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Mutambara said Tsvangirai has become a “little Mugabe”

The leader of the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change Arthur Mutambara said although founding MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai deserved a place of honour in the fight for democracy, he had become a “little Mugabe”.

He said this when he was elected leader of the pro-senate faction of the MDC in 2006, terming himself the anti-senate leader of the pro-senate faction of the MDC.

Mutambara said though, like Tsvangirai, he was against the senate and even advocated pulling out of parliament, unlike Tsvangirai he would not have overturned the national council’s initial decision to contest the senate elections and would have accepted majority rule.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE263, MUTAMBARA ELECTED PRO-SENATE FACTION LEADER,

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE263

2006-03-02 16:50

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5341

RR RUEHMR

DE RUEHSB #0263/01 0611650

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 021650Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9676

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1124

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0956

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1130

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0390

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0750

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1183

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3526

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0956

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1584

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1339

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000263

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/02/2015

TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: MUTAMBARA ELECTED PRO-SENATE FACTION LEADER,

CHARTS OWN COURSE

 

REF: A. REF A: HARARE 227

 

B. REF B: HARARE 215

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Arthur Mutambara was elected President of the

Pro-Senate faction of the MDC during its Congress on February

25. In his speech accepting the post, Mutambara praised

Morgan Tsvangirai as a Zimbabwean hero but chastised him for

becoming a “little Mugabe.” Speaking primarily to a domestic

audience, Mutambara highlighted nationalist themes and said

the MDC was the rightful heir to the liberation war

tradition. Beyond Mutambara’s fiery speech, however, the

Congress left little to inspire the crowd of more than 3,000,

who were angered at the lack of accommodation and delays in

receiving their promised meals.

 

2. (C) Immediately after the Congress, Mutambara began

reaching out to civil society leaders, who have largely

backed Tsvangirai’s faction. Mutambara’s acceptance speech

contradicted many of the positions of the faction’s

leadership, especially his opposition to the Senate and his

call for MDC reunification, and could herald a difficult

relationship with Welshman Ncube and others as Mutambara

seeks to put his stamp on the faction. End Summary.

 

———————————

Few Surprises in Election Results

———————————

 

3. (SBU) As widely expected (ref B), South Africa-based

intellectual Arthur Mutambara won the presidency of the

Pro-Senate faction after Deputy Secretary General Gift

Chimanikire stepped aside. In return, Chimanikire was

unanimously awarded the position of national chairman.

Secretary General Welshman Ncube, Vice President Gibson

 

SIPDIS

Sibanda, and Treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube all unanimously

retained their positions.

 

4. (C) The Congress marked the first time that women have

been elected to top positions within the opposition party.

Glen Norah MP Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga garnered

support from nine of the 12 provinces to become the faction’s

deputy secretary general. Former MDC Women’s Assembly

official Miriam Mushayi was elected to the new post of deputy

treasurer, which was likely created to compensate for

Dulini-Ncube’s poor performance as treasurer.

 

——————————————— —

Mutambara Gently Criticizes Tsvangirai, Embraces Nationalism

——————————————— —

 

5. (U) In his acceptance speech (e-mailed to AF/S), an

energetic Mutambara confronted the intra-party divide head on

and pledged to work toward reunification. Mutambara said

Tsvangirai “deserves a place of honor in the fight for

 

SIPDIS

democracy” but suggested the other faction’s president had

become a “little Mugabe.” Terming himself the “Anti-Senate

leader of the Pro-Senate faction,” Mutambara admitted that

like Tsvangirai he was against the Senate and even advocated

pulling out of Parliament and all other election-based

institutions. Unlike Tsvangirai, however, Mutambara said he

would not have overturned the National Council’s initial

decision to contest the Senate elections and would have

accepted majority rule.

 

6. (U) Seizing issues that that have thus far been viewed as

 

HARARE 00000263 002 OF 004

 

 

ZANU-PF’s province, Mutambara proceeded to herald

nationalistic themes:

 

– On the liberation war legacy, Mutambara praised “the

pre-1980 Robert Mugabe” but said that the MDC were “better

defenders of the liberation war legacy than the current

ZANU-PF party.”

 

– On land reform, he said that returning to the pre-2000

status quo was not desirable and accused the U.K. and other

Western governments of reneging on support for

redistribution. Distinguishing himself from ZANU-PF, he

called for the equitable and transparent distribution of land.

 

– On foreign policy, Mutambara said his principles were

grounded in pan-Africanism ) a statement likely designed to

ingratiate himself with regional observers. Rhetorically

asking Mugabe “why should you monopolize anti-imperialism,”

Mutambara “put our American and European friends on notice”

that he too was opposed to unilateralism and violations of

sovereignty.

 

7. (U) Mutambara blamed the economic crisis squarely on

ZANU-PF misrule and called for a comprehensive economic

recovery program. Advocating reengagement with the

international community, Mutambara said “our problems are so

protracted that we can not go it alone.” At a press

conference on February 26, he reportedly pledged that his

faction would develop a blueprint to revive the economy

within a 100 days.

