Bulawayo mayor says MDC would win 70 seats “if it fails completely”


0

Bulawayo mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube was so optimistic that the Movement for Democratic Change would sweep the 2005 elections that he said it would win at least 80 of the 120 seats nationally, or “70, if we fail completely”.

He also said that police were not hostile to the MDC and were in fact working with the party, in many instances offering invaluable tips.

Ndabeni-Ncube urged the United States government to pursue quiet diplomacy and not play into President Robert Mugabe’s hands by taking the lead in condemning him.

He said South African President Thabo Mbeki and other African leaders would be more effective in that regard.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE474, HOUSE STAFF DELEGATION VISITS ZIMBABWE

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

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE474

2005-03-30 09:57

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.

 

300957Z Mar 05

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000474

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL ECON ZI VIP

SUBJECT: HOUSE STAFF DELEGATION VISITS ZIMBABWE

 

REF: A) HARARE 468 B) HARARE 469

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (SBU) Majority Staffer Malik Chaka and Minority Staffer

Pearl-Alice Marsh from the House of Representatives

International Relations Committee (HIRC) visited Zimbabwe

March 20-25, traveling to Bulwayo March 21-22. In Bulawayo

the Staff Delegation met renegade independent candidate

Jonathan Moyo (Ref A) as well as with MDC M.P. David Coltart

and the town’s MDC mayor. In Harare, they met with MDC

leader Morgan Tsvangarai (Ref B), two of the three Mutare

Bishops, as well as Anti-Corruption/Monopolies Minister

Didimyus Mutasa, Reserve Bank (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono, and

Media and Information Commission Chairman Tafataona Mahoso.

In addition, the delegation met with a variety of leaders of

civil society groups. The StaffDel’s meeting with MDC

President Morgan Tsvangirai is reported in ref B.

 

2. (C) Both government and opposition politicians were upbeat

about their parties, electoral prospects. With some

exceptions, MDC officials acknowledged that the recent

election climate had been more peaceful than in 2002, but

they, the Bishops, and the civil society leaders urged the

U.S. to continue to press Zimbabwe,s neighbors to call the

election fairly. Neither media regulator Mahoso nor RBZ

Governor Gono offered much promise of loosening the GOZ’s

grip on the press and the economy. Mutasa acknowledged that

the GOZ would request international food aid shortly after

elections, which he blamed on drought, while the local head

of WFP attributed the food crisis to government

mismanagement. End Summary.

 

———————————–

MDC Believes Tide Turning Their Way

———————————–

 

3. (C) Bulawayo’s MDC executive mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube

said Bulawayo was peaceful and likely to remain so. He

reported that police were not hostile to the MDC and in fact

were working with the MDC, in many instances offering

invaluable tips. Nonetheless, the ruling party continued to

abuse its control of government resources. He predicted that

the MDC would take at least 80 seats nationally, “70 if we

fail completely.” He urged the USG to pursue quiet diplomacy

and not play into Mugabe,s hands by taking the lead in

condemning him. Mbeki and other African leaders would be

more effective in that regard.

 

4. (C) At dinner March 21, David Coltart and Thokozani Khupe,

MDC MP candidates in Bulawayo constituencies, said the

environment was generally peaceful. However, some people had

been beaten or threatened, and food continued to be a source

of ruling party leverage. Still, the MDC’s surprisingly wide

exposure and a more constructive police posture ) three

village headmen were arrested in Lupane, for example, for

tearing down MDC posters ) were opening the door. Indeed,

Coltart, who just two months ago told the Ambassador that the

MDC would be lucky to take 25 seats, forecast it would win at

least half the contested seats (i.e. 60) even accounting for

ruling party skullduggery. He urged the USG to “be bolder”

with South Africa and Botwsana and to back tough rhetoric

with action.

