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Ncube disagrees with Tsvangirai on Mugabe

Welshman Ncube, who was secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change at the time, disagreed with party leader Morgan Tsvangirai on the future of President Robert Mugabe after the 2004 Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front congress where he bulldozed Joice Mujuru to vice-presidency.

Tsvangirai said the congress had been a significant event which had shown that Mugabe was absolutely determined to have his way on the presidential succession.

However, the fallout from Mugabe’s heavy-handed tactics could be hard for him to manage. The choice of Joice Mujuru as his successor was likely to increase ethnic friction within the party since she came from the same ethnic sub-group as Mugabe.

Tsvangirai said if Mugabe failed to satisfy other clans within the Shona, anything was possible, including the disintegration of the ZANU-PF.

He also suggested that moderate elements within the ZANU-PF, with whom the MDC could work, were in the ascendancy following the congress.

Ncube disagreed, arguing that the extremists would remain in charge as long as Mugabe remained in charge.

Tsvangirai speculated that Mugabe might be planning to turn the reins of government over to Mujuru in the near future, perhaps after the elections if ZANU-PF obtained a two-thirds majority.

Ncube was quick to disagree, suggesting that Mugabe would never voluntarily relinquish the presidency and would likely run in 2008.

Both agreed, however, that Mujuru was genuinely popular, would be a formidable candidate and that the MDC had to tread carefully in attacking her.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE2049, MDC ON MARCH ELECTIONS; FUTURE EFFORTS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE2049

2004-12-16 15:47

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 002049

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE, D. TEITELBAUM

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/16/2014

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC ON MARCH ELECTIONS; FUTURE EFFORTS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Chris W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) Summary: Over dinner on December 8, Morgan Tsvangirai

and the MDC leadership laid out their plans for contesting

the March parliamentary elections, should they decide to

participate. The Ambassador said the SADC countries appeared

ready to bless the March elections regardless; Tsvangirai and

his aides agreed. MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube

argued that turning land reform against the GOZ could be a

key not just to this election but to future elections as

well. The Ambassador urged that the MDC get better organized

for the long fight ahead to bring democracy to Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai argued that the West could best help by &using8

 

SIPDIS

the inevitable ZANU-PF overtures following the election

rather than &spurning8 them. Tsvangirai said he would

carry that message to Washington in January, where a meeting

with the President would be most welcome. End Summary.

 

——————————

The March Elections and Beyond

——————————

 

2. (C) During a wide-ranging discussion with MDC leader

Morgan Tsvangirai at dinner December 8, Tsvangirai agreed

with the Ambassador,s observation that it was increasingly

clear that SADC countries would bless the elections,

regardless of the outcome or process. Tsvangirai added that

the regional governments were showing signs of fatigue and

wanted Zimbabwe &normalized,8 something that would never

happen until there was real reform. He said the MDC would

make a final decision on whether to participate within the

next two weeks. (Comment: It,s increasingly clear the MDC

will participate; SADC,s stance leaves then no real option.)

MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube noted that the actual

fraud would be less in the vote count than in the

registration and delimitation (i.e., gerrymandering)

processes going on now. The Ambassador suggested it was

important to get non-governmental regional groups, such as

trade unions, churches, and other elements of African civil

society to observe the elections and issue their own

assessments likely to counter-balance the SADC white-washing.

 

3. (C) During a discussion of land reform,s impact on the

election, Ncube said turning this issue against the

government would be a key to MDC electoral success not only

in this but in future elections as well. The precipitous

decline in the agriculture sector had weakened the ZANU-PF

since its base was with rural voters. The MDC had to develop

a message that ZANU-PF,s land reform had failed. First, it

had destroyed productivity. Second, it had merely replaced a

handful of large white commercial farmers with a handful of

large black commercial farmers with close ties to the

government. He thought this message could resonate with

rural voters but that the MDC also needed a positive message

to restore agricultural productivity and to move the issue

beyond race.

