He told Ncube that he met Mugabe regularly but not daily as Nicholas Goche Minister of National Security who met the President on a daily basis.
Chinamasa told Ncube that he often had to appear "radicalised" toward the opposition in order to maintain his "mainstream" ZANU-PF credentials.
According to Ncube, Chinamasa was keeping a tight lid on the informal talks and most of his colleagues in ZANU-PF did not know what was going on.
He said at one time the Minister of Finance waited for him for 15 minutes while he was in a bank queue just to ask him what was going on.
Viewing cable 04HARARE188, MDC UPDATE ON PROGRESS IN TALKS
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 03 HARARE 000188
AF/S FOR SDELISI, LAROIAN, MRAYNOR
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER, DTEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR CGURNEY
PARIS FOR CNEARY
NAIROBI FOR TPFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/02/2014
SUBJECT: MDC UPDATE ON PROGRESS IN TALKS
REF: (A) HARARE 174 (B) HARARE 84 (C) HARARE 73 (D)
03 HARARE 2412
Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5(b)(d)
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube on
January 30 told the Ambassador that he expected to engage his
ruling party interlocutor, Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, soon on key issues relating to prospective talks.
A new electoral law would address many issues, while the fate
of The Daily News and the youth militias loomed as potential
stumbling blocks. He intimated that they already had
discussed the possiblity of a government of national unity in
hypothetical terms as a vehicle to carry the country toward
presidential and parliamentary elections, possibly by 2005.
Ncube said he and Chinamasa envisioned reaching tentative
agreement on most important issues before the parties
announced formal talks and began the task of getting the deal
blessed by key constituencies. END SUMMARY.
Talks on Talks Substantive
¶2. (C) During a visit by the Ambassador to his law office,
Ncube advised that he was scheduled to meet Chinamasa on
February 3 to resume discussions on issues relating to
resumption of interparty talks. He reported that Chinamasa
had deflected earlier attempts during January to engage on
grounds of being on official leave, notwithstanding that
Chinamasa had been playing a high profile role at the
parliament. Discussions would revolve in large part around a
draft Electoral Amendment Act that Ncube shared with the
Justice Minister two weeks before, and draft amendments to
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which
Ncube had conveyed in November.
¶3. (C) Ncube asserted that Chinamasa shared his desire to
resolve most important contentious issues before commencing
formal interparty talks. The election law would address many
critical matters. He said that certain important
"environmental" issues, such as the status of the youth
militia and The Daily News, had yet to be addressed. The
Daily News problem might resolve itself (ref A), and other
well-known points of difference, such as the MDC's election
petition and stand on sanctions, would "fall away" once
agreement was reached on new elections.
¶4. (C) Ncube said Chinamasa "seemed to agree" with his
proposal to conduct parliamentary and presidential elections,
as well as urban and rural council elections, at roughly the
same time so as to reduce the perpetual state of tension
engendered by rolling elections. Timing had yet to be
agreed, although the positions were narrowing: the MDC
originally wanted elections this year but was now focusing
more on establishing proper atmospherics and mechanics than
on immediacy; Chinamasa first argued for presidential
elections in 2007, but more recently had shifted to 2006.
(Comment: Parliamentary elections are now scheduled for 2005
and presidential election for 2008. End comment.) Once
agreement had been sealed on key issues, formalized talks
would provide a process by which the parties would sell the
deal to key constituencies.
¶5. (C) According to Ncube, the two had discussed the
division of portfolios in a coalition government in a
hypothetical "brainstorming" exercise. The MDC remained open
to the idea of a government of national unity, depending on
preconditions -- the shorter the government's duration, the
better, for example. ZANU-PF was insisting that the MDC "be
involved" in the government in some way, and sought to defer
consideration of problematic issues such as POSA, AIPPA, and
political violence until a new government was in place.
Ncube asserted that transition arrangements would be
addressed in a new constitution that would be ratified by the
parliament, although Chinamasa sometimes seemed reluctant to
take the parliamentary route of ratification. Ncube noted
that certain opposition elements could be expected to
criticize the parliamentary approach in any event.
ZANU-PF Politicking Not Expected to Disrupt Talks
¶6. (C) Ncube indicated that Chinamasa had been candid about
the pressures he was facing within the ruling party.
Chinamasa said that Information Minister Jonathan Moyo,
Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, retired General
Solomon Mujuru, and general-turned-politician Josiah
Tungamirai were among those pressing him on talks. Chinamasa
said he took instructions directly from Mugabe, who he saw
regularly though not daily. He confirmed that State Minister
for National Security Nicholas Goche, who did see Mugabe on a
daily basis, also played a substantial role in the talks.