 

——————————————— ——-

ZANU-PF Official Believes Party Still Resonates with Voters

——————————————— ——-

 

5. (C) Minister for Anti-Corruption/Monopolies and ZANU-PF

Secretary for Administration Didymus said Zimbabwe was

 

SIPDIS

“grateful” for sanctions because they had pushed the country

to redouble its economic efforts. The ruling party wanted

better relations with the United States and the West and felt

that its isolation was unwarranted. However, he indicated

that Zimbabwe was unlikely to take the first overt step

toward rapprochement since “it wasn,t the one who closed the

door.” He asserted that the election atmosphere was “less

violent than before”, would be violence-free on election day,

and would be “freer and fairer than all past elections.”

6. (C) Mutasa said that renewed drought meant that the GOZ

would require international food assistance again in spite of

earlier official GOZ assurances to the contrary. He said he

had advised British officials of the situation that morning

but did not indicate when a formal appeal would be

forthcoming. (Note: Local WFP representatives are betting on

early April, after the elections.) Mutusa apologized for

Tsholotsho’s District Administrator,s ejection of the

 

SIPDIS

StaffDel following their March 22 meeting with Moyo (Ref A).

 

——————————————— —-

Media Czar and Central Banker Backpedal on Press/Economic

Liberalization

——————————————— —-

 

7. (C) Media and Information Commission (MIC) Chairman

Tafataona Mahoso briefed the StaffDel on current media

legislation. Mahoso said the GOZ’s goal was developing

community papers that served the country’s interests, rather

than “commercial papers” funded by foreign capital. In that

regard, Mahoso claimed the GOZ had closed the opposition

Daily News and Weekly Times due to these papers, failure to

adhere to licensing and registration procedures designed to

protect the “national content” in Zimbabwe,s press.

 

8. (C) Reserve Bank (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono told the

StaffDel that “2004 marked a turnaround of the economy,”

explaining that year-to-year inflation has fallen from 624 to

127 percent, which he acknowledged was still among the

highest in the world. As to the recent slide of the

zimdollar on parallel markets, Gono acknowledged that the RBZ

had stopped chasing down parallel traders during the election

campaign and argued that he was unable to defend the

zimdollar’s value due to pre-election expenses. Gono refused

to be drawn out on the GOZ’s post-election economic plans,

such as a rumored devaluation.

 

9. (C) Gono said the GOZ’s goal was “command agriculture,”

suggesting the GOZ would intervene further in this

beleaguered sector. The RBZ Governor said he wanted the GOZ

to issue tradable 99-year leases to land reform

beneficiaries, enabling them to transfer and borrow against

their assigned properties. Yet when pressed, Gono

backtracked from this market-oriented approach and told the

StaffDel that the GOZ was not prepared to fully relinquish

control of the properties and would forcibly remove any of

the 140,000 land reform beneficiaries who were not farming

“seriously.”

 

——————————–

Bishops Also Predict Good Result

——————————–

 

10. (C) Mutare Bishops Trevor Manhanga (Evangelical) and

Patrick Mutume (Catholic) told the Staffdel that it was too

early to predict the outcome of the elections but said the

MDC would probably at least maintain the same number of

seats. The elections could not be considered free and fair

because the playing field was tilted in favor of ZANU-PF by

factors such as restrictive legislation such as the Access to

Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the

Public Order and Security Act (POSA), rumors spread by

ZANU-PF supporters that votes would not be secret, the errors

in the voters’ roll, the disenfranchisement of the Diaspora,

and the likelihood that ZANU-PF supporters would attempt to

stack the queues early in the day and prevent MDC supporters

from voting. It was also not clear what role the reduction

in violence would play in voters’ willingness to vote their

conscience, after so many of years of violence and

intimidation

 

11. (C) The Bishops added that ZANU-PF Secretary for

Information and Publicity Nathan Shamuyarira had approached

them about brokering negotiations with the MDC after the

election. Shamuyarira had also told them ZANU-PF wanted

their help in restoring the legitimacy of the government in

the eyes of the international community. In that regard,

Manhanga said the international community should recognize

the steps the GOZ had taken and use that as a basis to

further engage with the GOZ. However, he said these changes

did not represent “the whole loaf” and that the international

community should continue to press for reforms. The Bishops

added that it was important to understand Mugabe’s

psychology; Mugabe wanted to leave the presidency but needed

a 2/3’s majority in Parliament to do so on his own terms.

