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Reenergised MDC ready to confront Mugabe

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell that he was going to address nationwide rallies to maintain momentum, especially outside the capital, adding that President Robert Mugabe’s weakening security forces would be stretched by such tactics.

The stepped up pressure was supported by party secretary general Tendai Biti, national organising secretary Elias Mudzuri and spokesman Nelson Chamisa all of whom had separate briefings with the ambassador.

Tsvangirai said the overwhelming turnout at his party’s special congress had shown who had the support.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE424, REENERGIZED ANTI-SENATE MDC WING PLANS INCREASED

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE424

2006-04-11 11:28

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1399

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000424

 

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AF/S FOR B. NEULING

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/11/2015

TAGS: ASEC PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: REENERGIZED ANTI-SENATE MDC WING PLANS INCREASED

RESISTANCE

 

REF: A. REF A: HARARE 355

 

B. REF B: HARARE 95

 

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

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) In a series of separate meetings with the Ambassador,

leaders of the anti-Senate faction of the MDC depicted an

opposition party that was reenergized by a successful

Congress and prepared to confront the regime with greater

energy and focus. Morgan Tsvangirai said he would conduct

nationwide rallies to maintain momentum, especially outside

of the capital, noting that the regime’s weakening security

forces would be stretched by such tactics. Tsvangirai added

that there had been no discussions for several weeks with the

rival pro-Senate MDC faction. He said the respective

Congresses had shown who had the public,s support.

 

2. (C) Echoing Tsvangirai’s support for stepped up

resistance, Secretary General Tendai Biti and Organizing

Secretary Elias Mudzuri separately said that they were

 

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working intensively to rebuild the party’s infrastructure,

damaged by the split, and this would pave the way for more

vigorous opposition to the regime soon after. Secretary for

Information Nelson Chamisa added that the party was trying to

develop better communication strategies and training

supporters to overcome fears of security force violence n

preparation for demonstrations. Separately, the Ambassador

also met in the same time period with MDC MP David Coltart.

Coltart claimed to still be neutral but leaning towards the

pro-Senate faction, calling the anti-Senate faction,s

leadership weak. End Summary.

 

——————————————— ——

Tsvangirai: Congress Builds Momentum Against Regime

 

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——————————————— ——

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai told the Ambassador on March 29 that the

party’s Congress (ref A) had emboldened the opposition and

granted its leadership a renewed mandate to confront the

regime. The number of attendees had exceeded even the

party’s own expectations, and established which of the MDC’s

factions had the support of the people. This was doubly

significant in that most of the 18,000 delegates paid their

own way to the Congress. Asked by the Ambassador how the

party planned to maintain the momentum following the

Congress, Tsvangirai said that he would launch a series of

rallies nationwide to introduce the party’s new leadership

and to build support for resistance. (N.B. According to

independent media accounts, rallies in Gweru and Masvingo

held during the weekend of April 1-2 drew a combined 20,000

supporters. Meanwhile, a rally in Harare’s high-density

suburb of Chitungwiza over the past weekend drew another

20,000 supporters, Tsvangirai’s largest crowd ever there.

Adding to the significance of these crowds is the large

number of older men and women, as opposed to most rallies

that are traditionally attended by mostly younger men.)

 

4. (C) The Congress had acknowledged the limitations on

pursuing power solely through the electoral route and had

endorsed stepped up resistance to the regime through all

peaceful means, including disobedience and civil resistance,

according to Tsvangirai. He agreed with the Ambassador’s

comment that we seem to be witnessing the dying days of the

regime, adding that recognition of this has generated renewed

willingness among the people to confront ZANU-PF, especially

given the country,s economic problems.

 

HARARE 00000424 002 OF 004

 

 

 

5. (C) After the party had gone through a brief period of

institution building, Tsvangirai said the MDC and its civil

society partners would create an “eye of the storm” in Harare

and Bulawayo, but would not neglect the rural areas ) “the

regime’s Achilles’ heel,” according to Tsvangirai – where the

people were increasingly disgusted with the government and

the security forces were stretched thin. The party planned

to develop strategies to exploit the regime’s relative

weakness outside the two largest urban areas to further

stretch their resources prior to tackling the capital city.

Tsvangirai admitted the urban-based MDC had not previously

 

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done enough party building and organizational work,

especially in the rural districts, but was setting about

remedying this mistake.

 

6. (C) Replying to the Ambassador’s question about efforts

to address the MDC split, Tsvangirai said it was no longer an

issue. He added that there had been no overtures concerning

reunification or amicable divorce for several weeks. The two

factions would likely go their separate ways for the time

being. Referring to some in the diplomatic community who

bemoan the MDC’s factionalism, Tsvangirai said that those who

had emphasized the split had missed the real objective, which

was to develop a more coherent approach within his wing of

the MDC in order to better confront the regime. He agreed

with the Ambassador’s suggestion that two factions could

potentially cover more political ground as separate parties

with different approaches but a common goal. Tsvangirai also

suggested that an alliance before the next elections might

also still be possible.

 

———————————–

Biti: Shoring Up Party’s Foundation

———————————–

 

7. (C) Secretary General Tendai Biti on April 3 confirmed

for the Ambassador that the anti-Senate faction,s new

leadership team was united and committed to confronting the

regime. He said his particular focus would be rebuilding the

party’s institutions to better support a sustained campaign

of resistance. Biti acknowledged that the split had damaged

the party,s institutions. He was especially critical of

pro-Senate members of the former leadership who had taken

computers, cars, and even the keys from the party’s

headquarters in Harare.

