The Movement for Democratic Change supported former Air Force chief Josiah Tungamirai, a Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front candidate, when he contested the Gutu-North seat though the party fielded its own candidate Crispa Musoni.
This was said by the MDC action coordinator Dennis Murira, who also came from the Masvingo area.
Murira said the MDC leadership quietly supported Tungamirai but this was not being communicated publicly because the party wanted to bolster its ties and confidence with the military.
According to Murira the party knew that it was not going to win anyway and was not putting in a lot of money on its candidate.
Viewing cable 04HARARE54, MDC PLANNING TO SUPPORT NON-MDC MASS ACTION
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 000054
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013
SUBJECT: MDC PLANNING TO SUPPORT NON-MDC MASS ACTION
REF: A. HARARE 47
¶B. 2003 HARARE 2455
¶C. 2003 HARARE 2443
¶D. 2003 HARARE 2412
¶E. 2003 HARARE 2313
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: An MDC official described plans for a prayer
vigil on January 11 as the first in what the MDC hopes will
be a series of similar (mass) actions in the coming weeks or
months. The events would be held under the auspices of the
church rather than the MDC. The official recounted MDC
efforts to build its structures in rural areas, and also
revealed that some in the MDC leadership would be content if
the ruling party candidate won the upcoming parliamentary
by-election in Gutu-North. END SUMMARY.
Prayer Vigils in Lieu of Mass Action
¶2. (C) In a conversation with poloff on January 8, Dennis
Murira, MDC mass action coordinator, and personal assistant
to MDC Party Chairman Isaac Matongo, said that plans were
underway to hold a prayer vigil on January 11 in Kambuzuma, a
high-density suburb of Harare. Murira and Gandi Mudzingwa,
MDC Special Assistant for Presidential Affairs, have in
recent months both described MDC plans to begin holding
prayer vigils early in the new year with the hope that the
GOZ would be reluctant to crack down on church-goers (Ref D).
The events would appear to be church-sponsored, but MDC
structures would be used to generate attendance that Murira
suggested could be 2-500 people for the January 11 event.
Murira said MDC leaders hoped to demonstrate that the MDC was
still a relevant political force and to generate confidence
among the party faithful ahead of the 2005 parliamentary
elections. Murira said stickers already had been printed
which said “faith demands action”.
Building Rural Support in Key Constituencies
¶3. (C) Echoing other MDC officials, Murira reiterated that
the party was focused on building its support base in rural
areas. The party would concentrate door-to-door membership
campaigns in 30 pilot constituencies that they had only lost
narrowly in the 2000 and 2002 elections. Murira said the
party had sold thousands of membership cards (signing up
thousands of new members) in the selected areas. He said the
upcoming challenge would be to get old and new members to
register to vote as soon as the GOZ opened the voter’s rolls
for the 2005 elections.
MDC Support for ZANU-PF Candidate ?
¶4. (C) Murira, who is from the Masvingo area, admitted that
much of the MDC leadership would quietly be happy if ZANU-PF
candidate for the February 2-3 parliamentary by-election in
Gutu North (near Masvingo) Josiah Tungamirai won. He said
that this message was of course not being communicated
publicly, but that the MDC had communicated in the past with
retired Air Chief Marshal Tungamirai in an effort to bolster
its ties and confidence with the military. Murira said MDC
leaders were comfortable with Tungamirai. (Note: MDC public
support for Tungamirai would likely have led to serious
problems for the candidate from within ZANU-PF. End Note.)
Murira said that the MDC was short on cash and, acknowledging
that they were likely to lose anyway, might only send Z$3
million (US$460) to its candidate Crispa Musoni for the
campaign in Gutu North, a traditionally ZANU-PF bastion.
¶5. (C) Murira’s description of MDC plans for mass action, or
more clearly plans not to undertake mass action in its own
name but rather coordinate discreetly with other civic or
religious organizations, is consistent with the direction
laid out during last month’s party conference (Ref B), and
recent conversations with MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and
other MDC officials (Refs A, D). From the MDC’s perspective,
the vigils area designed more to build confidence within the
party faithful rather than to send a message to the GOZ or to
motivate political change from the regime. They will be an
important test of the MDC’s organizational capabilities,
which the party has quietly been developing since last June’s
failed mass action. The party probably will suffer little
downside should the vigils fail to gather momentum. If they
succeed, the vigils may pose a dilemma for the GOZ, which is
keen not to let the opposition gain credibility but wants to
project an air of growing political calm. Should the GOZ
arrest organizers or take some other overt action against the
vigils or organizers, the challenge will fall back to the MDC
on how to exploit the situation.