Without such a majority he would be forced to negotiate with

the opposition.

 

——————————————— –

Civil Society Leader Cite Uneven Playing Field

——————————————— –

 

12. (C) National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) Chairman

Lovemore Madhuku noted that while physical violence was down,

numerous other factors nonetheless created an uneven election

field. He cited unequal media access, the lack of

independent government institutions, and repressive

legislation as examples. Madhuku acknowledged strong MDC

support but said he believed that institutionalized

unfairness would prevent the MDC from winning more than 50

seats. He advocated focusing less on election results and

more on mass action from opponents of the GOZ to press for

reforms such as revising the constitution and repealing

repressive legislation.

 

——————————————— —-

USAID &Partners8 Concerned by Potential for Fraud

——————————————— —-

 

13. (C) USAID hosted a lunch for the Staffdel with eight

“core partners” from civil society (N.B. The NCA is not a

core partner.) The participants said the ruling party would

try to influence the outcome of the elections via fraud and

intimidation. They agreed with the Ambassador that the

elections needed to be judged against SADC guidelines rather

than past elections. In that regard, Brian Kagoro from the

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition noted that the South African

national observer team in 2002 had made recommendations that

had not fulfilled and that could be also be used to assess

the election. Some participants expressed concern over the

role of SADC observers, who may already have prejudged the

elections as free and fair, but one participant noted that

the representatives from Mauritius had told him they would

not go along with a whitewash.

 

———————————-

Pollster Predicts Good MDC Showing

———————————-

 

14. (SBU) Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) Researcher

Charles Mangongera said results from the organization,s

December 2004/January 2005 survey suggested a healthy

election environment: 86% of voters said they plan to vote

and 75% said they trusted the voter rolls. At the same time,

72% knew nothing about the government,s electoral changes

and only 16% knew about the SADC guidelines, indicating that

the electorate was largely unaware of the criteria that will

be used to judge whether the election is free and fair.

Overall, Mangongera said he believed the MDC would keep its

current seats, especially in urban areas, and would surprise

ZANU-PF by gaining some in rural areas. While he said he

expected violence to remain low after elections, he

emphasized that the political freedom would remain limited.

 

————————–

Food Security and HIV/AIDS

————————–

 

15. (SBU) Beyond election-related meetings, the StaffDel also

attended a food security briefing from local representatives

of the UN’s Food for Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World

Food Program (WFP) as well as NGOs C-Safe and FEWSNET and a

roundtable discussion of the HIV/AIDS situation. On food

security, the Staffdel,s briefers painted a grim picture of

the coming maize harvest, arguing that the GOZ could require

up to 1,000,000 tons of grain imports or donations to feed

the population. WFP Director Kevin Farrell said

“ever-present centralization” in the buying and selling of

maize by the GOZ’s parastatal Grain Marketing Board (GMB) “is

really the problem,” rather than recent droughts.

Representatives from a variety of USG-funded HIV/AIDS and

health organizations told the StaffDel that they needed and

could use more human resources. Unlike most other African

countries, they said Zimbabwe had the capacity and

infrastructure to absorb funding, but would lose this

advantage without forthcoming support.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

16. (C) We have commented elsewhere on the upcoming election,

including our scene-setter, Harare 467. That said, we were

struck by the Staffdel,s enthusiastic reception. In spite

of busy pre-election campaigning, both government and

opposition leaders were enthusiastic about interacting with

staffers Chaka and Marsh. Nearly every interlocutor we

sought out readily consented to a meeting and many other

local figures called to ask for a spot on the agenda. The

delegation also generated considerable media interest. Post

believes this delegation demonstrated a high demand for

future Congressional delegations, which we would welcome.

 

17. (U) The StaffDel did not have the opportunity to clear

this message.

Dell

(38 VIEWS)

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

Like it? Share with your friends!

0
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.

0 Comments

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