Biti says MDC now paying lip service to dialogue

With almost three months gone since the signing of the Global Political Agreement but the allocation of ministries still unresolved, Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Tendai Biti told United States embassy officials that the party was now paying lip service to dialogue. Its real goal was internationally supervised elections.

The party’s national council had on 12 December resolved that it would not finalise any power-sharing agreement unless there was:

  • Equitable distribution of ministerial portfolios and governorships;
  • Agreement on composition and functions of the national security council;
  • and enactment of Amendment 19.

The party also demanded that former South African President Thabo Mbeki be replaced as facilitator and that executive decisions such as the reappointment of central bank governor Gideon Gono which were in violation of the Memorandum of Understanding and September agreement be reversed.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE1127, MUGABE CONSIDERS ELECTIONS; NO END TO POLITICAL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE1127

2008-12-16 15:37

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO7591

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #1127/01 3511537

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 161537Z DEC 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3830

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2499

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2622

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1115

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1891

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2246

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2671

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5099

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1766

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001127

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/16/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: MUGABE CONSIDERS ELECTIONS; NO END TO POLITICAL

STALEMATE IN SIGHT

 

REF: A. HARARE 1100

B. HARARE 1117

 

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i. Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4

(d)

 

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SUMMARY

-------

 

1. (SBU) President Mugabe and senior ZANU-PF officials have

made several recent references to holding new elections to

settle the political stalemate in Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF may view

elections as an opportunity to retake all the levers of

government, while the MDC fears a new wave of pre-election

violence similar to that which occurred prior to the June

2008 presidential run-off. The gazetting of Amendment 19 and

ZANU-PF's calls for elections appear to be an attempt to

pressure the MDC into entering a power-sharing government.

END SUMMARY.

 

------------

Amendment 19

------------

 

2. (U) On December 12, the MDC national council resolved

inter alia that it would not finalize a power-sharing

agreement and enter government absent 1) equitable

distribution of ministerial portfolios and governorships; 2)

agreement on composition and functions of the national

security council; and 3) enactment of Amendment 19. The MDC

also demanded that Mbeki be replaced as facilitator and that

executive decisions (such as the reappointment of central

bank governor Gono) in violation of the Memorandum of

Understanding and September agreement be reversed. The

resolution states that the MDC is committed to the SADC

dialogue; it also states that in the event of continued

political impasse, a transitional government should be

established and a "people-driven" constitution drafted as a

prelude to new, internationally supervised elections.   MDC's

Tendai Biti told us that the MDC is basically paying lip

service to dialogue; its real goal is internationally

supervised elections (Ref B).

 

3. (U) On December 13, the GOZ gazetted (officially

published) Amendment 19. (NOTE: The September 15 agreement,

signed by the principals, contains three provisions different

from the agreed-upon September 11 document. Amendment 19 as

gazetted contains the September 11 provisions supported by

the MDC. END NOTE.) By law, Amendment 19 will be open for

public comment for 30 days. At that time a first "reading"

will take place and debate can begin. Therefore, the

earliest date a vote could take place would be January 13

(there is no legal provision to dispense with the 30-day

period). There is no time period within which a vote must be

held.

 

4. (C) As of today, MDC president Tsvangirai is still in

Botswana. There are no plans for meetings to resolve the

outstanding issues.

 

--------------------------------------------

Mugabe and ZANU-PF Considering New Elections

--------------------------------------------

 

5. (U) In several public statements, President Mugabe and

ZANU-PF leaders appeared to be considering holding new

elections to determine Zimbabwe's political future. In a

December 11 speech, while discussing possible foreign

intervention, Mugabe said, "Let's settle things here. We can

 

HARARE 00001127 002 OF 003

 

 

go to an election if elections are desirable and the people

are the deciders and we will never reject their verdict."

This was followed by ZANU-PF chief negotiator Patrick

Chinamasa telling state media on December 15 that refusal of

the MDC to pass Amendment 19 in Parliament would mean an end

to negotiations on a government of national unity and would

result in new presidential, parliamentary, and local

elections.

 

6. (SBU) Political analyst Eldred Masunungure told us on

December 12 that if harmonized elections were generally free

and fair, ZANU-PF would be swept out of power. This

perception has led to concern by the MDC of a wave of

violence preceding new elections similar to what happened in

the months leading up to the June 2008 run-off election. The

MDC is also pointing to the abductions of approximately 19 of

its supporters since late October (Ref A) as indications the

regime will use intimidation and violence to regain

governmental authority. Four of the abductees were MDC

candidates who lost in the parliamentary March 29 elections,

but would be expected to run again in new elections. Other

abductees included party organizers and employees of the

human rights watch dog group, Zimbabwe Peace Project.

 

----------------------------------------

Complete Elections or Just Presidential?

----------------------------------------

 

7. (SBU) In the event of new elections, ZANU-PF would seek

to hold new presidential, parliamentary, and local polls.

This would create an opportunity for them to regain control

of Parliament and potentially retake many local councils that

were lost to the MDC. Constitutional Amendment 17 stipulated

that for the March 29, 2008 elections, as well as going

forward, all three elections would be held in unison. The

MDC opposes this position and argues that only the

presidential results were inconclusive.   MDC spokesperson

Nelson Chamisa said, "What is in dispute is the position of

the President. Mugabe cannot drag the whole country into

harmonized elections because he lost." (NOTE: ZANU-PF

currently controls 97 seats in the House of Assembly to the

MDC-T's 99. MDC-M has 10 seats and there are four vacancies.

END NOTE.)

 

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COMMENT

-------

 

8. (C) Mugabe recognizes that ZANU-PF cannot effectively

govern alone. ZANU-PF's threat to call elections, like its

gazetting of Amendment 19, is an effort to put pressure on

the MDC to enter government under an agreement that would

give ZANU-PF the balance of power. So far the MDC is not

biting. Its national council on December 12 made clear that

it will not approve Amendmnt 19 in Parliament absent

agreement on the outstanding issues of equitable distribution

of ministerial positions and governorships, and composition

and duties of the national security council.

 

9. (C) We believe it unlikely Mugabe will call elections.

The MDC will not participate in elections without guarantees

at the outset of international supervision and monitoring;

Mugabe knows that a relatively fair playing field created by

international oversight would result in an MDC victory. To

call elections without MDC participation would risk the

condemnation of SADC and would not advance the prospects of

the legitimacy that Mugabe craves.

 

10. (C) There are hardliners in both ZANU-PF and the MDC

that do not want a power-sharing agreement. It remains to be

 

HARARE 00001127 003 OF 003

 

 

seen whether compromises are possible that will resolve the

impasse. As of now, we see no evidence of this. The public

outcry in the last couple of weeks for Mugabe to step down

would only seem to strengthen the position of MDC hardliners

like Tendai Biti (Ref B) who do not want to share government

with ZANU-PF. All of this points to a continued political

stalemate with no clear solution in sight. END COMMENT.

 

DHANANI

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