Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said that President Robert Mugabe was prepared to accept a ceremonial presidency but his lieutenants especially Emmerson Mnangagwa were not prepared to give any executive authority to the MDC.
As a result, Tsvangirai said Mugabe would fight Mnangagwa and others because he saw the handwriting on the wall and wanted an honourable, but gradual, exit.
Tsvangirai said the MDC was insisting that it must have executive authority and would not play a subordinate role to ZANU-PF during the transition period but there was internal disgruntlement within ZANU-PF especially from Mnangagwa.
Viewing cable 08HARARE661, TSVANGIRAI TELLS AMBASSADOR TALKS ARE ON COURSE
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/05/2018
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI TELLS AMBASSADOR TALKS ARE ON COURSE
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai told the Ambassador
August 5, just after arriving from Johannesburg, that
ZANU-PF-MDC negotiations are on course. Tsvangirai promised
that he will stand firm against an executive role for
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, although he could accept
a ceremonial role for Mugabe. The respective roles of Mugabe
and Tsvangirai is the primary sticking point to be overcome
when South African president and SADC mediator Thabo Mbeki
travels to Harare later in the week, according to Tsvangirai,
but he was cautiously optimistic that Mugabe will cede power
and that an agreement will be achieved.
Tsvangirai Firm on Executive Power
¶2. (C) Tsvangirai said that at the time of the signing of
the Memorandum of Understanding, there was agreement on a
36-month transition and establishment of the positions of
head of state and head of government. Actual
roles–responsibilities and duties–of each position were
left undefined and, according to Tsvangirai, definition of
roles was the last major sticking point to be resolved for an
¶3. (C) Tsvangirai said ZANU-PF wanted Mugabe to retain
executive authority. Tsvangirai told the Ambassador he could
accept Mugabe as a ceremonial authority with certain
responsibilities, e.g. opening Parliament, but he was
insistent that Mugabe could have no direct or indirect
executive authority. Executive authority, averred
Tsvangirai, must be with the MDC, and the MDC would in no way
play a subordinate role to ZANU-PF during the transition
¶4. (C) Tsvangirai observed that there was internal
disgruntlement within ZANU-PF, particularly on the part of
Emmerson Mnangagwa, regarding giving up executive authority
to the MDC. Nevertheless, he thought Mugabe would fight
Mnangagwa and others. He saw the handwriting on the wall and
wanted an honorable, if gradual, exit.
¶5. (C) The Ambassador urged Tsvangirai to hold the course.
Tsvangirai promised to do so and urged the U.S. not to ease
its pressure on the government until an agreement along the
lines he had described was in place and implemented. The
Ambassador noted that the U.S. was prepared to provide all
types of assistance as soon as Tsvangirai was in place as
leader of the government and enough time (two or three
months) had passed to ascertain that ZANU-PF would not
subvert the new transitional government.
¶6. (C) The Ambassador queried Tsvangirai as to what steps
would be taken to neutralize the security forces. Tsvangirai
said he would cut the umbilical cord between security chiefs
and the government by requiring them to disclose their
business interests. Those who had conflicts of interest
because their interests were dependent on the government
would have to either divest or retire from government. They
would be allowed to keep one farm. Tsvangirai and his
government would watch them closely for two years. His hope
HARARE 00000661 002 OF 002
was that the incentive to maintain their business interests
would encourage them to leave government.
¶7. (C) The Joint Operations Command (JOC) would be
abolished, according to Tsvangirai. A security council under
the leadership of the prime minister would be established.
The Mutambara Factor
¶8. (C) Tsvangirai expressed some concern that Arthur
Mutambara was “playing ball” with Mugabe in order to increase
the number of ministries in the new government to provide
additional positions to ZANU-PF and Mutambara supporters.
Tsvangirai said he anticipated 10 ministries for ZANU-PF, 10
for the MDC, and 2 for Mutambara. Any more would bloat the
government. He thought he could control Mutambara since most
MPs elected on Mutambara’s ticket were now loyal to the
Tsvangirai MDC faction.
¶9. (C) The composition of the new government was yet to be
determined. Tsvangirai anticipated two deputy prime
ministers, one from ZANU-PF and one from the MDC. Also to be
finalized were procedures and timetables for adopting a new
constitution, the issue of amnesty, and the selection and
roles of provincial governors.
¶10. (C) The Ambassador inquired about the fate of Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono in a new government.
Tsvangirai said Gono would have no place. The new Ministry
of Finance would not accept him; furthermore the agreement
would call for an independent reserve bank.
¶11. (C) Tsvangirai is cautiously optimistic that a deal will
be done, possibly by this weekend. He believes that Mbeki
now understands the situation and is encouraging Mugabe to do
the right thing. Tsvangirai’s promise that he will stand on
principle and not allow ZANU-PF to retain executive authority
is encouraging. We are hopeful, but given the history,
including the recent history, of Zimbabwe, we remain
suspicious of Mugabe and ZANU-PF. We will view events
unfolding in the days and weeks ahead cautiously and
critically. END COMMENT.