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MDC leaders said Joshua Nkomo sold out for a comfortable life

Movement for Democratic Change leaders Welshman Ncube and Gibson Sibanda told a United States embassy official that their party was not like Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union.

They said that although Nkomo and his ZAPU were emasculated by President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front in negotiations in the 1980s, ZAPU had no international support like the MDC.

Besides, many in the West were so anxious to see Zimbabwe succeed that they encouraged ZAPU to agree to a settlement.

They also distanced themselves from Nkomo who they said had sold out for a high ranking position and a comfortable life.

Asked about finances and other difficulties they were facing Sibanda said their budget was not in good shape.

Ncube said their problem was raising enough money for legal fees and medical expenses for supporters and shelter for those who were afraid to go home.

United States ambassador Joseph Sullivan promised to look into using the Victims of Torture Fund to cover these expenses.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1207, MDC LOOKS TO THE FUTURE; TSVANGIRAI SPENDS ANOTHER

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1207

2003-06-12 13:54

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 001207

 

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: 06/12/2008

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC LOOKS TO THE FUTURE; TSVANGIRAI SPENDS ANOTHER

NIGHT IN CUSTODY

 

Classified By: POLITICAL OFFICER PEGGY BLACKFORD FOR REASON 1.5B/D

 

Summary

———–

 

1. (C) MDC leaders worried that President Mugabe might try

to influence the judiciary to keep their president, Morgan

Tsvangirai, in jail for a month or more. They welcomed the

 

SIPDIS

reported visit of President Bush to the region and hoped that

it would step up pressure for dialogue. They judged last

week’s mass action to be a success overall and were

especially pleased with the favorable media coverage the

events had received in South Africa. In the coming month,

the party’s priorities will include party building,

international policy development and communication as well as

preparing for dialogue and a transition government. Their

budget has been strained by the need in recent days to pay a

large number of legal fees, fines, medical expenses and to

provide shelter for those under threat.

 

MDC Leaders Concerned for Tsvangirai

————————————

 

2. (C) At dinner with the Ambassador and PolOff June 11, MDC

leaders, Vice-President Gibson Sibanda, Secretary-General

Welshman Ncube, and spokesman Paul Nyathi expressed their

concern for President Morgan Tsvangirai. He had been brought

to court for his bail hearing in the morning wearing prison

khakis and in handcuffs and leg-irons. Upon application by

his attorney, he was permitted to change into his own

clothes. The hearing; however, had not concluded by late

afternoon and was continued until June 12. The MDC leaders

do not believe that the Judge is likely to hand down a ruling

before Friday if then. They have heard rumors that Mugabe is

pressuring the judiciary to keep Tsvangirai in jail for at

least a month “to teach him a lesson.” They asked the US to

intervene urgently with the South Africans to bring pressure

to bear to get Tsvangirai released.

 

3. (C) Ncube who was arrested June 9 on charges similar to

those pending against Tsvangirai, namely making public

statements calling on people to oust Mugabe, was released

after one night in prison. He was very grateful to be out.

The Ambassador inquired if he felt that the government had

released him so promptly in an effort to drive an wedge

between him and Tsvangirai. Interestingly, for one so

skeptical about the independence of the judiciary, he

rejected this possibility and seemed to believe that his

release was simply the result of the fact that the government

failed to make a good case. He could prove he was not at

several of the meetings where he was alleged to have made

statements.

 

Relying on International Initiatives

————————————-

 

4. (C) All three leaders were delighted with press reports

that President Bush is to visit South Africa next month.

They believed that such a visit would put great pressure on

President Mbeki to get a real dialogue going. Asked where

they stood with the South Africans, they said that the MDC

had furnished the SAG with a memo laying out its priorities

and conditions weeks ago and had not yet received any

feedback from either the South Africans or ZANU-PF. They

believe that the South Africans were still awaiting a ZANU-PF

reaction.

 

Evaluating Last Week’s Mass Action

———————————-

 

5. (C) Asked to judge their success in last week’s mass

action, they all professed to be quite content with the

result. Sibanda said that they had always expected that the

demonstrations would fail to materialize, but announced them

anyway in the anticipation that the government would crack

down as it did and assure a very successful stayaway. The

Ambassador raised the issue of unmet expectations. Sibanda

acknowledged that some people had interpreted the “final

push” rhetoric literally and might be disappointed but

overall none of the leaders seemed to believe that their

support had eroded in any significant way. Nyathi, who spent

last week in South Africa, was very pleased with the coverage

the events had received in the South African media. He

believed that the MDC had gained considerable support among

the South African population which would be useful in

motivating the SAG to push harder for dialogue. He did

indicate that he believed the mass action had uncovered a

weakness in the party’s internal communication system which

would have to be addressed.

 

Next Steps

———-

 

6. (C) PolOff asked the leaders what came after last week’s

mass action. Ncube said that they were planning to lay low

and let tempers cool for a couple of weeks and then they

would try to get negotiations back on track. Although

admitting that Mugabe had never negotiated with his domestic

opponents except from a position of overwhelming strength,

Ncube and Sibanda pointed out that he had done so on occasion

in international disputes. They pointed out that although

Nkomo and his ZAPU party had been emasculated in negotiations

in the 80’s, ZAPU had no international support and, in fact,

many in the West were so anxious to see Zimbabwe succeed that

they had encouraged ZAPU to agree to a settlement. They also

distanced themselves from Nkomo who they intimated had sold

out for a high-ranking position and a comfortable life.

Ncube also said they would be continuing to focus on three

main objectives: party building, international policy and

communication. In response to an inquiry from the

Ambassador, Sibanda confirmed that they were continuing to

work on a Blue Book of policies which would form the basis

for a transition government.

 

Difficulties

————

 

7. (C) The leaders were asked about finances or other

difficulties they might be facing. Sibanda replied that

while their budget was not in as good a shape as it was last

year, that was only to be expected given the current

inflation rate. Ncube said that their big problem over the

last 10 days or so has been raising enough money for legal

fees and fines for those arrested, medical expenses for

supporters who were injured and particularly shelter for

those afraid to go home. The Ambassador promised to look

into the use of the Victims of Torture Fund to see if we

could assure that USAID funds to cover these expenses were

made available expeditiously. (Note: Part of the problem

has been GOZ harassment of fund managers.)

 

Comment

——-

 

8. (C) Although clearly tired and somewhat dismayed at

being pursued by GOZ forces of law and order, on the whole

the MDC leadership still at liberty seemed relatively upbeat

and relaxed. They appear to be planning well for the future

and making the most of opportunities to bring international

pressure to bear on Mugabe. Mugabe, however, has proved

remarkably immune to such pressure in the past and shows no

signs of believing that he needs to come to an understanding

with the opposition.

 

SULLIVAN

(15 VIEWS)

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