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The transition Tsvangirai wanted

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the militias would have to be dissolved in order to minimise the possibility of violence before any new elections could be held.

He told this to United States ambassador Joseph Sullivan in 2003 and said Parliament would also have to repeal repressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Sullivan had told Tsvangirai that the United States wanted to know Zimbabwe’s needs during the transitional phase should President Robert Mugabe step down.

Tsvangirai said the immediate needs would be energy and food as it would take at least two years before the agricultural sector would be at par.

He said the MDC was finalising an economic recovery plan which he would make available to the embassy upon its completion.

The ambassador commented that by laying down the plan for a transitional phase Tsvangirai was, in effect, confirming that his new public position against a transitional authority was merely a negotiating ploy to respond to hardened ZANU-PF public positions.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1076, TSVANGIRAI TALKS ABOUT MASS ACTION, REGIONAL

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1076

2003-05-30 06:44

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.

 

300644Z May 03

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001076

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

BANGKOK FOR WIN DAYTON

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/29/2013

TAGS: PGOV ZI MDC

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI TALKS ABOUT MASS ACTION, REGIONAL

INITIATIVES, LEGAL WOES, AND TRANSITIONAL PERIOD NEEDS

 

 

Classified By: POLITICAL OFFICER KIMBERLY JEMISON FOR REASONS 1.5 C/D

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

1. (C) At a meeting on May 28, 2003, MDC leader Morgan

Tsvangirai and MDC deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire

 

SIPDIS

discussed the impending mass action, the status of the

Mbeki-Muluzi-Obasanjo initiative, the court cases, and

transitional period needs. Tsvangirai seemed confident that

the June mass action would be both non-violent and controlled

and would push ZANU-PF hardliners closer to the negotiating

table. He seemed less optimistic about the success of the

regional initiative to get ZANU-PF and MDC talking and the

likelihood of the judge granting an acquittal in his treason

case. END SUMMARY.

 

———–

MASS ACTION

———–

2. (C) The Ambassador, AF/S Director Scott DeLisi, and PolOff

met MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC deputy Secretary

General Gift Chimanikire on May 28,2003, a day after

Tsvangirai briefed G8 representatives on the MDC,s position

 

SIPDIS

vis–vis various current issues, including plans for mass

action (See Reftel). Tsvangirai said there has been a

progressive frustration and anger among the Zimbabwean people

and he expected a high level of participation in the mass

action. When asked what form the mass action would take, he

said he had asked MDC supporters whether they preferred a

stayaway or demonstration. He said the overwhelming majority

preferred the demonstration option. Tsvangirai told us the

MDC leadership had been preaching non-violence in preparation

for the demonstration and believed it would be able to

control the crowds. Both the Ambassador and DeLisi

reiterated the U.S. position that demonstrations should be

non-violent and every precaution should be undertaken to

ensure they remain non-violent.

 

3. (C) In spite of this confidence in being able to control

the crowds, Tsvangirai expressed concern about the youth

getting out of control, particularly if the war veterans

decide to take on the demonstrators. Ironically, Tsvangirai

was also concerned that if the police and/or military did not

react to the demonstrations with force, the marchers would

feel emboldened and expand the scope of activities and get

out of control.

 

4. (C) When asked where the demonstrations were likely to

take place–city center or high-density suburbs–Tsvangirai

said the city center was an option. He said a march on State

House was not planned. Both he and Chimanikire seemed to

believe the police and military (and most likely the MDC

youth) would be less likely to behave in an unruly fashion or

destroy the infrastructure in the city center than if they

were in the high-density areas.

 

5. (C) In a separate conversation May 28, Gibson Sibanda,

Vice-President of the MDC, told the Ambassador that the MDC

was doing all in its power to keep its supporters under

control. MDC marshals will attend each rally and leaders at

each event will remind people to remain peaceful. The MDC

does believe that the war veterans have been issued weapons

and are planning to run an ad asking them not to interfere.