Chinamasa had explained to Ncube that he often had to appear
"radicalized" toward the opposition in order to maintain his
"mainstream" ZANU-PF credentials.
¶7. (C) Ncube predicted that the ruling party's latest
bloodletting over Chiyangwa (ref C) would not have any direct
implications for prospects on talks. He observed that
Mnangagwa's camp (which had included Chiyangwa) was under
"intense pressure", in part because they had abused
state-connected funds to finance Mnangagwa's ill-fated
succession campaign. Ncube reported that as Speaker,
Mnangagwa of late had been uncharacteristically hostile to
him and slected other MDC MPs, and speculated that he may see
them as part of the cabal arraying against him.
¶8. (C) Elaborating further on ruling party dynamics, Ncube
commented that ZANU-PF's membership generally recognized that
internal political settlement would have to precede effective
international re-engagement. The membership was eager for
progress but extremely anxious about talks because all but a
few were out of the loop. Ncube reported that ZANU-PF MPs he
encountered on a regular basis always asked him about
progress in his talks with their Justice Minister, from whom
they uniformly said they got no information. That the
Finance Minister waited 15 minutes to query him after he
emerged from a bank queue Ncube took to indicate both how
tight the ZANU-PF information loop was and how little the
Minister has to do at his Ministry.
¶9. (C) Turning to the international front, Ncube said his
party continued to be in close contact with the South
Africans on process and had advised them about the lack of
concrete progress on substantive issues. He noted that
Ambassdor Ndou had indicated that the sooner elections were
held, the better -- 2005 was too far off. Ncube reported
that the Namibian mission in Harare had become increasingly
engaged with the party leadership and other diplomatic
missions on the issue of talks. He said that Tanzania was
much more positive privately than their public stance would
indicate. During their meeting with President Mkapa in
October, he informed them that he had selected his new
Ambassador to Harare because of his stature as former
Secretary-General of the OAU's Committee on Liberation at the
OAU -- he was not one to be pushed around easily. Indeed,
the new Tanzanian ambassador had met with MDC officials three
times and seemed genuine in his stated desire to be helpful
in stimulating momentum on interparty dialogue.
¶10. (C) Ncube emphasized MDC interest in the prospective UN
elections mission to evaluate prospects for involvement in
Zimbabwe's next parliamentary election (ref B), and reported
that the party had been communicating with local UN
representatives on the matter. He was encouraged that the
office's discussions with Chinamasa had gone well and not
surprised that engagement with election administrator Mudede
had been negative.
Party Doing Well
¶11. (C) Addressing the health of his party, Ncube asserted
that party planning generally was improving. The party's
various committees were active developing action programs,
with attention recently being devoted to party organization;
voter education; and diplomatic strategies, especially with
respect to Africa. The Information Department was
spotlighting the party's so-called "RESTART" economic
program, which had been launched officially January 29
despite a clumsy government attempt to thwart the associated
public event. (The event commenced an hour late when party
lawyers had to obtain an urgent court order quashing police
attempts to close the meeting over lack of a permit.) In
some detail, Ncube denied reports in this week's edition of
the Financial Gazette that he had been involved in a secret
effort in 2002 to link up with Mnangagwa and then Armed
Forces Chief Zvinavashe to create a coalition to sideline
both Mugabe and MDC Party President Morgan Tsvangirai.
¶12. (C) Ncube observed that Tsvangirai's treason trial was
proving to be even more politicized than expected. The
prosecution was seeking gratuitous details on the party's
functioning and strategies, and emphasizing things that
Tsvangirai did not know in an effort to undermine his
stature. Ncube was scheduled to testify for the defense when
the trial resumes on February 11.
¶13. (C) Elsewhere on the legal front, Ncube said he
understood that the report on Harare's MDC Executive Mayor
Elias Mudzuri (ref D) reached negative conclusions and
recommended criminal proceedings against the beleaguered
politician. He implied that the process would take
considerable time, noting that Local Government Minister
Chombo wanted to make sure he had an "airtight" case and that
Mudzuri would not be able to respond legally.
¶14. (C) MDC officials have previously confided to us
cautious openness to a government of national unity but this
is the first confirmation that portfolios actually have been
dicussed with the ruling party. Ncube and his party may view
such conceptualizing as hypothetical, but it may fuel ZANU-PF
expectations for a coalition and put the MDC on a slippery
slope. Ncube's expectation that most important issues will
be nailed down before formal talks are announced may prove
elusive. Historically, ZANU-PF interlocutors often indicate
tentative agreement or flexibility, only to be snapped back
on a short, rigid leash.