Biti urged more sanctions, Ncube disagreed


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The two Movement for Democratic Change negotiators, Tendai Biti for the Morgan Tsvangirai faction and Welshman Ncube for the Arthur Mutambara faction, disagreed on sanctions on the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front with Biti urging more pressure while Ncube encouraged an easing of the sanctions.

The two, both secretary generals of the factions, expressed these views in separate meetings with United States embassy officials on 15 and 16 October 2007.

Biti urged continued pressure, including a possible expansion of the sanctions, on ZANU-PF while Ncube supported maintaining current sanctions.

Ncube any new sanctions would be cynically welcomed by ZANU-PF which could say to the Southern African Development Community we told you that the Western agenda was regime change.

New sanctions would also be viewed by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was the chief mediator, and SADC as a slap at their mediation efforts.

Ncube suggested that if ZANU-PF improved the electoral environment, the West should respond by easing travel sanctions on some individuals.

Biti and Ncube, however, agreed that elections would be held in September or October 2008.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07HARARE934, BITI AND NCUBE ON SADC NEGOTIATIONS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE934

2007-10-16 15:31

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO0783

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0934/01 2891531

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 161531Z OCT 07

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2012

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1727

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1602

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1731

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0368

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1011

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1360

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1788

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4217

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0852

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000934

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S.HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E.LOKEN AND L.DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2012

TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: BITI AND NCUBE ON SADC NEGOTIATIONS

 

REF: HARARE 882

 

Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Glenn Warren under 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) MDC negotiators Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube expect

SADC-sponsored negotiations to end in November with an

agreement that includes a new constitution. Elections will

likely take place in September or October 2008. The MDC

remains skeptical that ZANU-PF will permit an environment

conducive to fair elections. On sanctions, Biti recommends

the West maintain, or if possible, increase sanctions. Ncube

supports a gradual easing of sanctions commensurate with an

improvement of the political environment. Both MDC leaders

believe it is a foregone conclusion that President Mugabe

will be endorsed by the ZANU-PF Congress in December and

stand as the party’s candidate for president. End Summary.

 

2. (SBU) Polecon chief met with Biti and Ncube separately on

October 15 and October 16.

 

————————————-

Status of Negotiations and Next Steps

————————————-

 

3. (C) Biti and Ncube said that agreement had been reached

on a new constitution. The negotiators were now meeting in

Harare to discuss reform of the Public Order and Security Act

(POSA), the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy

Act (AIPPA), and the Broadcasting Act. They planned to

return to South Africa for talks with the South African

mediators on October 30, October 31, and November 1, to

finalize agreement on these “security issues.” They then

expected to begin discussions on “political issues.” For the

MDC, these issues included violence and intimidation directed

at their members; the militarization of governmental

structures in the provinces, including the manipulation of

food aid and other coercion of voters; and achievement of

civil dialogue on the issues facing Zimbabwe. For ZANU-PF,

political issues to be discussed included respect for

national sovereignty, sanctions, off-shore radio broadcasts,

and attendance by the opposition at Zimbabwe national days

(presumably implying recognition of the government).

 

4. (C) While the MDC expected an agreement, Biti noted that

the issue of Diaspora voting was a potential deal breaker.

The MDC wanted any Zimbabwean outside the country to be able

to vote. Realizing it would not achieve this, the party was

aiming at a minimum for the right of Zimbabweans living in

SADC countries to vote. Biti explained that since many of

these individuals no longer had residency in Zimbabwe–and

therefore would not be attached to a constituency–they might

not be able to vote for parliamentarians but would be limited

to voting for president. This would be acceptable.

 

5. (C) Following a SADC agreement, the MDC negotiators

anticipated that Parliament would submit the draft

constitution for several months of public comment. Biti said

he expected little to be changed from what was already

agreed; nevertheless, after objections from civil society

that it was not included in the discussion of Amendment 18 it

was important that the public have input into the

constitution.

 

6. (C) The new constitution and agreed-upon legislation

(Electoral law, reformed POSA, reformed AIPPA) would be

passed by Parliament after public comment on the

constitution. Elections would take place under the new

constitution. ZANU-PF wanted the elections as soon as

 

HARARE 00000934 002 OF 003

 

 

possible, but both Biti and Ncube emphasized the importance

of a “cooling off” period of at least six months to enable

the MDC to campaign with the advantage of the new

constitution and legislative changes. They believed the

earliest elections could take place would be September or

October. Ncube commented that the South Africans wanted

early elections, but also wanted the elections to be viewed

as legitimate. Therefore it was likely they would facilitate

a postponement in line with the MDC’s wishes.

