He was briefing Western diplomats on the proposed stay-away and threats by war veterans that they would prevent the marches.
The diplomats were concerned about the stay-away before of the potential for violence.
Tsvangirai said they were damned if they went ahead with the stay-away and damned if they didn't because party supporters were demanding action but security forces might respond with violence.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1058, MDC PLANS FOR JUNE 2 MASS ACTION
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 001058
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013
SUBJECT: MDC PLANS FOR JUNE 2 MASS ACTION
REF: HARARE 925
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) On May 27 MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai briefed G8
mission representatives on the MDC's position vis-a-vis
various current issues, including plans for mass action.
Other G8 representatives present objected to demonstrations
in lieu of a stayaway because of the potential for violence.
Violence is possible in any case if the MDC does not soon
channel people's frustration in a politically positive way.
Shortages of food, petrol, and most recently, cash, could
result in spontaneous riots and lead the country into
dangerous and uncharted territory. On May 28, Tsvangirai
confirmed to visiting AF/S Director and the Ambassador that
mass action would likely begin on June 2, although the MDC
will only decide this definitively later this week. End
Tsvangirai Briefs G8 Representatives
¶2. (C) On May 27 MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai briefed G8
mission representatives on the MDC's position vis-a-vis
various current issues should discussions about Zimbabwe
arise during the June 1-3 G8 summit in Evian, France. In a
prepared statement, Tsvangirai discussed the state of the
crisis and Zimbabweans' desperation, the stalled mediation
effort by Mbeki and Muluzi, legitimacy and a dignified exit,
succession, and what the MDC sees as the way forward. Also
present were MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube, MDC
National Chairman Isaac Matongo, MDC Secretary for
International Affairs Sekai Holland, and MDC Special
Presidential Advisor Gandi Mudzingwa. All G8 countries were
represented except the U.K.
¶3. (C) On mass action, Tsvangirai said they were damned if
they do and damned if they don't, i.e. MDC supporters were
demanding action and leadership, but security forces might
respond with violence. Tsvangirai said that the start date
and form of mass action might be decided on May 29; he
discounted the press reported June 2 start date, and other
reported details as speculative. He said the press had
misinterpreted "final push" to mean the object was to oust
Mugabe from power, when in fact the MDC meant "final push" to
force Mugabe to the negotiating table to initiate a process
leading to fresh elections. Tsvangirai suggested that there
might be peaceful protests, or "democracy marches" in a
managed effort to pressure Mugabe to come to the table, but
the MDC does not plan a massive march on State House to oust
him from power.
G8 Representatives Caution Against Marches
¶4. (C) Other G8 representatives objected to the use of mass
action in any form except a stayaway at this juncture on the
grounds that marches could get violently out of control and
ruin what hope there is for dialogue, and the Mbeki/Muluzi
mediation effort. Welshman Ncube responded that continually
trying to restart dialogue and doing nothing else was not an
option; it would bolster the GOZ's confidence and essentially
had achieved nothing since talks failed in May 2002.
¶5. (C) Tsvangirai and other officials have spoken at MDC
rallies in all of Zimbabwe's major cities in the past three
weeks exhorting Zimbabweans to heed the call to mass action.
Sub-national MDC structures have announced several smaller
community meetings, and prayer vigils over the next several
days. Though it is sometimes difficult to determine exactly
what the MDC plans to do and when, it appears the plan is to
start with smaller scale meetings and transition into a
general mass action of some type next week.
Mediation Efforts Stalled
¶6. (C) Tsvangirai reported that the Mbeki/Muluzi initiative
was stalled. In separate conversations MDC Presidential
Advisor, Gandi Mudzingwa, said that a planned visit to Harare
by the two presidents had been delayed indefinitely by GOZ
machinations. Mudzingwa also reported that Bishops from
Manicaland were joining forces with the Capetown Anglican
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, due to visit Harare again in
the end of May, to facilitate a mediation effort. In a
meeting with several Bishops on May 22, ZANU-PF Spokesman
Nathan Shamuyarira said the GOZ would prefer an internal
mediation effort over the Mbeki/Muluzi one. Mudzingwa said
the MDC leadership felt Mugabe was trying to play one
initiative off of the other and Mugabe has not yet approached
either one sincerely.
Tsvangirai Reveals More
¶7. (C) At a May 28 breakfast meeting with the Ambassador and
AF/S Director DeLisi, Tsvangirai at first refused to be
pinned down about exactly when the mass action would begin,
but privately to the Ambassador he acknowledged that June 2
was a realistic start date. Tsvangirai dismissed speculation
that the MDC would make the call for action during the day
with people already in central Harare, and instead suggested
that demonstrations were planned to take place in the
outlying high-density areas. Tsvangirai expressed some
concern about violence, but believed he could keep things
under control on his side. Tsvangirai took some, but not
total, comfort from being allowed to hold recent rallies and
from Interior Minister Mohadi's statement that peaceful
demonstrations would not be prevented. He dismissed war
veterans threats to prevent marches saying the veterans were
too old and would be no match for MDC youth. Although war
veteran leaders have made recent press statements threatening
violence against MDC marchers, in a separate conversation
even Emmerson Mnangagwa, Speaker of Parliament, dismissed
these as hollow.
¶8. (C) It appears the MDC finds itself between a rock and a
hard place. Their membership, and most Zimbabweans, reach
new levels of frustration and desperation daily and are
demanding the MDC leadership do something. The leadership is
still unsure how the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) will
react, and seems constantly unsure if they have prepared and
lobbied enough. Some in civil society doubt that the public
is prepared to take risks to demonstrate and even the
friendly "Daily News" has raised question. The MDC
leadership appears to be purposefully suggesting various
start dates and mass action plans as a way to obfuscate an
organized GOZ response. While there are huge risks to
organizing general protests that may fizzle or turn
uncontrollably violent, if the MDC does not soon guide
people's frustration in a politically positive way,
spontaneous riots over food, fuel or cash, could erupt.
Moreover, ZANU-PF is playing this crisis as if it had all the
time in the world and believes the leadership issue an
internal ZANU-PF matter. End Comment.