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Tsvangirai told Mbeki he was no match for Mugabe

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai told South African President Thabo Mbeki that he was no match for Robert Mugabe as a negotiator on behalf of the Southern African Development Community.

Mbeki therefore needed to enlarge the mediation team with other SADC leaders.

Tsvangirai said Mbeki agreed to do so.

He disclosed this when he announced that he was pulling out of the presidential election run-off, five days before the poll.

Tsvangirai had told United States ambassador James McGee the day before that he would be contesting the elections because he felt that he would not quit after having come so far.

But in his meeting with Mbeki, Tsvangirai had said there should be no election.

Instead there should be a transitional government which he, Tsvangirai, would lead.

Mugabe would have to retire and the transitional government would discuss the new constitution and new elections.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE530, MDC PULLS OUT OF ELECTION

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE530

2008-06-23 14:26

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO1725

OO RUEHC

DE RUEHSB #0530/01 1751426

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 231426Z JUN 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3060

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2075

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2195

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0737

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1472

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1830

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2251

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4682

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1341

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000530

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/23/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: MDC PULLS OUT OF ELECTION

 

HARARE 00000530 001.2 OF 003

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) A day after telling the Ambassador the MDC intended

to participate in the June 27 runoff election, MDC president

Morgan Tsvangirai on June 22 announced the MDC would boycott

the election. Tsvangirai told the press and diplomats at a

later briefing that continuing violence against the

population, the violent suppression of his campaign, and

government rigging made an election impossible. Tsvangirai

told diplomats that the ultimate solution was not a new

election, but a negotiated settlement resulting in a

government of national unity, headed by himself, and the

retirement of Zimbabwean president Mugabe. He said the MDC

would announce future plans on June 25.

 

2. (C)   Tsvangirai told the Ambassador on June 21 that he

had met with South African president Thabo Mbeki on June 19

at Mbeki’s request and had pressed the idea of a transitional

government rather than an election. He told Mbeki that he

(Mbeki) lacked sufficient strength as a sole mediator, and

that Mbeki should be part of a SADC mediation team. Mbeki

promised to pursue this suggestion. END SUMMARY.

 

————————————

Ambassador’s Meeting with Tsvangirai

————————————

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai told the Ambassador that (despite

conflicting news reports) the MDC would contest the June 27

runoff election. Tsvangirai said that, after consulting with

MDC members, he felt he could not quit after having come so

far.

 

4. (C) Tsvangirai said he had met Mbeki two days earlier at

Mbeki’s request. Mbeki, according to Tsvangirai, said he was

aware of the violence and appreciated the problems. But he

had been unable to achieve a breakthrough in the impasse

between ZANU-PF and the MDC, and he had no plan to go forward.

 

5. (C) Tsvangirai suggested Mbeki ask Mugabe (whom Mbeki was

scheduled to see later in the day) what his plans were since

it was obvious that nobody, including the international

community, would accept a Mugabe victory in the June 27

election. Tsvangirai told Mbeki the goal should be a

transitional government on the following terms:

 

–Retirement of Mugabe;

–Government to be led by Tsvangirai in accordance with the

March 29 election;

–Transitional government to discuss new constitution and new

elections.

 

6. (C) Tsvangirai said he had learned that Mbeki had

presented the transitional plan to Mugabe. Additionally,

Tsvangirai told Mbeki that he was no match for Mugabe as a

sole negotiator on behalf of SADC; he needed to enlarge the

mediation team with other SADC leaders. Mbeki agreed to do

so.

 

——————–

Decision to Withdraw

——————–

 

7. (C) The MDC at press and diplomatic briefings on June 22

distributed a written statement (scanned to AF/S) outlining

its decision to not participate in the June 27 runoff

election. Summarizing the written statement, Tsvangirai said

the decision had been made unanimously by the MDC’s Executive

 

HARARE 00000530 002 OF 003

 

 

Committee and National Council and was based on:

 

–Continuing state-sponsored violence;

–Suppression of the MDC campaign, including banning of all

rallies, decimation of MDC structures and the arrests of MDC

leaders and 2,000 polling agents; and

–ZANU-PF vote-rigging activities.

 

8. (C) Stressing the importance of polling agents,

Tsvangirai said the MDC would not be able to deploy 75

percent of its agents, and those agents who were deployed

would not have access to rural areas.

 

9. (C) Tsvangirai emphasized the decision had not been made

lightly. He noted that the day before (after the meeting

with the Ambassador), he had attempted to campaign in

Harare’s high-density suburbs. People were afraid to talk to

the MDC, and the fear on their faces was palpable. Earlier

in the day, before the decision was made, the MDC had

attempted to hold a rally in a stadium in Harare in an area

of strong MDC support. ZANU-PF youth had taken over the

stadium and had used force on MDC supporters who tried to

enter. The MDC’s Youth Chairman had attempted to go to the

rally and was now in the hospital. Tsvangirai concluded that

the election had become a declaration of war against the

people and the MDC would not be part of it. The people

wanted to support the MDC, but the mood and the people’s

willingness to participate in an election had changed

dramatically in the last two days.

 

———————-

Solution to the Crisis

———————-

 

10. (C) Tsvangirai at the briefing said a solution to the

current crisis lay not with another election but with a

negotiated settlement that involved a form of “cohabitation.”

This was necessary because ZANU-PF possessed the

institutions of state, while the MDC enjoyed popular support.

is proposal, presented to diplomats, was similar t that

related to Mbeki on June 19.

 

–End to volence;

–Mugabe’s retirement;

–Tsvangirai, a winner of March 29 election, to lead

government;

–After transitional government has settled in, n election

supervised by SADC and international ommunity;

–Economic reform.

 

———-

Nex Steps

———-

 

11. (C) Tsvangirai said tht the MDC would consult

internally and then make an announcement on June 25 on next

steps. He impied this would involve a new diplomatic

offensive in an effort to seek pressure on the Mugabe regime

from the UN, AU, and SADC. Tsvangirai said that in the last

few days he had been in contact, in addition to Mbeki, with

Zambia’s Mwanawasa, Botswana’s Khama, and Tanzania’s Kikwete.

 

—————————

The Residue of the Election

—————————

 

12. (C) ZANU-PF justice minister Patrick Chinamasa told the

media that the election would go forward unless the MDC

submitted a written notice of withdrawal. The MDC told us it

is planning to submit a letter stating it is impossible to

participate in an election under these circumstances.

(COMMENT: The Electoral Act states that a presidential

 

HARARE 00000530 003 OF 003

 

 

candidate must withdraw his candidacy at least 21 days before

an election. There is no discussion in the Act of a runoff

election. We believe ZANU-PF is disappointed with the MDC

withdrawal, as it hoped to derive some legitimacy from an

electoral win. It remains to be seen if the GOZ will treat

an MDC letter as a formal withdrawal and will call off the

election, or whether it will decide to proceed. END COMMENT.)

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

13. (C) ZANU-PF has dug in its heels, as manifested by

Mugabe’s statements at rallies and to the media that the

party would never cede power to the MDC. We see no

willingness at this point of ZANU-PF and Mugabe to negotiate

a transitional government on the lines proposed by

Tsvangirai. ZANU-PF has succeeded with its campaign of

terror and will negotiate only on its terms.

 

14. (C) Tsvangirai clearly enjoys the support of the

majority of the Zimbabwean people, and until recently the MDC

thought it could win the election despite ZANU-PF’s violence

and machination. The MDC realized in the last several days,

however, the pervasiveness and effectiveness of the ZANU-PF

terror machine. While the MDC’s withdrawal is disappointing,

it is also understandable. And an election is not necessary

to demonstrate to the world the unfairness of the electoral

process which has been underpinned by terror. UN envoy Haile

Menkerios saw it and the SADC observers continue to see it.

Mbeki has been thoroughly briefed by his team of retired

generals who have traveled the length and breath of the

country. It is imperative that Mbeki, the UN, and SADC speak

out. END COMMENT.

 

McGee

(6 VIEWS)

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