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Why Mugabe did not want to talk to Tsvangirai

President Robert Mugabe did not want to talk to Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai way back in 2003 for three major reasons.

The first was his legitimacy, the second the MDC challenge of the March 2002 presidential elections and the third the MDC’s alleged status as a puppet of the West.

Mugabe told this to three bishops from Manicaland, Trevor Manhanga, Sebastian Bakare and Patrick Mutume, who were trying to broker talks between the two parties.

 

Full cable:

 

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE1532, BISHOPS MEET MUGABE AND TSVANGIRAI SEPARATELY IN

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1532

2003-07-29 14:40

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 SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001532

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013

TAGS: PGOV PINR ZI

SUBJECT: BISHOPS MEET MUGABE AND TSVANGIRAI SEPARATELY IN

BID TO RESTART NEGOTIATIONS

 

REF: HARARE 801

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

Summary:

——–

 

1. (C) Three prominent Bishops from Manicaland, all

affiliated with the Zimbabwe Council of Chufches (ZCC), met

with President Mugabe and MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai

recently in an attempt to restart failed talks between the

ruling and opposition parties. Mugabe raised a few issues he

said were causing the impasse – mostly dealing with

recognizing his legitimacy. By indirect reply, Tsvangirai

said the MDC would not bring up the issue of legitimacy.

Both sides have reportedly agreed to submit letters to the

Bishops in the coming weeks outlining their positions. While

it is too early to tell whether this mediation effort will

gain traction, early signs, such as the fact that Mugabe

actually agreed to meet with the Bishops, and that he brought

along ZANU-PF moderates rather than hard-liners, are

encouraging. End Summary.

 

Bishops Meet Separately with Mugabe and Tsvangirai

——————————————— —–

 

2. (U) On July 25, a group of prominent Zimbabwean Bishops

met with President Mugabe and a few of his key advisors at

State House at the request of the Bishops to discuss

mediation with the MDC and resolving the country’s various

crises. The Bishops included the President of the

Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) Bishop Trevor

Manhanga, the President of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches

(ZCC) Bishop Sebastian Bakare, and the President of the

Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) Bishop Patrick

Mutume. The Secretary General of ZCC also attended as note

taker. The GOZ team consisted of President Mugabe,

Vice-President Joseph Msika, ZANU-PF Spokesperson Nathan

Shamuyarira, Chairman of ZANU-PF John Nkomo, and Cabinet

Secretary Willard Chiwewe. On July 28, the Bishops also met

 

SIPDIS

with MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai, MDC Secretary General

Welshman Ncube, MDC Deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire

and MDC Chairperson Isaac Matongo.

 

Manhanga Explains Bishops’ Approach

———————————–

 

3. (C) On July 28, AIDoff met with Manhanga, who has been

appointed spokesperson for the group. Manhanga said the

Bishops explained to Mugabe they were concerned about

political polarization in the country, noting that since

Zimbabwe successfully championed reconciliation in South

Africa and Namibia, reconciliation could happen at home.

 

Mugabe’s Issues

—————

 

4. (C) According to Manhanga, Mugabe said the main issues in

the impasse were a) his presidential legitimacy, b) the MDC’s

court challenge of the March 2002 presidential elections, and

c) the MDC’s alleged status as a puppet of the West. The

Bishops responded that these issues should not stop the

resumption of negotiations. Manhanga said the GOZ officials

were open about the fact that sanctions were hurting them.

The Bishops asked Mugabe for approval of a reinvigorated

reconciliation/negotiation process, to which Mugabe responded

that they (the Bishops) had a right to do this, and did not

need his approval. The Bishops asked for a letter to them

outlining ZANU-PF’s position; Nkomo was appointed to prepare

that when he returns from Tunisia on August 6.

 

Tsvangirai’s Willingness

 

SIPDIS

————————

 

5. (C) Manhanga said that the MDC had informed the Bishops

that MDC planned to go ahead with its election challenge,

currently scheduled for November 3. If negotiations made

good progress, however, there might not be a need to proceed

with the challenge. The MDC agreed not raise the issue of

legitimacy and was also agreeable to drafting a letter

outlining their position, which they said would be ready for

the Bishops during the week of August 4.

 

Next Steps

———-

 

6. (C) Manhanga reported that both sides said they favored a

“homegrown” process, rather than one spearheaded from outside

Zimbabwe. He said when the Bishops have both letters in

hand, they would announce a resumption of formal dialogue.

The Bishops also plan to meet with the South African High

Commissioner Jeremiah Ndou and Director-General in the South

Africa Presidency, Rev. Frank Chikane, during the next two

weeks. The Bishops would like South Africa to issue a public

statement supporting their initiative. Manhanga said the

Bishops view South Africa as a regional policeman, albeit

with a weak interest in Zimbabwe. They believe that U.S.

support would be critical to keep South Africa “honest”.

 

7. (U) In a strongly worded July 23 public statement, the ZCC

asked for forgiveness, saying they have prayed when in fact

action was required to prevent violence, rape, intimidation,

harassment, torture, and starvation of their flock. EFZ and

ZCBC also issued a joint statement during the same week

urging Christians to pray for a resumption of dialogue

between the ruling and opposition parties.

 

Comment:

——–

 

8. (C) There have been many false starts to negotiations over

the past four years, and it is too early to predict whether

this initiative will gain traction. On several occasions in

the past Mugabe has agreed to talk, then backed away, walked

out, or failed to follow through with the minimal steps

needed to meet the opposition face to face. That the Bishops

finally met with Mugabe face to face is encouraging. Even

more encouraging is the fact that the other ZANU-PF officials

present are from the more reasonable elements of the party —

hard-liners like Jonathan Moyo, Joseph Made, and Patrick

Chinamasa, who would certainly attempt to sabotage any

dialogue, were left out. For its part, the MDC has

consistently indicated its willingness to negotiate, even

after previous initiatives were scuttled, and again is

willing to engage in this process. The issue now is whether

process will ultimately give way to substance and some

formula to break the current impasse. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

(35 VIEWS)

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