The Deputy Minister of Justice Obert Gutu said the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change Morgan Tsvangirai was humble and tolerant, not vindictive like Robert Mugabe. These qualities in large part accounted for his widespread popularity.
However, he added, that Tsvangirai was indecisive and inconsistent. Gutu pointed out that a couple of weeks before his conversation with United States embassy officials Tsvangirai had said that Zimbabwe would not be ready for elections in the near-term because of the residue of 2008 election violence and the inadequacy of institutions. But at Davos the week before, Tsvangirai said he would press for elections in 2011.
Gutu said Tsvangirai had a tendency to listen to the wrong people. He pointed to Ian Makone, Tsvangirai’s chief of staff, and Makone’s wife, Theresa, who at the time was Minister of Public Works. He opined that neither was a good strategist, and that the Office of the Prime Minister was weak due to Ian Makone’s lack of leadership.
Viewing cable 10HARARE67, AN MDC SENATORS’S VIEW OF TSVANGIRAI AND THE MDC
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000067
AF/S FOR BRIAN WALCH
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/02/2020
SUBJECT: AN MDC SENATORS’S VIEW OF TSVANGIRAI AND THE MDC
Classified By: AMBASSADOR CHARLES A. RAY FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (C) MDC Senator Obert Gutu shared his views January 30 on
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC-T, and the current
political situation. Gutu knows Tsvangirai, Minister of
Finance Tendai Biti, and other top MDC-T officials well, but
he is not an MDC-T insider. He is from Masvingo. His
constituency in the Senate covers approximately the same
Harare areas as does Biti’s in the House of Assembly.
¶2. (C) Asked about Tsvangirai’s qualities as a leader, Gutu
said the prime minister was humble and tolerant, not
vindictive like Robert Mugabe. These qualities in large part
accounted for his widespread popularity. On the negative
side, he was indecisive and inconsistent. Gutu pointed out
that a couple of weeks ago, Tsvangirai had said Zimbabwe
would not be ready for elections in the near-term because of
the residue of 2008 election violence and the inadequacy of
institutions. But at Davos last week, Tsvangirai said he
would press for elections in 2011. Gutu also stated that
Tsvangirai had a tendency to listen to the wrong people. He
pointed to Ian Makone, Tsvangirai’s chief of staff, and
Makone’s wife, Theresa, who is the Minister of Public Works.
He opined that neither was a good strategist, and that the
Office of the Prime Minister was weak due to Ian Makone’s
lack of leadership.
¶3. (C) We asked Gutu why the MDC-T had not taken a strong
public stance on the Marange diamond fields where it appears
ZANU-PF insiders are illegally profiting. Gutu said the
situation was troubling, but he was not part of MDC-T
strategy on the issue. He said MDC-T parliamentarians were
furious when MDC-T Deputy Minister of Mines Murisi Zwizwai,
at Kimberley Process meetings in Namibia, denied violence at
Marange and had demanded his dismissal. Tsvangirai,
according to Gutu, promised to speak with Zwizwai and the
matter was dropped. Gutu noted that Zwizwai and Tsvangirai
are cousins and said this was another example of friendship
getting in the way of governing.
¶4. (C) MDC-T as a party, according to Gutu, is weak. Its
most capable leaders are in government, and the party has
been neglected. Many experienced MDC-T members declined to
run for Parliament in the March 2008 elections fearing that
their candidacies would be futile and perhaps dangerous.
Those who ended up running and winning in many cases were
inexperienced and unqualified.
¶5. (C) Gutu said he was aware of allegations of corruption
within the MDC-T. He had no knowledge of corrupt ministers,
but said local councils were a concern. Many councilors had
been elected for the first time in March 2008 and were trying
to help themselves to the spoils of office.
¶6. (C) With regard to the constitutional process, Gutu said
that local traditional chiefs had been co-opted by ZANU-PF
and were using food distribution and agricultural inputs to
secure support for ZANU-PF positions when parliamentary
outreach teams visit their areas. He said the World Food
Qoutreach teams visit their areas. He said the World Food
Program and other donor organizations had made food
distributions in December. But people were still hungry and
ZANU-PF had food and agricultural inputs such as fertilizer
to entice them to meetings to secure their support in the
constitutional process. Gutu speculated ZANU-PF had obtained
money for food and inputs from the sale of Marange diamonds.
¶7. (C) Gutu said there were divisions within the MDC-T on
whether to push for early elections. Some of the leadership
was frustrated with progress on the Global Political
Agreement and wanted an early election strategy. But many
MPs, elected for the first time, were reluctant to stand for
reelection before necessary. Gutu said he was concerned
about early elections since the ZANU-PF machinery of violence
was in place and could be turned on at any time.
COMMENT and BIO NOTE
¶8. (C) Gutu’s comments about the MDC-T ring true; he perhaps
feels free to make them as he is not an MDC-T insider. Gutu
is a successful lawyer (University of Zimbabwe law school)
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who first entered politics when he ran for Senate in March
¶2008. He 47 years old and is married with four daughters.
The eldest graduated from Florida International University
last year. One is a university student in Brisbane, one is
studying in Cape Town, and the youngest is in high school in
Harare. END COMMENT AND BIO NOTE.