Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai called for international pressure on the Zimbabwean government for political reform saying without this there would be chaos in the country.
He said that without international pressure to force President Robert Mugabe’s government to adhere to Southern African Development Community guidelines for free and fair elections, the outcome of the 2005 elections would have a predetermined outcome, one that would not be favourable to the MDC.
Tsvangirai urged SADC, the Africa Union and the international community not to wait until there were “dead bodies” on the streets.
He said that implementation of SADC norms was necessary to legitimise the March 2005 polls and to pre-empt conflict that might lead to feelings of “helplessness”, “despondency” and “adventurism”.
The United States embassy said that Tsvangirai call to the international community spoke to the MDC’s weakness and growing frustration at home.
Viewing cable 04HARARE401, MDC PRESIDENT APPEALS TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
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 000401
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014
SUBJECT: MDC PRESIDENT APPEALS TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
TO KEEP THE PRESSURE ON
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On March 3, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai
briefed some 30 Harare-based diplomats on the MDC’s
perception of the crisis in Zimbabwe, the status of
interparty talks, and the party’s strategy for upcoming
elections. He appealed to the international community to
continue pressure on the Mugabe regime especially to adhere
to SADC norms for the March 2005 parliamentary elections.
¶2. (SBU) Tsvangirai said that Zimbabwe’s health and education
systems were deteriorating, its food deficit was continuing,
government food aid was politicized, and violence was still
being perpetrated on MDC supporters. He said that the
limited informal constitutional talks between representatives
of the MDC and ZANU-PF had not progressed to formal
negotiations. Tsvangirai reiterated that a negotiated
settlement of the political situation was necessary. He
spoke positively of Mbeki’s efforts, but emphasized that they
had not yet achieved the desired result. Tsvangirai said the
party would be preparing for the upcoming general
parliamentary elections in March 2005 or whenever the GOZ
might call them. He said that the current electoral
conditions would, however, produce a “predetermined outcome”,
i.e. one unfavorable to the MDC.
¶3. (SBU) The MDC President urged the international community,
especially SADC countries, to pressure the GOZ to adhere to
SADC electoral norms to ensure a legitimate outcome.
Tsvangirai said that the party wanted to participate in the
elections, but would reserve a decision to boycott. He also
urged that the international community not relax its travel
bans or other sanctions. Tsvangirai recognized that
Mauritius was due to assume chairmanship of SADC in August
2004 and he hoped that under its leadership SADC might be
more sympathetic to MDC goals.
¶4. (SBU) Tsvangirai cautioned that without international
pressure for a political resolution and electoral reforms,
chaos might result. Tsvangirai urged SADC, the Africa Union
(AU), and the international community not to wait until there
were “dead bodies” in the streets. He said that
implementation of SADC norms was necessary to legitimize the
March 2005 polls and to preempt conflict that might lead to
feelings of “helplessness”, “despondency” and “adventurism”.
(Comment: We took adventurism to mean violence against the
regime. End Comment.)
¶5. (SBU) Tsvangirai said that the party would soon appeal to
the UN Secretary General to send a “Human Rights Commission”
to Zimbabwe, while acknowledging that sympathetic African
states have thwarted Zimbabwe-related resolutions in UNHRC
generally. (Comment: We took this to mean a UN Special
Rapporteur. End comment.) He also speculated about the
possible utility of UN Security Council action on Zimbabwe,
but gave no further detail.
¶6. (SBU) MDC Shadow Minister of Agriculture Renson Gasela
relayed that he had traveled around the country recently and
observed dismal prospects for this year’s harvest. He said
that only 40 percent of seed and inputs had been made
available to communal farmers and that the country could at
best expect a harvest of 40 percent of normal. (Note: This
figure is lower than that offered by FEWSNET and other
technical experts. End Note.) Gasela said he would issue a
full report of his findings within 2 weeks. Consistent with
reports from other Embassy sources Gasela said the GOZ does
not intend to request donor food again this year. He pointed
out that this would leave the GOZ’s Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) with a monopoly on food distribution going into the
parliamentary elections in March — a circumstance it would
exploit to manipulate the electorate, as it had in the past.
¶7. (C) A Botswana diplomat told Poloffs after the briefing
that he did not see SADC altering its group position on
Zimbabwe or discussing Zimbabwe’s election standards at any
upcoming SADC meeting. The diplomat listed several SADC
countries which might be sympathetic to the MDC and political
reform in Zimbabwe, such as Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius,
Mozambique, and Angola. He suggested Tanzania might be
persuadable, but Namibia and Zambia were firmly alongside the
GOZ. He said the DRC might go either way, but would like
best to ignore the Zimbabwe issue. Lesotho and Swaziland
would likely go along with whatever stance South Africa took.
He noted that SADC had never pressed a member on elections
and in any event, members’ relations with South Africa and
respective domestic political considerations would override
any inclination to press Zimbabwe on elections.
¶8. (C) Urging the international community to assist in
electoral reform in the run-up to the March 2005 polls speaks
to the MDC’s weakness and growing frustration at home. That
reform of the election environment will take a considerable
commitment of time and resources fuels the MDC’s urgency.
The MDC has been unable to elicit any signal that ZANU-PF
would consider electoral reform or the direct negotiations
that would probably have to drive it. Having recently
withdrawn its solicitation of UN electoral assistance, the
GOZ will be unresponsive to Tsvangirai’s vague UN appeals
unless pressed mightily from abroad.