in Stories

Tsvangirai said everything was in short supply in Zimbabwe except misery

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai did not make a good first impression when he held his first briefing for diplomats in Pretoria on 5 June 2007.

According to one of the cables released by Wikileaks Tsvangirai read a prepared speech about deteriorating living conditions in Zimbabwe, citing increasing poverty and lower life expectancy.

“Everything is in short supply, except misery,” said Tsvangirai.  Commenting on the briefing United States embassy officials said: “The briefing, which was novel in that it was the first time the MDC discussed its concerns with Pretoria’s diplomatic community, offered little new insight into the situation and left many diplomats disappointed.”

Tsvangirai accused the international community of “turning a blind eye” not only to the plight of Zimbabwean refugees, but to the impact the crisis was having on neighbouring countries.

According to Tsvangirai, around 5 million Zimbabwean refugees had flooded the region, with South Africa hosting 3.5 million and Botswana hosting “hundreds of thousands.”

South Africa estimated the total number of Zimbabweans in South Africa between 1 and 2 million.

On the possibility of the two opposition MDC factions coming together, Tsvangirai told the crowd that the opposition was united in their desire for change but he was not optimistic about any sort of reunion.

Tsvangirai told the crowd half-jokingly that “divorces are difficult and should be seen as a process, not an event.”

Political analyst Sydney Masamvu later that day told embassy officials that he also had little hope for any sort of reconciliation among opposition factions.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07PRETORIA2044, MDC CALLS ON INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO REACT

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

07PRETORIA2044

2007-06-07 04:28

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO7970

RR RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #2044/01 1580428

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 070428Z JUN 07

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0233

INFO RUCNSAD/SADC COLLECTIVE

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4468

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 002044

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2017

TAGS: PREL PINR PGOV ZI SF

SUBJECT: MDC CALLS ON INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO REACT

 

REF: PRETORIA 1554

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons

1.4 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. On 5 June, MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai held

his first briefing for Pretoria’s diplomatic corps to brief

them on the ongoing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and the

plight of Zimbabwean refugees in southern Africa. A short

video clip was shown of Tsvangirai visiting hundreds of

Zimbabwean refugees crowded into a church to illustrate the

MDC’s point that the challenges are great and that it “cannot

handle the problem alone.” While the footage and

Tsvangirai’s speech were moving, Tsvangirai had little to add

 

SIPDIS

about his vision of the future and even less to say about the

Mbeki-led SADC negotiation, which according to him “has not

even started.” Nevertheless, the MDC has a valid point.

Since Mbeki was appointed mediator, much of the international

coverage has died down, at least in South Africa, despite the

continuing human rights abuses of Mugabe and systematic

repression of the opposition by GOZ security forces. END

SUMMARY.

 

—————————————

HUMANITARIAN ABUSES CONTINUE IN SILENCE

—————————————

 

2. (C) MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai on 5 June held his first

briefing for the Pretoria diplomatic corps and described the

effects of the crisis of governance, economic collapse,

environmental stress, ongoing political repression, and human

rights abuses inside and outside Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai read a

prepared speech about deteriorating living conditions in

Zimbabwe, citing increasing poverty and lower life

expectancy. “Everything is in short supply, except misery,”

said Tsvangirai. He also added that the MDC is being

targeted, with 1,000 MDC leaders detained with trumped up

charges of terrorism since 11 March, 50 of whom are still

incarcerated. (Note: Embassy Harare believes that

Tsvangirai’s reported estimates of detained MDC leaders

 

SIPDIS

overstates the situation, but concurs with the general

thrust of his comment, and adds that as of the last week,

incarcerations numbered 32. End Note)

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai accused the international community of

“turning a blind eye” not only to the plight of Zimbabwean

refugees, but to the impact the crisis is having on

neighboring countries. According to Tsvangirai, around 5

million Zimbabwean refugees have flooded the region, with

South Africa hosting 3.5 million and Botswana hosting

“hundreds of thousands.” (Note: South Africa estimates the

total number of Zimbabweans in South Africa between 1 and 2

million. End Note) According to Tsvangirai, in the absence

of an internal military conflict or civil war, Zimbabweans

who flee to neighboring countries to escape persecution and

hardship are not given refugee status but are labeled

“lawbreakers” and sent back to Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai said

that those who return are often “never seen again” and those

who manage to stay lack access to medical care because they

do not have proper papers. Diplomats were then shown a

crudely shot video taken on 4 June of Tsvangirai visiting the

Central Methodist Church in Braamfontein, which is a

sanctuary for Zimbabweans who fled to South Africa.

