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Tsvangirai said there was no room for dictators

Morgan Tsvangirai won the presidency of the anti-senate Movement for Democratic Change and vowed to complete the liberation struggle that Robert Mugabe had hijacked from the people to justify his rule for life.

The MDC leader said there was no room for life presidents in a new Zimbabwe and he would step down as MDC president after Zimbabweans had liberated themselves from the current dictatorship.

Tsvangirai had a new solid team of Thokozani Khupe as deputy president, Tendai Biti secretary-general and Isaac Matongo as chairman although powers of the chairman had been stripped.

Exiled MP Roy Bennett was elected treasurer of the party and Nelson Chamisa moved from youth chairman to party spokesman.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 06HARARE355, CONGRESS REAFFIRMS TSVANGIRAI’S GRASSROOTS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE355

2006-03-21 16:49

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6694

RR RUEHMR

DE RUEHSB #0355/01 0801649

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 211649Z MAR 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9778

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1164

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0996

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1168

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0016

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0429

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0788

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1222

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3569

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0992

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1620

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUFGNOA/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1379

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000355

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/21/2015

TAGS: ASEC PGOV PHUM PREL ZI

SUBJECT: CONGRESS REAFFIRMS TSVANGIRAI’S GRASSROOTS

SUPPORT, CHARTS CONFRONTATIONAL COURSE

 

REF: A. REF A: HARARE 321

 

B. REF B: HARARE 319

C. REF C: HARARE 263

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i., Eric T. Schultz under Section 1

.4 b/

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) Despite GOZ pressure, an estimated 15,000

enthusiastic delegates, many of whom traveled at their own

expense, attended the MDC anti-Senate faction’s Congress on

March 17-19 and reaffirmed their support for Morgan

Tsvangirai, who was unanimously reelected president. MPs

 

SIPDIS

Thokozani Khupe and Tendai Biti were elected to the key

positions of vice president and secretary general,

respectively. Although he had yet to return to Zimbabwe,

former-MP Roy Bennett was unanimously appointed as treasurer.

 

2. (C) In his acceptance speech, Tsvangirai called for

greater confrontation against ZANU-PF. The party also

amended the constitution to prevent another split, weakening

some leadership positions and creating new decision-making

mechanisms. In contrast to the pro-Senate MDC Congress,

civil society and the grassroots structures turned out in

droves to support Tsvangirai and his party. End Summary.

 

———————–

Despite GOZ Harassment(

———————–

 

3. (C) The anti-Senate faction of the MDC held its second

National Congress March 17-19 despite stepped up GOZ

intimidation of key opposition leaders in the week prior. In

addition to the arms cache seizure and associated arrests,

the GOZ briefly detained two other MDC MPs on putative Public

Order and Security Act (POSA) infractions (ref B): Tapiwa

Mashakada was detained for addressing a political rally and

Timothy Mubhawu was charged with insulting the president.

During the Congress, however, uniformed police were not to be

seen, although there were allegations that CIO agents

attempted to disrupt the proceedings.

 

4. (C) Also arrested a day before the Congress was the fiery

trade unionist Raymond Majongwe. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human

Rights member Jacob Mafume on March 19 told poloff that no

charges had yet been filed against Majongwe and that his

arrest appeared to be intended to keep the union leader away

from the Congress.

 

——————————————— ———

(Congress Reaffirms Tsvangirai, Elects Management Team

——————————————— ———

 

5. (SBU) Morgan Tsvangirai’s Presidency of the anti-Senate

faction of the MDC was reelected unanimously without

opposition. Isaac Matongo also retained his position as

national chairperson, although a constitutional amendment

stripped the position of most powers in response to criticism

that Matongo had wielded power improperly in the past.

Despite his continued absence from Zimbabwe, former MP Roy

Bennett was unanimously elected as treasurer.

 

6. (SBU) The Congress introduced a “one-man-one-vote”

process and did away with past practice that allowed

provincial chairpersons to elect key officers. National

Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore Madhuku, who

essentially ran the second day of the Congress, spearheaded

 

HARARE 00000355 002 OF 004

 

 

this reform, which was adopted partly in response to

allegations of vote-buying at the provincial level. To

correct for the overrepresentation of some provinces at the

Congress, organizers proportioned the number of ballots to

the number of wards in each province. NCA and other civil

society representatives acted as “independent election

observers” that managed the process.

 

7. (U) In the closest vote of the Congress, Bulawayo MP and

former trade unionist Thokozani Khupe won the Vice Presidency

over National Executive Council member Getrude Mthombeni.

Harare MP Tendai Biti was elected secretary general over

Mashakada, who was later elected deputy secretary general.

Ousted Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri was elevated to the

powerful new post of organizing secretary, which received

most of the authority transferred from the national chairman.

Others winning positions were Matabeleland North party

chairperson Mogen Komichi (deputy organizing secretary),

Matabeleland South MP Lovemore Moyo (deputy national

chairperson) and former youth chairman Nelson Chamisa

(spokesperson).

 

——————————

Turning Up the Heat on ZANU-PF

——————————

 

8. (U) Addressing the Congress, Tsvangirai declared that the

MDC’s agenda was to complete the liberation struggle that

Mugabe had hijacked from the people and used to justify his

rule for life. Saying that a new Zimbabwe would have no room

for life presidents, he promised to step down as President of

the MDC after Zimbabweans had liberated themselves from the

current dictatorship.

 

9. (U) Tsvangirai said the anti-Senate MDC would organize

mass civil action in the coming months. Rigged elections

could not be the sole arena of resistance and the courts had

only limited usefulness. &The dictator must brace himself

for a long, bustling winter across the country…A storm is

on the horizon.8 Many of the civil society solidarity

messages echoed these sentiments, saying it was up to

Zimbabweans to work to change their own country.

 

10. (C) Elaborating on the civic action plan, Tsvangirai

adviser and newly designated member of the National Executive

Eddie Cross told poloffs that the opposition would form a

united front with civil society to carry out this program.

The plan of action would be decided at a civil society summit

organized with the NCA and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade

Unions (ZCTU) to be held in early April (Ref A). All of

civil society, including churches, unions, and student

organizations, would participate. Organizers of the summit

had also invited the pro-Senate faction of the MDC, though

Cross questioned that faction’s commitment to a

confrontational approach.

 

11. (C) According to Cross, the “mass action” campaign would

begin in the churches on Easter, and then in May massive

national demonstrations would begin. The MDC and civil

society would muster hundreds of thousands of people for the

demonstrations, whose aim would be to shut down those cities

with GOZ-appointed managing committees.

 

12. (C) Cross said Mutare North MP and member of

Parliament’s defense committee Giles Mutsekwa had reached out

to mid-level soldiers who confirmed that the army was largely

disenchanted with the regime and would stand aside if

confronted with massive demonstrations. The police, though

more politicized than the army, would also allow the

protests. If the security forces stood by while tens of

 

HARARE 00000355 003 OF 004

 

 

thousands of people at a time demonstrated, Cross said it

would signal the end of the regime.

 

——————————————— –

Amending Constitution To Prevent Another Split

——————————————— –

 

13. (U) The MDC Congress adopted a series of amendments to

the party constitution that according to chief architect

Tendai Biti were designed to prevent a recurrence of “October

12″ ) the date of the National Council meeting last year

that triggered the current split. Biti said the amendments

were designed to make the party both more democratic and more

disciplined. They confirmed the powers of the president as

the leader and chief principal officer of the party while

diluting the authority of the secretary general and national

chairperson. However, the new constitution also increased

the authority of the National Council, allowing it to change

and formulate new policies as well as amend decisions made by

the National Executive.

 

14. (C) The new constitution also created External

Assemblies as a means to tap into the political expertise and

financial backing of Zimbabweans living abroad. Such

Assemblies in certain countries ) Biti suggested that South

Africa, the UK, and US would each have an Assembly ) would

be granted the same powers as provinces. (N.B. The diaspora

is a huge but untapped source of potential MDC support.

