in Stories

Tsvangirai acknowledged Mugabe’s resilience

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai acknowledged the resilience of President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front a month before the formation of the inclusive government and added that former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had told him that he thought Mugabe wanted to die in office.

He told former United States ambassador to South Africa Eric Bost that during the 1998-2000 timeframe, “MDC leaders) were so naive. We thought we were just going to vote Mugabe out. We underestimated the depth and determination of this group”.

Asked by Bost what the MDC wanted from the United States government, Tsvangirai only said: “resources”.

Party treasurer Roy Bennett made the same appeal, emphasizing the danger of the party becoming beholden to individuals who made large donations that came with “conditions”.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09PRETORIA43, MDC WILL STAY THE COURSE

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09PRETORIA43

2009-01-12 14:52

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

P 121452Z JAN 09

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6914

INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN PRIORITY

AMCONSUL DURBAN PRIORITY

AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG PRIORITY

DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L PRETORIA 000043

 

 

DEPARTMENT FOR AF A/S J. FRAZER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/12/2019

TAGS: KDEM PGOV PREL ZANU SF ZM

SUBJECT: MDC WILL STAY THE COURSE

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric M. Bost. Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) Summary: The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

Standing Committee, consisting of 19 leaders, met near

Johannesburg, South Africa for a strategy meeting from

January 6-8, 2009. In a January 9 meeting with Ambassador

Bost, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai said the party leaders

resolved to stick to its current position on joining a unity

government only if Zanu-PF comes to agreement on previously

stated outstanding issues. MDC expects that the parties will

not come to agreement on outstanding issues and is preparing

to implement Plan B – increasing pressure, domestically and

internationally, on the regime led by Zimbabwean President

Robert Mugabe. Although Tsvangirai sees South Africa as the

key to international pressure, he expects no change in

Zimbabwe policy under President Kgalema Motlanthe and is

uncertain whether it will change with the administration of

African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma, who is

expected to win presidential elections this year. Tsvangirai

plans to return to Zimbabwe on January 15 or 16. End summary.

 

———————-

SOUTH AFRICA UNHELPFUL

———————-

 

2. (C) MDC’s plan A focuses on settling outstanding issues

with Mugabe before joining a unity government. Tsvangirai

told Ambassador Bost he has not received a response to his

letter requesting Motlanthe to host a meeting between

Tsvangirai and Mugabe to resolve outstanding issues. When

pressed, he said he did not think Motlanthe would agree to

this request.

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai said South Africa is the only country that

can change the situation in Zimbabwe, but he was skeptical

that South Africa would use its power to pressure Zanu-PF.

He said the South African Government (SAG) was structurally

the same under Motlanthe as it was under former President

Thabo Mbeki, with many of the same decision-makers. He

thinks Mbeki is still driving SAG policy on Zimbabwe from

behind the scenes. According to Tsvangirai, the SAG

leadership continues to protect Mugabe because they think

Mugabe is not the problem, rather part of the solution to the

crisis in Zimbabwe. Ambassador Bost asked Tsvangirai for his

interpretation of South Africa’s motivations in regards to

Zimbabwe policy. Tsvangirai said South Africa was committed

to the solidarity of liberation movements and as a liberation

party, Zanu-PF must be given the opportunity to recreate

itself. He explained that Mbeki’s policy on Zimbabwe was

built on an anti-Western precept and the policy has not

changed under Motlanthe’s leadership.

 

——————————————— —–

TSVANGIRAI UNCERTAIN ABOUT ZUMA POLICY ON ZIMBABWE

——————————————— —–

 

4. (C) Ambassador Bost asked Tsvangirai whether South

Africa’s posture on Zimbabwe would change under Zuma’s

leadership. He said he engages Zuma on a regular basis, but

Zuma remains outside of the SAG’s policy-making circle.

