Talks between the Movement for Democratic Change and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front broke down in 2004 because of divisions within the MDC which left ZANU-PF with no one to negotiate with.
This was said by Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao who added that the MDC had splintered into three groups: trade unions, farmers (who now realised that there could be no going back on land seizures) and intellectuals.
He said that the talks had been stymied because these three could not agree on a common platform.
Simao said that Tsvangirai as an articulate leader with clear ideas but those around him were now questioning his authority.
Simao also said that despite the threats, the MDC was not boycotting the 2005 elections but it was not contesting any by-elections because of repeated losses.
Viewing cable 04MAPUTO1520, MOZAMBIQUE – FM SIMAO ON MUGABE AND ZIMBABWE’S
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 MAPUTO 001520
DEPT FOR AF/S – HERB TREGER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/22/2014
SUBJECT: MOZAMBIQUE – FM SIMAO ON MUGABE AND ZIMBABWE’S
2005 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
REF: STATE 242995
Classified By: Ambassador Helen La Lime for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (C) Summary: Foreign Minister Simao told the Ambassador
that he believes the Zimbabwean opposition party Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) will participate in the March
parliamentary elections. However, the MDC is growing weaker,
several factions have emerged and some are questioning Morgan
Tsvangirai’s leadership. He disagreed that Zimbabwe remains
stagnant in economic crisis; instead, “things are getting
better.” In any case, peace and stability are more important
than democracy at this time for Zimbabwe — a theme he
repeated several times during the meeting. End summary.
¶2. (C) On November 18 the Ambassador delivered reftel
demarche on March 2005 parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe to
Foreign Minister Simao. (Note: A request to meet with
President Chissano on this topic is pending. end note.) The
Ambassador outlined for Simao our view of Zimbabwe’s
difficult circumstances, including reduced trade with the
region and the consequent negative impact on the Beira
corridor and Mozambique’s economy as a whole. She stressed
that upcoming parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe, should
they follow SADC guidelines, would moderate the country’s
political climate, improve stability, and thereby return the
country to a path of prosperity. Mozambique has an important
role to play in encouraging Zimbabwe’s leadership to make the
March elections free and fair, she told Simao.
¶3. (C) FM Simao responded by characterizing the USG view of
Zimbabwe as “highly pessimistic.” Instead, “things are
getting better,” he insisted. There has not been much
violence lately. Inflation, which used to run as high as 600
percent per year, is now down to 200 percent. Food shortages
have been overcome and food production has begun to rebound.
As evidence, he pointed out that the Zimbabwean government
not long ago told the World Food Program (WFP) to cease food
deliveries. (Comment: In fact, we understand that in the
last several days the Zimbabwean has asked the WFP for more
food aid. End comment.) The Zimbabweans are paying for
electricity deliveries from Cahora Bassa dam in a timely,
¶4. (C) He told the Ambassador that discussions between the
MDC and ZANU-PF have broken down in the past several months
because dissension has fractured the MDC and there is no
longer anyone with whom the government can negotiate who
represents the party as a whole. According to Simao, the MDC
has splintered into three groups: trade unions, farmers (who
now realize that there can be no going back on land seizures)
and intellectuals. Talks have been stymied because these
three “cannot agree on a common platform.” He said that he
recently spoke with the Zimbabwean Minister of Justice, who
told him that the government decided there was no value to
continuing talks with MDC negotiators who do not represent
the party. Describing Tsivangirai as an articulate leader
with clear ideas, nevertheless he has heard that some of
those around Tsivangirai are now questioning his authority.
¶5. (C) Still, Simao believes that the MDC will not boycott
the March parliamentary elections. Tsivangirai assured
several others in the Mozambican government earlier that the
MDC would take part, he reported. However, the MDC would no
longer contest by-elections because of recent repeated
losses. The parliamentary elections will by no means be
perfect, Simao repeated several times, but in his view they
will be much better than the last ones. SADC will send
¶6. (C) Throughout the hour-long meeting Simao returned again
and again to stress that the Zimbabwe government must not be
“pushed” to improve its behavior and, more generally, that
peace and stability are “most important.” “Three years ago
Zimbabwe was on the brink of war,” he said. And if war had
come, there would have been no respect for democracy, nor
human rights, and many would have been killed. “We are not
pushing,” he admitted. Instead, rather than risk creating
enemies of its neighbors, such as happened in the case of
Malawi during the civil war, at times of strain it is better
to treat one’s neighbors “with understanding.” Some foreign
NGO’s are doing “more than they should,” are interfering,
something that occurs in Mozambique too, he added. The cost
of democracy must not be chaos, reforms must not break
society. Democratic change must be gradual, in 5-10 year
timeframes. “We are not in the Olympic games.”
¶7. (C) Comment: Though the discussion focused on Zimbabwe,
Simao clearly was thinking of Mozambique as well.