(NOTE: In the past, rumors that war veterans were being armed

have been false. END NOTE.) Sibanda said the MDC was also

planning to be on the lookout for potential infiltrators

hoping to stir up trouble.

 

—————————

REGIONAL INITIATIVE ON HOLD

—————————

6. (C) Turning to the regional initiative and his meeting

with Malawian President Bakili Muluzi, Tsvangirai said the

planned meeting had to be cancelled because he needed to

apply to the court to travel to Malawi and knew he would

never get approval. Tsvangirai also claimed that Mugabe

expressed reservations about him going out of the country and

was suspicious of the host,s and invitee,s intentions.

 

7. (C) Tsvangirai commented that Mugabe met with Mozambican

President Joachim Chisamo, Muluzi, South African President

Thabo Mbeki, and other regional foreign ministers and heads

of state at the Walter Sisulu funeral to discuss ways to

resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. According to Tsvangirai, these

leaders were disappointed with the outcome because Mugabe was

not willing to negotiate and offered no suggestions on how to

resolve the situation. As a result of the meeting, the

regional initiative is on hold. In spite of the failed

talks, Tsvangirai feels it is important the region keep up

the momentum and pressure on Mugabe. Both the Ambassador and

DeLisi commented that it might be necessary to regenerate the

momentum first.

 

———–

COURT CASES

———–

8. (C) Regarding the treason trial, Tsvangirai thought the

prosecution would wrap up its case in two or three weeks. He

said the MDC attorneys were planning to apply for an

acquittal. He said if the judge grants the acquittal then

the trial is over but the judge may decide he wants to hear

all the evidence before making a decision. In that case, the

defendants would most likely take the stand.

 

9. (C) Tsvangirai said the election challenge was on hold for

two reasons. One, the MDC was trying to get another judge to

preside over the case. At the moment, Garwe, the judge who

is presiding over the treason trial, is slated to hear

arguments. Two, Mugabe has said in a defense filing the

trial is not an emergency, hence, it will not be tried soon.

 

———-

TRANSITION

———-

10. (C) The Ambassador remarked that the U.S. was interested

in Zimbabwe’s needs during a transition phase. He asked

Tsvangirai for recommendations for support. Tsvangirai

 

SIPDIS

responded that energy and food needs would be paramount but

it would take at least two years before the agricultural

sector would be up to par. He revealed that the MDC is

finalizing a recovery economic plan, which he would make

available to the Embassy upon its completion in the first

week of June.

 

11. (C) Prior to the Ambassador,s specific questions on

transition, Tsvangirai identified immediate changes that

would need to occur if Mugabe were to step down. He said the

parties would need to agree on a transition strategy, be it

what is already described in the Constitution or something

new. He thought ZANU-PF would like a shorter transition

period before elections while MDC would like a longer period

in order to build confidence in the process. Whatever the

method, Tsvangirai maintained that before any new elections,

the militias would have to be dissolved in order to minimize

the possibility of violence and Parliament would need to

repeal repressive legislation, such as the Public Order and

Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of

Privacy Act, and amend the Electoral Act to allow for

independent and terror-free election education and

campaigning. (COMMENT: Tsvangirai, in effect, confirmed that

his new public position against a transitional authority is

merely a negotiating ploy to respond to hardened ZANU-PF

public positions. END COMMENT.)

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

12. (C) After weeks of speculation, it seems that the MDC is

finally ready to move to the next stage in its campaign to

force change. The party leadership,s confidence in a

successful mass action, the increased regional interest in

resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe, and the belief that the

treason trial may result in an acquittal, seem to have

bolstered the confidence of the party. Nonetheless, there

are two serious risks here–the risk that the public will not

turn out in the face of government threats and the risk that

the confrontation between MDC demonstrators and government

security forces will result in serious violence and massive

arrests, including of MDC leaders–that jeopardize the

efficacy of the mass action. END COMMENT.

SULLIVAN

 

(30 VIEWS)

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