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Tsvangirai says MDC is under pressure from the people

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai told a visiting United States delegation that his party was under pressure to craft a firm response to the stolen presidential election as Zimbabweans were angry and did not accept the status quo.

He said the party was proceeding on three fronts the first being that it had filed a legal challenge of the election results, although it recognised that the judiciary had been subverted.

Second, it had embarked on an active diplomatic campaign to sensitise African governments to the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe.

Third, the party had welcomed the initiative by Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo to bring the MDC and ZANU-PF together in a formal dialogue.

The MDC leader said there was significant pressure on the party leadership to craft a firm response to the stolen election, as Zimbabweans were angry and did not accept the status quo.

The party had had to work very hard to restrain the public reaction, as the government response to demonstrations would certainly be brutal and bloody.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 02HARARE1307, TSVANGIRAI DISCUSSES ZIMBABWE’S CHALLENGES WITH

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE1307

2002-05-31 08:55

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001307

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR AF SENIOR DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR CNEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/30/2012

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI DISCUSSES ZIMBABWE’S CHALLENGES WITH

STAFFDEL

 

REF: A) HARARE 1219 B) HARARE 1151

 

Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington.

Reasons: 1.5 (B) and (D).

 

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told a visiting staffdel

that the MDC was pursuing its legal challenge of the election

result, had embarked on a campaign to sensitize African

governments to the situation in Zimbabwe, and welcomed

dialogue with ZANU-PF, so long as the ruling party did not

insist on preconditions. He gave the impression that

organized mass action remained likely but was not imminent.

The MDC leader advocated the formation of a bipartisan

national committee, perhaps based in Parliament, to ensure

fair distribution of food assistance. His delegation

cautioned the West to handle the NEPAD/Zimbabwe linkage very

carefully — some in the region believe Mbeki’s advocacy of

this initiative is a sign that he has sold out to the West.

Excluding Zimbabwe from NEPAD, therefore, could ironically

strengthen Mugabe’s hand with key players on the continent.

End Summary.

 

2. (U) HIRC staff members Malik Chaka and Pearl Alice Marsh,

accompanied by the Ambassador and political section chief,

met on May 29 with Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai was joined by MDC

Members of Parliament Priscilla Misihairabwi and Trudy

Stevenson, and special advisor Gandi Mudzingwa.

 

MDC’s Next steps

—————-

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai noted that the staffdel was visiting

Zimbabwe at a time of deepening political, social, and

economic crisis. The current regime’s lack of political

legitimacy was exacerbating the country’s other difficulties,

including food shortages, a worsening economy, and a

collapsing health sector. The MDC, he continued, has decided

to proceed along several fronts. First, the party had filed

a legal challenge of the election results, although it

recognized that the judiciary has been subverted. Second, it

had embarked on an active diplomatic campaign to sensitize

African governments to the deteriorating situation in

Zimbabwe. Third, the party had welcomed the initiative by

Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo to bring the MDC and ZANU-PF

together in a formal dialogue. Tsvangirai expressed his view

that dialogue is the best option for finding a constructive

way forward, but said the ruling party was now trying to

impose all sorts of preconditions for resumption of the

talks, long after the agenda had been agreed on. Without

elaborating, he noted that Nigerian Foreign Minister Lamido

was in town trying to reconvene this process (Note:

Tsvangirai’s advisor Gandi Mudzingwa later told us that

 

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Lamido had advised the MDC he was working to convince Mugabe

to rejoin the talks. End Note.)

 

4. (C) The MDC leader said there has been significant

pressure on the party leadership to craft a firm response to

the stolen election, as Zimbabweans are angry and do not

accept the status quo. The party has had to work very hard

to restrain the public reaction, as the GOZ response to

demonstrations would certainly be brutal and bloody.

Tsvangirai mentioned three crises that need to be addressed

 

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urgently. First, the food shortage could lead to a

“catastrophic situation,” and a bipartisan national committee

ought to be established to devise an effective solution. In

addition, the rapid shutting down of companies was causing a

commensurate — and alarming — rise in unemployment and

poverty rates, and an effective policy must be implemented on

the AIDS pandemic, a national disaster that goverment had not

demonstrated the political will to address.

 

MDC’s Africa diplomacy

———————-

 

5. (C) Noting the MDC’s attempts to build African support,

Marsh asked whether the West had misplayed its hand by too

strongly criticizing Mugabe and his policies in advance of

the election. Not at all, Tsvangirai replied. Africa, he

said, must live up to international human rights norms, and

cannot continue to insist that it be judged by lower

standards if it expects the world’s respect. Asked the MDC’s

objectives in lobbying African nations, Tsvangirai said the

party’s approach was to recognize the injustices of the

colonial past and the contributions made by the liberation

generation. At the same time, it is pointing out that,

instead of contributing to Zimbabwe’s prosperity, this

country’s liberation generation is employing organized

violence to suppress the population. Africa, he said, is at

a stage where it must deal with both sides of the political

divide, and that is how tolerance and democratic values are

nurtured. The MDC wants an election rerun “at some point,”

but wants to secure agreement on a transitional mechanism in

the meantime.

