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ZANU-PF became anti-democratic after formation of MDC

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front had become anti-democratic after the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change reversing the internal democratic processes it had started.

This was the view of MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube when he and party leader Morgan Tsvangirai briefed United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan on their treason trial, talks with ZANU-PF and intra-party violence.

Ncube said he did not expect any progress in the talks with ZANU-PF until the party had resolved the succession of President Robert Mugabe.

He said he did not expect any major changes at the party’s annual conference in December arguing that the intra-party process underway now was quite different from the one in 2000 that yielded John Nkomo’s surprise victory over Emmerson Mnangagwa in the race for party chairmanship.

He said that at that time the party was relatively unchallenged and consciously was trying to develop internal democratic processes. Soon afterward, the party had reversed course and regressed back into a rigid, centrally directed command structure.

The pressure wrought by economic collapse and political crisis only reinforced an unhealthy anti-democratic posture. Honest debate within the party was virtually impossible.

Ncube said ZANU-PF’s strategy would likely continue to be to hurt the MDC on a sustained basis in an effort to force the party to accept whatever ZANU-PF was willing to put on the table, that is, a junior role in a government of national unity.

Ncube told the ambassador that he was having secret talks with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa but they had yielded very little.

Though Mugabe was the final decider, he gave sway to an increasingly isolated minority that included Chinamasa, Information Minister Jonathon Moyo, and Minister For National Security Nicholas Goche.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE2123, MDC LEADERSHIP ON COURT CASES, TALKS, VIOLENCE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE2123

2003-10-24 10:05

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 03 HARARE 002123

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. DELISI AND M. RAYNOR

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2013

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC LEADERSHIP ON COURT CASES, TALKS, VIOLENCE

 

REF: (A) HARARE 2105 (B) HARARE 2094

 

Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5(b)(d)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and

Secretary General Welshman Ncube on October 23 confirmed to

 

SIPDIS

the Ambassador that court consideration of the party’s

election petition would commence November 3 and that

Tsvangirai’s treason trial would be postponed until next

 

SIPDIS

year. The parties had not made any progress toward talks and

Ncube’s secret constitutional discussions with Justice

Minister Chinamasa were deadlocked on key transitional

issues. The South African High Commissioner had indicated to

Tsvangirai that President Mbeki was interested in visiting

 

SIPDIS

Harare within the next two weeks in hopes of stimulating

movement by ZANU-PF. The MDC intended to maintain the

party’s non-violent approach but strong local party chapters

could respond to ZANU-PF-instigated violence with force

themselves instead of turning to ineffective police. The

leadership’s comments on MDC problems in the administration

of Harare’s city council are reported septel. END SUMMARY.

 

Court Cases

———–

 

2. (C) At a lunch at the Residence October 23, Tsvangirai

and Ncube advised Ambassador Sullivan that Tsvangirai would

accede to the High Court’s request that the treason trial’s

commencement once again be delayed, this time until next

year. Its latest starting date had been October 27, and it

remais possible that the Court could dispose of the

prosecution’s application to amend its pleadings (a technical

motion unlikely to affect the case’s outcome) before the

Court adjourned for the year in November.

 

3. (C) Tsvangirai confirmed that the MDC’s challenge of the

presidential election results was slated to begin November 3.

A first phase would address legal issues revolving around

the constitutionality of the Electoral Act and the Election

Supervisory Commission. If the court found for the MDC on

the first phase, a new election would have to be held. If

not, proceedings would move to a second phase in which the

court would examine alleged abuses associated with the

election, and rule whether they fatally flawed the election

result. A finding for the MDC on the second phase would

require a new election. The first phase was expected to last

a week but it was unclear how quickly the court would rule on

it or, if it found against the MDC, how long the second phase

would take.

 

4. (C) Ncube reported that the three MDC youths shot in the

Harvest House episode October 18 (ref B) had been transferred

from the hospital to the jail, where they faced potential

unspecified charges. (NOTE: A press report had a police

sources earlier indicating they could face attempted murder

charges. END NOTE) However, police officials told Ncube

recently that senior police levels had ordered a full

investigation of the Harvest House incident, complete with

forensic tests on Chihota’s confiscated weapon, and they

expected to arrest Chihota within the next few days.

Elaborating on Chihota, Ncube said his lease in Harvest House

predated the MDC’s acquisition (through an affiliate) of the

building. He claimed to be a lawyer but Ncube had never seen

evidence of such status. The only time he remembered meeting

Chihota when Chihota approached him at a Harare hotel six

weeks ago and acted like they knew each other. He speculated

that Chihota was mentally disturbed but said nothing about

his possible affiliation with security officials, as alleged

by MDC Harare Chairman Morgan Femai.

 

No Progress on Talks

——————–

 

5. (C) Tsvangirai indicated that the parties were no closer

to recommencing talks. Contacts were being made only “on the

periphery,” and ZANU-PF had not responded to overtures from

Tsvangirai and the bishops to engineer a face-to-face meeting

 

SIPDIS

between Tsvangirai and Mugabe. He noted that the ZANU-PF had

raised the possibility of a national consultative forum that

would bring all political parties and broad elements from

civil society to address a full range of political, economic,

and social problems comprehensively (an idea ZANU-PF Chairman

John Nkomo earlier floated by the Ambassador). This was

unacceptable to the MDC because it avoided critical

ZANU-PF/MDC engagement on resolving the political crisis.

 

6. (C) Ncube reported that his secret consititional talks

with Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa continued but seemed

at a deadlock over key transitional issues. At their most

recent meeting on October 16, little meaningful agreement was

reached on four key issues. On election timing under the

instrument’s transitional provisions, MDC had tried to bridge

differences with a proposal to conduct the election between

September 2004 and July 2005, at date to be determined by the

Independent Electoral Commission. ZANU-PF’s response —

elections in 2006 — represented a regression. Regarding MDC

demands for the reopening of The Daily News, ZANU-PF doggedly

insisted that the paper’s status was not a political issue

for discussion and was appropriately left to the courts,

which Ncube affirmed it was not, since the ZANU-PF-controlled

Government intended to use every means to keep The Daily News

shut. As for MDC’s call for the disbanding of the National

Service/militias, ZANU-PF urged that the parties instead

discuss reforming the system by revising curriculum, assuring

more open enrollment, etc. The parties had reached tentative

agreement on the need to revise POSA and AIPPA. Ncube would

draft essential amendments for ZANU-PF consideration but

feared that meaningful agreement may yet prove elusive.

Ncube was scheduled to meet Chinamasa again on October 28.

 

7. (C) Tsvangirai and Ncube elaborated on the continuing

impact of ZANU-PF’s succession crisis as a constraint on

talks. A majority within ZANU-PF, even among the highest

levels, supported inter-party talks. Nonetheless, Mugabe’s

posture continued to be decisive, and he gave sway to an

increasingly isolated minority that included Chinamasa,

Information Minister Jonathon Moyo, and Minister For National

Security Nicholas Goche. This minority lacked a base in the

party. The factions were completely absorbed in trying to

checkmate each other’s influence and battling over credit in

the public’s eye and, most significantly, the boss’s. Such

dynamics prevented the party from reaching a decision to move

forward on talks. Indeed, Presidency Minister John Nkomo

some weeks ago had prepared a Mugabe-Tsvangirai meeting that

fell away because of internal ZANU-PF opposition.

 

8. (C) They said they did not expect the situation to change

until ZANU-PF resolved the Mugabe succession issue. They

dismissed prospects that intra-party elections and the

December Party Conference would likely clear obstacles to

dialogue. Ncube observed that the intra-party process

underway now was quite different from the one in 2000 that

yielded John Nkomo’s surprise victory over Emmerson Mnangagwa

in the race for party chairmanship. At that time the party

was relatively unchallenged and consciously was trying to

develop internal democratic processes. Soon afterward, the

party had reversed course and regressed back into a rigid,

centrally directed command structure; the pressure wrought by

economic collapse and political crisis only reinforced an

unhealthy anti-democratic posture. Honest debate within the

party now, much less with the outside, was virtually

impossible. As an institution, the party remained unequipped

to deal with the challenges of democracy. ZANU-PF’s strategy

would likely continue to be to hurt the MDC on a sustained

basis in an effort to force the MDC to accept whatever

ZANU-PF was willing to put on the table, i.e. a junior role

in a government of national unity.

 

9. (C) Tsvangirai reported that South African High

Commissioner Ndou advised him that President Mbeki was

interested in coming to Zimbabwe within the next two weeks in

an effort to shake things loose. He observed that Mbeki was

“learning the hard way” how far one can trust Mugabe. Ncube

contrasted Mbeki’s success with the Congo and Burundi with

his ineffectiveness on Zimbabwe. He attributed Mbeki’s

successes outside to an impartial, even-handed and principled

approach he claimed was lacking in his posture toward

Zimbabwe. Faced with Mugabe’s lies and double-crosses, Mbeki

continued to exercise absolutely none of the potential

leverage he held.

 

Inter-party Conflict

——————–

 

10. (C) Tsvangirai was unaware of the recent violence in

Redcliff (ref A) but appeared to be upset by it. He

reiterated the party’s non-violent posture and expressed

concern that MDC-initiated violence would only play into the

hands of ZANU-PF’s superior force. He assured that violence

would not be permitted to get out of hand.

 

11. (C) Ncube was familiar with the Redcliff events and

defended the MDC’s actions there. Confirming the account

related by MDC MP Malinga (ref A), Ncube said MDC youths had

retaliated against ZANU-PF officials seen as responsible for

attacks on MDC homes the night before and previously. The

party organization in Redcliff was strong and judged that it

was time to send a message to ZANU-PF that they would not

take aggression lying down, as they had in the past by simply

reporting attacks to ineffectual police. This would

hopefully make pivotal local ZANU-PF officials more reticent

to instigate violence in the future. He indicated that

strong party structures in areas like Redcliff may responsd

to force with force again in the future.

 

12. (C) Tsvangirai’s and Ncube’s comments on the MDC’s

struggles in Harare’s fractious politics are related septel.

 

Comment

——-

 

13. (C) The MDC leadership’s status report reflects a

restive political stalemate that is likely to continue into

next year. ZANU-PF remains unwilling to move forward on

talks and we see little evidence that either the December

Party Conference or a visit from Mbeki, if it transpires,

would likely shake things loose. The public’s absorption

with the increasing challenges of everyday life and the

security forces’ capacity to nip nascent demonstrations in

the bud make civil unrest an unlikely prospect at this time.

For its part, the MDC has not sought to exploit the

ever-deteriorating economic situation and provocations like

The Daily New closing and ZCTU and NCA crackdowns beyond

critical press statements. For now, the MDC must content

itself with a largely reactive posture, although it is

responding to the challenging media environment by actively

refurbishing its grassroots organization. Tsvangirai spent

the last two weeks meeting with local leaders and addressing

rallies in Masvingo, Beitbridge, Gwanda, and Mutare, the last

of which reportedly attracted 25,000.

SULLIVAN

(21 VIEWS)

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