Bishops happy MDC and ZANU-PF leaders met at Muzenda’s funeral


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The bishops trying to broker talks between the Movement for Democratic Change and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front were excited that leaders of the two-parties had met at vice-President Simon Muzenda’s funeral.

Even more encouraging was President Robert Mugabe’s acknowledgement of the presence of the MDC leaders and the fact that he had erred “as an older brother”.

The bishops said this was a positive signal for potential negotiations.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1977, BISHOPS PROPOSE PARTIES’ RETREAT

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1977

2003-09-30 10:21

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.

 

301021Z Sep 03

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001977

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2013

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: BISHOPS PROPOSE PARTIES’ RETREAT

 

 

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

 

1. (C) Bishop Trevor Manhanga on September 26 offered the

Embassy an update on the so-called bishops’ initiative.

According to Manhanga, the bishops continued to meet

personally with representatives from each party at least once

a week. They remained especially encouraged by ZANU-PF’s

posture, noting that party principals had met despite

potential schedule conflicts entailed by Vice President

Muzenda’s funeral. According to Manhanga, the MDC had

followed the bishops’ counsel to have a substantial presence

at the Muzenda funeral, a gesture of good will that had been

reciprocated by Mugabe’s public recognition of their

presence. Manhanga maintained that Mugabe’s implicit

concession in his eulogy that he had erred “as an older

brother” was a positive signal for potential negotiations.

He noted that ZANU-PF elements’ loud applause for Mugabe’s

“outreach” to the MDC during the eulogy evidenced popular

support for the talks and also bode well.

 

2. (C) Manhanga asserted that, encouraged by the parties’

growing candor and good will, the bishops had proposed at

their most recent meetings with each party that the time was

ripe for a face-to-face pre-talks confidential retreat. He

said the parties would caucus on the issue and advise the

bishops during the week of September 29 of their receptivity

to such a meeting. Manhanga confided that in the meeting

with ZANU-PF, Party Spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira had been

quite enthusiastic about the idea while Party Chairman John

Nkomo was more guarded. As for getting beyond a retreat and

to the table, Manhanga said that the key lay in finessing a

face-saving resolution to ZANU-PF demands for MDC public

statements on Mugabe’s legitimacy and urging an end to

“international sanctions.”

 

3. (C) Manhanga advised that the bishops had covered the

international waterfront in pushing their initiative, having

met with representatives from Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa,

and Australia, among others. Manhanga said that the bishops

understood that the USG was not in a position to be offering

carrots or benchmarked timetables for a normalizing of

relations with Zimbabwe. Nonetheless, he urged that the USG

and other western donors be prepared to be prepared to move

quickly with confidence-building measures should the parties

end their impasse and come to the table. He said that some

support for aspects of land reform could be potentially

decisive in moving ZANU-PF forward in any negotiating

process.

 

4. (C) COMMENT: ZANU-PF may yet be prepared make a gesture

toward starting talks in hopes of getting the government an

invitation to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

(CHOGM), notwithstanding international outcry over The Daily

News closure. The party has yet to project seriousness about

negotiations beyond appearing to consider the mere

possibility of their commencement, however.

SULLIVAN

 

(11 VIEWS)

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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.

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