 

8. (C) Curiously, Mutambara did not reference his student

activism credentials or reach out to students who in the past

month have started regaining their past militancy (ref A),

including a demonstration on February 27 at the University of

Zimbabwe at which seven students were detained. According to

Fulbright scholar and Bulawayo-based lecturer Elinor Burkett,

this was despite a recommendation on the point to Mutambara

from MP David Coltart, who while absent from the Congress has

emerged as one of Mutambara’s biggest backers.

 

—————————–

Congress Otherwise Falls Flat

—————————–

 

9. (C) Beyond Mutambara’s speech, the Congress left little

to inspire the crowd who filed the 3,000-seat Bulawayo

Amphitheater to above capacity. Pro-Senate faction

“supporters” were bussed to Bulawayo from across the country

with the promise of accommodation and meals. Spirits quickly

dampened, however, after participants weathered a heavy

downpour the night before without shelter and many did not

receive their meals until late morning. As an angry crowd

began demanding lunch, Nkayi MP Abednico Bhebhe told poloff

that the faction had raised only half of the money it had

hoped for, thus necessitating cutbacks in some areas such as

food. (N.B. And presumably the originally scheduled second

day, which was cancelled.)

 

10. (SBU) Although invited, few civil society groups

attended the Congress and those that did gave only lukewarm

endorsements of the process. Zimbabwe National Students

Union (ZINASU) spokesperson Mfundo Mlilo said the students

were aggrieved by the MDC’s split and wanted a renewed focus

on overthrowing the regime, garnering thunderous applause

from the audience. Suggesting that the students’ allegiance

was still up for grabs, Mlilo called on both MDC factions to

form an education policy. NCA’s Lovemore Madhuku, the only

significant civil society figure to attend, said he would

ally with all groups that endorsed a new constitution, but

noted his differences with the faction over the Senate.

 

HARARE 00000263 003 OF 004

 

 

(N.B. Madhuku is close to Mutambara and was reportedly best

man at his wedding.)

 

———————————

Mutambara Hits the Ground Running

———————————

 

11. (C) Immediately after the Congress, Mutambara began

reaching out to civil society leaders in an attempt to build

a personal following. Post understands that he has met with

Crisis Coalition as well as other Bulawayo and Harare-based

groups. To date, Mutambara has yet to meet with Tsvangirai,

but we understand that Mutambara has made contact with the

Pro-Boycott faction at a lower level.

 

12. (C) In a meeting with a USAID local employee on February

28, Mutambara said he had placed conditions on his acceptance

of the Pro-Senate faction’s top position. Among other

things, he demanded independence from the faction’s

executive, a serious commitment to reunification, and the

right to bring in his own people. (N.B. Fearful of creating

another “kitchen cabinet,” the faction’s response to this

last condition is still evolving.) Likening Ncube to an

obnoxious employee that nonetheless delivered results,

Mutambara said that Tsvangirai had failed to properly manage

the independent-minded secretary general.

 

————————–

Muted Pro-Boycott Reaction

————————–

 

13. (C) The response to Mutambara’s election by the

Pro-Boycott faction has been muted thus far. Tsvangirai

rallies planned for February 26 were cancelled due to the

burial of Gilbert Shoko, the MDC MP for Budiriro, who died on

February 23. Spokesperson Nelson Chamisa has publicly

welcomed Mutambara’s call for reunification and said that

Tsvangirai’s door was open. He insisted, however, that

 

SIPDIS

Tsvangirai was the only MDC president. National Council

 

SIPDIS

member Getrude Mthombeni told poloff on March 1 that the

Pro-Boycott faction was taking a “wait-and-see” attitude

toward Mutambara. Noting that there appeared to be

factionalism within the faction, she said that Mutambara’s

speech was “going to get him in trouble” because it was more

in tune with Tsvangirai’s stance than Ncube’s.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

14. (C) Only days into Mutambara’s presidency, cracks are

already apparent in this shotgun wedding. His acceptance

speech signaled some key differences with Ncube, the

faction’s hither-to powerhouse, and each are regarded as

strong-minded. Most notably Mutambara’s stance on

reunification and opposition to the Senate ) the public

justification for the split ) directly conflict with

positions taken by the other leaders of the faction.

Furthermore, Mutambara’s insistence on bringing in his own

people ) including some economic advisors currently close to

Tsvangirai ) has not been well received by the faction,

 

SIPDIS

which has repeatedly denounced Tsvangirai’s “kitchen cabinet.”

 

15. (C) At this early stage, Ncube and company need

Mutambara more than he needs them. After a long search,

Mutambara emerged as the only Shona politician with the

proper credentials who was acceptable to the faction’s

leadership – and who would agree to take the spot (others,

such as Tendai Biti, spurned their offer). Meanwhile,

Mutambara’s acceptance speech has already generated a buzz

among Zimbabweans who still remember his aggressive

 

HARARE 00000263 004 OF 004

 

 

opposition to the GOZ while in student politics. Signaling

that he is in it for the long haul, Mutambara and his wife

are reportedly planning to move into a family-owned house in

one of Harare’s low-density suburbs.

SCHULTZ

(50 VIEWS)

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