He said the talks had started on 30 May.
Initially President Robert Mugabe wanted to make Morgan Tsvangirai vice-President but this was unacceptable to Tsvangirai as the vice-President had limited powers.
The MDC preferred the “Kenyan” type of solution where the president was ceremonial and the Prime Minister had executive powers.
Ncube said the big question was whether each individual would make the compromises necessary to achieve an agreement.
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SUBJECT: ZANU-PF AND MDC DISCUSS GNU
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) Welshman Ncube briefed polecon chief June 11 on talks
between ZANU-PF and the MDC directed at a government of
national unity (GNU). According to Ncube, the talks have the
blessing of both Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and MDC
president Morgan Tsvangirai and envisage a "Kenyan" solution
with Mugabe retaining a ceremonial role as president and
Tsvangirai assuming the position of prime minister. The big
question is whether each individual will make the compromises
necessary to achieve an agreement. A first round of talks
took place on May 30. A second round is taking place June 11
and June 12. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Ncube said that the South Africans had been pressing
for some time for a continuation of the SADC talks to resolve
the current crisis. Tsvangirai refused to participate as
long as South African president Thabo Mbeki was in charge.
He did indicate he would allow South Africa to mediate talks
that had as their focus a meeting between Mugabe and himself.
¶3. (C) According to Ncube, an initial meeting took place on
May 30 in South Africa, ostensibly to discuss a one-on-one
meeting. Participants were ZANU-PF negotiators Patrick
Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche and MDC negotiators Tendai Biti
and Elton Mangoma. (NOTE: Ncube had previously negotiated
with Biti in the pre-election SADC talks. Since the current
talks were to focus on a Mugabe-Tsvangirai meeting,
Tsvangirai wanted Ncube replaced with Mangoma, the MDC
treasurer. Ncube said Biti and the South African mediators
continue to brief him on developments. END NOTE.) Mediators
were Sydney Mufamadi, Frank Chikane, and Mojanku Gumbi.
¶4. (C) Ncube stated that Mugabe took the position, through
his representatives, that he wanted an agenda before he would
meet with Tsvangirai. The meeting therefore expanded into a
discussion of the run-off election, violence, and
implementation of the pre-election SADC agreement. It was
agreed to have a second round of talks; ZANU-PF wanted
concrete proposals from the MDC for a government of national
unity in the event there was no run-off. The second round is
taking place June 11 and June 12 in South Africa. Ncube
commented that this round was to have take place in Harare,
but the ZANU-PF negotiators told Biti they could not
guarantee he would not be arrested upon returning to Harare.
(NOTE: Biti has been absent from Zimbabwe since shortly
after the March 29 elections; there is a warrant for his
arrest for proclaiming that the MDC had won before official
results were announced. END NOTE.)
¶5. (C) According to Ncube, Mugabe in the past had believed
that Tsvangirai, in a GNU, should have the position of
vice-president, thereby limiting his power. This was
understandably unacceptable to Tsvangirai. Ncube told us
Goche and Chinamasa as well as other ZANU-PF insiders, had
told him that Mugabe might now be agreeable to a "Kenyan"
type solution, whereby Mugabe would become a ceremonial
president and Tsvangirai would assume the position--under a
new or amended constitution--of prime minister.
¶6. (C) Ncube noted that an agreement would require
flexibility on the part of both Mugabe and Tsvangirai. He
stated less than two weeks ago Mugabe had told the South
Africans he hated Tsvangirai with a passion. Tsvangirai, on
the other hand, wanted nothing to do with a government that
included Mugabe. Yet, opined Ncube, a GNU that included both
was the only way forward. Mugabe was at a dead end with a
collapsed economy and an inoperable government. Tsvangirai
HARARE 00000500 002 OF 002
had to realize that even if he won the run-off election
Mugabe and ZANU-PF might well fail to recognize the result.
In fact, they might not even count the results. Both men now
had to make compromises. (NOTE: Ncube commented that an
election was impossible under current circumstances. In his
home base of Matabeleland, it was impossible to hold rallies
o organize. Those who wore MDC T-shirts or campaiged in
any way for the MDC were harassed, intimidted, and worse.
¶7. (C) We asked Nube how the MDC could join forces with a
party tat has been responsible for endless brutality against
its officials and supporters. Ncube respondedthat a GNU
might be akin to a pact with the devi and could be seen as
rewarding ZANU-PF for its erverse behavior. But it might be
the only way o stop the violence.
¶8. (C) Turning to the international community, Ncube thought
it had no role to play in GNU talks. This was a matter to be
resolved by Zimbabweans themselves. More complicated would
be the role of the U.S. and others in the event of a GNU.
Ncube realized that the international community would be
loathe to deal with a government that included Mugabe.
Nevertheless, argued Ncube, a GNU without western support
would be doomed to failure.
¶9. (C) Tsvangirai has stated publicly and privately he wants
no part of a GNU in which Mugabe retains power. He continues
to campaign for the run-off election. (Tomorrow he starts a
tour of Zimbabwe in a large bus imported from South Africa.)
But it is increasingly obvious that ZANU-PF will not allow
itself to lose the election. If the current reign of
violence does not result in additional ZANU-PF voters and
fewer MDC voters for the June 27 election than in the March
29 election, then ZANU-PF is prepared to rig the results at
the polling stations, or perhaps--taking a page from
Kenya--simply announce it has won. Ncube may in fact be
right that the only solution is a GNU--whether formed before
or after the election. ZANU-PF knows it cannot govern with
an opposition that enjoys a parliamentary majority. And the
MDC knows it is unlikely it can gain the presidency in the
June 27 election and will have no alternative to negotiation
if it loses.
¶10. (C) Given the tortured history of ZANU-PF-MDC
negotiations, we have no idea at this point whether a GNU
agreement is probable or even possible at this time. We
suspect that ZANU-PF is negotiating now as a salve to SADC
and Mbeki, and would prefer to engage in serious negotiations
after it has won the election and feels that it is dealing
from a position of even greater strength.
¶11. (C) At this time, we don't believe there is anything we
can do, either privately or publicly, to influence the GNU
negotiating process. What we can and should do is continue
to expose the violence and help in any way possible, through
the support of civil society and observers, to improve
conditions for the election, assuming that it will take place.