History could be repeating itself. President Robert Mugabe rejected three proposals that had been made by South African President Thabo Mbeki and insisted that the 2008 elections would be held in March under the existing constitution.
Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee that Mbeki had offered three options for implementing a new constitution before the 2008 elections.
The options were:
- hold a referendum on the agreed draft constitution in February and elections in March;
- postpone elections until after consultation and a referendum on a new constitution;
- or adopt an interim constitution through Parliament and hold elections in March.
Tsvangirai said Mbeki met with the MDC leadership after seeing Mugabe and reported that Mugabe had rejected all three options, insisting that elections go forward in March under the existing constitution.
The MDC told Mbeki that the people of Zimbabwe had no faith that their votes would be respected as things stood; a new dispensation, including effective implementation of a new constitution and recently revised legislation, was essential to holding a free and fair election.
The elections were held in March under the existing constitution as Mugabe had argued.
Mugabe has once again announced that elections for 2013 will be held in March but the country has not yet agreed on a new constitution and a referendum.
This could mean that the elections would be held under the existing constitution.
Viewing cable 08HARARE38, NO BREAKTHROUGH FROM MBEKI VISIT
RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0038 0181058
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 181058Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2398
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1723
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1849
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0447
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1126
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1483
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1905
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4333
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0976
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000038
AF/S FOR S. HILL,
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/16/2018
SUBJECT: NO BREAKTHROUGH FROM MBEKI VISIT
REF: A. HARARE 26
¶B. PRETORIA 100
Classified By: DCM Katherine Dhanani. Reason: 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai called Ambassador in
Bulawayo and met with DCM on January 18 to brief on the Mbeki
visit to Zimbabwe (reftels). Tsvangirai confirmed that Mbeki
had offered three options for implementing a new constitution
before elections: hold a referendum on the agreed draft
constitution in February and elections in March; postpone
elections until after consultation and a referendum on a new
constitution; or adopt an interim constitution through
Parliament and hold elections in March. Mbeki met with the
MDC leadership after seeing Mugabe and reported that Mugabe
had rejected all three options, insisting that elections go
forward in March under the existing constitution. The MDC
told Mbeki that the people of Zimbabwe have no faith that
their votes would be respected as things stand; a new
dispensation, including effective implementation of a new
constitution and recently revised legislation, is essential
to holding a free and fair election. Tsvangirai said Mbeki
returned to see Mugabe before going to the airport. The MDC
had received no readout on that conversation, suggesting no
breakthrough was achieved.
¶2. (C) DCM asked Tsvangirai what comes next. Tsvangirai
expressed disappointment that a “historic opportunity” had
been lost. He said the two MDC factions would meet the
weekend of January 19-20 to conclude an agreement on joining
forces for elections. Asked whether this meant a decision
had been made to contest elections in March, Tsvangirai
replied with some emotion that the only “principled” decision
would be to boycott. However, he said, the MDC would have to
discuss the question. He was certain that there would be
many (especially MPs) who had a personal interest in
participating, and he was not willing to predict what the
party would ultimately decide.
¶3. (C) Comment: Mugabe’s future course is clear: Zanu-PF will
continue full steam ahead toward elections in March. Mbeki
and the MDC face tougher decisions. Mbeki told the Harare
press corps that the facilitation has made “very good
progress,” but once election dates are announced (likely 45
days in advance of March 29, i.e. on or about February 13)
the facilitation will be forced to admit defeat. The MDC may
achieve an agreement between its two factions, but the
question of a boycott threatens new discord. Most observers
judge that Tsvangirai does not have enough support to pull a
boycott off. He may pragmatically accept a party decision to
contest, but it will be difficult to effectively lead the
campaign in an election he knows ZANU-PF has already stolen.