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Tsvangirai’s timetable for a new Zimbabwe

Movement for Democratic Change president Morgan Tsvangirai had a very simple solution for Zimbabwe’s problems nine years ago.

Asked by diplomats for a new timetable for Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said after a meaningful dialogue had begun he could envision a three-month period of negotiations followed by 3-6 months of transition, ultimately leading to elections.

He said dialogue between the two principals, President Robert Mugabe and himself, would resolve the country’s crisis in the long term.

The dialogue took place five years later, but three years down the line they have not agreed on the new constitution.

Some $45 million has been spent on the proposed new constitution and no one wants the elections.

 

 

Full cable:

Viewing cable 03HARARE1993, MDC ANNOUNCES NEW STRATEGY

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1993

2003-10-01 08:39

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

010839Z Oct 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001993

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC ANNOUNCES NEW STRATEGY

 

REF: HARARE 1958

 

1. SUMMARY. (SBU) On September 30, MDC President Morgan

Tsvangirai briefed the diplomatic community on the MDC’s

 

SIPDIS

position on various current issues. While Tsvangirai did not

reveal anything earth shattering, he did acknowledge that

some contact with ZANU-PF was ongoing but said that the

inter-party talks process had not been yet been launched nor

achieved agreement. He also gave a nine-month timetable for

change in Zimbabwe and expressed appreciation to the SADC

diplomats for facilitating meetings between the MDC

delegation and SADC heads of state. END SUMMARY.

 

—————————

TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS DIPLOMATS

 

SIPDIS

—————————

2. (U) On September 30, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai

briefed the diplomatic community on the MDC’s position on

various current issues, including developments on a

ZANU-PF/MDC dialogue and the regional tour recently completed

by MDC leadership. The MDC called the diplomatic briefing one

day before the October 1 deadline for talks that Tsvangirai

reportedly had set earlier. During the question and answer

period, Tsvangirai maintained that there had never been an

October 1 deadline and that no one had threatened mass

action. He blamed the press for distorting his words. He

said the MDC court challenge to the 2002 presidential

election slated to begin on November 3 would continue as

scheduled unless there was “demonstrable and irreversible”

progress toward a solution to the crisis. He did not rule

out using mass action but said it would be “determined by

circumstances.”

 

——————–

INTER-PARTY DIALOGUE

——————–

3. (U) Tsvangirai said dialogue between the two principals

(President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai) would resolve

the crisis in the long term. He commented that, while the

church initiative and other attempts to broker a negotiation

were good efforts, they had not broken the impasse between

the two leaders. He expressed appreciation for Mugabe’s

conciliatory statements during the Muzenda funeral but was

skeptical of the sincerity of the public announcement and of

the will to implement change. (See Reftel.) He said the MDC

had done a few things to try to break the ice, such as

attending the opening session of Parliament and Vice

President Simon Muzenda’s funeral, and this had palliated

suspicion but had only improved informal relations between

the two party’s members.

 

——————

TIMETABLE REVEALED

——————

4. (U) During the question and answer period, one diplomat

asked Tsvangirai for a timetable for a new Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai said that after a meaningful dialogue has begun,

 

SIPDIS

he could envision a three-month period of negotiations

followed by 3-6 months of transition, ultimately leading to

elections. He thought this should all happen by mid-2004 if

Zimbabwe is to survive. He then revealed that during the

first weekend in October, the party would be issuing new

policy papers, which would be available to the public at a

later date. He intimated that the party would try to market

its policies better, after being criticized over the last few

years for not having clear-cut policies.

 

————————

MENDING FENCES WITH SADC

————————

5. (U) Tsvangirai expressed appreciation to SADC diplomats

for facilitating meetings between the MDC delegation and

various SADC heads of state. He said the delegation would

travel to other countries in the region (Botswana, South

Africa, and Angola) and may travel to Nigeria too.

Tsvangirai said the purpose of the trips was to give an

 

SIPDIS

alternative interpretation of the crisis and to offer

possible solutions. He claimed that the delegation has been

well received in the host countries and that the meetings had

been successful, with no one disputing the cause of the

crisis–poor governance–rather than “land” or “Britain” as

Mugabe would have it. He added that as long as Mugabe thinks

he has the support of SADC leaders he would not budge in his

position. He asked SADC to help the process by urging

ZANU-PF to the negotiating table.

——————————

PERSONAL FREEDOMS STILL DENIED

——————————

6. (U) Tsvangirai said he was disturbed that despite the

MDC’s efforts to break the tension between ZANU-PF and MDC,

the ruling party had closed the Daily News. (The MDC also

circulated a strong statement from the Tsvangirai about the

closure of the Daily News.) Tsvangirai said the closure of

the newspaper was an attack on the MDC by ZANU-PF, even

though the Daily News is not owned by the MDC. He vowed that

the MDC would do everything it could to get the paper back up

and running. He lamented the MDC’s lack of access to public

media and implored the international community to express

outrage over the attack on freedom of expression.

 

7. (U) On the electoral process and the August elections,

Tsvangirai denied claims that the electoral environment had

 

SIPDIS

improved much. He said that although there may have been

less violence during the urban council elections, the

electoral process was still not free and fair, particularly

due to the problems with the voters roll and prevention of

candidate registration.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

8. (SBU) The MDC diplomatic briefing signals a shift in its

public relations strategy. The combination of the regional

tour and diplomatic briefing suggests that the party is

seeking to strengthen its diplomatic links. Tsvangirai was

also careful to praise the SADC diplomats for their

assistance with the MDC delegation, a welcome change after

months of acerbic attacks on Zimbabwe’s neighbors.

Tsvangirai,s comments about the public perception that the

 

SIPDIS

MDC has no policies and admission that the party failed in

the marketing of its policies also suggest a change in focus.

Through bolstering its public image and international

credibility, the MDC may hope to bring Mugabe to the

negotiating table with Tsvangirai. END COMMENT.

SULLIVAN

(14 VIEWS)

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