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MDC cancels mass action but keeps government guessing

The Movement for Democratic Change cancelled the mass action proposed for December 2000 but party president Morgan Tsvangirai said the mass action had been “deferred indefinitely” but would be “constantly reviewed” to put pressure on the government to hold early presidential elections.

Party secretary general Welshman Ncube, however, told United States embassy officials that mass action had been cancelled altogether.

The MDC was saying publicly that the mass action had been deferred or postponed to keep the government guessing but in reality it was very unlikely that the party would ever organise any form of mass action before the presidential elections, Ncube said.

He said the MDC believed that the success of mass action could not be assured, and that, under the circumstances, it was not in the country’s best interest to encourage a “savage response” from the government.

Another problem was that the central intelligence organisation had heavily infiltrated the MDC’s provincial structures robbing the party of the element of surprise.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 00HARARE6584, ZIMBABWE OPPOSITION CANCELS PLANS FOR MASS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

00HARARE6584

2000-11-27 13:02

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.

 

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTO3930

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 06584 271305Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EUR-00

VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00

AC-01   DCP-01   NSAE-00 OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00

PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00   IRM-00   SSO-00   TRSE-00

USIE-00 PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-02   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00

SAS-00     /010W

——————A42CF6 271305Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7702

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 006584

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH

 

LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

 

PASS USTR FOR ROSA WHITAKER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/27/10

TAGS: PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE OPPOSITION CANCELS PLANS FOR MASS

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 06584 271305Z

ACTION

 

REFTEL: HARARE 6564

 

CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR TOM MCDONALD FOR REASONS: 1.5

(B) AND (D).

 

1. (U) THE MDC’S NATIONAL COUNCIL DECIDED AT AN

EXTRAORDINARY MEETING NOVEMBER 24 (REFTEL) TO CANCEL

PLANS FOR MASS ACTION. THE NOVEMBER 25 “THE HERALD”

QUOTED MDC PRESIDENT MORGAN TSVANGIRAI AS SAYING MASS

ACTION HAD BEEN “DEFERRED INDEFINITELY.” TSVANGIRAI

ALSO STATED THAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES FOR MASS ACTION WOULD

BE “CONSTANTLY REVIEWED” TO PUT PRESSURE ON THE

GOVERNMENT TO HOLD EARLY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS DUE BY

MID-2000.

 

2. (C) IN A CONVERSATION WITH POLOFF NOVEMBER 27,

HOWEVER, MDC SECRETARY-GENERAL WELSHMAN NCUBE SAID THE

MDC HAS CANCELED ALTOGETHER PLANS FOR MASS ACTION AND

THAT THE MATTER WOULD NO LONGER BE CONSIDERED. THE MDC

IS SAYING PUBLICLY THAT MASS ACTION IS BEING “DEFERRED”

AND “POSTPONED” TO KEEP THE GOVERNMENT GUESSING, BUT, IN

REALITY, IT IS VERY UNLIKELY THAT THE MDC WILL EVER

ORGANIZE ANY FORM OF MASS ACTION BEFORE THE PRESIDENTIAL

ELECTIONS, NCUBE EMPHASIZED. THE MDC BELIEVES THAT THE

SUCCESS OF MASS ACTION CANNOT BE ASSURED, AND THAT,

UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, IT IS NOT IN THE COUNTRY’S BEST

INTEREST TO ENCOURAGE A “SAVAGE RESPONSE” FROM THE

GOVERNMENT. NCUBE STATED THAT HIS PARTY HAD INFORMATION

THAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS PLANNING A STATE OF EMERGENCY

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03        HARARE 06584 271305Z

AND BRUTAL CRACKDOWN IF MASS ACTION CAME TO PASS. THE

PROVINCIAL REPRESENTATIVES ALSO REPORTED AT THE COUNCIL

MEETING THAT THE CIO HAS HEAVILY INFILTRATED THE MDC’S

PROVINCIAL STRUCTURES, AND THAT, AFTER BEING INFORMED BY

THE CIO, THE ZIMBABWE BROADCASTING CORPORATION (ZBC)

ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 6 AS THE DATE FOR MASS ACTION. THIS

REMOVED THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE, NCUBE CONTINUED, AND

WAS ANOTHER REASON FOR CANCELING THE MASS ACTION.

 

3. (C) IN SPEAKING TO PAUL NYATI, MP FOR GWANDA NORTH

AND MDC DIRECTOR OF ELECTIONS, ON NOVEMBER 27 ON THE

MARONDERA WEST BY-ELECTION (TO BE REPORTED SEPTEL),

POLOFF ALSO LEARNED THAT CONSULTATIONS WITH MDC RURAL

STRUCTURES ON MASS ACTION HAD NOT BEEN COMPLETED OR

THOROUGHLY COORDINATED. A NUMBER OF MDC MEMBERS HAD

MADE TOO MANY STATEMENTS ABOUT UPCOMING MASS ACTION

PLANS FOR IT TO BE A REAL SURPRISE TO THE GOVERNMENT,

NYATI STATED. THE MP ALSO CITED MEMBERS AS WANTING TO

BE WITH THEIR FAMILIES OVER THE HOLIDAYS AS AN

ADDITIONAL REASON FOR CANCELING THE MASS ACTION.

 

4. (C) COMMENT: THE NATIONAL COUNCIL’S DECISION FOLLOWS

THE MDC MODUS OPERANDI: THREATEN AND PLAN POLITICAL

ACTION, BUT BACK OFF AT THE LAST MINUTE WHEN VIOLENCE

SEEMS INEVITABLE. IT IS ALSO LIKELY THAT WESTERN

COUNTRIES, PARTICULARLY THE US, PLAYED A ROLE IN

DISCOURAGING ACTIONS THAT COULD LEAD TO VIOLENCE. IT IS

UNCLEAR WHETHER THE MDC’S “RADICAL” WING AND YOUTH

ELEMENTS IN HARARE WILL ACCEPT THE DECISION. A SPLIT IN

THE MDC REMAINS A POSSIBILITY AND SOME RADICAL ELEMENTS

COULD STILL TAKE MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS. ALTHOUGH

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 06584 271305Z

IT PROBABLY WILL DIFFUSE TENSION IN THE SHORT-TERM, THE

CANCELLATION OF MASS ACTION COULD ALSO TAKE THE WIND OUT

OF THE MDC’S SAILS AND LEAVE THE OPPOSITION IN LIMBO

UNTIL THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IN 2002. FURTHERMORE,

THE MDC COULD BRING THE MASS ACTION PROPOSAL BACK TO

CENTER STAGE IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2001 IF DAILY

LIVING CONDITIONS GET AS BAD AS EXPECTED HERE. END

COMMENT.

 

MCDONALD

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

 

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