Tsvangirai showed muscle before MDC split

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai showed his muscle when he turned down a decision his party’s executive council to participate in the 2005 Senate elections.

The executive council had voted 33 for and 31 against.

The party’s youth and women’s leagues supported the boycott.

Civil society also backed Tsvangirai, roundly criticising the reconstituted Senate as a worthless and patronage-filled institution.

Tsvangirai’s decision, however, led to the split of the party as some of the senior members accused Tsvangirai of being dictatorial.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE1455, TSVANGIRAI GAINING UPPER HAND IN SENATE DEBATE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1455

2005-10-24 14:53

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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 001455

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2015

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ZI MDC

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI GAINING UPPER HAND IN SENATE DEBATE

 

REF: A. REF A: HARARE 1446

B. REF B: HARARE 1421

C. REF C: HARARE 1405

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

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Summary

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1. (C) MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai appears to be

emerging on top in the intra-party debate over participation

in the Senate elections. Tsvangirai,s stance has clearly

resonated with the MDC,s rank and file, which believes that

participation would only legitimize a corrupt and powerless

institution. The National Executive, convened by Tsvangirai

on Saturday, supported his decision to overturn the earlier

decision by the party,s Executive Council to participate in

the vote. That said, MDC provincial leaders in the three

Ndebele areas have continued the nomination process for

Senate candidates raising the specter of an MDC split along

ethnic lines. Tsvangirai successfully quelled efforts by

four of the MDC,s &Top 68 to involve South African

President Mbeki in mediation efforts. End Summary.

 

--------------------------------------------- -----

Tsvangirai Winning the Battle for Hearts and Minds

 

SIPDIS

--------------------------------------------- -----

 

2. (C) Tsvangirai appears to be emerging the victor in the

fierce battle over the MDC,s participation in the November

26 race for Senate. The MDC leader instigated the crisis on

October 12 when he overturned a 33 to 31 Executive Council

decision in favor of contesting (ref B and C). Tsvangirai,s

stance against the Senate has clearly resonated with the

opposition,s rank and file, who remain loyal to the MDC

president and who appear increasingly eager to confront the

government. Within the MDC, the party,s youth and women,s

leagues support the boycott, as do the party structures in

nine of the 12 provinces ) the three Ndebele provinces are

the only holdouts.

 

3. (C) Civil society has also backed Tsvangirai, roundly

criticizing the reconstituted Senate as a worthless and

patronage-filled institution. The National Constitutional

Assembly and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions have both

publicly declared their opposition to the Senate. And,

despite the doom and gloom portrayed by the state-controlled

media, Zimbabwe,s independent press has reported favorably

on Tsvangirai,s gambit, echoing the theme that the Senate is

merely a patronage-generating machine for ZANU-PF.

 

----------------------------------

National Executive Back Tsvangirai

----------------------------------

 

4. (C) In response to MDC Vice President Gibson Sibanda and

others who charge he has adopted anti-democratic means to

enforce his opinion, Tsvangirai convened the party,s

National Executive on Saturday. The Executive voted to

support Tsvangirai,s decision to boycott, although Sibanda,

Ncube, and other members of the pro-participation faction

were not present. The Executive,s decision came ahead of

Monday,s sitting of the nomination courts, with which all

candidates ) even those not endorsed by the party - must

register.

 

5. (C) Tsvangirai also successfully outmaneuvered efforts by

his pro-participation rivals to insert South African

President Thabo Mbeki as a mediator in the intra-party

dispute. On 20 September, Sibanda and Ncube, along with

deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire and party treasurer

Fletcher Dulini Ncube traveled to Pretoria to meet with

Mbeki; national chairman Isaac Matongo reportedly backed out

of the trip at the last minute. Fending off Mbeki,s offer

to moderate, Tsvangirai told reports that the South African

President was being &abused8 by party members who had

attempted to drag him into an internal party affair.

 

--------------------------------------------

But Ndebele Going Forward With Participation

--------------------------------------------

6. (C) Tsvangirai,s only setback as of late afternoon today

came when, as expected, the MDC leadership in Bulawayo and

Matabeleland North and South nominated five candidates each

to contest the election. MDC Secretary for Legal Affairs

David Coltart earlier this month told poloff that the Ndebele

people had worked hard to rid themselves of ZANU-PF

politicians and did not want them back by default (ref A).

 

-------

Comment

-------

 

7. (C) The debate over participation in the Senate may very

well prove a defining moment for the MDC and Tsvangirai.

Months of intra-party squabbling that have paralyzed the

party have now come to a head. Tsvangirai appears to be

using the crisis to reassert his leadership and to rally the

party behind him. A rejuvenated MDC may well be a more

confrontational MDC and given the increasing unpopularity of

the government, the moment may be propitious. There is still

a real chance of a split within the MDC (and unfortunately

along ethnic lines) if the Ndebele provinces contest the

elections. That said, we believe the locus of the opposition

would remain around Tsvangirai, who maintains broad-based

support, and we believe that is unlikely the Ndebele people

will ever reconcile itself with a ZANU-PF government. End

Comment.

DELL

 

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