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Tsvangirai was convinced MDC would win 2005 elections

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was so convinced that his party would win the 2005 parliamentary elections that he told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell that he would be holding a press conference on 1 April to claim a democratic mandate.

Tsvangirai wanted the United States to issue a strong statement to support him and Dell said he too was going to hold a press conference to back the MDC victory.

The MDC leader said if his party won the majority he had the right to form the next government and would call upon President Mugabe to recognise the MDC victory and to begin negotiations on transitional arrangements.

Tsvangirai said Mugabe would doubtless argue that he was elected through 2008 and he would rely on the 30 appointed seats to maintain ZANU-PF control of Parliament but the MDC would argue that the 30 appointed seats should be ignored.

When asked by Dell what the MDC would do in the event fraud prevented an MDC victory, Tsvangirai said he did not expect such a result and hoped to avoid any violence but that contingency plans were being made.

Dell was so impressed by Tsvangirai that he commented: “Win, lose, or draw, Tsvangirai has raised his stature within Zimbabwe and within the region over the past month as he has personally led a resurgent and better organised MDC to the cusp of a historic electoral outcome.

“More than ever, he appears to have what it takes to lead this country in a democratic direction. However, no one, least of all Tsvangirai, is under any illusions about the long, difficult road ahead.

“Robert Mugabe hasn’t survived as president of this country for twenty-five years without an abundance of nerve and guile. Regardless of the outcome of this election, our task remains to find ways to support Tsvangirai, the MDC, and other democrats in their crusade to free this country.”

Ed: The MDC not only lost the election but was worse off than it had been in 2000 shedding some 16 seats. Only two years later, the same Christopher Dell described Tsvangirai as “a brave, committed man and, by and large, a democrat” but “also a flawed figure, not readily open to advice, indecisive and with questionable judgment in selecting those around him”.

 

Full cable:

Viewing cable 05HARARE488, MDC HEAD PREDICTS VICTORY AND ASKS SUPPORT

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE488

2005-03-31 15:09

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.

 

311509Z Mar 05

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000488

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF DAS WOODS; AF/S BRUCE NEULING

NSC PLS PASS TO SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

DEPARTMENT PASS EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2015

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC HEAD PREDICTS VICTORY AND ASKS SUPPORT

 

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER W. DELL, REASON 1.4 b/d

 

 

 

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) In a midnight meeting with the Ambassador on March 30,

MDC leader Morgan Tsvagirai predicted that his party would

win a majority of the contested seats in the next day,s

parliamentary elections. He said he would hold a press

conference on Friday afternoon, April 1, to claim a

democratic mandate and asked for a strong statement of

support from the United States. The Ambassador responded

that if the MDC won a clear majority of the contested seats,

we would support his claim to a democratic mandate. He added

that in our view, President Mugabe would have to be held

responsible for any post-election violence that resulted from

GOZ electoral fraud. End Summary.

 

—————-

MDC Will Win Big

—————-

 

2. (C) Tsvangirai said he had just returned from a final

campaign swing. He was tired but elated by the enthusiastic

crowds he and his party had drawn in the campaign,s final

weeks. The momentum was with his party and ZANU-PF knew it

and was gearing itself for defeat. ZANU-PF was saddled with

bad candidates and a bad campaign and their support was

noticeably flagging. Nathan Shamuyarira, Politburo member

and ZANU-PF Secretary for Information and Publicity had

publicly acknowledged that his party might win only 57 seats.

Tsvangirai said that result would already leave the MDC with

a majority of the contested seats, but he thought they could

do even better.

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai said that in that event he would claim a

democratic mandate. His party would have won a majority of

the contested seats and in any democratic country that should

give it the right to form the next government. He would hold

a press conference on Friday, probably around noon, when he

was fairly sure of the final tally, to call upon President

Mugabe to recognize the MDC victory and to begin negotiations

on transition arrangements.

 

4. (C) Tsvangirai said Mugabe would doubtless argue that he

was elected through 2008 and he would rely on the 30

appointed seats to maintain ZANU-PF control of Parliament.

Tsvangirai said MDC had no preconceived agenda for

 

SIPDIS

negotiations. However, it would not join a government of

national unity and would argue that 30 appointed seats should

be ignored. He acknowledged that a key moment could come

when the new Parliament was seated some two weeks after the

election. The Ambassador asked what role Tsvangirai foresaw

for South African President Mbkei, to which Tsvangirai

replied little or none given his open support for Mugabe and

ZANU-PF.

 

———————–

Appeals for U.S Support

———————–

 

5. (C) Tsvangirai asked that the U.S. come out strongly in

support of his claim of a democratic mandate. The Ambassador

responded that in the event the MDC won a clear majority of

the contested seats he could count on our support. The

Ambassador said he would also hold a press conference on

Friday, at 11:00. His purpose was to be among the first to

publicly comment on the election ) drawing on the Embassy,s

extensive observation efforts ) and thereby frame the

subsequent debate. He asked to speak with Tsvangirai in

advance to coordinate messages. He added that the U.S. would

likely issue an official statement at the noon State

Department press briefing in Washington that day. We hoped

at both his press conference and in the statement to say that

despite the obstacles the GOZ had placed in their way, the

Zimbabwean people had spoken and the voice had to be heard

and respected by the nation’s leaders.

 

6. (S) The Ambassador asked what the MDC would do in the

event fraud prevented an MDC victory. Tsvangirai said he did

not expect such a result and hoped to avoid any violence but

that contingency plans were being made. The Ambassador

stressed that the U.S. would not encourage a Ukraine-like

campaign of civil disobedience, but that if one gathered

momentum of its own accord we would look to Washington for

guidance on ways to be supportive. He added that in our

view, the responsibility lay with Mugabe to avoid violence by

ensuring that the will of the Zimbabwean people was

accurately reflected in the election,s results and that he

not destabilize the country by setting off a wave of angry

protests in response to election fraud.

——-

Comment

——-

 

7. (C) Win, lose, or draw, Tsvangirai has raised his stature

within Zimbabwe and within the region over the past month as

he has personally led a resurgent and better organized MDC to

the cusp of a historic electoral outcome. More than ever, he

appears to have what it takes to lead this country in a

democratic direction. However, no one, least of all

Tsvangirai, is under any illusions about the long, difficult

 

SIPDIS

road ahead. Robert Mugabe hasn,t survived as president of

this country for twenty-five years without an abundance of

nerve and guile. Regardless of the outcome of this election,

our task remains to find ways to support Tsvangirai, the MDC,

and other democrats in their crusade to free this country.

 

Dell

Dell

 

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