in Stories

ZAPU full of leftover old farts

The revived Zimbabwe African People’s Union led by Dumiso Dabengwa is full of “leftover old farts” and “opportunists” so the people of Bulawayo should rally behind Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai to get rid of President Robert Mugabe.

This was the view of the director of radio Dialogue Father Nigel Johnson during a visit to the second city by United States embassy officials.

Anastacia Moyo, director of the Bulawayo Agenda, said ZAPU was nothing more than a few “disgruntled old men” who were interested in material gain from starting a new party.

She said they had few members and little support from the people.

Reason Ngwenya, the chairman of the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association said residents had expressed concerns that ZAPU may actually be a ZANU-PF creation designed to sap support for MDC-T and dismissed ZAPU as a tired relic from the past without a future.

Most of the people that talked to embassy officials said this was not the time for more factionalism and that those in opposition to ZANU-PF should get behind Morgan Tsvangirai.

Moyo said it was not yet time for another party.

Ngwenya said that it was important to have one nationwide party to have a forceful opposition to President Mugabe and ZANU-PF.

They said that perhaps once Mugabe is dead, there would be room for other political parties.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 09HARARE938, BULAWAYO’S SUPPORT FOR MDC-T GROWING; ECONOMIC

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09HARARE938

2009-12-03 13:34

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6414

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0938/01 3371334

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 031334Z DEC 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5177

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3184

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3294

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1721

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2555

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2924

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3342

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5790

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2473

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000938

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

G/TIP FOR R. YOUSEY AND J. SIGMON

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR M. GAVIN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2019

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ELAB ECON KDEM ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: BULAWAYO’S SUPPORT FOR MDC-T GROWING; ECONOMIC

HARDSHIP CONTINUES

 

Classified By: Ambassador Charles A. Ray for reasons 1.4 (d).

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) During a recent visit to Bulawayo, we met with

representatives from a number of civic organizations to take

the political and social temperature in this anti-ZANU-PF

stronghold. We were pleasantly surprised that civic groups

have experienced significantly less harassment since the

formation of the inclusive government. Tensions on the

street and in offices were noticeably less than in Harare.

Throughout our conversations, it was evident that Zimbabweans

in Ndebele-dominated western Zimbabwe remain disenchanted

with ZANU-PF, and trust neither the recently-revived ZAPU

party nor Arthur Mutambara’s MDC-M. Increasingly, residents

are developing more confidence in MDC-T, although some are

still uncertain if they can trust a party led by a Shona,

Morgan Tsvangirai. While political negotiations grind along,

residents are most concerned about economic hardship caused

by dollarization of wages, randification of prices, and

factory slowdowns that have left many without paychecks in

several months. END SUMMARY.

 

———————————-

Gukurahundi Bitterness Resulted in

Tribally-Driven Political Loyalty

———————————-

 

2. (C) During a trip to Bulawayo November 24-26, we visited

with numerous civil society leaders to discuss ongoing issues

in Matabeleland and the local perspective on national

politics. Most residents of the ethnic-Ndebele stronghold of

Bulawayo never trusted ZANU-PF or Robert Mugabe. For many,

that distrust turned into bitter hatred during the

Gukurahundi massacres in the early 1980s. (NOTE: The

Gukurahundi massacres were carried out by the notorious Fifth

Brigade of the Zimbabwean National Army, led by Air Marshal

Perence Shiri, to root out “insurgents” in 1982-1985.

Trained by the North Korean army, the Fifth Brigade killed

around 20,000 Zimbabweans, almost all Ndebele, in

Matabeleland North and South and Midlands provinces. END

NOTE.) Since the Ndebele-dominated ZAPU merged with Mugabe’s

ZANU in 1987, only to be “swallowed” by ZANU, as some say,

that distrust and hatred has been directed at ZANU-PF. We

were surprised that, 25 years after Gukurahundi, many of our

interlocutors continue to refer to it with seemingly fresh

anger and bitterness at wounds that were never healed. Apart

from the pain of the loss of loved ones, they remember that

security officials refused to allow many families to hold

memorial ceremonies for their relatives who were killed in

Gukurahundi.

 

3. (C) With the formation of the MDC in 2000, the

Ndebele-dominated provinces of Matabeleland North and South

and Bulawayo have increasingly voted for opposition

candidates. After Arthur Mutambara, Welshman Ncube, and

others (mostly Ndebele) split from MDC to form the pro-Senate

faction of the MDC (later headed by Mutambara) in 2005, many

Qfaction of the MDC (later headed by Mutambara) in 2005, many

Ndebele supported the faction, largely on ethnic lines. In

the March 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections, most

voters supported Tsvangirai and MDC-Tsvangirai parliamentary

candidates, although a number of MDC-Mutambara parliamentary

candidates were elected. The Mutambara faction did not field

a presidential candidate, and Simba Makoni, supported for

president by the Mutambara faction, officially received 8

percent of the vote. Mugabe and ZANU-PF candidates received

a relatively small percentage of the vote. One political

analyst at the NGO Radio Dialogue, described this as evidence

 

HARARE 00000938 002 OF 003

 

 

that people in rural areas of Matabeleland will vote for

“anyone” other than Robert Mugabe.

 

——————————–

Consolidate Behind Tsvangirai to

“Get Rid of the Old Man”

——————————–

 

4. (C) When we asked about support for Dumiso Dabengwa’s

revived ZAPU party, formed by a handful of original ZAPU

leaders who broke away from ZANU-PF earlier this year, some

laughed, some sighed, and none had anything nice to say about

ZAPU’s political future. Anastacia Moyo, director of the

influential NGO Bulawayo Agenda, said ZAPU was nothing more

than a few “disgruntled old men” who were interested in

material gain from starting a new party. She said they have

few members and little support from the people. The director

of Radio Dialogue, Father Nigel Johnson, described ZAPU’s

leadership as “leftover old farts” and “opportunists.”

