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Tsvangirai said Mugabe wanted to retire in dignity

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he thought President Robert Mugabe was trying to spruce up his image and rescue his legitimacy before retiring.

He said, nearly 10 years ago, that legitimacy was one of Mugabe’s top concerns as evidenced by the anti-corruption campaign and pursuit of electoral victories.

Tsvangirai said it was important for the MDC to send signals to Mugabe that he could retire with dignity.

He said that some within ZANU-PF viewed Mugabe as a spent force and no longer depended on his political patronage.

Tsvangirai said that Mugabe’s anti-corruption campaign had hit an internal wall within ZANU-PF, so senior officials like Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa and Finance Minister Christopher Kuruneri were unlikely to be prosecuted.

The United States embassy said the anti-corruption campaign appeared more a consolidation of power within ZANU-PF and a public relations tactic rather than a reflection of Mugabe’s concern for legitimacy and his legacy.

“It remains Tsvangirai’s and the MDC’s hope that Mugabe’s concern for legitimacy represents an opening for the MDC in Zimbabwe’s political life,” the embassy said

“We would agree the concept of legitimacy is important to Mugabe, but we see the ruling party manufacturing its own definition of that, rather than accepting international opinion, or a real role for the MDC in Zimbabwe’s political future.”

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 04HARARE649, MDC RESTRUCTURING ITSELF FOR ELECTIONS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE649

2004-04-16 10:23

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

161023Z Apr 04

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000649

 

SIPDIS

 

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

TAGS: PGOV PINR ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC RESTRUCTURING ITSELF FOR ELECTIONS

 

REF: HARARE 633 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: On April 15, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai

reported to the Ambassador that the party was radically

restructuring itself with a focus on contesting elections,

despite the fact that the party had not made a final decision

to contest the March 2005 polls. Tsvangirai asserted that

Mugabe’s concern for legitimacy constituted an opening for

the MDC in Zimbabwe’s political future. This analysis misses

the mark; Mugabe is concerned about legitimacy but also

appears bent on emasculating the opposition. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) In a discussion at the Residence Tsvangirai opened by

commenting that in the fallout of the loss in Zengeza (Ref)

the party was united on the priority of a level playing field

for future elections. Tsvangirai thanked the USG for its

statement condemning the Zengeza poll as unfair, citing a

similar EU statement issued on April 15 (e-mailed to AF/S).

He said the party did think Minister Without Portfolio

Elliott Manyika shot MDC youth Francis Chinozvinya (Ref).

 

Focus on Elections

——————

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai reported to the Ambassador that in an April

3 – 4 retreat with the thirty-seven member MDC National

Executive, the party leadership had resolved to reorganize

the party with a strategy to prepare for upcoming elections.

Tsvangirai said the re-organization was intended to maintain

 

SIPDIS

the party’s vertical command structure, while also allowing

for horizontal consultation among party structures and

avoiding exclusion of any segment of the membership. He said

the party would endeavor to be more proactive rather than

reactive, less functionally driven and more program driven.

While the leadership itself would be focused on strategic

decisions, authority for operations would be delegated to

directors of different departments.

 

4. (C) Tsvangirai said the defining feature of the

re-organization would be an elections directorate within the

President’s office led by Ian Makoni, MDC advisor and CEO of

the Zimbabwean financial services company First Mutual.

Tsvangirai said all other program areas would fall under this

 

SIPDIS

elections directorate, including departments focused on

constituencies such as civil society, women, youth, labor,

and one on contacts with the diplomatic community.

Tsvangirai said the party would attempt to encourage these

 

SIPDIS

partners to play a greater role in party activities. He said

the party would sometimes hold direct primaries to select

candidates – to strengthen grassroots connections – as

opposed to the past practice of selection by party structures.

 

5. (C) Tsvangirai said the new organization and new

appointments would be finalized by about April 19 before

presentation to the broader party staff and membership.

 

Boycott or Not?

—————

 

6. (C) Tsvangirai said that notwithstanding the party’s

refocus on elections, they had not made a final decision

whether to boycott the March 2005 general parliamentary

elections. Tsvangirai said that at the retreat Dr. Lovemore

Madhuku, Chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly

(NCA), asked what the purpose of contesting elections would

be: to stay in Parliament or to win power? Madhuku noted

that the MDC could not win power given the prevailing

elections environment, and even a democratic outcome from the

2005 polls would not change the whole political scenario.

 

Mugabe and His Legacy

———————

 

7. (C) Tsvangirai commented that he thought Mugabe was trying

to spruce up his image and rescue his legacy before retiring.

He said that legitimacy was one of Mugabe’s top concerns as

evidenced by the anti-corruption campaign and pursuit of

electoral victories. Tsvangirai said it was important for

the MDC to send signals to Mugabe that he could retire with

dignity. He said that some within ZANU-PF viewed Mugabe as a

spent force and no longer depended on his political

patronage. Tsvangirai said that Mugabe’s anti-corruption

campaign had hit an internal wall within ZANU-PF, i.e. senior

officials like Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa and

Finance Minister Christopher Kuruneri were unlikely to be

prosecuted.

 

Talks on Elections

——————

 

8. (C) Turning to the Ncube-Chinamasa talks, Tsvangirai

reported that Chinamasa had recently said they could talk

about elections and the playing field, but not about the

presidency. Tsvangirai interpreted this to mean that

political co-habitation was not presently on the table.

Tsvangirai emphasized that the MDC was still insisting on the

 

SIPDIS

need to discuss political legitimacy and to hold presidential

elections concurrent with parliamentary ones.

 

Likely Maize Shortfall

———————-

 

9. (C) Tsvangirai discussed food assistance to Zimbabwe and

noted that Minister of Agriculture Joseph Made has predicted

that Zimbabwe will harvest 1.8 million metric tons of maize

this year, sufficient for the country’s needs. Tsvangirai

said Shadow Minister of Agriculture Renson Gasela predicted

Zimbabwe would harvest 6 – 800,000 metric tons, leaving a

shortfall of about or over a million metric tons.

 

10. (C) COMMENT: In the context of conflicting press

reports, Tsvangirai put to rest (for now) questions about

whether the party had decided to boycott the 2005

parliamentary elections. It appears they have not made a

final decision, and furthermore are focusing the whole party

toward contesting elections. Other MDC leaders have

projected this message publicly. The discussion at the

retreat about contesting the 2005 polls points to the

difficult position the party is in. Even a favorable outcome

to the 2005 polls would not decisively alter the overall

political landscape because ZANU-PF would still control the

presidency. The anti-corruption campaign appears more a

consolidation of power within ZANU-PF and a public relations

tactic rather than a reflection of Mugabe’s concern for

legitimacy and his legacy. It remains Tsvangirai’s and the

MDC’s hope that Mugabe’s concern for legitimacy represents an

opening for the MDC in Zimbabwe’s political life. We would

agree the concept of legitimacy is important to Mugabe, but

we see the ruling party manufacturing its own definition of

that, rather than accepting international opinion, or a real

role for the MDC in Zimbabwe’s political future.

SULLIVAN

(3 VIEWS)

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