Chamisa says taking MDC split to court is political lunacy

Movement for Democratic Change youth chairman Nelson Chamisa told United States embassy officials that party secretary general Welshman Ncube was bent on destroying the party and added that opening up the party to disruption and manipulation by the government-controlled courts was political lunacy.

He said the MDC could afford to slough off the three Ndebele in the "Top Six" because there were other prominent Ndebele who would then rise to MDC leadership roles.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's ongoing rallies in Matabeleland would be key to substantiating his appeal to the masses there and to further isolating the Ncube faction.

Chamisa anticipated that Ncube faction might try to boycott or disrupt the National Congress and acknowledged that assuring provincial structures did not follow the faction was a priority.

He said street protests opposing the regime, with the MDC playing a leading role, would grow significantly within the next two months.

Chamisa maintained that Tsvangirai had long been held back by Ncube's influence and could not "follow his heart".

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 05HARARE1537, TSVANGIRAI ASCENDANT AS MDC STRUGGLES CONTINUE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1537

2005-11-10 12:03

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.

 

101203Z Nov 05

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001537

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

AFR/SA FOR E. LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI MDC

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI ASCENDANT AS MDC STRUGGLES CONTINUE

 

REF: (A) HARARE 1534 (B) HARARE 1527 (C) HARARE 1512

 

(D) HARARE 1508 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

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Summary

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1. (C) At a meeting with diplomats at party headquarters

November 10, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai confirmed the

party's planned boycott of scheduled November 26 senate

elections but left the door open for reconciliation with the

Ncube faction that had supported participation. However,

despite key swing players within the party lining up behind

Tsvangirai, the Ncube faction continues to show little

 

SIPDIS

inclination to reconcile. Party leaders also confided that

the party has been heavily involved in the NCA and ZCTU

demonstration (refs A and B) and said internal tensions would

not keep the party from increasing its public opposition to

the regime. End Summary.

 

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Tsvangirai Sustained on Boycott

 

SIPDIS

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

 

2. (U) At his November 10 briefing, Tsvangirai confirmed the

results of the party's National Council meeting on November 5

(N.B. Attended by 54 out of 66 NEC members but not by the

four party leaders who have favored participation in the

Senate elections). The Council had passed four resolutions

by consensus: (1) it approved a party boycott of the senate

elections, thus rescinding its vote of October 12, (2) the

party would remain united in democratic principles in

opposition to the "real enemy", ZANU-PF, (3) the party would

engage civil society to partner on next steps, and (4) the

party would conduct its National Congress before the end of

February 2006.

 

3. (U) Tsvangirai added that individuals purporting to stand

as senate candidates for the MDC had seven days within which

to withdraw their nominations or they would be

"auto-expelled" from the party because of their status as

independents. He explained that the initial vote to

participate had not been within the competence of the

National Council, since it had no authority to change party

policy, and the MDC's policy was to support comprehensive

rather than piecemeal consitutional reforms. The vote to

participate was therefore null and void. Tsvangirai noted

that a committee of four had been deployed to meet with Ncube

faction representatives on November 11 in a continuing effort

to heal internal divisions.

 

4. (SBU) Queried by the Ambassador, Tsvangirai noted that

the Ncube faction had no attractive options other than

returning to the fold; collaboration with ZANU-PF or Moyo's

United Peoples Movement or going it alone offered little

prospect of meaningful influence and he expected the

rebellious faction would return to the fold after the

November 26 elections. Responding to other inquiries,

Tsvangirai reported that he had told South African President

 

SIPDIS

Mbeki that he was open to dialogue with other party elements

but did not see any point to burdening Mbeki himself with

involvement in internal party matters. He also asserted the

party had not received any foreign funding.

 

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

Polarization Deepening

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

 

5. (C) MDC MP and Shadow Minister for Economics Tendai Biti

on November 9 told poloff that party divisions were deepening

but that the MDC,s center of gravity had shifted decisively

behind Tsvangirai. Noting that he had long been in the

middle and suspected by each camp of leaning toward the

other, Biti said he had endeavored to play a mediating role

until he came to the conclusion that the Ncube faction had an

agenda that precluded reconciliation. He noted that

Tsvangirai had earlier agreed to a compromise along the lines

 

SIPDIS

proposed by mediator Brian Raftopolous (ref D), but that

Ncube's group had then refused to meet to discuss it.

 

6. (C) Citing the Ncube faction's absence from the

constitutional vote in parliament, its opposition to a

popularly supported Senate election boycott, its "lies and

manipulations" with South African President Mbeki, and its

refusal to meet with Tsvangirai on key occasions, Biti said

he feared that some or all of the faction must have made some

accommodation with the ruling party that revolved around

isolating Tsvangirai. He said the Ncube faction had made

strong pitches to draw in himself, MP and Secretary for Youth

Affairs Nelson Chamisa and ex-MP Roy Bennett, but their

duplicity and intransigence had only alienated all three.

 

7. (C) Biti said he had always been critical of Tsvangirai's

acting outside the constitution but came to recognize that

"everybody" - especially Secretary-General Ncube - was

ignoring the party constitution willy-nilly, so why should

Tsvangirai be held to a higher standard? In spite of the

 

SIPDIS

real procedural grievances, the situation now required a

political rather than a legalistic solution, and Tsvangirai

held the commanding political position.

 

8. (C) Over breakfast November 10, Chamisa essentially

corroborated Biti's account to poloff. He added that Job

Sikhala had told him in confidence that Ncube had advised him

to file the lawsuit against Tsvangirai over his suspension

grievance. Chamisa concluded that opening the party up to

disruption and manipulation by the GOZ-controlled courts was

political lunacy and further evidenced Ncube's malign agenda.

 

 

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

Fallout in Matabeleland

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

 

9. (C) Chamisa maintained further that the party could

afford to slough off the three Ndebele in the "Top Six"

because there were other prominent Ndebele who would then

rise to MDC leadership roles. Tsvangirai's ongoing rallies

in Matabeleland (next one scheduled in Bulawayo on November

13) would be key to substantiating his appeal to the masses

there and to further isolating the Ncube faction. Chamisa

anticipated that Ncube faction might try to boycott or

disrupt the National Congress and acknowledged that assuring

provincial structures did not follow the faction was a

priority.

 

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

Civil Action

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

 

10. (C) Chamisa and Biti predicted that street protests

opposing the regime, with the MDC playing a leading role,

would grow significantly within the next two months. Chamisa

maintained that Tsvangirai had long been held back by Ncube's

influence and could not "follow his heart." He asserted that

the party had been responsible for getting at least 75

percent of the ZCTU street presence out on November 8 and was

heavily involved in the NCA rallies on November 5. Party

planners had yet to decide whether the party should have an

overt street presence before or after the November 26 Senate

elections. However, Biti added that internal tensions would

not distract the party leadership from increasing its public

opposition to the regime.

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

11. (C) The latest developments appear to be leading the MDC

further down the path to catharsis and renewal. Biti and

Chamisa are among the few MDC luminaries who reinforced their

credibility with strong responses to Operation Restore Order.

Their lining up behind Tsvangirai dealt a significant blow

to the Ncube faction, which is desperate for more ethnic

diversity and for more support within the party.

Tsvangirai's growing confidence, buoyed by his success in

 

SIPDIS

winning the intra-party struggle over the Senate elections,

is a potentially important positive trend as the MDC steps up

its opposition activities and renews its credibility with

ordinary Zimbabweans.

DELL

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