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MDC tried to foment disturbances after crackdown on illegal activities

Movement for Democratic Change secretary for presidential affairs Gandi Mudzingwa told United States embassy officials that the party was working closely with civil society to foment protests over the government crackdown on the informal sector.

He said the plan was to stimulate disturbances that would lay the foundation for a larger national action, possible a stay-away.

The MDC’s liaison committee would be chaired by national chairman Isaac Matongo and include youth chairperson Nelson Chamisa and women’s chairperson Lucia Matibenga.

In its comment to Mudzingwa’s plan, the embassy said: “The government’s violent suppression of urban masses and the MDC’s difficulty in responding highlight a central democratic dilemma: How does a non-violent opposition intent on gaining power by legal and/or democratic means gain advantage over a violent ruling party indifferent to the suffering of its people and willing to use all means available to perpetuate its power? 

“Compounding the conundrum for the MDC are internal tensions flowing from its failure to prepare adequately for the disappointment of another stolen election. The party’s domestic and international stature may depend in large part on its ability to overcome internal squabbling and exploit the political opportunity presented it by the GOZ’s brutal urban crackdown. “

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 05HARARE774, MDC OFFICIAL ON PARTY TACTICS, INTERNAL TURMOIL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE774

2005-06-03 10:10

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.

 

031010Z Jun 05

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000774

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR D. MOZENA, B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC OFFICIAL ON PARTY TACTICS, INTERNAL TURMOIL

 

REF: HARARE 713

 

Classified By: Ambassador Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Eric T. Schultz under

Section 1.4 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: MDC Secretary for Presidential Affairs (and

principal aide to Party President Morgan Tsvangirai) Gandi

Mudzingwa on June 1 told poloff that the party was working

closely with civil society to foment protests over the GOZ

crackdown against the informal sector. Mudzingwa asserted

that the party planned to stimulate urban and rural

disturbances that would lay the foundation of a larger

national action ) possibly a “stay-away” ) within a few

weeks. He reported that a recent retreat in Botswana among

the party leadership had reduced intra-party tensions but

suggested that some friction likely remained. Finally, he

said Tsvangirai wanted to defer his planned visit to

Washington until late June ) early July ) after the MDC’s

response to the GOZ’s ongoing urban crackdown had taken more

tangible form. END SUMMARY.

 

—————————-

Agitating with Civil Society

—————————-

 

2. (C) According to Mudzingwa, party leaders had been

meeting with leaders of prominent civil society leaders

nearly daily for the past week to coordinate strategies in

response to the GOZ crackdown against “illegal structures.”

A meeting later on June 1 was to have divided

responsibilities among the party, churches, students, and

NGOs such as the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)

and Lovemore Makhuku’s National Constitutional Assembly

(NCA). The MDC’s liaison committee would be chaired by

National Chairman Isaac Matongo and include Youth Chairperson

Nelson Chamisa and Women’s Chairperson Lucia Matibenga.

 

3. (C) The developing plan was to stimulate local

disturbances that appeared to be spontaneous, and not

associated with the party. The MDC would be rhetorically

supportive of such activity but not take responsibility for

it publicly. Although the party was &raising its profile,8

with Tsvangirai publicly touring most of the affected areas

on May 31, Mudzingwa asserted that overt involvement in

fomenting resistance would give the GOZ a pretext to arrest

the MDC leadership.

 

4. (C) Mudzingwa conceded that the party had yet to develop

a plan for reaching out to the many Zimbabweans displaced by

the crackdown. Most of these people had been apolitical but

now represented a potential asset for the MDC. The party,s

efforts to tap into them would likely be decentralized, with

local leaders empowered to reach out to the displaced from

both inside and outside MDC structures. He predicted that up

to 500,000 Zimbabweans would be displaced by GOZ efforts

within the next three months.

