Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Welshman Ncube told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front did not want harmonised parliamentary and presidential elections because it did not have a presidential candidate.
He also said even with a favourable outcome from March 2005 parliamentary elections, without formal interparty talks, there would be no political reform because of presidential authority to use unchecked executive power.
He said power sharing between the MDC and ZANU-PF would be impossible without a new constitution.
Viewing cable 04HARARE790, VIOLENCE LOWER IN RUN-UP TO RURAL BY-ELECTION
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 000790
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014
SUBJECT: VIOLENCE LOWER IN RUN-UP TO RURAL BY-ELECTION
REF: A. HARARE 752
¶B. HARARE 751
¶C. HARARE 530
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: On May 10 the Ambassador met with MDC
Secretary General Welshman Ncube and MDC Spokesperson Paul
Themba-Nyathi. Ncube commented on lower levels of violence
in the pre-election period in Lupane, sympathetic meetings
with South African officials, and an internal MDC conflict
between trade unionists and non-trade unionists. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Having just returned from two weeks in Lupane
(Matabeleland North) where campaigning for a May 15 – 16
by-election is well underway, Ncube reported that violence
was lower than in previous elections, however intimidation
was widespread. He said the MDC had been able to hold almost
all of its campaign meetings and rallies without disruption.
Ncube said the MDC had been able to convey its message
effectively, but it was unclear whether that would be
sufficient to win the election in the face of ZANU-PF tactics.
¶3. (C) Ncube reported that the GOZ-appointed District
Administrator had given kraalheads (traditional village
sub-chiefs) specific instructions to organize residents under
their jurisdictions to vote. The kraalheads were to maintain
lists of their residents, bring their people to the polling
stations, and record the names of residents who actually
voted. The voters were supposed to write down the serial
number of their ballot paper, and give that number to their
kraalheads after voting to verify votes for ZANU-PF.
¶4. (C) There were rumors circulating in Lupane that a
“Gukurahundi” (the name commonly used for the government
massacres of residents of Matabeleland in the early 1980s)
would happen again if the ZANU-PF candidate in Lupane did not
¶5. (C) Ncube said that ZANU-PF rallies and campaign meetings
had been sparsely attended and that kraalheads were
subsequently requested to convey campaign messages in
community meetings with their residents. Some ZANU-PF
rallies were later billed as “community meetings” in order to
get more residents to attend.
¶6. (C) Ncube said that there had only been about 4 – 5
incidents of direct violence on MDC supporters during the
campaign period. In one case a provincial organizer was
threatened by ZANU-PF youths and was escorted home without
incident. In another case ZANU-PF youths visited the home of
a ward chairman and assaulted his son when they did not find
the chairman. Ncube said there were 2 – 3 other cases about
which he did not have details.
¶7. (C) He reported that MDC leaders met with ZANU-PF
provincial authorities for Matabeleland North and agreed that
violence should be avoided. Ncube said that ZANU-PF
candidate Martin Khumalo had made a public statement that he
lived in Lupane, and would not want to preside over an
election marred by violence where anyone was killed. Ncube
said he thought ZANU-PF might have assessed that violence,
given the memory of the Gukurahundi, would backfire. Ncube
said police had been helpful making arrests irrespective of
¶8. (C) Ncube said that Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC)
members, many actually from Lupane, had spoken at many MDC
rallies conveying the message that using kraalheads for
campaign organizing was illegal, and reinforcing an ESC
pamphlet that the ballot was secret. Ncube thought, however,
that it was unlikely ESC representatives made similar
comments at ZANU-PF rallies.
¶9. (C) Ncube said that some residents were angry at ZANU-PF
for having being ferried some 25 kilometers to a large
ZANU-PF rally held on May 8 at which Vice President Msika
spoke, but then having to walk home afterward.
