The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front on 9 May 2002 requested the suspension of talks with the Movement for Democratic Change citing as one of the reasons the MDC’s challenge of the presidential elections which President Robert Mugabe had won in March.
The leader of the ZANU-PF negotiating team Patrick Chinamasa said his party believed that because of the legal challenge, “the judicial process must be allowed to run its course”.
He said that the talks should not resume until final resolution of the court case.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s special advisor Gandi Mudzingwa said the MDC would not press the ruling party to participate in talks, but would likely state publicly that its door was always open for negotiations should ZANU-PF wish to engage.
Viewing cable 02HARARE1136, ZANU-PF REQUESTS SUSPENSION OF PARTY TALKS
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 HARARE 001136
NSC FOR SENIOR AF DIRECTOR FRAZER
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR NEARY
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2012
SUBJECT: ZANU-PF REQUESTS SUSPENSION OF PARTY TALKS
REF: A) HARARE 913 B) HARARE 907 C) HARARE 898 AND
Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington.
Reasons: 1.5 (B) and (D).
¶1. (U) ZANU-PF has requested suspension of the talks with
the opposition MDC. In a letter dated May 9 (faxed to AF/S)
to the Nigerian and South African facilitators, the leader of
the ruling party’s negotiating team — Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa — cited several reasons for the request.
First and foremost, the MDC had filed a legal challenge of
the presidential election results. ZANU-PF believed “the
judicial process must be allowed to run its course” and that
the talks should not resume until final resolution of the
court case. Chinamasa also accused the MDC of acting in bad
faith by placing “inflammatory newspaper adverts about the
ongoing talks and planting false stories in the media
alleging ZANU-PF violence.” Of course, no Chinamasa
rhetorical flourish would be complete without a finger of
blame pointed at the United Kingdom. In an apparent
reference to an anodyne comment by the British High
Commissioner expressing his support for the inter-party
talks, Chinamasa wrote “it is not in the interest of the
Dialogue for the MDC to use the British Government as a
divisive imperial voice in a dialogue that is supposed to be
among Zimbabweans for Zimbabweans and their country.”
¶2. (C) A South African diplomat told us that the
facilitators — Kgalema Motlanthe and Adebayo Adedeji — had
not yet arrived in Zimbabwe for next week’s round of talks.
However, the letters would be conveyed to them, and he
suspected they would consult with their respective bosses —
Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo — to agree on an appropriate
¶3. (C) Gandi Mudzingwa, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s
special advisor and a member of the party’s negotiating team,
was convoked by the South African and Nigerian High
Commissioners the morning of May 10, after the
state-controlled “The Herald” carried a front-page story
titled “Interparty Talks Shelved.” They told Mudzingwa that
they had received Chinamasa’s letter but had not read it (a
puzzling assertion since we got our copy of the letter from a
South African diplomat) and forwarded it to Motlanthe and
Adedeji. In the absence of any further official
communication, the MDC should assume that the facilitators
will arrive as scheduled on May 12 and that the talks will
begin as planned on May 13. Mudzingwa told us the MDC would
not press the ruling party to participate in talks, but would
likely state publicly that its door is always open for
negotiations, should ZANU-PF wish to engage.
¶4. (C) Comment: ZANU-PF was never enthusiastic about
participating in these talks, and has clearly seized on the
MDC’s legal challenge as a pretext — along with other flimsy
excuses — for withdrawing. The ruling party was not
interested in discussing the legitimacy of Mugabe’s election
victory, and the suspension request suggests a fear it might
be forced to make unwanted concessions. ZANU-PF’s move will
certainly not strengthen the party’s standing with Presidents
Mbeki and Obasanjo, who have devoted significant personal
attention to Zimbabwe’s crisis. It will be interesting to
see whether the facilitators merely concur with Chinamasa’s
request, or whether they push back. For its part, the MDC,
which expected little from this forum, can now claim the high
moral ground and assume the mantle of magnanimity.