Bennett was determined to get rid of Tsvangirai’s kitchen cabinet


Roy Bennett and Tendai Biti promised to get rid of Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s “kitchen cabinet” which had reportedly become a major liability for the party.

This was disclosed by David Coltart another MDC member who had not yet decided which faction to join.

Coltart said he would join the Tsvangirai faction if Tsvangirai dumped his kitchen cabinet. Bennett and Biti had promised him that they would get rid of the cabinet.

If the kitchen cabinet remained he would join the Welshman Ncube faction provided Gift Chimanikire was not elected leader.

Coltart preferred Blessing Chebundo because he would be more aggressive in confronting the Mugabe regime.

He did not mention who was in Tsvangirai’s kitchen.




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





2006-02-13 13:25


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 000159









E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2015






Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell for reasons 1.5 b/d






1. (C) In a meeting on February 8 with the Ambassador, MDC

MP for Bulawayo South David Coltart said the GOZ was

beginning to show signs of crumbling under the strain of

economic deterioration. The inner circle of the regime was

getting rich but patronage was no longer reaching second tier

members, including ZANU-PF MPs. Moreover, lack of funds was

hollowing out the regime,s main prop, the security forces.

Coltart said now was the time for the U.S. and other donors

to increase resources and put more pressure on the regime, a

message he intended to deliver in a private visit to

Washington the first week of March. Coltart said he was

disappointed with both MDC factions and planned to remain

&neutral8 while helping arbitrate an amicable divorce. He

conceded that both factions could emerge as viable opposition

political parties. End Summary.



Coltart: Regime Crumbling



2. (C) Coltart told the Ambassador that the MDC break up was

fueling strains within ZANU-PF as well. With the threat of

the MDC reduced, there was less reason for ZANU-PF insiders

to bury their differences. In any event, the MDC was not the

real threat to ZANU-PF. The real threat was not even the

ruling party,s internal divisions. It was their

mismanagement of the economy, which was sapping both the

regime,s strength and what was left of its popularity. The

Ambassador strongly agreed, noting that the economy appeared

to be spinning out of control, and said the IMF team had come

to much the same conclusion.


3. (C) Coltart said despite the economy,s problems, the

regime,s inner core was continuing to get rich. However,

the party,s second tier was feeling the effects of

skyrocketing inflation and dwindling economic opportunities.

MP salaries,, for instance, were only Z$15 million (less

than US$100 at parallel market exchange rate) and ZANU-PF

members in particular were becoming increasingly upset. The

GOZ-appointed accountant for parliament, a well-connected

official, had confided to Coltart the day before that he

could no longer afford school fees and could not make other

ends meet.


4. (C) The Ambassador said our impression was that the inner

core appeared increasingly preoccupied with stealing as much

as possible; the sort of fin-de-regime behavior that seemed

to indicate that even they believed the end was near and

there was no point sustaining pro-government institutions for

the future. Coltart agreed, noting that even the security

forces, the major prop of the regime, were being hollowed out

due to lack of funds. Their salaries were largely below the

poverty line, they had very limited operating budgets, and

there were persistent, credible reports that the military

could not feed its troops. He concluded that on the surface

the regime might appear strong but in fact it was very




Press for More Resources and Washington Visit



5. (C) Coltart said that given the regime,s weakness, now

was the time to increase the pressure. To that end, he

informed the Ambassador that he planned to conduct a personal

visit to Washington during the first week of March to make

the case for a greater USG financial commitment. Coltart

said he hoped his senior religious contacts in the U.S. could

secure a meeting with President Bush, but conceded that

chances were slim. Through other private connections,

however, he expected to secure meetings on Capital Hill with,

among others, Senators Frist, McCain, and Feingold. He said

he did not need Embassy or Department assistance but would of

course be happy to meet with Department officials.


6. (C) With respect to existing funds, Coltart questioned

the decision to shift resources from the MDC-aligned Legal

Defense Fund (LDF, formerly funded by USAID’s Office of

Transition Initiatives) to the independent civic organization

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). Coltart said ZLHR

did great work but lacked the nation-wide network that LDF

had built over the years. The Ambassador responded that in

the current climate it was in the MDC,s own interest that it

not have financial ties to the U.S. and other foreign donors.

He also suggested that the two groups could work together in

the future to capitalize on each other,s strengths, and in

the process set a positive example for Zimbabwe,s fractious

civil society.



MDC Intra-Party Struggle



7. (C) Coltart said his disappointment with both factions

had led him to adopt a neutral stance. Moreover, though he

planned to remain in parliament, he was considering a

sabbatical of sorts from party politics. He said the party

would have been stronger if it had held together. He was now

focused on mediating an amicable divorce, which hinged on the

party name, assets, and the fate of MDC MPs (Reftel). Both

sides would keep the assets they currently controlled and

Coltart said both would likely agree not to challenge the

seats of opposing faction MPs. The ownership of the MDC name

and logo was the main sticking point. Coltart had pressed

Ncube and Sibanda to concede on this issue and to look

instead to the long-term building of a new political base.

If there was no amicable divorce, both factions were likely

to spend years in courts controlled by ZANU-PF.


8. (C) The Ambassador responded that both parts of the MDC

might emerge from the split stronger. In particular, the

Tsvangirai faction might be energized without the more



cautious Ncube faction. Coltart conceded that both factions

had the capability to emerge as viable parties. Each had

strengths and weaknesses. Tsvangirai enjoyed grassroots

support but his incompetent and untrustworthy “kitchen

cabinet8 was a major liability, especially when it came to

planning mass action. The Ncube faction lacked popular

support but had more political talent on its side, including

more than half of the MDC MPs. They would have several years

to build a base of support provided they could find an

appropriate ethnic Shona to lead them.


9. (C) Coltart said the outcome of the two congresses would

determine his ultimate allegiance. If Tsvangirai dumped his

kitchen cabinet, Coltart said he might side with this

faction. Roy Bennett and Tendai Biti, both Tsvangirai

supporters, were strong figures that had promised to rid

their faction of the kitchen cabinet. If they were

successful, it might lay the foundation for reconciliation

and would certainly make their faction a more effective

party. If the kitchen cabinet remained, Coltart said he

would likely join the Ncube faction, provided Gift

Chimanikire did not emerge as the faction,s leader. Coltart

said he favored Midlands MP Blessing Chebundo, who he said

would be aggressive in confronting the Mugabe regime. (N.B.

The same day Chebundo was named chief parliamentary whip for

the Ncube faction.)






10. (C) Coltart,s views of the regime,s increasing

fragility echo those of many other local analysts. In

particular, his inside look at the unhappiness of ZANU-PF MPs

and other parliamentary figures further confirms that the

regimes patronage resources are both drying up and being

hoarded by those at the very top. While Coltart may have a

vested interest which colors his views, his analysis of

accelerating regime decay – fueled by the ongoing economic

meltdown and ZANU-PF internal seucession maneuvering – is

consistent with the growing evidence of a regime under ever

increasing strains.




Don't be shellfish... Please SHARETweet about this on Twitter
Share on Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Email this to someone
Print this page

Like it? Share with your friends!

Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *