Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said he was not happy with the allocation of ministries in the inclusive government but he had agreed to join the government for the sake of the people.
He said the only way the Movement for Democratic Change could save the people was by joining the government.
Without a government of national unity, the country could experience unpredictable changes-even anarchy.
He said the primary goal of the MDC was to restore freedoms, heal the nation, and stabilize the economy.
Asked if he could trust his main rival President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai responded by asking whether Mugabe would have trusted Ian Smith in 1980.
“I don’t trust him fully, but he needs me more than I need him….he’s old and doesn’t trust his people-they’re corrupt and have lied to him,” Tsvangirai said.
Viewing cable 09HARARE70, TSVANGIRAI TELLS AMBASSADOR MDC WILL ENTER
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0070/01 0291311
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 291311Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3975
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2586
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2708
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1195
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1977
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2332
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2757
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5185
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1875
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000070
AF/S FOR B.WALCH
DRL FOR N. WILETT
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/28/2018
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI TELLS AMBASSADOR MDC WILL ENTER
REF: A) HARARE 59 B) PRETORIA 165 C) HARARE 55 D)
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has decided the MDC
should enter government and will so recommend to the MDC
National Council on January 30. He expects the Council to
support his recommendation. With his inauguration as prime
minister scheduled for February 11, ZANU-PF negotiators will
meet in the next several days to discuss allocations of
governorships, composition and powers of the National
Security Council, and the fate of abductees. Tsvangirai
remains distrustful of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe,
but is “cautiously optimistic” a government of national unity
can work and help him obtain his objectives of “restoring
basic freedoms, healing the nation, and stabilizing the
economy.” END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Tsvangirai met with the Ambassador early on January
¶29. He returned to Zimbabwe on the evening of January 28
after meeting with Botswanan president Ian Khama earlier in
The Negotiating Process
¶3. (C) Tsvangirai described the January 26 SADC
Extraordinary Summit in Pretoria. SADC leaders, including
Mugabe, initially met for six hours; Tsvangirai was excluded.
He and Welshman Ncube, representing MDC-M, then were
included in the discussion. According to Tsvangirai, there
was a general consensus among the leaders, including Khama
and Zambia’s Banda who were the most sympathetic to the MDC,
that a government should be established as soon as possible.
The Summit then proceeded to examine outstanding issues
one-by-one to determine areas of agreement and disagreement,
and next steps to resolve disagreements.
–Amendment 19. There was agreement among the parties as to
the substance of the Amendment but disagreement as to
sequencing. ZANU-PF wanted the Amendment passed immediately,
while the MDC wanted all outstanding issues resolved before
passage of the Amendment. With the outlines of a deal in
place, the Amendment should be voted on next week.
–National Security Council. There was agreement among the
parties that the Council should be controlled by the leaders
in government of all parties and that legislation should be
drafted to effect this. Negotiators will meet today to
accomplish this. Legislation should be voted on next week.
–Provincial Governors. There was agreement among the
parties that governorships should be allocated among the
parties. Negotiators will meet today to determine a formula
for allocation. Naming of new governors will presumably be
done after the new government is formed.
–Breaches of the July 22 Memorandum of Understanding and the
September 15 agreement. This refers to recent violence and
abductions, and the appointments of Gideon Gono as Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe governor and Johannes Tomana as Attorney
General. The parties agreed that representatives on the
Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JMIC)
contemplated by the September 15 agreement will be named and
will meet in the next several days to consider the issue of
HARARE 00000070 002 OF 004
violence and abductions. Appointments, including
ambassadors, permanent secretaries, and other high-ranking
officials, will be considered after formation of the new
–Allocation of Ministries. Tsvangirai acknowledged to the
Ambassador that reallocation of ministries had been an
objective of the MDC. Nevertheless, SADC stuck to its
position, set out in a November 9 communique, that ZANU-PF
and MDC should share the Home Affairs ministry and that SADC
would not become involved in further discussions. The issue
will be reviewed by the parties six months after the
formation of the new government.
¶4. (C) We asked Tsvangirai about reports circulating in MDC
circles that Tsvangirai in a private meeting with Mugabe had
cut a silent deal with him that was then presented to SADC.
Tsvangirai categorically denied this. He said outstanding
issues were discussed. Mugabe refused to make concessions
and urged Tsvangirai to join government. Tsvangirai refused.
The MDC Position…
¶5. (C) Noting that there had been confusion about the MDC
position after the Summit concluded (Ref B), Tsvangirai said
the MDC had objected to his exclusion from some of the
proceedings at which Mugage (as head of State) had been
present, and to the refusal of SADC to take up the issue of
allocation of ministries. These objections were reflected
in an MDC press statement (Ref C) Nevertheless, Tsvangirai
had told SADC that he supported the SADC position as
contained in the SADC Communique (Ref D) and as outlined in
Paragraph 3, supra.