Tsvangirai said he and Zuma are “equally frustrated” with the

SAG’s Zimbabwe policy. Under Zuma’s administration,

Tsvangirai expects a greater push for resolution of the

Zimbabwe crisis. However, he said, “I haven’t picked out

what Zuma thinks is the solution.”

 

——————————————— ——–

——————————————— ——–

FORGET THE LEADERSHIP, GO TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN PEOPLE

——————————————— ——–

 

5. (C) Tsvangirai signaled a tactical change for winning

South Africa’s support. He said, “Perhaps we are making a

mistake by talking to the leadership.” MDC plans to reach

out to civil society, including the Congress of South African

Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, in an

effort to intensify South African public pressure on its own

government. When Ambassador Bost asked him whether MDC would

engage the ANC’s rival party, the Congress of the People

(COPE), Tsvangirai said he was doubtful COPE could help, but

would “have to” meet with them because they are part of civil

society. Tsvangirai said the SAG would be more responsive to

the South African people than to MDC.

 

——————————————-

MUGABE NOT EXPECTED TO AGREE TO MDC DEMANDS

——————————————-

 

6. (C) On January 8, MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett, who attended

the strategy meeting, told poloff although MDC does not

expect Zanu-PF to agree to its demands, the party does not

want to be perceived as the “spoiler” of the GPA by walking

away from negotiations. That line of thinking is consistent

with Tsvangirai’s comments regarding unaccounted-for

abductees. He told Ambassador Bost he thought it was

significant that the public now knows the state is

responsible for abductions of MDC supporters and other civil

society members. He indicated no intention of following

through on his threat to suspend negotiations and contact

with Zanu-PF if all abductees were not released or charged by

January 1, 2009.

 

7. (C) Bennett reiterated to poloff some of MDC’s outstanding

issues: equity in allocation of governors, equal distribution

of ministerial portfolios, the constitution and composition

of the National Security Council and appointment of senior

government officials. (Note: Outstanding issues Bennett did

not mention are a sunset clause on any Government of National

Unity and rescission of Mugabe’s appointment of Johannes

Tomana as attorney general and reappointment of Gideon Gono

as central bank governor.) Bennett said MDC would not share

the Ministry of Home Affairs as instructed by the Southern

African Development Community (SADC) following its November 9

summit. (Note: MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa and Tsvangirai’s

chief lawyer Innocent Chagonda have expressed to Embassy

Harare a willingness to share Home Affairs.)

 

——————————————— ——–

MDC VAGUE ON STRATEGY TO INCREASE PRESSURE ON ZANU-PF

——————————————— ——–

 

8. (C) In light of Mugabe’s publicly-stated intention to form

a government unilaterally by the end of February, the MDC is

gearing up to increase pressure on Zanu-PF to give up power

as per plan B, according to Bennett. Tsvangirai told

Ambassador Bost they would pressure Mugabe until he changes

his “paradigm.” He said, “We are reaching a tipping point

where Mugabe has no option but to settle the crisis or the

country will plunge into the unknown.” Tsvangirai believes

the collapse of the local currency and subsequent

dollarization of the economy will force the regime to concede

power as it does not have the capacity to cover the

government payroll using U.S. dollars. Tsvangirai

acknowledged the resilience of Mugabe and Zanu-PF. He said

during the 1998-2000 timeframe, “(MDC leaders) were so naive.

We thought we were just going to vote Mugabe out. We

underestimated the depth and determination of this group.”

Tsvangirai said former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo

told him in a recent meeting that he thinks Mugabe wants to

die in office.

 

9. (C) In spite of Ambassador Bost’s efforts to elicit a

specific plan of action, Tsvangirai was vague about how MDC

would increase pressure on the Mugabe regime, saying only

that fighting a dictatorship using democratic means is

difficult, like “fighting with your bare hands.” Bennett

said MDC would enact a 90 day plan, culminating at the end of

March in mass demonstrations in every province to coincide

with the celebration of the party’s 10th anniversary. He

said MDC would conduct an internal party audit to determine

Qsaid MDC would conduct an internal party audit to determine

and fill gaps in the party structure created by loss of party

leaders at the provincial, district, and ward levels.