According to the MDC, the church is hosting about 900

refugees, with an average of 20 new arrivals every day. They

arrive after 9:00 PM each night and leave before sunrise to

avoid being arrested as illegal immigrants. The first couple

of minutes of footage showed hundreds of people sleeping on

the floor in entrances, hallways, and stairwells, while the

second half showed Tsvangirai in a pinstripe suit looking

rather uncomfortable in front of a cheering crowd.

 

————————–

LITTLE MOVEMENT WITHIN MDC

————————–

 

4. (C) After Tsvangirai’s speech, the floor was opened for

questions. When asked by the German Ambassador how the MDC

imagines its transition, Tsvangirai spoke about “Stage 1” of

the process by repeating MDC’s demands for a level playing

field — insisting on a new constitution and free and fair

elections, which could only be achieved by a legitimate

electoral commission, allowing Zimbabweans abroad the right

to vote, equal access to media, and allowing international

observers to monitor the 2008 election. Tsvangirai never

mentioned a “Stage 2,” adding rather nonchalantly that the

“solution is simple,” and that other issues like “transition

of the security forces can be brought to the table as well.”

 

 

PRETORIA 00002044 002 OF 002

 

 

5. (C) As for the possibility of the two opposition MDC

factions coming together, Tsvangirai told the crowd that the

opposition is united in their desire for change but he did

not appear optimistic about any sort of reunion. Tsvangirai

told the crowd half-jokingly that “divorces are difficult and

should be seen as a process, not an event.” Political

analyst Sydney Masamvu (Protect) later that day told PolOff

that he also has little hope for any sort of reconciliation

among opposition factions.

 

6. (C) When asked about the possibility of the opposition

boycotting the election, Tsvangirai said the MDC does not

have a crystal ball and therefore he cannot assess the

potential of success of the SADC initiative. “It’s premature

to decide if we will boycott the election. We need to give

mediation time.” It’s also presumptuous to view election in

terms of a particular date, he suggested. “As far as we are

concerned, the date is not important.” In the end, he did

not say whether they would boycott or not, but did say that

people in Zimbabwe do not want to take part in an exercise

that has a predetermined outcome (read: another bogus

election and illegitimate ZANU-PF victory).

 

—————————–

LESS FAITH IN SADC INITIATIVE

—————————–

 

7. (C) Tsvangirai appeared to have little faith in the

Mbeki-led SADC initiative, telling the crowd that

negotiations among Zimbabwe’s political parties have not even

started. He also said that while the MDC wants the Mbeki

initiative to succeed, the MDC needs “an honest broker” and

“international assistance to ensure a peaceful environment.”

Tsvangirai believes that Mugabe’s actions are scuttling any

 

SIPDIS

chance of success before talks even begin. He also said that

ZANU-PF is stalling for time and had not yet submitted their

response to MDC’s operational concerns about moving forward

toward democracy. ZANU-PF’s delayed response forced Mbeki’s

team to cancel the 3 June meeting, which was supposed to

hammer out the negotiation agenda. (NOTE: ZANU-PF submitted

their response on 4 June. See septel. END NOTE)

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

8. (C) The briefing, which was novel in that it was the

first time the MDC discussed its concerns with Pretoria’s

diplomatic community, offered little new insight into the

situation and left many diplomats disappointed. However, the

MDC’s plea to keep up the pressure has substance. First,

media coverage has steadily dwindled over the past couple of

months, despite the continuing political repression, human

rights abuses, and refugee flood. Second, in the absence of

a militarized civil war, in comparison to conflicts like

Darfur, and in the context of Mbeki being appointed mediator,

Zimbabwe has been put on the back burner for many

international observers as governments and organizations take

a “wait and see” posture to avoid undermining Mbeki’s

efforts. However, more than two months into the process,

Mugabe and his party have not slowed down in their systematic

attempts to further slant the playing field in their favor.

All the while, Zimbabweans continue to come across the border

with hardly any safety nets to help them.

 

BOST

(7 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