Publisher Trevor Ncube accused the Movement for Democratic Change of being arrogant during the political stalemate after the 2008 elections because it was not reaching out to others like Arthur Mutambara, Simba Makoni and Jonathan Moyo.
Ncube said the stumbling blocks to a coalition were businessman Strive Masiyiwa, who was also MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s advisor and Melinda Ferris another advisor.
Ncube complained that the MDC was behaving as if it had won a landslide; yet the election numbers suggested the MDC should consider a coalition.
“There had been no structured coordination with Arthur Mutambara (leader of the smaller faction of the MDC which had won 10 seats), Makoni (who won 8 percent of the vote), and Jonathan Moyo who had been elected as an independent,” Ncube said according to a cable released by Wikileaks.
“Tsvangirai would gain much–and lose little–by sharing a platform with others. But the MDC was acting arrogant and failing to reach out,” the cable says.
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¶B. PRETORIA 139
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) ZANU-PF had placed itself in a difficult position,
newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube, an ally of Simba Makoni,
told the Ambassador on April 14. The only way it can win a
runoff election is through fear and violence, but a victory
under these circumstances will not be accepted by SADC. SADC
is the best hope to achieve change. It has shown some
independence on the Zimbabwe issue during the summit April 12
in Lusaka, and the U.S. should publicly support SADC. South
Africa is aware of the situation in Zimbabwe and there is
growing frustration with Mugabe. The MDC has failed to take
advantage of the March 29 election to look strategically
forward. Of particular note is its unwillingness to forge an
alliance with Makoni. END SUMMARY.
On SADC and Simba
¶2. (C) Ncube related Makoni’s impressions of the April 12
SADC Summit on Zimbabwe. Makoni and MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai addressed the SADC leaders for about two hours.
He believed that they understood the issues, and he believed
by their questions to Makoni and Tsvangirai that they were
testing the allegations of ZANU-PF leaders who had made
presentations to them earlier. According to Makoni,
Tsvangirai was inconsistent on whether the MDC would
participate in a runoff election or boycott the election, and
did not clearly indicate how a decision would be made.
¶3. (C) According to Ncube, Makoni believed the SADC meeting
had been positive. Ncube agreed and highlighted the SADC
Communique which suggested that party agents and observers be
present at any recounting, and that SADC observers be present
before, during, and after a runoff election.
¶4. (C) Ncube, noting that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC) had ordered a recount in 23 constituencies, questioned
how a valid recount could take place. There had been no
chain of custody of ballot boxes, and ZANU-PF had had access
Scenarios on the Way Forward
¶5. (C) Ncube gave the Ambassador his analysis of possible
scenarios from this point on:
–Coup by vote rigging: Ncube thought that SADC would not
accept an outright theft of the election. The fact that most
important SADC leaders, except for Kikwete of Tanzania who
was in India, had attended on short notice demonstrated a
shifting SADC wind with respect to Zimbabwe. Other than
denounce a fraudulent electoral outcome, Ncube thought there
was little SADC could do. Still, he believed that Mugabe
cared about SADC’s position and would not risk condemnation.
–ZANU-PF concession of defeat: ZANU-PF would not concede,
according to Ncube. There were too many entrenched
interests, including the military.
–Negotiated settlement: This was unlikely, believed Ncube.
ZANU-PF would negotiate, but only as top dog. Negotiations
HARARE 00000329 002 OF 003
would also be complicated by difficulty in knowing where the
power centers were, both within ZANU-PF and within the MDC.
It was not clear whether either Mugabe or Tsvangirai had the
power to negotiate on behalf of their respective parties.
–Runoff between Mugabe and Tsvangirai or rerun of the entire
election: Ncube opined that ZANU-PF would never go into a
rerun or runoff it could not control. It could not win in a
fair election. Therefore, it would need to revert to its
tactics in 2002, including violence and the use of “war vets”
to invade white farms. Yet, this would not be accepted by
SADC. It would also be more difficult to carry out such
tactics than in 2002, particularly in Manicaland,
Matabeleland, and Midlands which have substantial opposition
¶6. (C) Ncube opined that ZANU-PF had dug a hole and did not
know how to extricate itself. It would not relinquish power,
but any scenario allowing it to remain in power would not be
acceptable to SADC.
South Africa Takes More Interest
¶7. (C) Ncube said he had spoken with South African foreign
affairs officials Aziz Pahad and Kingsley Mamabolo and that
both were aware of the situation in Zimbabwe. Despite
Mbeki’s statement before the SADC Summit that there was no
crisis in Zimbabwe, Ncube believed there was a lot going on
behind the scenes, particularly within the ANC.
MDC Unstrategic and Arrogant
¶8. (C) Ncube complained that the MDC was behaving as if it
had won a landslide; the election numbers suggested the MDC
should consider a coalition. There had been no structured
coordination with Arthur Mutambara, Makoni, and Jonathan Moyo
who had been elected as an independent. Tsvangirai would
gain much–and lose little–by sharing a platform with
others. But the MDC was acting arrogant and failing to reach
out. Ncube believed stumbling blocks to a coalition were
Strive Masiyiwa and Tsvangirai advisor Melinda Ferris.
The U.S. Role
¶9. (C) Ncube urged the U.S. to take a strong, high-profile
position and support the Lusaka SADC Communique which
suggested constructive steps regarding the electoral process,
such as party agents and observers at the vote counting and
verification process, and SADC observers at the pre-election,
election, and post-election phases in the event of a runoff.
Without being specific, he thought the U.S. needed to do more
than take symbolic steps such as the imposition of targeted
¶10. (C) As noted Reftels, Tsvangirai and the MDC have
apparently decided not to do business with Makoni and Ncube.
If there is a runoff election, we believe Makoni and Ncube
will support Tsvangirai. We also believe Tsvangirai is
making a mistake in not strategizing with them to form a
united opposition as ZANU-PF reverts to form in attempting to
suppress the opposition.
HARARE 00000329 003 OF 003
¶11. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: SADC may be losing patience with
Mugabe, and we agree with Ncube that Mugabe does not want to
alienate SADC. Ultimately, however, he will be willing to do
so if that’s what it takes for ZANU-PF to remain in power.