Bennett said the party would use its majority position in

Parliament to pass bills and repeal laws in an effort to put

the regime on the defensive.

 

———————-

MDC REQUESTS RESOURCES

———————-

 

10. (C) Ambassador Bost asked Tsvangirai what the MDC wanted

from the USG. Tsvangirai’s only response was “resources.”

Bennett made the same appeal, emphasizing the danger of the

party becoming beholden to individuals who make large

donations that come with “conditions.” Bennett thanked the

USG for sanctions, which he said were “extremely effective”.

He offered as an example that sanctions target John

Bredencamp had approached him, proposing an exchange of

information for support to get him off the sanctions list.

Bennett said the information was regarding companies that

were being blackmailed into financing Zanu-PF. He offered to

share more concrete information with poloff in the future.

 

11. (C) Bennett said the Standing Committee used the meeting

to solve internal problems, including agreement to channel

all incoming and outgoing funds through the party treasury as

some funding had been given directly to individual MDC

members. Bennett asked whether US Embassy Pretoria could

transfer funding proposals from MDC-South Africa to USAID

Harare. He said it was safer and more secure to conduct

business in South Africa than in Zimbabwe. Poloff agreed to

raise this with Mission Harare.

 

——————————————— ———–

TSVANGIRAI TALKS TO EUROPEANS ABOUT MUGABE AND ELECTIONS

——————————————— ———–

 

12. (C) In a meeting on January 9 with European and

Australian diplomats, Tsvangirai said MDC would accept a

power-sharing government that included Mugabe, according to

Australian political officer Matthew Skelly. Tsvangirai also

told them that calls from the international community for

Mugabe to step down were not helpful, according to Skelly.

(Note: Some observers of the Zimbabwe crisis have criticized

Western countries for their statements calling for Mugabe to

step down. They say this provokes Mugabe to take an even

more intransigent position in the power-sharing negotiations

and plays into Mugabe’s hands by adding ammunition to his

favorite denouncement of MDC as a puppet of the West.)

Tsvangirai told them the MDC was not aiming for fresh

elections at this stage because they would end up in the same

place they are now with Mugabe refusing to cede power. In a

direct contradiction, Bennett told poloff MDC would lobby the

international community for a UN Security Council resolution,

more sanctions and using their good offices to influence the

Southern African Development Community (SADC) member

countries with the end goal of internationally-supervised

elections.

 

——————————-

TSVANGIRAI’S RETURN TO ZIMBABWE

——————————-

 

13. (C) Tsvangirai said he plans to return to Zimbabwe on

January 15 or 16. (Note: Tsvangirai appeared perturbed when

asked about his return to Zimbabwe, defending his decision to

stay outside by saying that leading a struggle such as this

one “has been done before” from outside the country.

According to Skelly, Tsvangirai snapped at the British

diplomat who asked about this when she pressed him for a more

specific timeframe than the vague response he gave.) Bennett

said Tsvangirai would return first to Botswana to meet with

President Seretse Khama before returning to Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai did not mention a return to Botswana. Neither

Tsvangirai nor Bennett had definitive knowledge of Mugabe’s

location or travel plans.

 

14. (C) Comment: Tsvangirai did not articulate a strategy for

achieving MDC’s objective of pressuring Zanu-PF into giving

up power nor did he convey a sense of urgency despite

conditions on the ground in Zimbabwe. In separate meetings,

both he and Bennett said MDC leaders were tired. Tsvangirai

seemed satisfied with the strategy meeting and hopeful MDC

would win out in the end. Of concern is the fact that

Tsvangirai and Bennett provided apparently conflicting

information about MDC objectives. After three days together,

the MDC leadership is still unable to deliver a consistent

message regarding its playbook.

 

 

BOST

(6 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment