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Why Mugabe went ahead with the presidential elections runoff in 2008

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front went ahead with the presidential elections runoff despite the pulling out of the Movement for Democratic Change because it wanted to negotiate with the MDC from a position of strength.

And the talks began three days after the elections, with MDC secretary general Tendai Biti, who was released a day before the polls joining the negotiations, according to a cable released by Wikileaks.

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGhee said ZANU-PF was quite aware that the MDC had leverage because it could refuse to join the talks and was quite aware that ZANU-PF could not deal with the country’s myriad problems.

The secretary general of the smaller faction of the MDC, Welshman Ncube, said prior to the elections the three parties were looking at four possible scenarios:

  • The 1980 model with a ceremonial president and executive prime minister. The MDC favoured this option with Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister;
  • Mugabe continuing as president with Tsvangirai as vice president. This was favoured by ZANU-PF;
  • The Kenyan model with an executive president and executive prime minister;
  • A transitional authority to take effect before the June 27 election.

Ncube said it was possible that because of the elections they might have to start from square one because MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was willing to accept Mugabe as a ceremonial president, but wanted the real power for himself.

Mugabe, on the other hand, wanted ZANU-PF to maintain power with a junior role for the MDC –and perhaps no role for Tsvangirai.

Ncube thought one possible compromise could be the Kenyan model with Mugabe and Tsvangirai sharing power.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE582, HARARE: WELSHMAN NCUBE ON SADC NEGOTIATIONS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE582

2008-07-02 13:53

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO8231

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0582/01 1841353

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 021353Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3121

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2108

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2228

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0766

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1505

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1863

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2284

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4715

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1374

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000582

 

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: 07/02/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: HARARE: WELSHMAN NCUBE ON SADC NEGOTIATIONS

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

1. (C) Welshman Ncube briefed PolEcon chief July 2 on SADC

negotiations, Tendai Biti, and the state of violence in

Zimbabwe.

 

—————-

SADC Negotiations

—————–

 

2. (C) PolEcon Chief met with Ncube immediately after a

meeting he had had with South African negotiators Mufamadi

and Gumbi. According to Ncube, Zimbabwean president Mugabe

and ZANU-PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa told Mbeki at the

African Union summit in Sharm El Sheikh that they would

return MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti’s passport so that

he could travel to South Africa as early as July 3 for

SADC-sponsored negotiations. Ncube said negotiators would be

Nicholas Goche and Chinamasa representing ZANU-PF, Biti and

Elton Mangoma representing the MDC Tsvangirai faction

(MDC-T), and Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga for

the MDC Mutambara (MDC-M) faction.

 

3. (C) Ncube said that before the June 27 election, then

negotiators Goche, Chinamasa, Biti, and Mangoma had agreed to

a negotiating framework which contained four options for

discussion:

 

–The 1980 model with a ceremonial president and executive

prime minister. The MDC favored this option with Morgan

Tsvangirai as prime minister;

–Mugabe continuing as president with Tsvangirai as vice

president. This was favored by ZANU-PF;

–The Kenyan model with an executive president and executive

prime minister;

–A transitional authority to take effect before the June 27

election.

 

4. (C) Negotiations ended with the arrest of Biti on June

12. Nevertheless, Tsvangirai subsequently spoke to Mbeki and

agreed to the 1980 model. Mbeki presented Tsvangirai’s

position to Mugabe, according to Ncube, but Mugabe avoided

further contact with the South Africans before the June 27

election and did not respond. According to Ncube, the South

Africans were not advocating the 1980 model or any other

formulation, but rather acting as messengers.

 

5. (C) Ncube said that he, Biti, and Goche had met on June

30 to discuss further negotiations. They agreed that, since

the election had taken place, negotiations would begin from

“square zero,” although Ncube said it was likely the four

options described in paragraph 3 would be on the table.

 

6. (C) Ncube said Mbeki would conduct the negotiations. He

said there was no interest at this time on the part of the

AU, SADC, or individual African leaders in becoming involved

in the process. (NOTE: In a diplomatic and press briefing

today (Septel), Tsvangirai said the MDC would not proceed

with negotiations absent an AU mediator to complement Mbeki.

END NOTE.)

 

7. (C) Ncube expressed pessimism about a successful outcome

to the negotiations. Tsvangirai was willing to accept Mugabe

as a ceremonial president, but wanted the real power for

himself; Mugabe’s initial negotiating position was for

ZANU-PF to maintain power with a junior role for the MDC —

and perhaps no role for Tsvangirai. Ncube thought one

possible compromise could be the Kenyan model with Mugabe and

Tsvangirai sharing power. This would require compromises,

however, which neither of the two had demonstrated a

willingness to make.

 

 

HARARE 00000582 002 OF 002

 

 

————–

A Note on Biti

————–

 

8. (C) Ncube said Biti had emerged from jail bitter and

angry, particularly toward Chinamasa. He thought that Mugabe

had blamed the results of the March 29 elections on Chinamasa

and Goche because their negotiations with the MDC had opened

up the electoral process. Ncube opined that Chinamasa, stung

by Mugabe, had decided to make an example of Biti by allowing

him to be arrested and collaborating in his interrogation.

On the other hand, said Ncube, Goche had tried to help Biti.

 

———————-

Trajectory of Violence

———————-

 

9. (C) According to Ncube, violence had subsided since the

June 27 election. The process of dismantling many of the

ZANU-PF “reeducation” camps was continuing.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (C) ZANU-PF stole the election in order to, inter alia,

be able to negotiate with the MDC from a position of

strength. The MDC does, however, have leverage. It can

simply refuse to participate in a government with ZANU-PF,

and leave it to ZANU-PF to deal with Zimbabwe’s myriad

problems. This might eventually force ZANU-PF to deal

realistically with the opposition. ZANU-PF knows, despite

its apparent state of denial, that at the end of the day it

needs MDC support and western engagement to fix the economy.

 

11. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: Violence does seem to have

subsided, particularly since the pre-election peak. We have

received some reports that police in urban areas are rounding

up the ZANU-PF renegade youth responsible for attacks on the

opposition. Nevertheless, we also continue to receive

reports of assaults and deaths from around the country. We

will continue to track and assess the situation. END COMMENT.

 

McGee

(20 VIEWS)

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