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Was MDC split evident two years before it happened?

Signs of a split within the Movement for Democratic Change must have been evident more than two years before it happened and the split might have been engineered by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

This emerged after the release of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in June 2003 after he had been detained for two weeks on new treason charges for allegedly organising mass action to topple President Robert Mugabe.

On his release, Tsvangirai told United States embassy officials that the MDC would never be lured into ZANU-PF efforts to divide the party and to play up to a supposed moderate group led by secretary general Welshman Ncube.

Tsvangirai said that everyone recognised that the MDC derived its strength from unified positions and that anyone acting outside the party had little weight.

Ed: Two years down the line the party was split with Ncube leading the splinter faction. The reason was allegedly differences within the party over participating in the reintroduced senate elections, but it appears there was more to it.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1267, MDC LEADER TSVANGIRAI WELL AND DETERMINED TO MOVE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1267

2003-06-23 12:58

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001267

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/FO, AF/S

NSC FOR AFRICA SR DIR FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2013

TAGS: PREL PINS ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC LEADER TSVANGIRAI WELL AND DETERMINED TO MOVE

FORWARD

 

Classified By: JOSEPH G. SULLIVAN FOR REASONS 1.5B/D

 

1.(c) Tsvangirai released: The Ambassador met MDC President

Morgan Tsvangirai at his home on June 23. Except for a bad

cold, he was upbeat and determined following his June 20

release from prison after two weeks. Tsvangirai expressed

appreciation for the many messages of solidarity received and

for the public pressure for his release and for a political

solution to Zimbabwe’s crisis. Tsvangirai was stoic and

strong and determined that neither he nor the MDC would be

broken through GOZ tactics of violence, intimidation or

humiliation. He acknowledged that his family had feared for

his fate inside prison, but said that he was not mistreated

by the guards and that the prisoners were very supportive.

He suffered only as other prisoners suffered, 150 to a large

cell with poor food and inadequate cover for the cold winter

nights. Tsvangirai hopes that this second treason charge

will never be taken to court and that the first treason

charge will be dismissed shortly based on a defense motion

following the conclusion of state testimony.

 

2. (c) MDC politics: Tsvangirai said that the MDC would never

be lured into ZANU/PF efforts to divide the MDC and to play

up to a supposed moderate group led by Sec Gen Welshman

Ncube. Tsvangirai said that all recognized that the MDC

derived its strength from unified positions and that anyone

acting outside the party had little weight. The Party would

be meeting in the next week to chart the way forward, but,

while mass action was still part of MDC options, Tsvangirai

did not anticipate any such action in the near term. Nor did

he believe that pressure for violent action would grow within

the MDC.

 

3. (c) President Bush’s travel to Africa/ Need for a roadmap:

Tsvangirai was very focused on President Bush’s upcoming

 

SIPDIS

travel to Africa and anxious that Zimbabwe be raised

prominently by the US during the visit. Tsvangirai said that

what was needed was a “roadmap for resolving the political

crisis. The first and most difficult was finding a dignified

way for Mugabe to step down. A transition process was next,

although its length would depend on the shape and content of

a transition. Elections were also critical to restore

legitimacy; their timing would depend on the transition.

Tsvangirai promised to keep us informed of the status of

 

SIPDIS

negotiations efforts in anticipation of President Bush’s

visit.

 

4. (c) South African and other mediation efforts: Tsvangirai

described South African efforts to broker a solution so far

as “talks about the conditions and content of inter-party

talks. He did take some comfort in a reportedly tough

message delivered to Mugabe by Vice President Jacob Zuma

following President Mbeki’s discussions at the G-8 meetings

to the effect that South Africa could not wait indefinitely

for a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis. Tsvangirai believed

that the South Africans had belatedly accepted that the MDC

was essential to a solution and that eventual elections were

also necessary. Nonetheless, the South Africans gave

preference to stability over democracy and would most like to

see the MDC absorbed as a junior partner in a ZANU-PF

government. Tsvangirai said he would also be open to any

efforts by Father Fidelis to arrange an “ice-breaking”

meeting between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Similarly, Tsvangirai

viewed meetings between a Church delegation and senior

ZANU-PF leaders as potentially useful because of the

seniority of the ZANU delegation. However, Tsvangirai was

skeptical of apparently independent initiatives by State

Security Minister Goche seeking to talk with Welshman Ncube

during Tsvangirai’s imprisonment and by Justice Minister

Chinamassa offering Tsvangirai the Vice Presidency in a

Mnangagwa Presidency. Tsvangirai noted that President Mugabe

appeared to show no urgency in finding a solution and to

continue searching for a succession formula dominated by

ZANU-PF.

 

5.(c) Comment: ZANU-PF’s effort to take advantage of its

suppression of MDC-organized marches, its demonstrated

control of the security forces and its ability to imprison

and humiliate Tsvangirai have not succeeded. Tsvangirai has

emerged undeterred and ZANU-PF will have to recognize the

need to deal with him and the MDC in order to resolve the

national crisis.

 

SULLIVAN

(7 VIEWS)

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