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US ambassador said there was bad blood between Biti and Ncube

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGhee said there was so much bad blood between the two secretaries of the Movement for Democratic Change Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube that they presented their positions as contradictory even when both were saying the same thing.

He was commenting after the stalemate in reaching agreement over the allocation of ministries two months after the signing of the Global Political Agreement which was supposed to usher an inclusive government.

Ncube accused Biti and his co-negotiator Elton Mangoma of playing hard ball arguing that party leader Morgan Tsvangirai was ready to enter into the inclusive government.

The main contention was over four ministries: Home Affairs, Local Government, Finance and Foreign Affairs but the MDC called for the whole deal to be renegotiated after the Southern African Development Community said the two major parties should share Home Affairs.

Biti and Mangoma were backed by the party’s national council forcing Tsvangirai, who had ignored its decision not to sign the agreement, to comply.

The MDC now demanded:

  • In addition to Home Affairs, an equitable distribution of all ministries;
  • Division of governorships between the two parties;
  • Appointments of ambassadors and permanent secretaries;
  • Composition of the national security council;
  • Discrepancies between the agreement of September 11 and the agreement actually signed on September 15;
  • and agreement on Amendment 19 encapsulating the power-sharing agreement before formation of a government.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE1034, STATE OF PLAY IN ZIMBABWE–NO END IN SIGHT

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE1034

2008-11-19 14:11

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4806

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #1034/01 3241411

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 191411Z NOV 08 ZDK

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3707

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2436

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2554

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1054

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1830

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2185

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2610

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5038

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1702

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 001034

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B.WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

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: 11/19/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: STATE OF PLAY IN ZIMBABWE–NO END IN SIGHT

 

REF: PRETORIA 2486

 

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

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) ZANU-PF has been using the SADC Extraordinary Summit

Communique to argue that the MDC-T is the obstacle to

implementation of a power-sharing government. The MDC-T has

indicated it will not participate in a government until core

issues, in addition to control of the Home Affairs Ministry,

are addressed. With ZANU-PF unwilling to meet the MDC-T’s

demands, many in the MDC believe the September 15 agreement

is dead. The MDC-T will not, however, cede what it believes

is the moral high ground to ZANU-PF by withdrawing from

negotiations. It appears to be adopting a long-range

strategy of opposing ZANU-PF from within Parliament, and

waiting for the ruling party to collapse. Meanwhile,

Zimbabwe is effectively without a government to address its

growing humanitarian crisis. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————

Since the SADC Summit: ZANU-PF

——————————

 

2. (U) The Communique issued by SADC Secretary General

Salomao following the November 9 Summit instructed Zimbabwe’s

political parties to form an inclusive government

immediately, sharing responsibility for the Ministry of Home

Affairs. Since this instruction coincided with ZANU-PF’s

offer on the table entering the Summit, it is not surprising

that ZANU-PF has attempted to turn the SADC Communique into a

propaganda tool and to place the MDC-T on the defensive.

Noting that the MDC-T had requested the Extraordinary Summit

after the SADC Troika meeting on October 27 in Harare had

failed to result in a final agreement, ZANU-PF immediately

indicated its willingness to comply with the Communique. A

Politburo meeting on November 12 unanimously endorsed the

SADC position; ZANU-PF then invited the MDC to submit names

of proposed ministers. The (illegitimate) GOZ Minister of

Information, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, announced that the

(illegitimate) State’s legal drafting team had drafted

Constitutional Amendment 19 and submitted it to SADC

Facilitator Mbeki for scrutiny. Ndlovu outlined remaining

steps in the formation of a new government as purely

procedural: a waiting period while Amendment 19 is under

public review, appointment of a cabinet and approval of the

Amendment by Parliament.

 

3. (U) While official statements emanating from ZANU-PF

leaders are positive about the current state of the political

dialog, the state-controlled press has maintained a drumbeat

of criticism of the MDC-T and Morgan Tsvangirai. These

unofficial ZANU voices treat any MDC expression of

dissatisfaction with the outcome of the Summit as evidence of

dissension in the party and signs of western manipulation of

MDC-T leaders. On November 18, The Herald’s banner headline

read “Divisions rock MDC-T…as hawks seek Tsvangirai’s

ouster.” Tsvangirai’s trip to France has provided fodder for

this effort.

 

—————————-

Since the SADC Summit: MDC-T

—————————-

 

4. (U) The MDC-T, for its part, received no satisfaction on

the matters it had raised at the summit from the SADC

Communique. The MDC-T publicly condemned the SADC ruling as

having failed to address what it considered core issues: 1)

 

HARARE 00001034 002.3 OF 004

 

 

in addition to Home Affairs, an equitable distribution of all

ministries; 2) division of governorships between the two

parties; 3) appointments of ambassadors and permanent

secretaries; 4) composition of the national security council;

5) discrepancies between the agreement of September 11 and

the agreement actually signed on September 15; and 6)

agreement on Amendment 19 encapsulating the power-sharing

agreement before formation of a government.

 

5. (U) On November 14, the MDC-T National Council met to

formally consider the party’s position. The Council adopted

a Resolution which condemned the SADC Communique and referred

to the necessity of resolving all the outstanding issues.

However, the resolution did not explicitly state that

resolution of these issues was a precondition for

participation in government. Confusingly, it also said: “the

MDC shall participate in a new government once Constitutional

Amendment No. 19 has been passed and effected into law.” The

government media seized upon the MDC-T statement to say that

the MDC-T would enter into government as soon as Amendment 19

was drafted and passed. On November 17, the MDC-T issued a

press release to clarify its position and stated that

resolution of all core issues was a prerequisite to MDC-T

participation in a government.