 

Transitional mechanism

———————-

 

6. (C) Chaka inquired what a transitional mechanism would

look like, and wondered how the MDC would maintain its

independence while participating in such an arrangement. The

MDC, Tsvangirai replied, would not follow (former ZAPU

leader) Joshua Nkomo’s example and allow itself to be

co-opted. The transitional mechanism (which might include a

50-50 sharing of Cabinet posts) should be tasked with laying

the groundwork for a new election, and should oversee

implementation of confidence-building measures such as

disbanding of the militias and de-politicization of the

police.

 

Internal ZANU-PF dynamics

————————-

 

7. (C) Chaka expressed surprise that no one in ZANU-PF had

been willing to confront Mugabe about the damaging

consequences of his policies. There are two primary groups

in the ruling party, Tsvangirai replied, the hardliners and

the reformers, and Mugabe believes he can control the destiny

of Zimbabwe using the hardliners, the most prominent of whom

is Speaker of Parliament and heir apparent Emmerson

Mnangagwa. There are many in the ruling party who are

unhappy with the direction of the country, but they feel

vulnerable because Mugabe has, over the years, evolved from a

quasi-democrat to benign dictator to brutal dictator.

 

Food crisis

———–

 

8. (C) Marsh asked what kind of national body Tsvangirai

envisioned for dealing with the looming food shortages. War

veterans nationwide, he replied, are taking over food

distribution efforts and are denying MDC supporters access.

A bipartisan committee, perhaps based in Parliament, would

ensure that food is distributed to all who need it,

regardless of political affiliation. The Ambassador noted

that he had urged the United Nations to establish an

independent mechanism to monitor food deliveries, and that we

and other donors would likely support such a body. He

informed Tsvangirai that the USG would be announcing that it

had been forced to divert to Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique

10,000 metric tons of yellow maize intended for Zimbabwe

because the GOZ had refused to grant an exemption to its own

restrictions on grain with Genetically Modified Organisms

(GMO).

 

Mass action

———–

 

9. (C) Chaka said he had read recent press reports quoting

Tsvangirai’s vows to organize mass action. What precisely

 

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does the MDC leader mean by mass action, and are there large

numbers of Zimbabweans prepared to participate in it,

particularly in light of the failed stayaway shortly after

the election? That stayaway had failed, Tsvangirai said,

because it was organized by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade

Unions as a protest of labor conditions, not a demonstration

of unhappiness with the country’s broader political crisis.

There is no question of numbers or capacity to organize, as

mass action will happen. People’s anger is deep, and they

are not prepared to countenance another six years of rule by

President Mugabe. The MDC, however, has not yet decided what

form it will take.

 

NEPAD and the West’s approach

—————————–

 

10. (C) Marsh asked what the West could do to help

extricate Zimbabwe from its current plight. The West’s

approach has been constructive, Tsvangirai said, as the

efforts to isolate the GOZ leadership are having an effect,

if not on Mugabe at least on those around him. He urged the

international community to continue to pressure and isolate

the Zimbabwean president, and to try to find a dignified exit

for him. MP Trudy Stevenson added that it would be useful if

the G-8 makes it clear at the upcoming summit that the

continent’s approach to Zimbabwe will affect the success of

NEPAD. Yes, Tsvangirai agreed, there is no way that Zimbabwe

can be walled off from the benefits of NEPAD, as if it’s an

island. If they are to have any credibility, African

governments must be able to demonstrate that they can police

themselves effectively. MP Priscilla Misihairabwi warned

that the West must be very careful in how it handles the

NEPAD/Zimbabwe linkage. Some in the region, she said, are

deeply suspicious of NEPAD and believe the initiative

indicates Mbeki has sold out to the West, so excluding

Zimbabwe could very well strengthen Mugabe’s hand in his

attempts to portray himself as the preeminent defender of the

continent’s interests. The Ambassador pointed out that,

although he expected positive statements to be made about

NEPAD at the G-8 meeting, no checks would be written, and

there will be plenty of opportunities to shape NEPAD down the

road.

 

Continuing Harassment

———————

 

11. (C) The Ambassador asked Tsvangirai to comment on press

reports that police had raided his rural home the night of

May 26. According to the MDC leader, a group of heavily

armed police had entered his home without a warrant in

Buhera, Manicaland province, saying they were searching for

arms of war. They beat up one of the home’s caretakers and

proceeded to arrest 13 MDC supporters in the vicinity, even

though they had not committed any apparent crime. Tsvangirai

expressed relief that his mother, who lives in the house, had

been elsewhere at the time.

 

Comment

——-

 

12. (C) Tsvangirai was upbeat but did not present a

particularly focused picture of his party’s plans in the

near-term. In fact, he concentrated more on describing the

range of challenges facing Zimbabwe than on proposing

achievable cures. Such vagueness likely derives from the

reality that there is not agreement among senior members of

the party about the way forward. Tsvangirai’s failure in his

introductory remarks to mention mass action likely indicates

that such a step has been put on the back burner for now.

SULLIVAN

 

(3 VIEWS)

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