 

4. (C) Tsvangirai agreed that rural voters had suffered

disproportionately in the past three years from the regime,s

economic policies. He argued they were now more politically

active than urban voters. The MDC could win their votes if

it could overcome their fear of the ruling party. He

suggested that one tactic would be to encourage rural voters

to remain at the polling booths after voting and bear witness

to the process. This could serve to limit fraud. In the

cities, the MDC also had a difficult challenge: to inspire

anew voters who had become cynical and apathetic as a result

of two rigged elections and the survival of a regime that was

destroying their standard of living. Tsvangirai regretted

that the MDC,s task was made immeasurably more difficult by

its lack of access to the media, which put a premium on the

MDC,s ability to organize at the grass roots level and get

out the vote.

 

5. (C) The Ambassador said this was exactly the right lesson

to learn. The MDC had to accept that it was in a long-term

fight and had to organize to win that fight. One suggestion,

based on his recent trip to South Africa, was that the MDC

assign working level operatives there to organize the

Zimbabwean expatriate community. This sizeable community was

a potential source not just of important political support

but of funding as well. These operatives could also

coordinate and push civil society organizations in South

Africa with an interest in Zimbabwe but that too often became

distracted by other matters.

 

———————-

ZANU-PF Party Congress

———————-

 

6. (C) The Ambassador asked for MDC views of the recently

concluded ZANU-PF party congress. Tsvangirai said it had

been a significant event. Mugabe had shown that he was

absolutely determined to have his way on the presidential

succession. However, the fallout from his heavy-handed

tactics could be hard for him to manage. The choice of Joyce

Mujuru as his successor was likely to increase ethnic

friction within the party since she came from the same ethnic

sub-group as Mugabe. If Mugabe failed to satisfy other clans

within the Shona, Tsvangirai said anything was possible,

including the disintegration of the ZANU-PF. He also

suggested that moderate elements within the ZANU-PF, with

whom the MDC could work, were in the ascendancy following the

congress. Ncube disagreed, arguing that the extremists would

remain in charge as long as Mugabe remained in charge.

 

7. (C) Tsvangirai speculated that Mugabe might be planning to

turn the reins of government over to Mujuru in the near

future, perhaps after the elections if ZANU-PF obtains a

two-thirds majority and can amend the constitution at will.

Mugabe would retain his position as President of ZANU-PF,

allowing him to wield effective power while delegating to

Mujuru the task of negotiating an end to Zimbabwe,s

political and economic crises with the opposition and the

international community. Ncube was quick to disagree,

suggesting that Mugabe would never voluntarily relinquish the

presidency and would likely run in 2008. Both agreed,

however, that Mujuru was genuinely popular, would be a

formidable candidate and that the MDC had to tread carefully

in attacking her.

 

———

U.S. Trip

———

 

8. (C) Tsvangirai said he had had a successful trip to London

in November where he had made a pitch that bashing all things

ZANU was counter-productive. He was planning a trip to

Canada and the U.S. for late January and would have a similar

message. The West should be prepared for overtures from the

GOZ and he recommended that we &use8 those overtures to

influence the regime rather than &spurn8 them.

 

9. (C) Tsvangirai said his plan was to arrive in Washington a

day or two after the inauguration. The Ambassador cautioned

that this was usually a time of great turbulence in

Washington and asked if the visit could be delayed a week.

Tsvangirai said the parliamentary elections were likely to be

 

SIPDIS

in early to mid March and he and his team needed to be in

Harare at least a month ahead of time. Given those

conditions, he thought a trip the last week of January would

work.

 

10. (C) The Ambassador suggested that Tsvangirai give some

thought to whom he would want to see. The Ambassador

recommended that Tsvangirai ask to see Secretary-designate

Rice, NSC Hadley, and key Senators, Congressmen, and their

staffs. Tsvangirai thought a meeting with President Bush

would resonate positively and would demonstrate the depth of

the U.S. commitment to democracy in Zimbabwe and Africa. The

Ambassador said he would discuss the possibility of such a

meeting with Washington.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

11. (C) We strongly support a meeting with the President and

recommend it be discussed at the planned DC on Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai is for now the visible face of the democratic

 

SIPDIS

opposition in Zimbabwe and the signal such a meeting would

send would be a powerful reaffirmation that while we are

prepared to work with the Mugabe regime, our goal remains a

stable multi-party democracy in Zimbabwe. In that regard,

Ncube may be the more important interlocutor over time. He

seems to have a better feel than Tsvangirai of the importance

of better organizing the MDC: in effect making the transition

from a mass movement to a broad-based political party.

DELL

 

(4 VIEWS)

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