 

——————————

Economic Consequences of Delay

——————————

 

7. (C) Biti recognized that the disastrous economic

situation would continue to deteriorate until there was a

change of government. Therefore, a postponement from March

until September or October boded poorly for the economy. But

there was no alternative. Delay was necessary for proper

consideration of the constitution and for adequate

campaigning.

 

———————————-

The Devil is in the Implementation

———————————-

 

8. (C) Biti and Ncube averred that no matter how good a deal

with ZANU-PF was on paper, the political atmosphere was

critical to a free and fair election. Biti said that

violence and intimidation were an agenda item for the talks,

but had not yet been addressed. He expressed dismay that

although the talks were in progress, ZANU-PF continued to

target the MDC. He pointed specifically to a September

abduction of several MDC youth at the alleged direction of

Tecla Mumbengegwi, wife of the GOZ finance minister. One was

killed and one (Maxwell Mazambani) was still in hospital in

critical condition. (Comment. Initial reports of the

incident indicated that it involved retribution for an

apparent theft and made no mention of politically-directed

violence. In a press release, the MDC referred to the

“continuing violent crackdown on democratic forces,” but did

not refer to this incident. The press release also claimed

that since the SADC process had begun, police had refused

permits for over 100 rallies. End Note.) Biti promised to

raise continuing ZANU-PF violence and intimidation with the

ZANU-PF negotiators, and in public. He was skeptical, in

light of ZANU-PF’s current behavior, that ZANU-PF would

implement a SADC agreement to the extent that a fair election

could take place.

 

9. (C) Ncube thought there was more democratic space since

the beginning of the SADC dialogue. He stated that with the

notable exception of two provinces, Mashonaland West and

Mashingo, the MDC recently had been able to contact potential

voters. He opined that the primary problem was subsequent

retribution, e.g., denial of food aid, against those who

associated with the MDC. Violence was always a potential

problem and could be used against the MDC. It was not just a

question of ZANU-PF leadership turning off the violence

spigot; it was now endemic and it would take years to clean

up the security forces.

 

10. (C) Given this endemic culture of violence and

intimidation, Ncube was also doubtful that an environment

could be created to permit fair elections–even if the will

existed. He believed that Mugabe would try to create an

environment sufficiently free to have legitimacy bestowed

upon elections, but sufficiently controlled to ensure a

ZANU-PF victory.

 

————————-

A Difference on Sanctions

 

HARARE 00000934 003 OF 003

 

 

————————-

 

11. (C) Biti urged continued pressure, including a possible

expansion of sanctions, on ZANU-PF. Ncube supported

maintaining current sanctions. He thought, however, that new

sanctions would be cynically welcomed by ZANU-PF. The ruling

party had long maintained that the western agenda is regime

change. New sanctions while the SADC process is ongoing, in

Ncube’s opinion, would allow Mugabe to say to SADC, “I told

you so,” and would be perceived by SADC and Mbeki as a slap

at their mediation efforts. He suggested that if ZANU-PF

improved the electoral environment (after an agreement), the

West could respond with easing of travel sanctions on some

individuals. He noted that Biti, he, and MDC faction

presidents Tsvangirai and Mutambara planned to meet to

coordinate a sanctions strategy for the talks.

 

—————————————

A Note on ZANU-PF and Mugabe’s Strategy

—————————————

 

12. (C) Both Biti and Ncube thought ZANU-PF’s endorsement of

Mugabe at the December Congress was a foregone conclusion;

the Mujurus were not strong enough to defeat him. More

questionable was how Mugabe would react to a failed Mujuru

challenge. Ncube thought Mugabe would be pragmatic and

welcome them back into the fold to forestall a defection and

possible alliance with the MDC.

 

13. (C) Biti stated that Mugabe’s greatest goal at this time

was securing legitimacy. He had entered into the SADC

negotiations, over the objections of some of his hard-line

supporters, as a step toward this goal. After a SADC

agreement, but before elections, he would make a

determination as to whether he could win a free and fair

election. If he believed so, he would mandate that ZANU-PF

permit such an election. If not, he would rig the election,

and after winning, would seek an alliance with Ncube’s MDC

faction as an alternative way of achieving legitimacy. We

suggested to Biti that to prevent a ZANU-PF-MDC (Mutambara

faction) alliance, his faction could enter into an electoral

coalition with the rival MDC (Mutambara) faction. He

responded that his faction was still–but quietly–pursuing

this.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

14. (C) After some early bumps, the SADC talks appear to be

reaching a conclusion. As the MDC continually notes,

implementation is key. Continuing ZANU-PF violence and

intimidation do not augur well. That party’s response in

weeks ahead to MDC complaints about the political environment

should be a clue to its good faith, or lack thereof.

DHANANI

(34 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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