Arthur Mutambara told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell that Zimbabwe should dream of becoming the Singapore of Africa because of its rich land and human capital.
He said this soon after taking over the leadership of the pro-senate faction of the Movement for Democratic Change.
Mutambara said in today’s global economy no country could develop economically without foreign assistance and investment.
He said President Robert Mugabe’s form of economic nationalism was a thing of the past.
Zimbabwe needed to re-engage the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for assistance on reforms.
Mutambara who said his faction was the legitimate MDC said there were three options to resolve the MDC divide.
The most preferable outcome, in his opinion, was reunification. However, if that was not possible, he favoured an amicable divorce in which both sides shared party assets and adopted new party names.
If neither of these options worked, Mutambara was prepared to go to court and let the ZANU-controlled judiciary determine the fate of the opposition parties.
Mutambara told Dell that he was “rebranding” the pro-senate faction in an effort to learn from past mistakes in which the party had “played into ZANU-PF hands”.
He said that Mugabe’s sole remaining sources of legitimacy domestically and internationally were his liberation war credentials, stance on land reform, and anti-imperialist rhetoric. Mutambara said his party needed to undercut these pillars and reclaim these themes from Mugabe.
Viewing cable 06HARARE384, MUTAMBARA OUTLINES STRATEGY ON MDC SPLIT.
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AF/S FOR B. NEULING
SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y – TEXT
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/28/2015
SUBJECT: MUTAMBARA OUTLINES STRATEGY ON MDC SPLIT.
¶1. (C) Arthur Mutambara, the recently elected president of
the pro-Senate faction of the MDC, told the Ambassador on
March 27 that he favored reunification but stressed that what
separated his faction from that of Morgan Tsvangirai was
values, especially democracy and the use of violence.
Mutambara said he was “rebranding” his MDC to present a more
nationalistic and African-centric image to prevent ZANU-PF
from monopolizing the liberation war legacy. Saying that
Zimbabweans must accept blame for the economic collapse,
Mutamabara declared that both a homegrown recovery plan and
reengagement with donors were vital to recovery. To confront
the regime, Mutambara said he would embrace a broad array of
activities, including demonstrations, but would do so more
effectively than the MDC had done in the past. End Summary.
Democracy and Unity
¶2. (C) In their first meeting, Arthur Mutambara along with
much of his factionQ,s leadership (including Vice President
Gibson Sibanda and Secretary General Welshman Ncube) declared
to the Ambassador that his party was the legitimate Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC). That said, Mutambara outlined
three potential solutions to the MDC divide. The most
preferable outcome, in his opinion, was reunification.
However, if that was not possible, Mutambara favored an
amicable divorce in which both sides shared party assets and
adopted new party names. If neither of these options worked,
Mutambara was prepared to go to court and let the
ZANU-controlled judiciary determine the fate of the
¶3. (C) According to Mutambara, none of these outcomes,
however, precluded a fourth option: eventual reunification in
the future, perhaps ahead of the next national elections
still scheduled for 2008. Mutambara agreed with the
Ambassador that there was little difference between the two
factions on most issues. Moreover, Mutabara said he honored
“Brother Morgan” as a hero of the democratic struggle.
However, he said that there were marked differences over what
he called “values.” Terming Tsvangirai and his faction
undemocratic and prone to the use of violence, Mutambara said
the opposition would have “no moral authorityQ8 to engage
Mugabe if they were guilty of excesses among themselves.
Mutambara added that western supporters of the MDC must “help
us help ourselves” by openly criticizing undemocratic
tendencies among the anti-Mugabe forces.
An Opposition Party Facelift
¶4. (C) Displaying his business management background,
Mutambara told the Ambassador that he was “rebranding” the
pro-Senate faction of the MDC in an effort to learn from past
mistakes in which the party “played into ZANU-PF hands.”