Eddie Cross told us that with only a couple of weeks notice,

the MDC raised more than 30,000 rand from South Africa and

about 1,500 pounds from the UK for the Congress.)

 

———————————

Congress Deflates Kitchen Cabinet

———————————

 

15. (C) According to civil society contacts, the Congress

dealt a blow to the much-criticized “kitchen cabinet” of

advisers surrounding Tsvangirai. The introduction of

universal suffrage in the election meant that the unpopular

advisers could no longer count on backroom deals to secure

new positions and the election results showed that these

appointees had virtually no support. Election director Ian

Makoni, for instance, placed a distant third in the secretary

general race with only 88 votes and Dennis Murira dropped out

of the race for organizing secretary after he drew only

polite applause from the crowd, compared to the roaring cheer

that greeted Mudzuri. Moreover, the new constitution

prevents staff members from contesting future elections.

 

———————————————

Congress Revives Grassroots, Shows Popularity

———————————————

 

16. (SBU) In marked contrast to the pro-Senate MDC Congress

(Ref C), civil society and the grassroots structures turned

out in large numbers to support Tsvangirai and his party.

Congress organizers said that more than 40 civic groups had

sent solidarity messages, including ZCTU and the university

students’ union. Perhaps foreshadowing collaboration on

future mass action, the NCA played a key role in the

Congress; Madhuku’s address cast the NCA and MDC as “like

twins” and called for a united front against ZANU-PF.

Projecting support from the Ndebele people, local NGO group

Bulawayo Agenda sent Peter Khumalo, a descendent of the last

Ndebele king, as one of its representatives.

 

17. (C) Clearly evident at the Congress was the

determination of average supporters to go to great personal

lengths to participate. Cross told us that the party had

 

HARARE 00000355 004 OF 004

 

 

only managed to collect enough money to pay for

transportation from four provinces, with participants from

the remaining eight having to pay their own way. (N.B. Also

in marked contrast to the pro-Senate faction, which received

government funds to pay for its Congress.) Noting the

sacrifices made by many to attend, Congress speakers

frequently thanked supporters for selling their chickens and

goats to raise funds for their travel. Unlike the pro-Senate

Congress at which participants became agitated due to delays

in the delivery of promised food, participants at the Harare

Congress were in high spirits even during the lengthy

delegate registration process.

 

18. (C) The MDC Congress also demonstrated that Tsvangirai

enjoyed the support of elected municipal officials.

Organizers paid tribute to the MDC elected mayors, including

those who have been forced out of office by the GOZ.

Approximately ten of the mayors ) including Mudzuri and the

ousted mayors of Chitungwiza and Mutare ) were present.

(N.B. Bulawayo Mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, who has taken a

low profile in the split, was the only notable absence.) The

MPs also played a comparatively greater role than in the

pro-Senate Congress, with those assembled in Harare taking

the stage to show their support. Included among the MPs was

Binga MP Joel Gabbuza, who was originally listed as one of

the parliamentarians that sided with the pro-Senate faction

at its February Congress. (N.B Post understands that another

MDC MP from Matabeleland North is contemplating switching to

the anti-Senate side.)

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

19. (C) The anti-Senate faction’s Congress conclusively

demonstrated that Tsvangirai enjoys the preponderance of

support among the MDC’s grassroots and among its civil

society allies. Taken together, the two Congresses show that

the MDC split is more of a leadership fracture – a splinter

rather than a split – that does not extend to the grassroots.

In addition, in marked contrast to the pro-senate Congress,

which attacked Tsvangirai at least if not more often than

Mugabe, this Congress’s agenda was firmly on confronting the

regime and its leadership seems united around mass action.

Overcoming the fear and despair that pervades the general

populace will not be easy, but the MDC’s impressive

organization and energy at the Congress were a good start.

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