The dialogue was opened by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa who asked the MDC to attend Mugabe’s opening of parliament.
The MDC agreed provided the government stopped arresting or harassing its parliamentarians and also allowed the party to campaign freely in the urban council and parliamentary by-elections.
At the opening the ambassador said Mugabe's speech was unremarkable and had no inflammatory rhetoric, although it was filled “with delusions about the wonderful state of the Zimbabwean agriculture, tourism, etc”.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1475, MDC RELATES MORE CONTACTS ABOUT DIALOGUE
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 HARARE 001475
STATE FOR AF/FO A/S KANSTEINER AND AF/S
NSC FOR AFRICA SR DIR JENDAYII FRAZER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/22/2008
SUBJECT: MDC RELATES MORE CONTACTS ABOUT DIALOGUE
Classified By: JOSEPH G. SULLIVAN FOR REASONS 1.5B/D
¶1. (C) Contacts with ZANU-PF: MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai and Secretary General Welshman Ncube told the
Ambassador over lunch July 22 that Zanu-PF and the South
African Government(SAG) had reached out to them recently.
ZANU-PF Minister for Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
Patrick Chinamasa had contacted Ncube to negotiate for the
MDC's attendance/non-boycott of President Mugabe's July 22
speech opening the parliamentary session. The MDC had
requested a number of concessions by ZANU-PF, including no
arrests or harassment of its parliamentarians and freedom to
campaign in late August urban council and parliamentary
bi-elections. MDC received sufficient assurances by late
July 21 to agree that its MP's and even Tsvangirai (a non-MP)
would attend the session. The agreement came too late to
affect ZANU-PF from blockading and preventing MDC from
registering its local council candidates in a number of
traditional ZANU-PF strongholds, but Tsvangirai was told that
registration of candidates would be re-opened in these areas.
MDC is publicly characterizing its attendance at parliament
as a goodwill gesture intended to facilitate dialogue and
hopes privately that it can stimulate some positive steps
toward dialogue on both sides. How delicate and top-centered
ZANU is, however, was reflected when Speaker Mnangagwa had to
call President Mugabe personally a few minutes before the
parliamentary session to confirm that he should issue
invitations to Tsvangirai, even though it was Chinamasa who
had urged Tsvangirai to attend. Mugabe's speech was
unremarkable and absent inflammatory rhetoric, although
filled with delusions about the wonderful state of the
Zimbabwean agriculture, tourism, etc.
¶2. (C) South African Outreach: According to Ncube, the South
African High Commissioner has also been pressing MDC and
ZANU-PF for more progress toward dialogue. The MDC told him
it was ready for dialogue now without conditions. SAG HC Ndou
also met with Minister for State Security Goche on this
subject and Goche told Ncube on July 22 that he would be
traveling to South Africa to meet with President Mbeki's
people on the dialogue issue. Comment: The most encouraging
part of the South African contacts is Goche sharing with
Ncube about his upcoming meeting with the South Africans. End
¶3. (C) MDC Plans: The MDC issued a statement July 22 on his
openness to dialogue on issues of national emergency (text
being faxed to AF/S). The intent is to make clear that the
burden is on ZANU to address the national crisis by entering
into dialogue. MDC will also work hard in late August's
elections to demonstrate its firm hold on urban areas. MDC
is working on for release in the next several months a
platform of policies in order to demonstrate that it has
economic and political proposals for a transition or
post-election period. The MDC will continue its
party-building activities and its training in non-violence,
but has no mass action activities planned for the near term.
¶4. (C) Comment: The MDC was clearly thrown off balance by
its failure to organize successful demonstrations in early
June, but it appears to have recovered its equilibrium and to
be pursuing a more patient course. ZANU-PF's triumphalism
has begun to run itself out, as the country's economic and
political crisis continues. Whether this is the sort of
mutually hurting stalemate that can lead to successful
dialogue/negotiations remains to be seen, since it requires
not only the assent of many in ZANU-PF, but also of the
ultimate hard-liner Robert Mugabe.