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Mutambara MPs were ready to ditch candidate a week before elections

Members of Parliament from the Arthur Mutambara faction of the Movement for Democratic Change were ready to ditch their candidate for Speaker of Parliament Paul Themba Nyathi more than a week before the elections because their leader had become too close to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

This was disclosed by one of the MPs Abednico Bhebhe who said that two MPs from the party would nominate Nyathi, but seven other legislators would support the Morgan Tsvangirai faction candidate.

Jameson Timba of the Tsvangirai faction said he had great respect for Nyathi but support for him would create a dependence by MDC-T on the other MDC faction, whose leader, Arthur Mutambara, had become increasingly close to ZANU-PF.

The United States embassy also felt that Mutambara had become too close to ZANU-PF especially after an article in the Herald in which he had allegedly said told the West to go to hell.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE711, PARLIAMENT AND THE ELECTION OF A SPEAKER

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE711

2008-08-21 15:10

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5842

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0711/01 2341510

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 211510Z AUG 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3320

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2219

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2340

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0870

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1617

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1973

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2394

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4826

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1489

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000711

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR G. GARLAND

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: 04/02/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: PARLIAMENT AND THE ELECTION OF A SPEAKER

 

Classified By: DCM Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) President Robert Mugabe announced that members of

Parliament will be sworn in August 25. The election of the

House Speaker will follow. The official opening of

Parliament, presided over by Mugabe, will take place the next

day. MDC Tsvangirai (MDC-T) will take part in the swearing

in and election, but will boycott the ceremonial opening.

According to close Tsvangirai advisor Jamison Timba, MDC-T

considers the election of an MDC-T speaker critical to

demonstrate to SADC that it holds the balance of power in

Parliament and to strengthen its negotiating position. END

SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Mugabe announced August 20 that members of Parliament

will be sworn in August 25, followed by the elections of the

speaker and deputy speaker. The ceremonial opening of

Parliament will take place on August 26. According to Timba,

MDC-T will attend the August 25 session. It will boycott the

August 26 opening because it considers the actual convening

of Parliament a breach of the Memorandum of Understanding

(MOU) between ZANU-PF and the MDC which is the basis for

current negotiations, and because it feels that attendance

would represent recognition of Mugabe.

 

3. (C) According to Timba, who is also an MP-elect, the vote

for speaker will be by secret ballot. He is relatively

confident MDC-T will be able to hold its MPs in line for the

election, although there may be two or three who cannot be

present. (Note: ZANU-PF has 99 elected MPs, MDC-T has 100,

MDC Mutambara (MDC-M) has 10, and there is one independent

(Jonathan Moyo) who will probably align with ZANU-PF on the

vote. 106 votes will be necessary to elect the speaker. End

note.) Timba told us MDC-T has not yet decided who it will

nominate. Party chairman Lovemore Moyo from Bulawayo is a

possibility, but if elected he would have to give up his

parliamentary seat; Timba and MDC are afraid ZANU-PF would

win the seat through intimidation in a by-election.

 

4. (C) Timba, and separately MDC-M MP Abednico Bhebhe, told

us that MDC-M would nominate Paul Themba Nyathi, an Ndebele

from Bulawayo. Timba expressed respect for Nyathi, but

believed support for him would create a dependence by MDC-T

on the other MDC faction, whose leader, Arthur Mutambara, has

become increasingly close to ZANU-PF. Bhebhe acknowledged

the same point. He said two of the MDC-M MPs would nominate

Nyathi, but he believed he and seven others would support the

Tsvangirai candidate.

 

5. (C) Turning to negotiations, Timba said Tsvangirai would

hold the line on concessions to Mugabe. If MDC-T was

successful in winning the speakership, he believed it would

send a strong message about MDC-T’s strength to SADC which

might result in additional pressure on Mugabe. MDC now had

little faith in Mbeki and SADC but would continue to talk if

called to the table. (Note: Timba believed South African

president Thabo Mbeki and King Mswati of Swaziland will

travel to Harare in the next couple of days. End note.) But

Timba warned that MDC’s willingness to talk might change if

Mugabe appointed a cabinet, which MDC-T would view as a clear

violation of the MOU and a provocation.

 

6. (C) With little faith in SADC, Timba said MDC-T will

focus more on the AU where it believes it will have a more

sympathetic ear. (Note: We understand Tsvangirai has been

in Kenya the last couple of days, presumably meeting with

Raila Odinga. End note.) Echoing comments made by

Tsvangirai in public and private, Timba said MDC-T would not

 

HARARE 00000711 002 OF 002

 

 

sign a deal just to be done with it. Instead, MDC-T will

oppose ZANU-PF in Parliament, and leave it the increasingly

impossible task of running the government.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) Mutambara and Welshman Ncube have taken the position

that the August 17 SADC Summit Communique, signed by all SADC

countries, including Zambia and Botswana, supports a

power-sharing agreement in which executive power would be

shared by Mugabe and Tsvangirai. The Communique states that

based on Mbeki’s work there is a good basis for a global

agreement, and urges all parties to sign any outstanding

agreements and to conclude the negotiations as a matter of

urgency. Therefore, they argue, Tsvangirai does not have any

SADC support for his proposal that would make him an

executive prime minister and Mugabe a ceremonial president.

 

8. (C) While Ncube has been analytic in discussing

Tsvangirai’s position in the negotiations, Mutambara has

lashed out at Tsvangirai and the West and become closer to

ZANU-PF. Today’s The Herald features a bottom of the fold

headline on the first page, “Go to hell, Mutambara tells

West,” and quotes an Australian interview in which Mutambara

railed against the West, calling it “collectively stupid.”

He has told us, in a contemptuous tone, that Tsvangirai was a

poor leader and was solely responsible for the failure to

conclude an agreement at the SADC Summit. And he appeared

with Mugage at Heroes Day and received Mugabe’s praise. It

appears that Mutambara is anxious for a power-sharing deal

that would give his faction ministerial positions and

possibly a deputy prime minister position for himself. He is

not concerned whether Mugabe remains in power or how this

would affect relations with the West. Many in his party are

suspicious, however, of his self-ingratiation with ZANU-PF,

and it would not be surprising to see a change of leadership

of his faction.

 

9. (C) Tsvangirai continues to hold the line, but he is

subject to increasing pressures from ZANU-PF and its media,

Mutambara, and SADC. The election next week of the House

speaker will be important in determining his strength and

support, and his ability to maintain a firm position.

MCGEE

(13 VIEWS)

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