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US asked if MDC was going to be swallowed by ZANU-PF like ZAPU

When the three key political parties, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change signed a memorandum of understanding to pave the way for negotiations before South African President Thabo Mbeki it appears the United States embassy’s greatest fear was that the MDC might be swallowed by ZANU-PF like it had done to the Zimbabwe African people’s Union, 20 years earlier.

This emerged after a meeting between embassy officials and the secretary general of the smaller faction of the MDC, Welshman Ncube, on 18 July 2008.

Ncube was a bit pessimistic about the pending negotiations and saw three possible outcomes:

  • Mugabe leaves government and the MDC leads a transitional government based on the March 27 elections. This is the outcome favoured by the MDC, but Ncube said the ZANU-PF succession plan is not settled and Mugabe will not leave until it is. There is presently insufficient internal opposition in ZANU-PF to force the issue.
  • Mugabe stays as a ceremonial president and the MDC assumes executive power. Both of these options are unacceptable to ZANU-PF, according to Ncube, because the military, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, and others in ZANU-PF are terrified of surrendering power, and will not willingly let go.
  • A Kenyan-style model where each party has executive power.

United States embassy officials asked Ncube whether the MDC, in the process of negotiations, could be swallowed by ZANU-PF as was ZAPU in the 1987 Unity Accord.

He argued the situation was not repeatable. In the 1980s, 20 000 to 30 000 people were killed by ZANU-PF and the world turned a blind eye.

Now, said Ncube, the situation was much less catastrophic—only about 115 people had been killed-yet the international community was watching and engaged.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE624, AN MOU, BUT LITTLE REASON FOR OPTIMISM

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE624

2008-07-21 16:18

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

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FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3202

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2165

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2284

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0816

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RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1919

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2340

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4771

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1430

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000624

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

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: 07/21/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: AN MOU, BUT LITTLE REASON FOR OPTIMISM

 

REF: HARARE 621

 

Classified By: Charge d’affaires Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: Significant buzz surrounded the signing of

an MOU today in Harare as a framework for negotiations.

Previewing the actual negotiations, however, MDC Mutambara

(MDC-M) negotiator Welshman Ncube sounded a pessimistic note

in a conversation with pol/econ chief on July 18. Echoing

MDC Tsvangirai (MDC-T) negotiator Tendai Biti (Reftel), Ncube

said the positions of the two parties were extremely

polarized. The only possible negotiating outcome, according

to Ncube, was a Kenyan-style power-sharing arrangement.

While he favored such an outcome, he doubted it would be

acceptable to MDC-T, and he acknowledged it might be too

ZANU-PF-loaded for international reengagement. End summary.

 

2. (U) South African president Thabo Mbeki, Zimbabwean

president Robert Mugabe, and MDC presidents Morgan Tsvangirai

(MDC-T) and Arthur Mutambara (MDC-M) signed an MOU

establishing a framework for negotiations today in Harare at

the Rainbow Towers Hotel. Mugabe and Tsvangirai, who

reportedly had not met since the MDC was formed in 1999,

acknowledged each other and briefly shook hands, at the

instigation of Mbeki, at the end of a press conference

following the signing.

 

3. (C) Ncube previewed possible negotiation outcome

possibilities: 1) Mugabe leaves government and the MDC leads

a transitional government based on the March 27 elections.

This is the outcome favored by the MDC, but Ncube said the

ZANU-PF succession plan is not settled and Mugabe will not

leave until it is. There is presently insufficient internal

opposition in ZANU-PF to force the issue. 2) Mugabe stays as

a ceremonial president and the MDC assumes executive power.

Both of these options are unacceptable to ZANU-PF, according

to Ncube, because the military, Reserve Bank governor Gideon

Gono, and others in ZANU-PF are terrified of surrendering

power, and will not willingly let go. 3) A Kenyan-style

model where each party has executive power.

 

4. (C) Ncube said he favored the Kenyan model because it

provided for a gradual transition to a genuinely democratic

government. He suggested it should provide for a five-year

transition period so the parties could learn to co-exist and

not be preoccupied by preparing for the next election. Ncube

said some in MDC-T might accept such an agreement, but he was

doubtful that MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai would be

amenable. He also opined that it would be anathema to the

international community–at least to the U.S. and UK, both of

which would be indispensable for rebuilding the economy.

 

5. (C) We asked Ncube whether the MDC, in the process of

negotiations, could be swallowed by ZANU-PF as was ZAPU in

the 1987 Unity Accord. He argued the situation was not

repeatable. In the 1980s, 20,000 to 30,000 people were

killed by ZANU-PF and the world turned a blind eye. Now,

said Ncube, the situation was much less catastrophic–only

about 115 people had been killed–yet the international

community was watching and engaged.

 

6. (C) Ncube said that MDC-M would negotiate as an

independent party. Given the entrenched positions of the

parties, he thought the negotiations would ultimately end in

failure. The only recourse for the MDC at that point would

be to support reconsideration of sanctions at the UN. He

feared that Russia and China would say that the negotiations

had failed because the West had imposed an unworkable

solution.

 

——-

Comment

 

HARARE 00000624 002 OF 002

 

 

——-

 

7. (C) Tsvangirai had indicated he would not sign the MOU

unless there was AU involvement. In South Africa last

weekend, an agreement was reached for Jean Ping, chair of the

AU commission, Haile Menkarios, UN assistant secretary

general for political affairs, and a SADC representative to

serve as a “reference group.” They will not be co-mediators

with Mbeki. We do not expect this to seriously affect the

negotiations; the core differences that militate against an

acceptable agreement still exist.

 

7. (C) Despite being an MDC member and an ally of Tsvangirai

until the MDC split in 2005, Ncube is viewed with suspicion

by many in Tsvangirai’s faction as being too close to

ZANU-PF. Nevertheless, he knows players across the political

spectrum, and as one of the negotiators he will have a part

in the process.

 

8. (C) We agree with Ncube (whose views track with those of

Tendai Biti as reported in Reftel) that ZANU-PF will not

willingly give up power and accept a transitional government

headed by the MDC. Neither will the MDC accept a government

headed by Mugabe. Mbeki, perhaps supported by Ncube, will

likely try to steer the negotiations toward a Kenya-style

power-sharing agreement. This would be acceptable to ZANU-PF

as long as it maintained control of the security

structures–military, police, CIO–which are largely running

the country at present. In addition to Ncube and others in

his faction, there are some in MDC-T who would accept this as

the price for achieving peace and what they hope would be a

transition to democratic elections in the future. But

Tsvangirai and Biti have both said they will not accept it.

If they stick to their guns we will be back to square one.

If give in, the MDC risks being marginalized by ZANU-PF

which, while it might nominally give up control of 50% of

government posts, will maintain an iron grip on the security

sector and the implementing instruments of civilian

administration.

Dhanani

(33 VIEWS)

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