Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai wrote United States President George Bush asking him to urge the United Nations to intervene in Zimbabwe to prevent a humanitarian crisis because President Robert Mugabe had recreated conditions of the Rhodesian crisis in 1965, when Ian Smith unilaterally declared independence and established an illegitimate government to block black majority rule.
Tsvangirai said the United Nations had reacted swiftly to UDI to confront an ominous development that threatened regional and international peace and security.
“In reacting to UDI, the UN Security Council recognised the legitimacy of the Zimbabwe people’s struggle against racist minority rule, which was undemocratic. Similarly, the Security Council must legitimately consider Robert Mugabe’s forestalling of the installation of a legitimate elected government through illegitimate force, and the consequent violations of human rights, as clearly constituting a threat to international peace and security.
“Through his brutal suppression of the right of the Zimbabwean people to freely elect a government of their choice and through his regime’s perpetration of crimes against humanity, Robert Mugabe has created an explosive and dangerous situation akin to Ian Smith’s UDI. A corrupt, murderous and illegitimate regime maintains state sponsored violence against a defenceless civilian population. This situation is rapidly degenerating into mass killings, refugee flows and mass starvation,” Tsvangirai wrote.
Viewing cable 02HARARE2295, LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUSH FROM MDC LEADER TSVANGIRAI
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 002295
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E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUSH FROM MDC LEADER TSVANGIRAI
Â¶1. On October 16, Embassy was asked to convey a letter
from Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to President Bush and other current and former
USG officials seeking a more active UN role in addressing
Zimbabwe’s crises. We have pouched the letters to AF/S and
convey the text of the Tsvangirai-Bush letter in paragraph
2 below. The other letters contain identical text and
were delivered in sealed envelopes addressed to former
President Clinton; former President Carter; UN Ambassador
Negroponte; Representatives Ed Royce and Donald Payne;
Senators Daschle and Lott; Reverend Jesse Jackson; and
Â¶2. Begin text of Tsvangirai-Bush letter:
Mr. George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
October 14, 2002
Dear Mr. President,
Re: Call for UN Security Council action on Crimes Against
Humanity Committed by the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.
On behalf of the majority of the people of Zimbabwe, I
write to you Sir, and the other Five Permanent Members of
the United Nations Security Council.
Since February 2000, several efforts by the United States
of America, the European Union, the Commonwealth, SADC, the
World Council of Churches and several local and
international civic organizations appealed to Robert Mugabe
to uphold the rule of law, respect human rights and put a
stop to political murders, rape, torture and state-
sponsored terror and violence, but the illegitimate Mugabe
regime has not relented. Instead, it has demonstrated
utter contempt of international opinion and has reaffirmed
its commitment to carrying out crimes against humanity as a
means of subjugating the people of Zimbabwe and denying
them the right to freely determine their own destiny.
There is growing evidence on the ground in Zimbabwe today
Sir, that the subjugated and brutalized majority are
preparing to react violently against this state of affairs.
The consequent bloody civil strife will not only result in
a massive loss of life but will inevitably spill into the
territory of the neighboring states of the region. The
international community must not allow Mugabe to continue
charting this path towards national destruction and
It is in the context of this grim and extremely dangerous
situation that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
which represents the legitimate aspirations of the people
of Zimbabwe, calls for the intervention of the UN Security
Council in the Zimbabwe crisis in accordance with Article
39 (Chapter VII powers) of the United Nations Charter.
Crimes that rival fascism and Nazism in scale and
wickedness are being committed daily, not by an occupying
force, but by a supposedly sovereign government of the
We therefore call for the urgent institution of an
international program for Zimbabwe under the auspices of
the United Nations, designed to:
Â¶1. Investigate the gross human rights abuses and
crimes against humanity that are being perpetrated by
the Mugabe regime.
Â¶2. Investigate state-sponsored violence and the breakdown
of the rule of law.
Â¶3. Investigate the denial of food relief to suspected
political opponents and the consequent mass starvation.
Â¶4. Facilitate the realization of a free, unfettered and
fair expression of the popular will of the people of
We ask and plead with you Sir, and your fellow permanent
members of the UN Security Council, to place these issues
on the agenda of the Security Council for serious
discussion and speedy resolution. In our humble view,
there remains no other viable alternative in the quest to
put a stop to the crimes against humanity that are being
perpetrated daily by the Mugabe regime.
The Mugabe regime has recreated the conditions of the
Rhodesian crisis in 1965, when the Ian Smith regime
effected a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and
established an illegitimate government in order to maintain
a racial political order over the majority of the
UDI sought to deny the majority of the people of the then
Rhodesia the right of self-determination. In 1966, in
reaction to that development, the UN Security Council (SC
Res.232 (1966) and subsequent resolutions), acted swiftly
to confront an ominous development that threatened regional
and international peace and security.
In reacting to UDI, the UN Security Council recognized the
legitimacy of the Zimbabwe people’s struggle against racist
minority rule, which was undemocratic. Similarly, the
Security Council must legitimately consider Robert Mugabe’s
forestalling of the installation of a legitimate elected
government through illegitimate force, and the consequent
violations of human rights, as clearly constituting a
threat to international peace and security.
Through his brutal suppression of the right of the
Zimbabwean people to freely elect a government of their
choice and through his regime’s perpetration of crimes
against humanity, Robert Mugabe has crated an explosive and
dangerous situation akin to Ian Smith’s UDI. A corrupt,
murderous and illegitimate regime maintains state sponsored
violence against a defenseless civilian population. This
situation is rapidly degenerating into mass killings,
refugee flows and mass starvation.
The prevailing internal situation therefore constitutes a
threat to regional and international peace and security.
SADC Heads of State and government came to the same
conclusion at their Luanda, Angola Summit when they denied
the Mugabe regime the opportunity to host the SADC 2003
Summit. We believe that the international community must
proceed rapidly to use this SADC position as a launching
pad for determined action to clamp down on the growing
spiral of violence and crimes against humanity perpetrated
by the Mugabe regime.
In his violent seizure of power, Robert Mugabe must not be
allowed to invoke the international legal term, “national
sovereignty” in a vain endeavor to reinforce his
illegitimate political position internationally. He is
susceptible to a megalomania that identifies his corporeal
self with symbols of nation and state. This provides the
context in which Robert Mugabe inflicts crimes against
humanity upon those Zimbabweans trapped within the
boundaries of the territory that he confuses with himself.
In Robert Mugabe’s case, the term “national sovereignty”
must not be used to allow him to shield the suppression of
the real popular sovereignty from external rebuke and
The sovereignty of the people of Zimbabwe must be
protected, but the object of the protection is not the
power base of a tyrant who rules directly by naked and
illegitimate force or through the apparatus of a
totalitarian political order. Instead, what must be
protected is the capacity of the people of Zimbabwe to
freely express and effect legitimate choices about the
identities and policies of those who govern them.
The time for the Security Council to act is now. Delay
will result in a costly catastrophe in terms of human
We therefore urgently appeal to you, Mr. President, as one
of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council,
to act with your characteristic determination to put a stop
to the violent abuse of human rights and the carnage that
is going on and assist in the process of laying a healing
hand on the country and its tortured people.
I avail myself, Mr. President, this opportunity to renew
the assurances of my highest consideration.
President, Movement for Democratic Change.
Â¶3. Comment: Tsvangirai’s urgent appeal to the United
Nations reflects the growing pressure the opposition party
is under from the GOZ, the MDC’s inability to devise
effective, home-grown solutions to Zimbabwe’s intensifying
cycle of crises, and a genuine concern that the situation
here will soon degenerate into civil conflict.