Was Masiyiwa offered MDC presidency?

Exiled businessman Strive Masiyiwa might have been offered the presidency of the smaller faction of the Movement for Democratic Change when the party split up but he was on party founder Morgan Tsvangirai’s side.

A cable released by Wikileaks says the faction which later elected Arthur Mutambara as its leader was in a quandary as one month after its congress it was still looking for a leader from among Tsvangirai’s supporters.

Despite their differences Tsvangirai left the door open for reconciliation, according to Tendai Biti who was to take over as secretary-general of the main faction.

Biti told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell that he and Welshman Ncube, the former secretary general and de facto leader of the splinter faction had agreed on five elements for their divorce:

  • Tsvangirai’s faction would keep the MDC name;
  • Both sides would keep whatever party assets they currently controlled;
  • Cash on hand, including in a bank in the U.K. would be divided evenly;
  • The party headquarters in Harare would go to Tsvangirai, in Bulawayo to Ncube’s faction;
  • And finally, Tsvangirai’s group would not seek by-elections to oust MPs supporting Ncube.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 06HARARE95, MDC INSIDER ON INTRA-PARTY NEGOTIATIONS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE95

2006-01-30 15:32

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6419

RR RUEHMR

DE RUEHSB #0095/01 0301532

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 301532Z JAN 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9515

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1049

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0883

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1061

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0319

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0682

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1115

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3448

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0882

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1513

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1264

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000095

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2015

TAGS: ASEC PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: MDC INSIDER ON INTRA-PARTY NEGOTIATIONS

 

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

 

-------

Summary

-------

 

1. (C) MDC MP Tendai Biti, who has been negotiating with

Welshman Ncube,s faction on behalf of MDC President Morgan

Tsvangirai, told the Ambassador January 19 that he had

 

SIPDIS

prepared a document that would lead to an amicable MDC

&divorce.8 The Harare East MP said he had also prepared a

draft reconciliation agreement and with MDC President Morgan

Tsvangirai,s blessing had presented both documents to Ncube

 

SIPDIS

for consideration. On January 27, Biti told the Ambassador

he had yet to hear from Ncube and had concluded that an early

reconciliation was unlikely and that an amicable divorce

might also be on hold. He attributed the delay to the

growing pressures on the Ncube faction, including choosing a

president. Biti said he still believed that reconciliation

would occur in the long run and that he was rewriting the

party,s constitution to ease that process. End Summary.

 

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

Divorce ) MDC Style

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

 

2. (C) In a brief meeting with the Ambassador on January 19,

Biti said he and Ncube, both lawyers, had been set to argue

opposite sides of a court case earlier that week. When the

judge failed to show, the two negotiated a resolution of the

court case directly. They then turned to the MDC,s

intra-party wrangling, agreeing that it was past time to

agree on an amicable &divorce.8 Biti said he and Ncube

agreed on five elements: Tsvangirai,s faction would keep the

MDC name; both sides would keep whatever party assets they

currently controlled; cash on hand, including in a bank in

the U.K., would be divided evenly; the party headquarters in

Harare would go to Tsvangirai, in Bulawayo to Ncube,s

faction; and finally, Tsvangirai,s group would not seek

by-elections to oust MPs supporting Ncube.

 

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

Door Number Two -- Reconciliation

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

 

3. (C) Biti said that in the process of preparing the

&divorce8 settlement, he had started thinking about the

outlines of a possible reconciliation. Both factions still

agreed that the ZANU-PF government was the real enemy and

both were aware that their feud had cost the party support.

He had drawn up a second document, which contained the

elements of a potential reconciliation: Tsvangiari,s kitchen

cabinet would be removed -- which Biti said would likely

happen in any event; the top four leadership positions would

remain unchanged and uncontested (i.e. Gift Chimanikire would

be out but Ncube would remain as Secretary General); and both

factions would agree on a new constitution that would

acknowledge the president as party leader but that would vest

most authority in the National Council.

 

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

Update: No Progress, Ncube Faction Under Duress

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

 

4. (C) Biti said that with Tsvangirai,s blessing he had

presented both documents to Ncube the week of January 16.

