC,

and Chairman Berman offered to push for a five million dollar

supplemental appropriation for promoting democracy in

Zimbabwe.

 

——————————

Comment: Leaning into the Wind

——————————

 

9. (C) The MDC is in an unenviable position and they know

it. They do not expect much help coming from SADC,

especially with South Africa acting under its mandate,

Mwanamasa incapacitated, and Swaziland’s monarchy, the DR

Congo’s chaos, and Angola’s non-elected government lacking

the credibility to call the June 27 election illegitimate.

They do not trust in the AU’s willingness and ability to come

to their aid, considering the many member states whose

governments are in power by non-democratic means. They

understand their call for an AU peacekeeping force to be

deployed to Zimbabwe in advance of new elections is unlikely.

They fear (correctly) that the UNSC will be hamstrung from

taking a strong stance as Russia and China could veto any

resolution to further pressure Mugabe. Nevertheless, they

have been in this game for many years and show no inclination

to quit now. Their request for U.S. funding is not, in our

view, a shallow effort, and any response on our part should

be handled discretely. The forces of history and the

multilateral system have not yet come to the rescue of the

Zimbabwean opposition and may not do so in the foreseeable

future. Nevertheless, they are committed to their dream of a

new Zimbabwe that has been rehabilitated from its pariah

status, and in which the skills and experience of the

Zimbabwean Diaspora can be applied to reversing the downward

trends since independence.

BOST

(10 VIEWS)

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