¶6. (C) Tsvangirai noted he had told the SADC leaders that
his agreement was subject to ratification by the MDC National
Council. He told the Ambassador today he was confident the
Council would support him. He noted that he would be
inaugurated on February 11 and ministers sworn in on February
¶13. Observing that there were those in the MDC who opposed
entering government without outstanding issues being
completely resolved, he averred that there were differences
within the MDC based on principle. He was the leader and
would set the direction; he expected a united party going
¶7. (C) Tsvangirai stated he was still not happy with the
allocation of ministries. But the MDC had achieved success
on four of the five outstanding issues. He had agreed to the
deal “for the sake of the people.” The only way the MDC
could save the people was by joining government. Without a
government of national unity (GNU), the country could
experience unpredictable changes–even anarchy. His decision
was resonating well with “the people.” He commented there
had been a large and enthusiastic crowd to welcome him home
last night from South Africa. He concluded that he was
“cautiously optimistic” that a government of national unity
(GNU) could work.
…and MDC Objectives
¶8. (C) Primary MDC objectives in a GNU, stated Tsvangirai,
were to restore freedoms, heal the nation, and stabilize the
economy. He expected early action on beginning the
constitutional reform process and parliamentary reform (with
MDC control of Parliament), including the repeal of draconian
HARARE 00000070 003 OF 004
legislation such as the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act
(POSA). He said he would travel around the country to
promote reform and facilitate humanitarian assistance.
Dealing with Mugabe–Leap of Faith
¶9. (C) The Ambassador asked Tsvangirai if he could trust
Mugabe. Tsvangirai responded by rhetorically asking whether
Mugabe would have trusted Ian Smith in 1980. He continued,
“I don’t trust him fully, but he needs me more than I need
him….he’s old and doesn’t trust his people-they’re corrupt
and have lied to him.” Tsvangirai added that the MDC had to
give him the benefit of the doubt. If Mugabe betrayed their
trust, the MDC could always leave government.
¶10. (C) Tsvangirai said he would meet with Mugabe on
February 2. He outlined for us his initial agenda. He will
stress the need to restore international relations and to
refrain from public condemnation of his opponents. He will
tell Mugabe he will not tolerate corruption. And he will
discuss a work plan to include an audit of all ministries so
that he can be informed about the government and understand
what the MDC is inheriting.
Violence and Abductees
¶11. (C) According to Tsvangirai, the issue of violence and
abductees was fundamental and had to be resolved now. The
JMIC would meet in the next couple of days to discuss it.
SADC was also helping. He expected a quick release of those
now in custody.
Developmental Assistance and Sanctions
¶12. (C) Tsvangirai acknowledged that ZANU-PF would exert
pressure on the MDC to approach the West for developmental
assistance and to lift sanctions. He said decisions on these
issues were matters of policy to be decided by the U.S. and
others–not by the GOZ or MDC. Zimbabwe would have to earn
the confidence of the world in order for positive decisions
to be made.
¶13. (C) The appointments of Gideon Gono (RBZ) and Johannes
Tomana (Attorney General) were, according to Tsvangirai,
breaches of the MOU and September 15 agreement. For
constitutional reasons, he believed it would be impossible to
remove Tomana. As for Gono, “he has to go.” But Tsvangirai
refused to say how or when this would occur.
Tsvangirai’s Meeting with Ian Khama
¶14. (C) In his meeting with Khama yesterday, Tsangirai said
he thanked him for taking a firm position within SADC and
helping to configure the debate on the Zimbabwean issue. He
viewed Khama as a dynamic, young leader in contrast to the
mostly old and hardened leaders of other SADC countries. He
urged Khama to convince his SADC colleagues to closely
monitor the implementation of the GNU.
HARARE 00000070 004 OF 004
¶15. (C) The MDC decision to enter government at this time is
in one sense disappointing in that escalating economic
pressures, particularly the lack of forex and the inability
to pay military and police salaries, and sustained
international pressure were having an effect on the Mugabe
regime. But there have been unfulfilled predictions for
years of the imminent fall of Mugabe. Tsvangirai made a
calculated decision Mugabe would cling to power and that
inclusion in government offered at least the possibility of
attaining MDC objectives. The absence of a good MDC Plan B
no doubt contributed to this decision.
¶16. (C) We should not lose sight of how far the MDC has come
in the last year. In March, for the first time in a
presidential election, an opposition candidate won more votes
than Mugabe. For the first time, there is a working
opposition majority in Parliament and for the first time
there is an opposition Speaker of Parliament. Tsvangirai
will be prime minister, the first time an opposition party
has held a significant position in government. The MDC will
control important ministries. And Amendment 19 will
circumscribe the powers of the president and set the country
on a path of constitutional reform.
¶17. (C) All this said, the success of a GNU also depends on
the good will of ZANU-PF and Mugabe. And good will, since
the September 15 agreement, has been sorely lacking as
ZANU-PF continued to engage in politically-motivated
abductions and torture. We remain distrustful of Mugabe and
his cohorts, and will watch in the days ahead for signs of
good will and change, including the proximate release of
abductees and an end to violence, ZANU-PF rhetoric, and,
after the government is formed, the replacement of Gideon
Gono. Finally, if ZANU-PF does permit political space, will
inexperienced MDC officials be able to carry out Tsvangirai’s
ambitious agenda, and, after years outside government, will
they be coopted by ZANU-PF and/or corrupted by the
perquisites of government? END COMMENT.