 

6. (C) MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti, both privately

in conversations with us and in a diplomatic briefing on

November 17, stated that he believed the September 15

agreement was for all intents and purposes dead. Biti said

that the National Council’s resolution was designed to be

conciliatory while at the same time staking out a hard

position. He explained the reference to joining government

once Amendment 19 was adopted by pointing out that agreement

on Amendment 19 would require agreement on the other issues

in dispute and on other matters left vague in the Agreement,

such as the interpretation of the President’s obligation to

“consult” with the Prime Minister. This would be

extraordinarily difficult. The MDC-T would not withdraw from

the SADC process in order to avoid ceding the moral high

ground to ZANU-PF. It intended to press its case with the AU

and ultimately the UN. MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai has

been traveling since the SADC Summit to consult with African

leaders. Biti claimed that both Jacob Zuma and South African

President Motlanthe had apologized to Tsvangirai for the SADC

Summit Communique, and that both had agreed that Home Affairs

alone was not the only issue. Biti admitted, however, that

he did not believe either the AU or UN would actively take up

the MDC-T’s cause. Biti believed that the economic

situation, splits within ZANU-PF, MDC solidarity, and

international opposition to the ruling party and support for

the MDC would ultimately result in change. Other than

raising the possibility of street demonstrations, which he

conceded would be difficult to organize and sustain, and

opposition to the GOZ in Parliament, Biti offered no concrete

roadmap for MDC-T action.

 

———————————-

Welshman Ncube: A Contrarian View

———————————-

 

7. (C) Ncube told us on November 18 that MDC-M viewed

negotiations as a tripartite process. MDC-M would not enter

into government unless all three parties–ZANU-PF, MDC-T and

MDC-M–were in agreement to form a government. He opined

that the September 15 agreement was probably dead, and a

dance was now occurring between ZANU-PF and MDC-T to lay

blame for its failure on the other. Specifically, he said

that MDC-T negotiators Biti and Elton Mangoma did not want an

agreement; while ZANU-PF and Mugabe wanted an agreement, they

would not make the concessions demanded by MDC-T.

 

 

HARARE 00001034 003 OF 004

 

 

8. (C) Ncube said the GOZ-prepared draft of Amendment 19 was

now with SADC mediator Thabo Mbeki, and that Mbeki was

seeking to facilitate a discussion on it. Biti and Mangoma,

however, were avoiding Mbeki. The next step would await

Tsvangirai’s return to South Africa later this week.

 

9. (C) Tsvangirai had told South African president Motlanthe

and ANC president Jacob Zuma, Ncube claimed, that he would

enter the government if an agreement on Amendment 19 was

reached. Ncube acknowledged this was not the position of

Biti, Mangoma, and other hardliners in MDC-T who were

insisting on total control of the Home Affairs Ministry and

other concessions. (COMMENT: Bad blood between Biti and

Ncube is such that even when both are saying the same thing,

they present their positions as contradictory. This may be

the case with their characterization of MDC-T’s position on

Amendment 19. END COMMENT.)

 

10. (C) Ncube said he favored a government of national

unity, even if ZANU-PF did not meet some of MDC-T’s

conditions. He described Mugabe and ZANU-PF as fascistic and

said that the entry of the MDC into government would not make

that party more democratic. The goal of MDC participation in

a power-sharing government would be to restrain ZANU-PF from

its excesses, e.g., violence, to begin the process of

economic recovery, and to prevent ZANU-PF from subverting the

next election. He also thought that MDC participation in

government would weaken ZANU-PF since MDC members would

occupy a number of positions now held by ZANU-PF, causing

disaffection among ruling party officials who no longer had

positions.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

11. (C) The next step will be discussions among the parties

on Amendment 19. From Biti’s point of view, the drafting of

the Amendment would logically be tasked to the negotiators

jointly, and the text would include details of most of the

issues still in dispute, such as composition of the National

Security Council, discrepancies between the September 11 and

15 texts, and the actual authorities of the Prime Minister.

If this is indeed the position of the MDC as a whole, the

text prepared by GOZ legal drafters will almost certainly be

rejected out of hand by the MDC. If, however, divisions

remain within the MDC-T, they could manifest themselves in

discussion of the Amendment.

 

12. (C) Tsvangirai during the past several months has

expressed a desire to get into government and work for change

from within as long as his powers as Prime Minister were

assured. Biti and others have taken a more hard-line

approach, often privately criticizing Tsvangirai for not

being tough enough. We believe that the hardliners are in

control for the moment, and that Tsvangirai will hold out for

a satisfactory resolution of key MDC-T issues, either in

Amendment 19 or otherwise. The hardliners fundamentally do

not believe an agreement with ZANU-PF can work. Their

insistence on preconditions which they believe ZANU-PF will

not agree to is a way of undermining the possibility of an

agreement.

 

13. (C) For its part, ZANU-PF believes it is in the driver’s

seat after the SADC Communique. Seeking to avoid offending

SADC, it is likely to either leave ministerial positions

unfilled, fill only 15 of the 31 positions allocated to it

under the September 15 agreement, or name ministers for the

MDC slots as “caretakers.” Meanwhile, it will push for

discussion of Amendment 19 and seek to demonstrate that it is

complying with the SADC Communique.

 

HARARE 00001034 004 OF 004

 

 

 

14. (C) At this point, we see no agreement between the

parties in sight. Each side is seeking to position itself to

blame the other side when and if negotiations completely

break down. But while the parties remain at a standoff,

there is no government in Zimbabwe capable of addressing the

increasingly desperate humanitarian situation. END COMMENT.

 

McGee

(147 VIEWS)

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