Bishops draw up a vision for Zimbabwe

Three bishops from Manicaland and one from Bulawayo told United States embassy officials in separate conversations on 16 April 2003 that they had drawn up a 10-point vision for Zimbabwe and were quietly approaching the President’s office to arrange negotiations between the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the Movement for Democratic Change.

The four were Sebastian Bakare bishop of the Anglican Church in Manicaland, Trevor Manhanga of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Patrick Mutume of the Catholic Church in Mutare and Pius Ncube Archbishop of Bulawayo.

Though the Bishops did not provide a written copy of the vision statement, they reported that it called for political depolarization, demilitarization, disbanding of the youth militia, non-partisan treatment within the courts, inclusiveness in the political process, and repeal of the draconian Public Order and Security Act and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE801, BISHOPS SPEARHEAD DISCREET GOZ - MDC MEDIATION

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE801

2003-04-28 10:26

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000801

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2013

TAGS: PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: BISHOPS SPEARHEAD DISCREET GOZ - MDC MEDIATION

INITIATIVE

 

REF: A. HARARE 540

B. HARARE 222

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

Summary:

--------

 

1. (C) Three bishops in Manicaland, and one Archbishop in

Bulawayo, are spearheading an effort to arrange talks between

the GOZ and the MDC focused on resolving Zimbabwe's political

crisis. They envision a depolarized, demilitarized Zimbabwe

where the rule of law is upheld, but they are only seeking to

establish common ground and points of contention between the

GOZ and MDC as a starting point for talks. They have

consulted with GOZ officials, MDC leadership, and South

African government officials. Although this effort alone

might be insufficient to forge a political settlement, a

combination of this initiative with other elements of

international and domestic pressure, might be enough to force

Mugabe to the negotiating table. End Summary.

 

Bishops Draw up a Vision for Zimbabwe

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

 

2. (C) In separate conversations with Poloff on April 16, the

Bishop of the Anglican Church in Manicaland and President of

the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) Sebastian Bakare and

Bishop Trevor Manhanga, President of the Evangelical

Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), revealed that together with

Bishop Patrick Mutume of the Roman Catholic Church in Mutare,

and President of the Catholic Commission for Justice and

Peace and Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube they

have drawn up a ten-point vision for Zimbabwe and are quietly

approaching the President's office to arrange negotiations

between ZANU-PF and the MDC. Though the Bishops did not

provide a written copy of the vision statement, they reported

that it calls for political depolarization, demilitarization,

disbanding of the youth militia(s), non-partisan treatment

within the courts, inclusiveness in the political process,

and repeal of the draconian Public Order and Security Act

(POSA) and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy

Act (AIPPA).

 

Parties to Set Agenda

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

 

3. (C) Bakare said they would not set the agenda for

negotiations but rather seek to find common ground and points

of contention as a starting point for the parties to move

into substantive talks. Bakare said their initiative comes

out of deep resentment within churches that the GOZ has

prevented them from distributing food and other social

services that they once did and could again provide. Bakare

said their intent is to be an honest broker. They draw

church members from both political parties and have a moral

responsibility to use their good offices to resolve the

crisis.

 

Increased Church Advocacy

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

 

4. (C) Bakare said that in comparison to various church and

church associations' public statements, for example the March

2003 Lenten Pastoral Letter by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops'

Conference (ZCBC) - a scathing attack on the GOZ for

politicizing food distribution and access to justice, and for

promoting political violence - this initiative was an

additional dimension of church activism (Refs A, B).

 

Regional Connections

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

 

5. (C) Bakare said that Anglican Archbishop of Capetown

Njongonkulu Ndungane had offended local bishops during his

February 2003 trip to Harare by not consulting with them

beforehand. Instead his meetings and his public remarks

suggested he had been taken in by Mugabe's charm and

rhetoric. Ndungane's second visit in March was better, as he

met with a broader spectrum of Zimbabwean society, including

church and civic groups, but according to Bakare, the damage

was already done. Bakare acknowledged that - given the

access Ndungane has been given to the President - it might be

advantageous for the two initiatives to join, yet he still

seemed personally offended by Ndungane's missteps. Manhanga

believed that it would be important for them to join with

Ndungane and suggested he could convince Bakare. Manhanga

also said he had consulted with South African government

officials, including Director-General in the Presidency

Reverend Frank Chikane, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Aziz Pahad, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in

Parliament Paulo Jordan and South African bishops. They

intended to lobby more broadly within SADC - and with the

Kenyan Government - to press for inter-party dialogue within

Zimbabwe.

 

Likely Participants

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

 

6. (C) Bakare said their group consisted of roughly 10-12

Zimbabwean bishops from every denomination and locality.

While they had been requesting a meeting with the President

for a month now to start the process, they had already met

with some GOZ officials and received indications that ZANU-PF

spokesman and elder statesman Nathan Shamuyarira and Minister

of Special Affairs and ZANU-PF National Chairman John Nkomo

might be tapped to represent the GOZ in negotiations. On the

MDC side, they have an open relationship with MDC President

Morgan Tsvangirai and have also met Shadow Minister of

Justice and MP David Coltart. Both are open to this

initiative.

 

ZANU-PF Sincere?

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

 

7. (C) Asked whether they thought the GOZ would take

negotiations seriously and why, Bakare said that they would,

that hardship was now affecting even the families of Mugabe's

inner circle who no longer deny the existence of a crisis

privately. Manhanga said that travel bans and financial

sanctions were also biting.

 

Comment:

--------

 

8. (C) That the bishops have not yet succeeded in getting a

meeting with President Mugabe does not bode well for the

prospects for success of this initiative. However, the

bishops' initiative can be one key element in growing

international pressure on the Mugabe regime. Church

pressure, tough nudging from Presidents Muluzi and Mbeki,

travel bans and financial sanctions, and Zimbabwe's economic

implosion might, in the end, be enough to force Mugabe to the

negotiating table. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Add comment


Security code
Refresh