According to Biti, Tsvangirai was hoping for an early

reconciliation, despite the difficulties he would have

reconciling with Ncube. In that regard, Biti noted the

reports that Ncube had received a government-allocated farm

had deeply troubled Tsvangirai and other MDC leaders. Biti

added that both documents were a &good deal8 for the Ncube

 

HARARE 00000095 002 OF 003

 

 

faction. Biti said Ncube had promised to respond by the end

of the following week and Biti told the Ambassador that he

would brief us on the outcome immediately thereafter.

 

5. (C) In a subsequent meeting on January 27, Biti told the

Ambassador that Ncube had yet to respond to either document.

He interpreted the delay as a sign that an early

reconciliation was unlikely. The formal &divorce8 might

also not occur until after the two faction,s respective

congresses. Biti said part of the delay was likely the

result of the growing pressures on the Ncube faction. Biti

said the Ncube faction was splintering over the question of

who would be &party8 president. MDC Vice President Gibson

Sibanda and Chimaikire had both declared their interest.

Biti said he had actually been approached on behalf of the

faction by Isaac Maposa, the director of the Zimbabwe

Institute, the MDC,s think-tank in South Africa and offered

the faction,s presidency, which he had declined.

 

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

New Constitution Long-Term Basis for Reconciliation

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

 

6. (C) Biti said a longer-term reconciliation was still

possible. Biti said that he had been tasked with drafting

the new party constitution prior to the Tsvangirai-led party

congress and was working to create a document that could form

the foundation of an eventual reconciliation, possibly in the

run-up to the next national elections. Biti said the

starting point for his draft was an acknowledgement that the

old constitution needed to be updated to account from the

party,s growth, including especially defining the role of

MPs, mayors, and other elected officials.

 

7. (C) Biti said the new constitution also needed to help

resolve the disputes that led to the party,s unraveling by

making the MDC more internally democratic. As he had said at

our earlier meeting, this involved giving the National

Council greater authority while acknowledging the president

as head of the party. However, his draft also expanded the

"management8 committee, the highest regular structure in the

party,s executive, from the current &top six8 to 11 party

leaders. Biti said he was preparing to send the document to

the provincial structures for review and expected it to be

adopted at the mainstream Tsvangirai faction,s party

congress.

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

8. (C) A well-respected business lawyer who has been

privately critical of both Tsvangirai and Ncube in the past,

Biti has emerged as a central figure in the MDC endgame. He

has sided with Tsvangirai but has the trust and respect of

the Ncube faction. Perhaps more importantly, along with Roy

Bennett, David Coltart, and others he is part of a group of

MDC leaders that are disappointed with both sides and are

pushing to create a more democratic and more vigorous

opposition party that can eventually reunify and challenge

for power.

 

9. (C) The offer to Biti to become president of the Ncube

faction offers an insight into a central question that has

the power to seriously undermine the faction,s solidarity )

it,s presidency. The Sibanda-Chimaikire feud is out in the

open. However, the fact that Ncube favors neither is not.

As the senior official Sibanda believes he should be

president. However, he is an Ndebele (as is Ncube) and

conventional wisdom is that only a member of the majority

Shona ethnicity can lead a national party ) hence

Chimanikire,s challenge. However, Chimanikire is poorly

 

HARARE 00000095 003 OF 003

 

 

regarded by one and all and we have heard rumors for some

time that Ncube is looking for an &acceptable8 Shona to

assume the presidency.

 

10. (C) Biti certainly would have fit the bill but is firmly

on Tsvangirai,s side as is businessman Strive Masiyiwa who

is also rumored to have been offered the faction,s

presidency. It is a measure of the faction,s weakness that

a month before its congress it is looking to Tsvangiari,s

supporters for a leader. University of Zimbabwe professor

and former mediator Brian Raftopolous told us late year

Tsvangirai needed a credible Ndebele second while Ncube

 

SIPDIS

needed a prominent Shona front man. Raftopolous predicted

Tsvangirai would have the easier time and with press accounts

 

SIPDIS

naming Bulawayo MP Thokozani Khupe as a possible vice

president, he appears to have been correct.

DELL

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