 

——————————————— —-

Urban and Rural Fronts Leading to National Action

——————————————— —-

 

5. (C) Mudzingwa said MDC efforts would revolve principally

around existing community anger in urban areas. In addition,

an element within the party (including him) wanted to agitate

in rural areas, principally around the issue of food. Rural

activities were already underway, including in incidents not

widely reported. A well-publicized incident in Filabusi had

involved the arrest (and subsequent release) of more than 100

women who had demonstrated in front of the local chief’s

residence, demanding food when local GMB personnel denied it

to them because they were from an MDC area. The MDC had

played a behind-the-scenes role in this incident. In an

incident not reported in the media, MDC-affiliated youths in

Buhera had overcome the GMB’s efforts to withhold food from

them ) with police backing and even encouraging the youths,

according to Mudzingwa. He added that there were other

similar unreported incidents, but internal divisions over

tactics had kept the MDC from aggressively publicizing them.

 

6. (C) Mudzingwa asserted that rural disturbances would keep

authorities stretched thinner and open up more opportunities

in the cities. Initial plans called for urban and rural

disturbances to continue, laying the foundation for some

national action ) a possible stay-away, for instance )

called for publicly by the MDC and its civil society allies.

 

7. (C) As for timing, Mudzingwa predicted that snowballing

urban and rural actions would culminate in a national action

in about three weeks ) late June. He said MDC-civil society

discussions originally contemplated national action on June

8-9 but deferred it because “the people were not ready.”

Final dates would hinge on the developing GOZ and public

response to continued rapid economic decline. In the

meantime, the MDC would continue to publicly press wedge

issues, such as food, jobs, prices, water, transport. It

would also push for more international attention and write a

letter to the UN, although Mudzingwa was vague on what such a

letter would seek.

 

—————————————–

Internal Tensions Ease, Remain Unresolved

—————————————–

 

8. (C) Elaborating on reported internal party strife,

Mudzingwa said that a recent IRI-arranged retreat in Botswana

had done much to reduce tensions among the party leadership.

It had clarified boundaries of responsibility, with the

President responsible for vision, the National Chairman for

structures, and the Secretary General for operations and

administration. In addition, frayed relationships,

resentments, and inefficiencies had been exposed and

addressed somewhat. One positive outcome of the retreat was

that leaders recognized that there had to be some tolerance

for failure, but that all ultimately had to be accountable

for their performance.

 

9. (C) Mudzingwa complained, however, that unspecified

members were allowing recriminations over the election to

distract the party from the growing national crisis. Instead

of recognizing the election as stolen, they wanted to

apportion blame within the organization and use the results

to advance personal interest at the expense of others. He

then proceeded to castigate Secretary-General Welshman Ncube

for allegedly setting up a parallel Matabeleland command

center during the election, and issuing public messages that

had not been coordinated with the rest of the leadership.

 

10. (C) Mudzingwa confirmed that the party had expelled 14

in connection with the recent occupation of its Harvest House

Headquarters (reftel) and was in the midst of hearings to

uncover the involvement of others. (N.B. Mudzingwa is among

those rumored to have been involved, ostensibly to reduce the

influence of the party’s “intellectual” wing, with which

Ncube is associated.) He lamented that internal issues were

distracting the party from their national struggle and the

developing national crisis, which offered potential important

opportunities. The party would have to refocus or become

irrelevant, he concluded.

 

—————————–

Tsvangirai Trip to Washington

 

SIPDIS

—————————–

 

11. (C) Mudzingwa said that Tsvangirai would likely defer

plans to visit Washington until between June 22 and July 15,

by which time the party will have made substantive progress

in its alliance with civil society to stimulate more

organized protests. He asked that the USG be flexible and

undertook to convey to us a more definite proposal once MDC

response to the crackdown had progressed further and the

party had more to say about MDC plans. He also urged that

the USG and the EU coordinate closely with the MDC before

engaging the regime constructively on anything ) he

expressed special concern that the EU and/or some of its

member states may be moving ahead quietly in rehabilitating

relations with the GOZ.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

12. (C) The government’s violent suppression of urban masses

and the MDC’s difficulty in responding highlight a central

democratic dilemma: How does a non-violent opposition intent

on gaining power by legal and/or democratic means gain

advantage over a violent ruling party indifferent to the

suffering of its people and willing to use all means

available to perpetuate its power? Compounding the conundrum

for the MDC are internal tensions flowing from its failure to

prepare adequately for the disappointment of another stolen

election. The party’s domestic and international stature may

depend in large part on its ability to overcome internal

squabbling and exploit the political opportunity presented it

by the GOZ’s brutal urban crackdown.

 

SCHULTZ

(6 VIEWS)

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