Finance Minister Tendai Biti and Information and Communications Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa piled pressure on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to get President Robert Mugabe to resolve all outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement in just five days.
They said so after a Movement for Democratic Change meeting of the party’s standing committee on 6 May 2009 and told Tsvangirai to resolve all the outstanding issues at a meeting of the principals- Tsvangirai, Mugabe and leader of the smaller faction of the MDC Arthur Mutambara- on 11 May.
They insisted that this should be the last meeting of the principals on these issues. If all were not resolves, the MDC national council would consider the next steps at its meeting on 17 May.
The key outstanding issues were the appointments of central bank governor Gideon Gono and attorney-general Johannes Tomana as well as the swearing in of MDC treasurer Roy Bennett as deputy Minister of Agriculture.
The MDC position was that since under Zimbabwean law Bennett was innocent until proven guilty, Mugabe could not use pending charges against him as an excuse not to swear him in.
Tsvangirai instructed Bennett to report to work as deputy minister the next Monday.
Viewing cable 09HARARE372, MDC FOCUSES ON OUTSTANDING ISSUES; DETAINEES
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SUBJECT: MDC FOCUSES ON OUTSTANDING ISSUES; DETAINEES
Classified By: CDA Katherine Dhanani for Reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Following a May 6 MDC Standing Committee
meeting, party Secretary General Tendai Biti held a press
conference to announce that the MDC expected action in the
next ten days on outstanding issues under the Global
Political Agreement, including the appointments of the
Reserve Bank (RBZ) Governor and the Attorney General.
Separately, after Tsvangirai raised the issue with Mugabe,
the detainees who were returned to jail on May 5 were
released. It appears the MDC’s patience is wearing thin but
it is not yet clear what the party will do if its demands are
not met. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) The MDC’s Roy Bennett briefed us on the MDC Standing
Committee meeting held today. The Committee is comprised of
the 12 highest MDC officials; 9 attended the meeting. Biti
and Chamisa in particular pressured Tsvangirai to resolve
outstanding issues. The Committee agreed that all
outstanding issues should be resolved at a meeting of
principals on May 11, which should be the last principals
meeting on these issues. If all are not resolved, the MDC
National Council, scheduled to meet on May 17, will consider
¶3. (C) Of note regarding outstanding issues, the Committee
took the position that Attorney General Tomana, in addition
to RBZ Governor Gono, should go. The MDC’s position is that
both were appointed in violation of the September 15
Inter-Party Agreement and that their positions should be
filled by Mugabe and Tsvangirai acting together. As to
Bennett, the MDC position is that since under Zimbabwean law
he is innocent until proven guilty, Mugabe cannot use pending
charges against him as an excuse not to swear him in.
Tsvangirai instructed him to report to work as Deputy
Minister of Agriculture next Monday.
¶4. (SBU) Subsequent to the Committee meeting, Biti in his
capacity as MDC Secretary General held a press conference and
summarized the decisions taken by the Committee. In addition
to outstanding issues, he emphasized that Tsvangirai was due
respect as prime minister by the security forces — a respect
which has been pointedly lacking. He also decried a
continuing media war by the government press, radio, and
television that refuses to acknowledge the MDC as equal
partners in government.
¶5. (SBU) Biti was directly asked if, in light of continuing
problems, the new governmental arrangement had failed. He
firmly rejected the premise of the question, and stated that
on balance the forces of change and progress outweighed the
negative. He acknowledged there were “land mines” that
needed to be cleared.
¶6. (C) MDC sources told us that at a principals meeting
yesterday that had already been scheduled, Tsvangirai raised
the issue of the remand to custody of Jestina Mukoko and
others. Mugabe summoned Minister of Justice Patrick
Chinamasa and instructed him to facilitate their release. We
understand that defense attorneys subsequently met with
Qunderstand that defense attorneys subsequently met with
Attorney General Tomana who promised they would be released
¶7. (SBU) We learned that, with the exception of the three at
Avenues Clinic under police guard, all were released. The
three are subject to a separate court process since they were
already in custody when the others were remanded yesterday.
They have bail hearings scheduled tomorrow.
HARARE 00000372 002 OF 002
¶8. (C) Tsvangirai has preferred a low-key approach to
resolving outstanding issues. Biti, Chamisa, and others,
have become impatient and are forcing the issue by pressuring
Tsvangirai, and going public and giving Mugabe a deadline.
Since the MDC has resolved to stay in government, the
unanswered question is what it will do if it does not receive
satisfaction on the clearly-defined outstanding issues. END