Reason Ngwenya, the chairman of the Bulawayo Progressive

Residents Association (BPRA), said residents in their monthly

meetings in Bulawayo’s 29 different wards have expressed

concerns that ZAPU may actually be a ZANU-PF creation

designed to sap support for MDC-T. All dismissed ZAPU as a

tired relic from the past without a future.

 

5. (C) Turning the discussion to Deputy Prime Minister Arthur

Mutambara and his faction, civic leaders had even fewer kind

words. Ngwenya predicted that Mutambara’s faction won’t even

maintain its current 10 seats in parliament in the next

election. He and others questioned why MDC-M cabinet

officials had been appointed after losing their parliamentary

elections (for example, Minister for Regional Trade and

Integration Priscilla Mishairabwi-Mushonga and Minister of

Industry and Commerce Welshman Ncube). When Mutambara

ejected four popular MPs from the party earlier this year,

reportedly for voting with MDC-T, many in Matabeleland

questioned Mutambara’s motives and came to believe that

perhaps Mutambara was secretly supportive of ZANU-PF. Moyo

told us that people distrusted Mutambara because he ran his

party without consulting his members, citing the ejected MPs

as evidence of his ‘dictatorial’ behavior. All agreed the

ejected MPs would likely win their seats when they run as

independent candidates — if and when a by-election is held.

 

6. (C) In commenting on ZAPU and MDC-M, most argued that now

is not the time for more factionalism and that those in

opposition to ZANU-PF should get behind Morgan Tsvangirai.

Moyo told us that it’s not yet time for another party.

Ngwenya agreed and said that it is important to have one

nationwide party to have a forceful opposition to President

Mugabe and ZANU-PF. They opined that perhaps once Mugabe is

dead, there would be room for other political parties.

 

———————-

Calm Prevails Over the

Peaceful, Clean City

———————-

 

7. (C) In stark contrast to many political civic groups in

Q7. (C) In stark contrast to many political civic groups in

Harare, no one in Bulawayo provided us with special

instructions for visiting their offices (e.g. one NGO in

Harare asks us to not park an embassy vehicle in front of its

building when we visit), and few had the tight security

typical of controversial civics in Harare. In general, a

peaceful calm seemed to prevail in our meetings and on the

streets. We didn’t see any police roadblocks in town or much

of a security presence at all, a pleasant contrast from

Harare. Bulawayans are proud of their city and have

maintained significant control over it. Importantly,

 

HARARE 00000938 003 OF 003

 

 

Bulawayo never ceded control of its water supply to the

national parastatal, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority

(ZINWA). Consequently, the decay and neglect that ZINWA

wreaked on other cities’ water supply did not affect

Bulawayo. Although Bulawayo still has water problems (the

pumping capacity from the reservoir is inadequate for

demand), residents have more reliable water supplies than in

Harare and they are more willing to pay their bills. BPRA

officials told us that residents often negotiate payment

plans for their water if they can’t pay the full bill, an

arrangement officials take great pains to accommodate. In

contrast, hundreds of residents in Harare have had their

water unceremoniously cut off for lack of payment.

 

————————–

Under Blanket of Calm,

Economic Hardship Prevails

————————–

 

8. (SBU) Given Bulawayo’s proximity to and close economic

ties with South Africa, it is not surprising that the South

African rand is widely accepted currency. However, some

accuse local businesses of manipulating the exchange rate to

boost profits, eroding the purchasing power of salaries paid

in U.S. dollars. Percy Mcijo, the regional director of the

national labor organization the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade

Unions (ZCTU), told us that local shops price goods in rand

and then charge customers in U.S. dollars based on a sliding

exchange rate. In our encounters around town, we saw

exchange rates that varied between 5 and 10 rand to the

dollar, with most charging 7.5 rand for one U.S. dollar,

which is about right.

 

9. (SBU) Despite Bulawayo’s historic importance as a center

for industry, many once-vibrant local companies are

struggling. Mcijo told us that workers at several local

factories were striking after not receiving wages for three

months. At Mespin, a local textile company, workers were

campaigning for local companies to buy Mespin’s products

rather than foreign-made textiles. Mespin workers, who make

roughly USD 150 per month, hadn’t been paid in three months.

At National Blankets, a factory Mcijo said was partially

owned by ZANU-PF, workers hadn’t been paid in three months

either. A municipal librarian attending an embassy-organized

training session also reported he hadn’t received his salary

in several months.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (C) Bulawayo has long stood in contrast to Harare, both

ethnically and politically. As time goes on, it will be

interesting to see if the Ndebele, understandably leery of

Shona politicians, will come to wholeheartedly back

Tsvangirai or if they will parse their votes among smaller

Anybody-But-ZANU-PF parties with an eye towards supporting

Ndebele candidates. The calm and relative normalcy that has

re-emerged in Bulawayo is encouraging and also serves as an

example of what a city can do when it refuses to accept

unacceptable national initiatives, like its refusal to allow

Qunacceptable national initiatives, like its refusal to allow

ZINWA to control the water supply. The economic hardships

and unpaid wages at once-thriving companies are a reminder

that as Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed, many businesses have

remained unprepared to deal with the new challenges of

dollarization and foreign competition. END COMMENT.

 

RAY

(8 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment