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Tsvangirai said Bennett needed strategic vision

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Roy Bennett, who had just been elected chairman of Manicaland, had admirable energy but needed to take a more strategic vision.

He was discussing the pending MDC congress, soon after the split, with United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell.

Tsvangirai expressed concern about the “zealousness” of some people within the leadership and noted that the “aggressives” and the “more compliant” would have to reach some accommodation in the run-up to the congress.

He said the party was conducting “direction courses” for the new provincial leadership to teach what his “paradigm shift” meant – “disobedience within the law; not business as usual.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE49, TSVANGIRAI ON MDC CONGRESS(ES), ACTION PLAN,

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE49

2006-01-17 15:04

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

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RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000049

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

AFR/SA FOR E. LOKEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI ON MDC CONGRESS(ES), ACTION PLAN,

FACTIONAL POLITICS

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the

Ambassador on January 13 that he was pleased with progress on

his party’s provincial congresses and ongoing reconstitution

of the party leadership. He reported on preparations for the

March 18-19 MDC national congress, which included meetings

with key civil society players in late February. Tsvangirai

held out little hope for reconciliation with MDC Secretary

General Welshman Ncube and castigated the SAG for its

purported alignment with and/or support of his rival faction.

The opposition leader said he hoped to visit Washington

after the party congress had articulated a national plan of

action, and closed with a plea for outside support of the

party’s capacity to implement the plan. End Summary.

 

————————————-

Provincial Congresses Proceeding Well

————————————-

 

2. (C) During a call on the Ambassador at the Residence,

Tsvangirai said he was impressed with the new leadership

 

SIPDIS

emerging from MDC provincial congresses around the country.

All provincial congresses had been concluded, save Bulawayo

and Matabeleland South, which he said would be “trickier”

than the others given sensitivities about the party’s overall

ethnic balance. (N.B. Tsvangirai’s office subsequently

circulated reports on the Bulawayo and Matabeleland South

congresses and their election of new provincial leaderships

January 14-15.) Tsvangirai noted that the party’s women’s

wing had been especially instrumental in “defending unity”

(i.e., rallying behind his faction) and making the congresses

productive.

 

——————————-

Preparing for National Congress

——————————-

 

3. (C) Asked by the Ambassador to characterize the party’s

character following recent events, Tsvangirai said we would

have to see what leadership and plan of action emerged from

the national party congress, which he noted had been

postponed from late February to March 18-19. He expressed

concern about the “zealousness” of some within the leadership

at this juncture, and noted that the “aggressives” and the

“the more compliant” would have to reach some accommodation

in the run-up to the congress. Roy Bennett, for example, had

admirable energy as Manicaland’s new chairman but needed to

take a more “strategic” vision.

 

4. (C) In this vein, the party was conducting “direction

courses” for the new provincial leaderships to teach what

Tsvangirai’s “paradigm shift” meant, i.e., “disobedience

 

SIPDIS

within the law; not business as usual.” These meetings were

proving useful opportunities to shape expectations of the

membership and the leadership and to gauge specific concerns

and practical limitations for action. To further inform a

new action plan at the March national congress, the party

would also conduct stakeholders meetings with the Zimbabwe

Confederation of Trade Unions, the National Constitutional

Assembly, churches, and others from civil society in late

February.

 

————————————-

Getting on with an “Amicable Divorce”

 

HARARE 00000049 002 OF 003

 

 

————————————-

 

5. (C) In response to the Ambassador’s inquiry about

inter-factional relations, Tsvangirai said that Welshman

Ncube’s personal intransigence underpinned the other

faction’s apparent opposition to reconciliation. Tsvangirai

noted that there were a group of MPs who were pushing for a

unified congress, largely out of concern for the fate of

their seats. Tsvangirai had encouraged the MPs’s efforts,

but noted that the other side’s demands, such as protected

positions and augmented power to the Secretary-General

position, made a unified congress unlikely. Hand-picking

protected leadership slots would be counter-prodcutive,

Tsvangirai concluded; what was needed was the regeneration of

 

SIPDIS

a democratic force in sufficient number to challenge Mugabe

and ZANU-PF. In the meantime, each faction was preparing its

own congress. (N.B. The Ncube faction’s congress is

scheduled for February 21-22.) Accordingly, Tsvangirai was

ready to “get on with an amicable divorce” and move on.

 

——————————–

Ethnicity and the South Africans

——————————–

 

6. (C) Tsvangirai expressed bafflement over the Ncube

faction’s motives and goals. Noting that ethnicity pervades

all African politics, he observed that the ethnic dimension

might give Ncube and Sibanda a seat at the table with

ZANU-PF, but it assured the them a losing hand in the long

run. He said the South Africans played a “heavy role” in

events and may have supported a Ncube-ZANU-PF deal, but

Zimbabweans never would. Noting the Ncube faction’s

closeness with the SAG (many of their leaders reportedly were

in South Africa that day), he said that the SAG was

inadvertantly discrediting itself among Zimbabweans with its

partisanship. He reported that he had been trying

unsuccessfully to secure an appointment with the South

African Ambassador to express his concerns.

 

—————-

Washington Trip?

—————-

 

7. (C) Tsvangirai noted that he had discussed with party

principals and NDI the advisability of a visit by MDC leaders

to western capitals, including Washington. Tsvangirai said

he had concluded that such travel would best be deferred

until after the party congress, when divisions would

hopefully be behind the party and a new plan of action could

be showcased. In the meantime, the party would dispatch a

low level delegation to engage the Zimbabwean diaspora

overseas, including in the United States. The group would

not meet with governments but would sell the party to the

diaspora, seeking to tap its ideas and resources.

 

8. (C) In closing, the opposition leader reiterated interest

in outside assistance in further preparing the party’s

leadership and membership for the coming paradigm shift. He

said he had discussed the matter with NDI.

 

———————————

Biti: Divorce Papers in the Works

———————————

 

9. (C) The Belgian Ambassador on January 17 told the

Ambassador that Tsvangirai-aligned MDC Secretary for Economic

Affairs Tendai Biti recently showed him a draft document the

two factions were negotiating to govern the terms of their

separation. Among the terms of separation were that

 

HARARE 00000049 003 OF 003

 

 

Tsvangirai’s faction would retain the MDC name; each faction

 

SIPDIS

would largely retain possession of assets already within its

possession inside Zimbabwe; the factions would split the

party’s overseas assets evenly; each faction would continue

to be associated with the Zimbabwe Institute, the party’s

principal vehicle in South Africa; and MPs would be free to

affiliate themselves with either party without interference

from the other.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

10. (C) The focus of inter-factional relations has largely

shifted from conflicting smear campaigns and reconciliation

efforts to preparation for a future apart. Assuming the

Ncube faction doesn’t begin to negotiate a purported

“solution” to the the GOZ’s legitimacy crisis, we don’t

discount the prospect of these two groups eventually

collaborating against the ruling party. For now, however,

each is going through a necessarily introspective process of

consolidating its support and defining itself. We continue

to view the Tsvangirai camp as in ascendance, certainly among

the grassroots and civil society. This may yet provoke

periodic distracting media attacks and legal actions by an

insecure Ncube faction, and the battle over party assets may

yet prove to be further disruptive.

 

11. (C) In any event, rejuvenation of meaningful democratic

pressure on the Mugabe regime in 2006 will likely hinge

largely on Tsvangirai’s ability to marshal a credible action

plan that can capture the public imagination. We have heard

Tsvangirai talk a good game before and then fail to follow

 

SIPDIS

through. More importantly, the people of Zimbabwe have heard

it too, and are increasingly disillusioned by the lack of

action. Tsvangirai could still revive his fortunes but this

will require a major ramping up of efforts.

DELL

(3 VIEWS)

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