The Zimbabwe we want

A group of religious leaders presented a 43- page document entitled “The Zimbabwe We want” to President Robert Mugabe on 27 October.

The document called for dialogue leading to national reconciliation and outlined specific steps to resolve Zimbabwe’s political, economic, and social problems.

Leaders of the Christian Alliance, an umbrella group of Christian groups opposed to Mugabe, attended the ceremony and supported the concept but branded the process "a joke" because it had allowed Mugabe too much control over the final wording.

Reports said Central Intelligence Organisation director Happyton Bonyongwe and Intelligence Minister Didymus Mutasa had been consulted on the document and had made substantial changes to it.

The Movement for Democratic Change felt that Mugabe was not sincere and just wanted to buy time.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE1299, CHURCH LEADERS "NATIONAL VISION" REJECTED BY

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE1299

2006-10-31 14:43

2011-08-30 01:44

SECRET

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5258

PP RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #1299/01 3041443

ZNY SSSSS ZZH

P 311443Z OCT 06

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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001299

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

USAID FOR M. COPSON AND E. LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2011

TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: CHURCH LEADERS "NATIONAL VISION" REJECTED BY

OPPOSITION

 

REF: HARARE 00783

 

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

 

1. (C) Summary. A group of religious leaders presented

President Mugabe October 27 with a so-called "national

vision" document they said is intended as a road map for

dialogue leading to a resolution of Zimbabwe,s problems.

While stating that the document could lead to consensus among

Zimbabweans on a way forward, Mugabe ruled out constitutional

reform, a primary tenet of the church leaders proposal.

Government-controlled media heralded the document, but it

received a chilly reception from the opposition. Leaders of

the Christian Alliance, an umbrella group of Christian groups

opposed to Mugabe attended the ceremony and supported the

concept but branded the process "a joke" that had allowed

Mugabe too much control over the final wording. For its

part, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told us that

Mugabe,s embracing of the document while simultaneously

rejecting its call for constitutional change showed his lack

of sincerity and his intent to "buy time." End Summary.

 

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

"The Zimbabwe we want"

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

 

2. (U) Church leaders from the Catholic Bishops Conference,

Zimbabe Council of Churches, and the Evangelical Fellowship

of Zimbabwe presented President Mugabe, at a public ceremony

on October 27, with a 43-page document, "The Zimbabwe We

Want*Towards a National Vision for Zimbabwe." It assesses

the current situation in Zimbabwe, including the divisive

political atmosphere, contentious laws, the failed economic

framework, corruption, dysfunctional land redistribution, and

international isolation. The document calls for dialogue

leading to national reconciliation and outlines specific

steps to resolve Zimbabwe,s political, economic, and social

problems.

 

3. (U) Importantly, the document notes that Zimbabweans

accepted the Lancaster House Constitution as an interim

measure and that many Zimbabweans desire a new and "home

grown" constitution that enshrines human and national values

with constitutional protections. The document also

highlights the chaos of land redistribution, a resulting

culture of racial hatred, and the importance of a fair

resolution of the land issue, including compensation. and

specifically and the need for a "home grown" and fair

constitution.

 

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

Mugabe and his take

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

 

4. (C) The launch was the culmination of months of drafting

that began after Mugabe met with the church leaders last

spring. (Ref) The government-controlled media gave front-page

attention to the launch and has subsequently pulled out all

the stops in publicizing the report. It has portrayed the

document as an important step forward, and highlighted

Mugabe's remarks. In his lengthy speech accepting the

document, Mugabe commended the initiative of the Church in

undertaking the initiative, referred to the document as a

"road map" to reconciliation, and stressed the need to set

aside political differences. However, with regard to the

constitution, Mugabe said he strongly disagreed with the need

for a new "home grown" constitution. Mugabe concluded that

 

HARARE 00001299 002 OF 003

 

 

the GOZ would entertain amendments to the existing

constitution but never accept the need for a new one.

(Comment: Mugabe's rejection of constitutional reform needs

to be seen in the light of his support for a new constitution

in 2000. The difference, obviously, is that the 2000

constitution, rejected by voters, would have expanded his

powers and term. End Comment.)

 

5. (C) According to Embassy FSN's who attended the event,

Mugabe's remarks rambled and he occasionally lost his train

of thought. He elicited little applause in contrast to the

response to church leaders who also spoke. Physically,

Mugabe appeared to have lost weight and hair, and appeared

frail. In shaking hands with attendees after his speech, his

face showed little emotion. (Note: At a farewell for the

Austrian ambassador, captured by state television a couple of

days earlier, Mugabe also appeared extremely frail. End

Note.)

 

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

Split within the Church

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

 

6. (C) In extolling the document as a basis for national

dialogue, evangelical Bishop Trevor Manhanga, one of its

authors, told polchief that it had been written in

consultation with a cross-section of the political community.

Moreover, Manhanga portrayed himself and fellow church

leaders responsible for the document as representing the

views of the "mainstream" churches in Zimbabwe and dismissed

criticism from the Christian Alliance, an umbrella church

group that he said had "no constituency."

 

7. (C) In contrast, Bishop L.T.C. Kadenge, a member of the

Christian Alliance, told polchief that his organization was

the true representative of the dispossessed not Mahanga and

his fellow authors, who had shown themselves to be supporters

of the regime. Kadenge said that by allowing Mugabe to

preview the document, the religious leaders had allowed

Mugabe to eviscerate the final draft, turning the process

into a "joke." For example, Kadenge said an earlier draft

had called for a new constitution by 2007. This

recommendation is not contained in the final document.

Kadenge said that although representatives of the Christian

Alliance had attended the launch of the document, they would

now find it difficult to participate in a dialogue with the

GOZ given Mugabe's position on a new constitution.

 

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

MDC reaction

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

 

8. (C) MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told polchief that

Manhanga had solicited MDC input but that the MDC had never

been consulted on the final document. While the MDC, which

did not attend the October 27 ceremony, will not take a

formal position until its executive committee meets this

weekend, Chamisa stated that the central issue of the

document is its call for consideration of a new constitution.

Chamisa said that by rejecting ab initio a new constitution,

Mugabe has demonstrated his "lack of sincerity." Chamisa

added Mugabe is trying to manipulate church leaders,

neutralize the opposition and buy time.

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

HARARE 00001299 003 OF 003

 

 

 

9. (S/NF) According to sensitive reporting, Manhanga

presented an initial draft of the document to Mugabe and

consulted on the final draft with CIO Director General

Happyton Bonyongwe and Minister for State Security Didymus

Mutasa, who made substantial changes to it. No doubt Mugabe

saw an opportunity to create yet another diversion from

seriusly addressing the real issues, while also stavin off

pressure from the churches. The perceptionthat the clerics

were co-opted or tricked by Mugae and the regime is already

widespread, and if te details of the actual negotiations

emerge, bot the document and the church leaders will be

higly discredited in the eyes of all but Mugabe,s

lyalists. Indeed, the huge publicity given to the rport by

the state meda has already raised eyebrws and cast doubts

over the endeavor.

 

10. (C Manhanga is a regular embassy contact and a

wel-respected religious leader. By all accounts his

involvement in this initiative is well-intentioned However,

by closely allying themselves with Muabe in writing and

presenting the document Manhaga and his fellow church

leaders probably fatall compromised their initiative even

before Mugabes immediate rejection of the need for anew

constitution.

DELL

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