Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai met central bank governor Gideon Gono to reassure him and security chiefs that there would be no witch hunt if a good political agreement was reached with the MDC.
Tsvangirai told this to United States ambassador James McGhee on 8 August 2008 after the ambassador had expressed concern that Gono and the security chiefs could prevent or undermine an agreement.
McGhee also asked Tsvangirai if the United States could help in any way.
Tsvangirai told McGhee that he had heard from several sources that the military was becoming more conciliatory.
The military had said over the years that it would not salute anyone without liberation credentials.
Tsvangirai said he had met with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono who had stated his preoccupation about his own future and that of the security chiefs.
He had reassured Gono that with a good agreement in place there would be no witch hunt.
He understood from Gono that this message was relayed to Defence Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga.
The MDC leader said that Gono had a close relationship with the security chiefs and that he would be a useful conduit to send a message about the benefits of supporting a good agreement as proposed by the MDC, and the consequences of not doing so.
Viewing cable 08HARARE674, TSVANGIRAI DISCUSSES ENDGAME WITH AMBASSADOR
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2018
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI DISCUSSES ENDGAME WITH AMBASSADOR
REF: A. HARARE 669
¶B. HARARE 661
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Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) A confident Morgan Tsvangirai told the Ambassador
August 8 that he is unwavering in his position that
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe should not retain
executive power as part of a power-sharing agreement between
ZANU-PF and the MDC. Tsvangirai expects South African
president Thabo Mbeki to arrive in Harare Saturday, August 9
or Sunday, August 10 to facilitate a one-on-one meeting
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai on August 10. The principal
issue to be resolved, according to Tsvangirai, is his and
Mugabe’s respective roles and powers. If an agreement is
reached, Tsvangirai expects it to be signed sometime next
week. END SUMMARY.
Balance of Powers
¶2. (C) In the face of rumors, newspaper and online reports,
and concerns from Tsvangirai’s fellow MDC members that he was
prepared to cede some degree of executive power to Mugabe as
part of a ZANU-PF-MDC power-sharing agreement, the Ambassador
pointedly asked Tsvangirai what his position was. Tsvangirai
firmly reiterated (Ref B) that he would insist on full
executive powers for himself. What was important was that
the will of the people be observed. This meant he should be
fully in control of government and that a program of
political and economic reform should be undertaken. Mugabe
would be a ceremonial president with responsibilities such as
convening parliament and representing Zimbabwe
internationally as head of state; these responsibilities
should be clearly defined in the agreement.
¶3. (C) Those who argued for power-sharing between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai were defying reality, said Tsvangirai. Mugabe had
not won anything, while he (Tsvangirai) had won the March 29
election. In fact, Tsvangirai added, he was being
magnanimous in allowing Mugabe a position in government.
The Security Chiefs and Gono
¶4. (C) The Ambassador expressed concern to Tsvangirai that
the security chiefs could prevent or undermine an agreement
and asked if we could be helpful in any way. Tsvangirai
responded that he had heard from a number of sources that the
military was becoming more conciliatory. Further, he had met
with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono who had
stated his preoccupation about his own future and that of the
security chiefs. Tsvangirai said he had reassured Gono that
with a good agreement in place there would be no witch hunt;
he understood from Gono that this message was relayed to
Defense Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga.
¶5. (C) Tsvangirai said that Gono had a close relationship
with the security chiefs and that Gono would be a useful
conduit to send a message about the benefits of supporting a
good agreement as proposed by the MDC, and the consequences
of not doing so The Ambassador plans to meet with Gono later
today to make the point.
Other Outstanding Issues
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¶6. (C) In addition to the executive power issue, Tsvangirai
told the Ambassador other unresolved–but more
tractable–issues included a transitional constitution, the
size of the cabinet and allocation of ministries, the
duration of the government, and the scope of amnesty.
¶7. (C) Although not an immediate topic of inter-party
discussions, we asked Tsvangirai his thoughts on the Reserve
Bank. He replied that an independent bank was essential, and
that there were a number of possibilities for governor,
including Leonard Tsunga, Gono’s predecessor, who spent the
last year at Trinity College in Connecticut.
Prospects for an Agreement
¶8. (C) Tsvangirai said that based upon his conversation with
Mugabe at the time of the signing of the Memorandum of
Understanding, and information he had received from Mugabe
confidantes, he thought Mugabe was ready to make the
necessary concessions, specifically to give up executive
power. Contrasted with earlier criticisms of Mbeki, he now
thought the South African president would be “helpful” in
pushing Mugabe to make these concessions.
¶9. (C) Tsvangirai said he expected Mbeki to arrive in Harare
Saturday, August 9, or Sunday, August 10. He would help
define the issues to be discussed by the two principals on
Sunday and would minute specific agreements that were
reached. If an agreement was reached, it might be announced
on August 11, Heroes Day, while fine tuning would be carried
out by the negotiating teams. The agreement could be signed
later in the week in Harare, at the SADC Troika Summit in
Luanda on August 13, or at the SADC Summit in Durban on
August 16 when South Africa and Mbeki assume the reins of
¶10. (C) We asked Tsvangirai if he would attend the Heroes
Day celebration if an agreement had been concluded. (NOTE:
Heroes Day and Independence Day are Zimbabwe’s two most
important holidays. END NOTE.) He said Heroes Day was a
national day and it would be “nice” to attend after years of
seeing the ceremonies used as a platform to bash him and the
MDC. But it might be premature and presumptuous to
participate before the MDC had approved the agreement and it
had been signed.
¶11. (C) The Internet and media are full of rumors about the
details of an agreement and whether or not Mugabe will cede
all executive power. What is clear to us is that Tsvangirai
is firm in his conviction that he will not sign an agreement
that does not give him full executive power. What is much
less clear is whether Mugabe and ZANU-PF will accept, as
Tsvangirai believes they will, his position. Tsvangirai’s
leverage is the increasing international isolation of
Zimbabwe, declining support for Mugabe in the region, and the
crashing economy. He can walk away from the talks and let
Mugabe and ZANU-PF go down with the country. But it is still
difficult to believe that Mugabe, who has craftily defeated
numerous enemies over the years, will willingly give up all
power. END COMMENT.
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