Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee five days before the signing of the Global Political Agreement that he had presented a proposal to President Robert Mugabe to create a Leadership Council of State.
The Council would be headed by Mugabe and would also include his two Vice Presidents, Tsvangirai, as Prime Minister, and Tsvangirai’s two deputy Prime Ministers.
It would be an advisory body with oversight over the cabinet but would not have veto power.
The Prime Minister would be required to submit decisions to the Council which could direct him to have the cabinet reconsider the decision.
Tsvangirai said he would be head of government under this structure with responsibility for directing cabinet.
He sold it to Mugabe by arguing that Mugabe would not want to be responsible for day-to-day operations of government.
Besides, Tsvangirai would report to Mugabe as President.
Mugabe was receptive and said he would consult with his advisors.
Viewing cable 08HARARE793, OUTLINES OF A DEAL
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SUBJECT: OUTLINES OF A DEAL
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) An upbeat Morgan Tsvangirai told the Ambassador early
this morning that he thought a breakthrough in ZANU-PF–MDC
negotiations had been achieved last night. On the
contentious issue of allocation of executive authority,
Tsvangirai said he had presented a proposal to Zimbabwean
president Robert Mugabe to create an advisory “Leadership
Council of State” (Council) to be chaired by Mugabe.
Tsvangirai, as prime minister, would be head of government
and chair cabinet. He would report to Mugabe as president.
Mugabe was amenable to the proposal and said he would confer
overnight with his advisors. END SUMMARY.
Council of State
¶2. (C) According to Tsvangirai, the Council would be headed
by Mugabe and would also include his two vice presidents,
Tsvangirai, as prime minister, and Tsvangirai’s two deputy
prime ministers. It would be an advisory body with oversight
over the cabinet. The prime minister would be required to
submit decisions to the Council which could direct him to
have the cabinet reconsider the decision. The Council,
however, would not have veto power.
¶3. (C) Tsvangirai said he would be head of government under
this structure with responsibility for directing cabinet. He
said he discussed the arrangement with Mugabe in a one-on-one
session. He sold it to Mugabe by arguing that Mugabe would
not want to be responsible for day-to-day operations of
government. Also, Tsvangirai would report to Mugabe as
president. Mugabe was receptive and said he would consult
with his advisors overnight. Tsvangirai subsequently briefed
South African president and mediator Thabo Mbeki who he said
was supportive. Tsvangirai asked Mbeki to help sell the deal
to Mugabe as the best way to begin to turn Zimbabwe around.
Division of Ministries and Parliament
¶4. (C) Tsvangirai stated that division between the parties
of the 31 ministries was still under discussion, but some
tentative agreements had been reached. ZANU-PF would control
defense, security (CIO), primary education, and land
redistribution. MDC would have responsibility for home
affairs (police), finance (which would name the Reserve Bank
governor), foreign affairs, local government, and media and
¶5. (C) Tsvangirai averred that with MDC control of
Parliament, the MDC would be able to drive the legislative
agenda. Priorities would be repeal of the presidential
powers act (under which the president when Parliament is not
sitting can issue decrees on any subject with the exception
of the budget and amendment of the constitution), repeal of
AIPPA, and repeal of POSA.
¶6. (C) A transitional constitution would be implemented,
according to Tsvangirai and would have a life of 18 months.
During this period, a new constitution would be negotiated
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and submitted to a referendum. At the end of the 18 month
period, the parties could agree to continue the interim
period. Alternatively, either party could opt out and
elections would be scheduled.
¶7. (C) Tsvangirai said other issues such as amnesty and the
removal of sanctions had not yet been discussed, but he
expected these could be easily resolved.
¶8. (C) With respect to the international community,
Tsvangirai said he expected that once an agreement was
reached, everyone would help. He acknowledged that it would
be appropriate for the international community to wait to see
concrete actions to implement an agreement before stepping
¶9. (C) Tsvangirai urged the USG to stay in the background
while negotiations continue and until there has been a
¶10. (C) Until now, ZANU-PF had insisted on maintaining the
balance of power and had maintained an agreement should be
based on power sharing and not power transfer. Tsvangirai’s
proposal would strip Mugabe of most of his power. Despite
Mugabe’s purported receptiveness to Tsvangirai’s proposal,
there is a healthy basis for skepticism that Mugabe and
ZANU-PF will ultimately accept the proposal since it
transfers the bulk of executive power to Tsvangirai.
Nevertheless, there seems to be momentum toward an agreement
and we would not be surprised to see one signed–perhaps
different in form than that suggested by Tsvangirai–today or
in the near future.