Mutambara said that Mugabe’s sole remaining sources of
legitimacy domestically and internationally were his
liberation war credentials, stance on land reform, and
anti-imperialist rhetoric. Mutambara said his party needed
to undercut these pillars and reclaim these themes from
¶5. (C) With that in mind, Mutambara said the liberation war
tradition belonged to all Zimbabweans, that his party also
favored land resettlement that “was not driven by white
farmer interests,” and that the pro-Senate faction embraced
anti-imperialism and would place African interests first.
Noting that perceptions became reality, he said that the
label given it by Mugabe and others as a supposed British
(N.B. and American) puppet had stuck and had been the party’s
“kiss of death” both domestically and within the region.
Cautioned by the Ambassador that nationalist and
anti-imperialist themes could be misperceived as anti-Western
sentiments, Mutambara said he took the point and tried to
clarify that he did not intend to be confrontational or to
lead a campaign against the U.S. but rather to co-opt ZANU-PF
slogans and expand the MDCQ,s appeal.
Looking Inward, Reaching Out for Economic Revival
¶6. (C) Mutambara agreed with the Ambassador that ZimbabweQ,s
economic meltdown offered an opportunity for the opposition.
He said that his partyQ,s economic platform began from the
premise that Zimbabweans had to accept responsibility for the
economic collapse rather than simply blame it on sanctions or
other exogenous factors. On that foundation, a homegrown
Q&holisticQ8 reform program could be developed which would
address all aspects of the economic downturn, such as
skyrocketing inflation, the ever-sliding currency
depreciation, and the massive quasi-fiscal deficit.
¶7. (C) With a country rich in land and human capital,
Mutambara said that Zimbabweans should dream of becoming the
Singapore of Africa. However, in today’s global economy, no
country could develop economically without foreign assistance
and investment. Mugabe’s form of economic nationalism was a
thing of the past. Zimbabwe needed to reengage the IMF and
World Bank for assistance on reforms and in that regard
Mutambara said he agreed wholeheartedly with the Ambassador’s
formulation: “rescue requires reform.” In response, the
Ambassador noted that rebuilding domestic investor confidence
was perhaps even more important in the near term as a means
to encourage the highly-skilled diaspora to return and
reinvest their funds and their talents.
Thinking Strategically About Confrontation
¶8. (C) Presenting his plan to confront the regime, the
former student leader said the pro-Senate faction would
embrace a broad spectrum of activities. He supported
demonstrations, but argued that the opposition must be
prepared with a “plan B, C, D, and E” if demonstrations
failed. Talk about “the final push” (N.B. the MDC’s failed
mass action campaign in 2003) and “short and sharp” (N.B.
Tsvangirai’s latest call for mass action) efforts to topple
the regime were premature; the battle was a marathon, not a
sprint. Looking long-term, his party would push for a new
constitution before the next national elections currently due
in 2008. If that failed, Mutambara said they would push for
a free and fair election, and would prepare a fall back plan
if the GOZ continued to rig the ballot.
¶9. (C) In a point-by-point address that had clearly been
honed by making the diplomatic and civil society rounds over
the past month, Mutambara lived up to his reputation as a
fiery opposition figure with a globalist view. It remains to
be seen if Mutambara can translate his obvious energy into
concrete steps forward. However, we are hopeful that the
emergence of two “MDC” parties may advance Zimbabwe’s
struggle for democracy by attracting a wider “readership”
across the political spectrum.
¶10. (C) That said, we remain struck by a strong sense of
dQjQ vu. Only a few years ago, Tsvangirai was coming to us
with virtually the same entourage to profess a renewed energy
and commitment to the struggle against ZANU-PF. However, it
is widely believed that it was this same entourage that
sapped that energy. We cannot help but suspect that the
unexpected show of solidarity from the assembled management
team might have been an effort to keep the newly-elected
leader in check. His stance on many issues directly
contradicts the stated positions of ostensible backers Ncube
and Sibanda, with whom there are already rumblings of