Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said his party was under no illusion about the nature of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, but it was going to work with the party until it became clear that ZANU-PF was not complying with the expected agreement.
He said this in September 2007 as the two parties battled to reach agreement on constitutional Amendment 18 which was to pave the way for the 2008 elections.
Tsvangirai said the MDC reserved the right not to contest the elections if it could not do so under fair conditions.
Viewing cable 07HARARE882, TSVANGIRAI ON SADC MEDIATION PROCESS
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2012
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI ON SADC MEDIATION PROCESS
REF: HARARE 881
Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Glenn Warren under 1.4 d
¶1. (U) In a diplomatic briefing on September 26, MDC
president Morgan Tsvangirai briefed on progress in the
SADC-Mbeki mediation and steps ahead. Elements of a new
constitution have been agreed upon. The parties are now
discussing a new electoral act, security laws, communication
laws, and the political environment. Sanctions will also be
considered. While ZANU-PF wants MDC cooperation in lifting
sanctions (understood to include lines of budget support and
balance of payment assistance), the MDC opposes resumption of
development assistance until free and fair elections have
taken place. Agreement between the MDC and ZANU-PF is
expected in October with elections to take place in June or
thereafter. End Summary.
¶2. (U) Agenda items established in May were 1)
constitutional issues; 2) the Electoral Act; 3) security laws
(Public Order and Security Act–POSA); communication laws
(Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority (ZBA) and Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA); and the
political environment (violence, food politicization, role of
traditional leaders, sanctions, and pirate radios).
¶3. (U) Tsvangirai, who has been holding briefings for a wide
array of allies and onlookers, told diplomats on September 26
that the Mbeki-mediated talks had achieved basic agreement on
constitutional issues, including a bill of rights. While the
MDC would have preferred a “people driven” constitution, it
had agreed to Amendment 18 as part of the negotiation
process; Amendment 18 would have passed without the MDC given
ZANU-PF’s parliamentary majority, and the MDC was able to win
some concessions in terms of amendments to the originally
proposed Amendment. (Note: These included elections of all
members of the House of Assembly vice a number of
presidential appointments, and removal of delimitation of
constituencies from the partisan Registrar’s office with
responsibility given to the Electoral Commission. End Note.)
The MDC had consulted civil society, but Tsvangirai admitted
that the civics involvement had been limited. Notably civil
society opposition to the agreement on constitutional issues
was not to substance, but to process.
¶4. (U) According to Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) now in charge of delimitation and
registration, had the task of proving its independence.
Although its composition included an equal number of ZANU-PF
and MDC members, the chair was appointed by the president;
this was a matter of concern. A new registration process and
period was critical as there were at least a million
potential voters within Zimbabwe who were not registered.
HARARE 00000882 002 OF 003
¶5. (U) The MDC was insisting on voting by the Diaspora and
ZANU-PF was resisting. This could be a potential deal
breaker. (Comment: ZANU-PF will never agree to voting by
those who have resettled outside of Zimbabwe, but there are
numerous Zimbabweans living and working temporarily outside
the country, particularly in South Africa, who could
presumably be considered residents for purposes of Diaspora
voting. End Comment)
¶6. (U) Technical support for the ZEC would be critical. The
ZEC would now have to address delimitation and registration
and did not have the resources to do so in a comprehensive
and independent way.
¶7. (U) Elections most probably would not be held in March.
After an agreement, expected in October, a minimum six-month
cooling-off period would be necessary to introduce reforms
crucial to a free and fair election. The earliest elections
could take place would be June, and they would probably slide
¶8. (U) Tsvangirai said reform of POSA, to permit
unrestricted campaigning; and ZBA and AIPPA to permit
unrestricted access to the media, were next on the agenda.
Also of critical importance was amelioration of the political
environment, which was now characterized by violence,
intimidation of the opposition, food politicization, and the
politicization of traditional leaders which permitted ZANU-PF
to manipulate and control voting.
¶9. (U) Once agreement had been reached on these issues, a
timeline would be drawn for implementation. Elections would
be the last step in the timeline, giving time for the
opposition to organize and campaign in the new environment.
¶10. (U) International observers should be present not only
for the elections, but for a three-month period before the
elections to ensure an open environment and compliance with
Sanctions and Assistance
¶10. (U) Tsvangirai believed ZANU-PF was hoping that with an
agreement, the MDC would join in calling for the lifting of
sanctions to permit budget support and balance of payment
assistance. Although the economy was in desperate shape, the
MDC would opposed development assistance, including loans,
until an internationally supervised election had taken place.
Obviously, the longer elections were delayed, the more the
economy would deteriorate, but to permit assistance earlier
would be to throw ZANU-PF a lifeline and possibly permit it
to avoid fair elections. (Note: The European Commission
Head of Delegation suggested that with an agreement some
assistance could begin. Tsvangirai was adamant that it
should not. End Note.) Humanitarian assistance, particularly
food aid, would be welcome.
On the MDC Split
HARARE 00000882 003 OF 003
¶11. (U) Tsvangirai commented that both factions of the MDC
had worked well together in the negotiations. The increase
in the number of seats in Parliament created the possibility
of less friction between the factions and the possibility of
an electoral coalition in the future.
ZANU-PF not to be Trusted
¶12. (U) Tsvangirai insisted the MDC was under no illusion as
to the nature of the ruling party. Nevertheless, the MDC
would continue to work with ZANU-PF until it became clear
ZANU-PF was not complying with the expected agreement. The
MDC reserved the right not to contest the elections if it
could not do so under fair conditions.
¶13. (C) Although there has been much skepticism about the
SADC process–and criticism of the MDC for the Amendment 18
agreement–we believe the MDC had little choice. Having been
battered by the government, it–and civil society–are weak.
The SADC initiative has created potential opportunity and an
agreement in October is likely. Rather than focus on
Amendment 18, we should focus on the entire agreement.
Further, as we continue to note, as important as the
agreement is its implementation in what the MDC hopes will be
an improved environment. Although the ZANU-PF record does
not bode well for an improved environment, including an end
to violence and a dismantling of the oppressive ZANU-PF
structure, ruling party internal turmoil (reftel) and the
crumbling economy offer some hope that it will comply with an