Sympathy from South Africa
¶10. (C) Ncube reported that in a trip to South Africa during
Mbeki’s inauguration, he met with several Foreign Ministry
officials including Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad. Ncube said
that especially in the wake of the violence in Zengeza, South
African officials were unhappy that the situation in Zimbabwe
was not improving. They acknowledged that waiting for
ZANU-PF’s willingness to talk was like drifting without
urgency. RSA officials observed that ZANU-PF might simply be
waiting for the MDC to implode and cease to be a political
force. Ncube said he encouraged the GOSA to communicate to
the GOZ that proceeding to the March 2005 elections under the
current electoral environment was unacceptable and would not
result in a legitimate outcome.
Parliamentary Elections and Talks
¶11. (C) Ncube opined that ZANU-PF clearly did not want
presidential and parliamentary elections coordinated because
the ruling party had no presidential candidate.
¶12. (C) Ncube said that even with a favorable outcome from
March 2005 parliamentary elections, without formal interparty
talks, there would be no political reform because of
presidential authority to use unchecked executive power.
Similarly, without a new constitution, power sharing between
the MDC and ZANU-PF would be impossible.
Internal Conflicts Simmering
¶13. (C) Commenting on MDC internal differences, Ncube said
that there was cohesion and direction within the membership
and also between the membership and leadership. Ncube said
there was internal cohesion within all provincial party
structures except Harare, Chitungwiza (a large high-density
suburb of Harare) and Masvingo.
¶14. (C) Commenting on cohesion problems affecting Harare and
Chitungwiza, Ncube said differences between MDC leaders were
being resolved. He said that someone, presumably within the
MDC leadership, undoubtedly directed MDC youths to attack MDC
MP Job Sikhala but Ncube did not specify whom. Ncube said
current conflicts within the leadership stemmed from the
flawed selection of the party’s candidate for the Zengeza
by-election (a high-density suburb of Harare) (Ref C). Ncube
said the party simply did not follow its own candidate
selection procedures in that case, but now some within the
party were defending the candidate because he was a trade
unionist. Ncube said trade unionists within the party were
complaining that they were being prevented from running for
MP slots. Ncube said this confused the issue, the party
structures did not select the trade unionist as their
candidate simply because he was less popular than the
candidate they had in mind. It had nothing to do with him
being a trade unionist.
¶15. (C) Nyathi explained that MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai, essentially under house arrest, sometimes did not
hear the whole story. Ncube, however, took responsibility
for the issue acknowledging that it was the Secretary General
who had ultimate responsibility for internal cohesion.
¶16. (C) Ncube confirmed that the plan to restructure the
whole party to prepare for the March 2005 elections was
underway (Ref A). Ian Makoni, who had been appointed head of
the elections directorate, had not yet presented the
leadership with a strategy plan. On receipt of such a plan,
the leadership would review and approve it, then Makoni would
go forward with programming. Ncube said Makoni was now
reviewing the party’s performance in previous elections in
developing his plan.
¶17. (C) That the pre-election environment in Lupane has so
far been less violent that usual is a very good sign for the
MDC. Residents still resent the government for the
atrocities of the Gukurahundi, and it is possible that the
ruling party is afraid to do anything too violent in fear of
provoking people to vote against ZANU-PF. The ruling party’s
pattern has generally been to repress people only as much as
is necessary. Organizing kraalheads could be a more
effective way to motivate votes for ZANU-PF, but it remains
unclear whether residents will all follow instructions.
¶18. (C) Responsible for the party’s internal cohesion, Ncube
has generally downplayed internal conflicts. Nevertheless,
he has previously identified Party Chairman Isaac Matongo as
behind the debacle in Zengeza (Ref A), but this time he
shifted blame to “trade unionists” in general — clearly
identifying yet another fissure within the fledgling
¶19. (C) Ncube had very little to report from his engagement
within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in South Africa except
general sympathy for the MDC’s plight. The MDC and we still
look to the region for increased pressure on the GOZ, but
without South Africa’s leadership, other countries are
unlikely to take a stand against Mugabe, regardless of any
respective bilateral beefs (Ref B).