Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai met President Robert Mugabe alone for 90 minutes after the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement paving the way for negotiations and said the two agreed to have a transitional arrangement in which neither would be subordinate to the other.
Tsvangirai was given the chance to talk to Mugabe by South African President Thabo Mbeki, the mediator, who took the leader of the smaller faction of the MDC Arthur Mutambara away and urged Mugabe and Tsvangirai to talk.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai had met that day for the first time in 10 years.
Tsvangirai told Mugabe over dinner that all Zimbabweans respected the sacrifices of those who participated in the liberation struggle and would honour Mugabe’s legacy.
However, he noted that the undeniable current economic and political crisis required a response.
Tsvangirai said he and Mugabe then agreed that they should instruct their negotiators to craft an agreement that included a transition in no more than two years and provided roles for both principals in which neither was subordinate to the other, with separate heads of state and government.
Tsvangirai said he suggested that Mugabe could retire in two years, but Mugabe bristled, saying that would be up to his party.
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Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Katherine Dhanani for reason: 1.4(d).
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: On July 22 MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
briefed Charge on his July 21 meetings with Mugabe, Mbeki and
Mutambara. Tsvangirai said he and Mugabe met one-on-one for
90 minutes, agreeing to a transition of no more than two
years during which each would hold a position of equal
weight. He said negotiators would travel to South Africa
July 23 to begin talks, and he appeared optimistic that they
could succeed fairly quickly. Despite Tsvangirai’s optimism,
Post remains concerned that even if ZANU-PF commits to share
power on paper, it will not do so in practice. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Tsvangirai explained to Charge how events unfolded on
July 21. He said before the public signing of the MOU, the
four principals (Mbeki, Mutambara, Tsvangirai and Mugabe)
met. This was the first time Tsvangirai and Mugabe had met
in a decade. Tsvangirai reported that he raised the issue of
violence and that Mugabe responded defensively, claiming that
there had been no violence except in fanciful western media
reporting. Mugabe demanded evidence, and Tsvangirai and
Mugabe are supposed to meet on July 24 for Tsvangirai to
present evidence of violence. Following the signing of the
MOU and the subsequent press conference, Mbeki took Mutambara
away and urged Mugabe and Tsvangirai to talk. The two ate
dinner together while talking one-on-one for about 90
¶3. (C) Tsvangirai said he told Mugabe over dinner that all
Zimbabweans respected the sacrifices of those who
participated in the liberation struggle and would honor
Mugabe’s legacy. However, he noted the undeniable current
economic and political crisis required a response. He once
again talked of violence, noting that Mugabe may not have
been aware, and said Mugabe responded that any violence was
in the past and now was the time to move forward. Tsvangirai
said he and Mugabe then agreed that they should instruct
their negotiators to craft an agreement that included a
transition in no more than two years and provided roles for
both principals in which neither was subordinate to the
other, with separate heads of state and government.
Tsvangirai said he suggested Mugabe could retire in two
years, but Mugabe bristled, saying that would be up to his
¶4. (C) After dinner the four principals reassembled and
Tsvangirai briefed Mbeki and Mutambara on the agreement for
transition. All agreed that this should provide the
framework and that negotiators could work out detailed
arrangements. (COMMENT: Tsvangirai made no mention of the
division of power in cabinet. END COMMENT.) Negotiators
will travel to South Africa on July 23 and begin work.
¶5. (C) Tsvangirai said he had discussed new U.S. sanctions
with NSC Director and suggested the USG present them publicly
as a way to keep pressure on the negotiations, to be relaxed
if the negotiations bear fruit. Charge told Tsvangirai that
the USG and other donors would look critically at any
agreement reached; there would be no automatic reengagement.
She asked Tsvangirai if the re-opening of humanitarian space
had been part of the discussions on July 22. He said that he
planned to raise this on July 24 as one of three critical
issues, along with violence and ZANU-PF efforts to entice MDC
MPs to switch sides.
¶6. (C) Tsvangirai said he and other MDC leaders were hopeful
that a real breakthrough could be achieved. He noted that
during their one-on-one, Mugabe showed none of the bluster
and bravado he is known for. Charge commented that Mugabe’s
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inner circle may be less conciliatory, and Tsvangirai
commented with some satisfaction that he understood many of
them were worried that Mugabe had sold them out during the
¶7. (C) COMMENT: Tsvangirai’s hopefulness, and the good cheer
exhibited by other MDC leaders who were leaving Tsvangirai’s
residence as Charge arrived, suggest that there may be an
agreement reached in a matter of weeks in South Africa.
While Post may be somewhat more optimistic than we were
previously (reftel) about the prospects for an agreement, we
remain deeply skeptical about whether ZANU-PF is ready to
sacrifice the reins of power. END COMMENT.