This was said by Gandi Mudzingwa, the special assistant to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, when a planned visit to Malawi by Tsvangirai where he was to meet President Bakili Muluzi was cancelled in favour of a meeting in Harare.
The meeting was moved because Mugabe feared that South African President Thabo Mbeki would also invite Tsvangirai to South Africa which would mean regional recognition of Tsvangirai as a legitimate representative of the people in Zimbabwe and a key player in negotiations on Zimbabwe’s future.
Mudzingwa said the Harare meeting would reaffirm that the MDC was a willing negotiating partner while the government was obstructionist.
Viewing cable 03HARARE925, AFRICAN PRESIDENTIAL VISIT NEXT WEEK - MASS ACTION
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
131439Z May 03
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000925
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
SUBJECT: AFRICAN PRESIDENTIAL VISIT NEXT WEEK - MASS ACTION
DELAYED TWO WEEKS
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) Plans for a Tsvangirai visit to Malawi have been
scrapped in favor of Malawian President Muluzi and South
African president Mbeki coming to Harare next week for talks
with the MDC. The MDC planned stayaway has also been delayed
for another two weeks. Switching the presidential meeting to
Harare was reportedly due to Mugabe's fear that Tsvangirai
might also travel to South Africa on an invitation from
Mbeki. Regardless, Mugabe is likely to lose comparatively
from the upcoming talks because the MDC is being recognized
regionally as an essential negotiator for Zimbabwe's future.
Malawi Meeting Switched to Harare
¶2. (C) According to the special assistant to the MDC
President, Gandi Mudzingwa, plans for a meeting in Malawi
between MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and President Muluzi,
had been scrapped in favor of a meeting in Harare with Muluzi
and Mbeki sometime in the week of May 19 - 23. Mudzingwa had
been communicating with the Malawian High Commissioner in
Harare on the planning and travel documents for the trip. On
May 11, the High Commissioner said that President Mugabe was
afraid that Mbeki might also invite Tsvangirai to meetings in
South Africa during Tsvangirai's trip.
MDC to Gain Regardless
¶3. (C) Mudzingwa said that while meetings in Malawi might
have been more desirable, the MDC is still gaining ground
with the current plan: regional leaders are recognizing the
MDC as a legitimate representative of the Zimbabwean people,
and a key player in negotiations on Zimbabwe's future; and
the meetings will reaffirm the MDC as a willing negotiating
partner, and most likely, the GOZ as obstructionist.
Mudzingwa said there was nothing specific yet on an agenda;
however, it seems clear from Mbeki's recommendation that the
MDC recognize Mugabe as the de facto President of Zimbabwe
that Mbeki would like to get the inter-party dialogue started
MDC Might Consider Recognition with Exit Plan
¶4. (C) Mudzingwa said they might consider such recognition if
there was a quid pro quo guarantee of Mugabe's exit.
Mudzingwa understood that the moment may be ripe to restart
negotiations. Mbeki's interest was due to the June 1-3 G8
Summit in Evian where Mbeki will want to demonstrate a track
record for African peer review in the context of a funding
appeal for NEPAD. Mudzingwa was receptive to the suggestion
that the MDC needed to find a formulation for language on
Mugabe's status that did not constitute an agreement to
Preparing for Mass Action
¶5. (C) Mudzingwa said there was no specific plan to make the
mass action coincide with the meetings; however, that might
happen coincidentally. Mudzingwa said it had not been
determined what form the mass action would take, that it
would probably start as a stayaway, and potentially move into
demonstrations, marches, or even a march on State House.
Mudzingwa said that many MDC activists at the grass roots
level would like to organize an ocean of people to march on
State House and force Mugabe to abdicate, but the MDC
leadership was not convinced this was possible.
¶6. (C) Mudzingwa said the success of the mass action was
contingent on the Zimbabwe Defense Forces' (ZDF) response.
As long as the ZDF did not beat up or shoot MDC supporters,
the mass action could continue and gain strength. Mudzingwa
said that the MDC had consulted discreetly with the Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP) and did not foresee a significant
crackdown from them, or for that matter, the disorganized
youth militia. If a crackdown were severe, it would then
take them more time to build confidence and organize further
¶7. (C) Mugabe's reluctance to accept regional recognition for
the MDC would explain his insistence that the presidential
meetings be held in Harare. We would expect Mugabe to
thereby try and retain control of the event. However, we
tend to agree with the MDC's assessment that overall he is
likely to lose from the upcoming round whichever way it goes.
The bottom line is that the MDC is increasingly being
recognized regionally as a key negotiator for Zimbabwe's
future. End Comment.