 

8. (C) Biti said even the phones were not working and that

the party was heavily in debt with few resources. Still, he

has confident that he could clean the mess up in a few

months. Noting that the new Treasurer, Roy Bennett, may have

to remain outside of the country for the time being, Biti

said he could prove useful as a fund raiser among the

Zimbabwean diaspora, adding that according to the party,s

new constitutional amendments, external assemblies needed to

be created in countries with large diasporas and Bennett

might organize those as well.

 

9. (C) Asked by the Ambassador for an update on his earlier

efforts to secure an amicable divorce between the two

factions (ref B), Biti replied that Welshman Ncube had

recently contacted him, but echoing Tsvangirai, Biti said the

issue had been placed on the backburner. Biti added that

there were already stark divisions emerging within the

pro-Senate faction, chiefly over the leadership of Arthur

Mutambara, who was not the faction’s first, second, or even

third choice. The self-promoting Mutambara and the

manipulative Ncube were destined to clash, to the detriment

of that faction.

 

 

HARARE 00000424 003 OF 004

 

 

——————————————— ——-

Mudzuri: Using New Position To Strengthen Grassroots

——————————————— ——-

 

10. (C) The new Organizing Secretary (and ousted Mayor of

Harare) Elias Mudzuri on March 23 told the Ambassador that

his role in revitalizing the party was to use his grass roots

appeal to mobilize people for democratic resistance. Mudzuri

said he would be returning to Harvard for a few months to

complete his Mason Fellowship leading to a Masters in Public

Policy and Management but expected to be back in Harare by

early summer to take up his new duties. Meanwhile, his

deputy would be working full time on organization issues.

Responding to Mudzuri’s plea for continued assistance, the

Ambassador replied that the USG was committed to helping

Zimbabwe and briefed Mudzuri on the range of USG programs in

support of civil society and democratic forces in Zimbabwe.

 

——————————————

Chamisa: Publicity Crucial To The Struggle

——————————————

 

11. (C) Secretary for Information and Harare MP Nelson

Chamisa on April 4 told the Ambassador that the party had

developed a program to prepare for challenging the regime.

This program included videos of successful peaceful

resistance in other countries to help people overcome their

fear and prepare for possible outcomes, including arrests,

injury, or even death. Chamisa confirmed that he, Tsangirai,

and other MDC leaders would place themselves personally at

the forefront of mass action in order to inspire and give

confidence to their supporters.

 

12. (C) Chamisa added an unsolicited plug for the Voice of

America’s (VOA) Studio 7 news broadcasts. He said that

although ZANU-PF was more divided than any of the opposition

parties, its control over the media enabled the ruling party

to hide its fractures. In that regard, Studio 7 provided the

critical service of exposing the GOZ’s cracks. Commenting

that “without VOA we are done,” Chamisa said that Studio 7

would help to galvanize participation in mass action. The

Ambassador offered Chamisa assistance in developing his

skills as a press spokesman, which Chamisa gladly accepted.

 

—————————–

Coltart: The Dissenter’s View

—————————–

 

13. (C) The Ambassador also met with MDC MP David Coltart,

on March 30. Coltart claimed he had remained neutral in the

MDC split, refusing to attend either Congress and refusing to

accept his election by the pro-Senate faction to a leadership

position. That said, he reiterated his earlier claim to the

Ambassador that while Tsvangirai clearly enjoyed the support

of the masses the pro-Senate faction had the lion,s share of

the MDC talent. Coltart said with the exception of Biti, the

people who surrounded Tsvangirai were incompetent or worse

and that even if they could organize mass action the

informers among them would reveal those plans to the GOZ.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

14. (C) Over the past three weeks we have had a chance to

meet with most of the leadership of both MDC factions. In

our considered opinion, Coltart,s analysis is wrong. There

is a great deal of talent and energy among the anti-Senate

faction,s senior leadership. In fact, they were far more

impressive as a group than their pro-Senate opposite numbers.

 

HARARE 00000424 004 OF 004

 

 

Moreover, they were also remarkably unified in their message

to the Ambassador as opposed to the obvious tensions that

have already crept into the Mutambara/Ncube relationship.

Indeed, it has to be said that Mutambara seems to have

inherited undiminished the rivalries and divergent views that

formerly hamstrung Tsvangirai.

 

15. (C) Coltart is right, however, that Tsvangirai,s

faction has the grass roots appeal, which the recent

Congresses made abundantly clear, and we believe that they

are therefore better placed to put pressure on the regime.

Both MDC factions clearly sense the opportunity before them:

a weakened regime and a restive population. Both have

committed themselves publicly and privately to confronting

the regime, including through a campaign of peaceful

democratic resistance. However, only one faction,

Tsvangirai,s, presently has the necessary internal unity and

 

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external popularity to lead such an effort. Mutambara has an

uphill struggle ahead in building a popular base of support

as evidenced by the small and declining attendance at his

rallies ) in Chitungwiza he drew only 1,000 supporters a

week before Tsvangirai’s rally, according to the press.

Moreover, Tsvangirai’s defiant statement on April 9 in

Bulawayo that he is not afraid of death if it is the price of

freedom in response to recent public death threats from

Mugabe appears to have emboldened a population until recently

cowed by GOZ oppression. Of course, we have heard the bold

talk before and it has led to little, so it remains to be

seen whether this time will be any different. That said, we

were stuck by the unity evident among Tsvangirai’s group, as

well as by Tsvangirai’s seeming focus and quiet

determination, without the empty bravura of some past

performances.

DELL

(11 VIEWS)

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