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US ambassador said Tsvangirai and MDC were distracted and unfocussed

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Tom McDonald was thrilled when Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai told him that the party had not yet decided on whether to go ahead with the planned mass action in December or not.

Tsvangirai was reportedly under pressure from supporters to demonstrate against the government but McDonald said he did not believe that public sentiment had reached a point where it could bring the desired result.

“Though he and the party have much on their plate, Tsvangirai and the MDC’s top leadership appear, at times to us, to be more distracted and unfocused than we would like to see,” he said.

When McDonald urged Tsvangirai against mass action, Tsvangirai said he would try to find a way through which his supporters could channel their anger productively.

McDonald was more than thrilled because he believed mass action was a blunt tool to be used with extreme care and with good planning, neither of which element the MDC was exercising in abundance outside of parliament.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 00HARARE6459, TSVANGIRAI SAYS NO EARLY DECISION LIKELY ON

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

00HARARE6459

2000-11-20 15:36

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.

 

201536Z Nov 00

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ5220

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 06459 201536Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   ACQ-00   CIAE-00 DINT-00 DODE-00

SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00   FBIE-00 VC-00   H-01

TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00

OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00

P-00     SP-00   SSO-00   STR-00   TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00

DSCC-00 PRM-02   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00     /010W

——————A171C5 201536Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7654

INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI IMMEDIATE

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 006459

 

SIPDIS

 

NAIROBI PLEASE PASS TO ASSISTANT SECRETARY RICE

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH

 

LONDON FOR GURNEY

 

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

 

PASS USTR FOR ROSA WHITAKER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2010

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 06459 201536Z

TAGS: PGOV PINS PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI SAYS NO EARLY DECISION LIKELY ON

MASS ACTION

 

 

CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR TOM MCDONALD FOR REASON 1.5

(D).

 

1. (C) DURING THE COURSE OF A CONVERSATION ON ANOTHER

MATTER NOVEMBER 20, MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE

PRESIDENT MORGAN TSVANGIRAI TOLD AMBASSADOR MCDONALD

THAT HIS PARTY HAD MADE NO DECISION REGARDING PLANS FOR

MASS ACTION IN DECEMBER. HE SAID THAT THE PARTY’S

EXECUTIVE WAS SCHEDULED TO MEET ON NOVEMBER 24 AND THAT

[THE DECISION TO ENGAGE IN MASS ACTION] “WON’T BE

CONCRETIZED THEN.” THE AMBASSADOR URGED AGAINST THIS

COURSE OF ACTION BECAUSE IT WOULD RESULT IN A LIKELY

LOSS OF LIFE, AND CAUSE PRESIDENT MUGABE TO LASH OUT,

ALTHOUGH HE UNDERSTOOD THAT THE PARTY HAD TO BE TRUE TO

ITS SUPPORTERS. TSVANGIRAI REPLIED THAT HE WAS

“CONSCIOUS OF THE SENSITIVITIES” OF THE INTERNATIONAL

COMMUNITY AND PROMISED TO WORK TO CHANNEL HIS

SUPPORTERS’ ANGER PRODUCTIVELY. HE BLAMED THE PRESS

BECAUSE IT “WHIPS UP ANGER,” ADDING THAT HE WOULD “TAKE

OUR PEOPLE INTO OUR CONFIDENCE” SO THAT THEY MIGHT

“ARRIVE AT THE RIGHT CONCLUSION.”

 

2. (C) TSVANGIRAI THEN COMMENTED ON THE WEEKEND FRACAS

BETWEEN SUPPORTERS OF THE RULING ZANU-PF AND THE MDC IN

RURAL BEATRICE, IN THE CONTEXT OF THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE

MARONDERA WEST BY-ELECTION. HE SAID THAT HE HAD BEEN

SCHEDULED TO ADDRESS A RALLY THERE, BUT UPON RECEIVING

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 06459 201536Z

INFORMATION OF THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND DECIDED NOT

TO DO SO. MDC SUPPORTERS WHO WENT TO BEATRICE TRIED TO

HOLD A RALLY, BUT FOUND WAR VETERANS AT THEIR CHOSEN

LOCATION. THE MDC SUPPORTERS TOLD THE VETERANS TO MOVE,

AS THEY HAD BOOKED THE SPOT, AT WHICH POINT SHOOTING

ENSUED. NO ONE WAS HIT, BUT AT LEAST ONE ZANU-PF

SUPPORTER WAS RUN OVER IN THE CONFUSION, AS THEY TRIED

TO BLOCK IN THE MDC SUPPORTERS. TSVANGIRAI ADMITTED

THAT SOME MDC MEMBERS WERE BOOKED BY THE POLICE AND WERE

ANSWERING CHARGES. HE CONTINUED THAT, “THE WAR VETERANS

AND MUGABE WON’T ABANDON VIOLENCE,” AND REPORTED THAT

THERE WERE TWO BY-ELECTIONS COMING UP, ONE IN MARONDERA

WEST AND THE OTHER IN BIKITA, NEAR MASVINGO. “I WILL

NOT BE CAMPAIGNING THERE [IN MARONDERA WEST],” THE MDC

PRESIDENT STATED. HE EXPLAINED THAT HIS SUPPORTERS TOLD

HIM THEY WOULD VOTE FOR THE MDC AND IF HE CAME THEY

WOULD ATTEND THE RALLY, BUT HIS PRESENCE IN THE DISTRICT

WOULD ONLY INFLAME THE WAR VETERANS, WHO WOULD COME

AFTER THEM IN THE NIGHT.

 

3. (C) COMMENT: WE WELCOME THE NEWS ON THE AS YET NOT

DECIDED-FOR MASS ACTION PLAN. MASS ACTION IS A BLUNT

TOOL TO BE USED WITH EXTREME CARE AND WITH GOOD

PLANNING, NEITHER OF WHICH ELEMENT THE MDC IS EXERCISING

IN ABUNDANCE OUTSIDE OF PARLIAMENT. WE DO NOT BELIEVE

THAT PUBLIC SENTIMENT IS YET AT THE POINT WHERE IT WOULD

BRING ABOUT THE DESIRED RESULT, FROM EITHER A NUMERIC OR

PASSION STANDARD. IN ADDITION, THOUGH HE AND THE PARTY

HAVE MUCH ON THEIR PLATE, TSVANGIRAI AND THE MDC’S TOP

LEADERSHIP APPEAR, AT TIMES TO US, TO BE MORE DISTRACTED

AND UNFOCUSED THAN WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE. NEVERTHELESS,

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 06459 201536Z

THE AMBASSADOR’S WORDS AND THOSE OF AF ASSISTANT

SECRETARY RICE AND AF/S DIRECTOR RENDER URGING CAUTION,

 

SIPDIS

GIVEN THAT THEY ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE (AND LIVES), SEEM

TO HAVE HAD SOME EFFECT. END COMMENT.

 

MCDONALD

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

>

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