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Mutambara told Dell that Tsvangirai would be sole MDC candidate

The leader of the pro-senate faction of the Movement for Democratic Change Arthur Mutambara told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell that opposition parties had agreed to field one candidate in the 2008 presidential elections and that candidate would be Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mutambara said he was confident that the MDC would win the elections because there was a strong anti-Mugabe sentiment because people in the rural areas, Mugabe’s former stronghold, were feeling the effects of the country’s devastated economy.

He said Mugabe was taking a risk by calling for elections so it was up to the MDC to make him pay for it.

Dell called on the opposition to start preparing for the elections instead of debating whether to participate or not and said the opposition should reach out to the disgruntled members of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07HARARE311, MUTAMBARA BACKS TSVANGIRAI FOR 2008

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE311

2007-04-12 10:59

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO2497

RR RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0311/01 1021059

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 121059Z APR 07 ZDK

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1354

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1562

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1430

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1566

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0235

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0829

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1192

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1621

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4025

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1391

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2049

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0691

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1783

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000311

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S.HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E.LOKEN

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/12/2012

TAGS: PREL PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: MUTAMBARA BACKS TSVANGIRAI FOR 2008

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Arthur Mutambara, leader of the MDC’s pro-Senate

faction told the Ambassador April 10 that both MDC factions

would work together in a coalition, fielding one candidate

for president, and that anti-Senate faction leader Morgan

Tsvangirai would be that candidate. Mutambara was confident

 

SIPDIS

the MDC could defeat Mugabe provided minimum standards were

in place to allow for a relatively free election. The

Ambassador stressed the importance of contesting the

elections and beginning preparations now. Mutambara took the

point.

 

2. (C) Mutambara said that behind the scenes SADC countries

were fed up with Mugabe and told him so at the SADC Summit.

He and the Ambassador agreed that South African President

Mbeki’s mediation could set the stage for free elections.

Mutambara said ZANU-PF was behind the campaign of petrol

bombings and agreed with the Ambassador that Mugabe might use

it as a possible pretext to declare a state of emergency and

cancel elections. Mutambara said he would be in Washington

for a conference on April 19. The Ambassador proffered

Department help on public outreach for Mutambara afterward.

End Summary.

 

——————————

One MDC Presidential Candidate

——————————

 

3. (C) Pro-Senate MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara told

the Ambassador April 10 that teams from both MDC factions had

met and had agreed to work as a coalition, fielding one

presidential candidate. That candidate would be his opposite

number, Morgan Tsvangirai. Mutambara added that he had used

the events of March 11 to force a degree of unity, including

on elements in his faction who were opposed. As an aside, he

mentioned that after a recent arrest (at the airport on his

way to South Africa), police had questioned him as to why he

was working with Tsvangirai. Mutambara opined that such

government concern validated the coalition.

 

———–

MDC Can Win

———–

 

4. (C) Mutambara said he had visited rural areas the day

before where he had encountered significant anti-Mugabe

sentiment. People there were feeling the effects of

Zimbabwe’s devastated economy. The rural areas had always

been Mugabe,s bedrock of support. This loss of support

indicated that Mugabe was taking a big risk by holding an

election. It was up to the MDC to make him pay for it.

 

5. (C) The Ambassador responded by stressing the importance

of beginning now to prepare for the 2008 elections rather

than debating whether to participate, and building the

strongest organization possible to contest the elections. He

suggested reaching out to discontented elements within

ZANU-PF, as well as reassuring the military them and their

institution, noting that a neutralized army would make it

more difficult to manipulate voting and vote counting. The

Ambassador also discussed working with the Zimbabwe Electoral

Support Network (ZESN) to establish a parallel vote counting

 

HARARE 00000311 002 OF 003

 

 

system for the election.

 

6. (C) Mutambara took the point and agreed that the MDC had

to commit to the elections and begin organizing. He said

that resources were tight and inquired about USG support.

The Ambassador responded that although the USG could not

provide direct financing it could assist the opposition

indirectly through an umbrella coalition such as “Save

Zimbabwe.” The organization, however, also needed to get

itself organized including setting up a secretariat.

 

————–

SADC and Mbeki

————–

 

7. (C) Mutambara said that although the SADC leaders had not

wanted to wash their “dirty laundry” in public, they were

nonetheless fed up with Mugabe. According to his sources,

the Dar es Salaam Summit last month had not been a victory

for Mugabe. Instead, the SADC leaders had dealt Mugabe an

“ugly blow.” Moreover, SADC leaders were upset with

Mugabe,s efforts after the Summit to speak in their name and

claim their support for his crack down on the opposition.

The Ambassador agreed and noted that Mbeki’s interview

earlier in the week with the Financial Times seemed to

indicate that Mugabe’s mischaracterization of the Summit had

increased the tension between him and the other leaders in

the region.

 

8. (C) Mutambara said the MDC had decided to work with SADC

and Mbeki. The two factions’ secretary-generals, Tendai Biti

and Welshman Ncube, had recently met jointly with Mbeki. By

presenting a united front the MDC hoped to quell South

African doubts about the MDC. The Ambassador said the key

question going forward was whether Mbeki was serious about

creating the minimum standards for a free election or whether

he would follow his instinct of supporting the party in

power, i.e. ZANU-PF. Mutambara agreed that Mbeki could play

the key role in setting the stage for an internationally

assisted election that, even without a new constitution,

could produce a legitimate outcome.

 

————————-

Government Attacks on MDC

————————-

 

9. (C) Mutambara said the recent spate of petrol bombings

had been conducted by the government itself. That said, he

was concerned that the MDC had been infiltrated to such an

extent that ostensible MDC activists who were actually

government agents could incriminate his party. Mutambara

agreed with the Ambassador that Mugabe could use the pretext

of MDC violence to cancel the elections and declare a state

of emergency if he felt that he might lose the elections.

 

10. (C) The Ambassador added that the recent violence

against the opposition seemed to be an attempt on Mugabe’s

part to destroy the MDC now, months before the elections,

while the world’s attention was once more else where. It was

up to the MDC to keep the international spotlight on

Zimbabwe. Mutambara agreed and noted in that regard that he

would be attending the Forum of Young Global Leaders

sponsored by the World Economic Forum on April 19 in

Washington. The Ambassador agreed to help him convince

Tsvangirai or one of his deputies to accompany Mutambara and

 

SIPDIS

to facilitate official meetings as well as press

opportunities during the visit.

 

HARARE 00000311 003 OF 003

 

 

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

11. (C) The MDC’s apparent plans to work together as a

coalition in contesting the 2008 elections is at least one

sign that they are starting to practice “grown-up” politics

in the words of one local observer. However, we have watched

them play Hamlet before on elections. It’s critical that

they commit now to contest the elections and start preparing

immediately. They have a golden chance to win the election

even if it is not fully free and fair given the state of the

economy and Mugabe’s unpopularity. If they fail this time,

the current leadership of the opposition is unlikely to get

another chance.

DELL

(24 VIEWS)

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