Chinamasa told Ncube that he was taking instructions directly from Mugabe


Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa who was involved in informal talks with Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Welshman Ncube told Ncube that he was taking instructions directly from President Robert Mugabe.

He told Ncube that he met Mugabe regularly but not daily as Nicholas Goche Minister of National Security who met the President on a daily basis.

Chinamasa told Ncube that he often had to appear “radicalised” toward the opposition in order to maintain his “mainstream” ZANU-PF credentials.

According to Ncube, Chinamasa was keeping a tight lid on the informal talks and most of his colleagues in ZANU-PF did not know what was going on.

He said at one time the Minister of Finance waited for him for 15 minutes while he was in a bank queue just to ask him what was going on.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2004-02-03 04:37

2011-08-30 01:44


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 000188










E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/02/2014




REF: (A) HARARE 174 (B) HARARE 84 (C) HARARE 73 (D)

03 HARARE 2412


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


1. (C) SUMMARY: MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube on

January 30 told the Ambassador that he expected to engage his

ruling party interlocutor, Justice Minister Patrick

Chinamasa, soon on key issues relating to prospective talks.

A new electoral law would address many issues, while the fate

of The Daily News and the youth militias loomed as potential

stumbling blocks. He intimated that they already had

discussed the possiblity of a government of national unity in

hypothetical terms as a vehicle to carry the country toward

presidential and parliamentary elections, possibly by 2005.

Ncube said he and Chinamasa envisioned reaching tentative

agreement on most important issues before the parties

announced formal talks and began the task of getting the deal

blessed by key constituencies. END SUMMARY.


Talks on Talks Substantive



2. (C) During a visit by the Ambassador to his law office,

Ncube advised that he was scheduled to meet Chinamasa on

February 3 to resume discussions on issues relating to

resumption of interparty talks. He reported that Chinamasa

had deflected earlier attempts during January to engage on

grounds of being on official leave, notwithstanding that

Chinamasa had been playing a high profile role at the

parliament. Discussions would revolve in large part around a

draft Electoral Amendment Act that Ncube shared with the

Justice Minister two weeks before, and draft amendments to

the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Access to

Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which

Ncube had conveyed in November.


3. (C) Ncube asserted that Chinamasa shared his desire to

resolve most important contentious issues before commencing

formal interparty talks. The election law would address many

critical matters. He said that certain important

“environmental” issues, such as the status of the youth

militia and The Daily News, had yet to be addressed. The

Daily News problem might resolve itself (ref A), and other

well-known points of difference, such as the MDC’s election

petition and stand on sanctions, would “fall away” once

agreement was reached on new elections.


4. (C) Ncube said Chinamasa “seemed to agree” with his

proposal to conduct parliamentary and presidential elections,

as well as urban and rural council elections, at roughly the

same time so as to reduce the perpetual state of tension

engendered by rolling elections. Timing had yet to be

agreed, although the positions were narrowing: the MDC

originally wanted elections this year but was now focusing

more on establishing proper atmospherics and mechanics than

on immediacy; Chinamasa first argued for presidential

elections in 2007, but more recently had shifted to 2006.

(Comment: Parliamentary elections are now scheduled for 2005

and presidential election for 2008. End comment.) Once

agreement had been sealed on key issues, formalized talks

would provide a process by which the parties would sell the

deal to key constituencies.


5. (C) According to Ncube, the two had discussed the

division of portfolios in a coalition government in a

hypothetical “brainstorming” exercise. The MDC remained open

to the idea of a government of national unity, depending on

preconditions — the shorter the government’s duration, the

better, for example. ZANU-PF was insisting that the MDC “be

involved” in the government in some way, and sought to defer

consideration of problematic issues such as POSA, AIPPA, and

political violence until a new government was in place.

Ncube asserted that transition arrangements would be

addressed in a new constitution that would be ratified by the

parliament, although Chinamasa sometimes seemed reluctant to

take the parliamentary route of ratification. Ncube noted

that certain opposition elements could be expected to

criticize the parliamentary approach in any event.


ZANU-PF Politicking Not Expected to Disrupt Talks

——————————————— —-


6. (C) Ncube indicated that Chinamasa had been candid about

the pressures he was facing within the ruling party.

Chinamasa said that Information Minister Jonathan Moyo,

Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, retired General

Solomon Mujuru, and general-turned-politician Josiah

Tungamirai were among those pressing him on talks. Chinamasa

said he took instructions directly from Mugabe, who he saw

regularly though not daily. He confirmed that State Minister

for National Security Nicholas Goche, who did see Mugabe on a

daily basis, also played a substantial role in the talks.

Chinamasa had explained to Ncube that he often had to appear

“radicalized” toward the opposition in order to maintain his

“mainstream” ZANU-PF credentials.


7. (C) Ncube predicted that the ruling party’s latest

bloodletting over Chiyangwa (ref C) would not have any direct

implications for prospects on talks. He observed that

Mnangagwa’s camp (which had included Chiyangwa) was under

“intense pressure”, in part because they had abused

state-connected funds to finance Mnangagwa’s ill-fated

succession campaign. Ncube reported that as Speaker,

Mnangagwa of late had been uncharacteristically hostile to

him and slected other MDC MPs, and speculated that he may see

them as part of the cabal arraying against him.


8. (C) Elaborating further on ruling party dynamics, Ncube

commented that ZANU-PF’s membership generally recognized that

internal political settlement would have to precede effective

international re-engagement. The membership was eager for

progress but extremely anxious about talks because all but a

few were out of the loop. Ncube reported that ZANU-PF MPs he

encountered on a regular basis always asked him about

progress in his talks with their Justice Minister, from whom

they uniformly said they got no information. That the

Finance Minister waited 15 minutes to query him after he

emerged from a bank queue Ncube took to indicate both how

tight the ZANU-PF information loop was and how little the

Minister has to do at his Ministry.


Diplomatic Engagement



9. (C) Turning to the international front, Ncube said his

party continued to be in close contact with the South

Africans on process and had advised them about the lack of

concrete progress on substantive issues. He noted that

Ambassdor Ndou had indicated that the sooner elections were

held, the better — 2005 was too far off. Ncube reported

that the Namibian mission in Harare had become increasingly

engaged with the party leadership and other diplomatic

missions on the issue of talks. He said that Tanzania was

much more positive privately than their public stance would

indicate. During their meeting with President Mkapa in

October, he informed them that he had selected his new

Ambassador to Harare because of his stature as former

Secretary-General of the OAU’s Committee on Liberation at the



OAU — he was not one to be pushed around easily. Indeed,

the new Tanzanian ambassador had met with MDC officials three

times and seemed genuine in his stated desire to be helpful

in stimulating momentum on interparty dialogue.


10. (C) Ncube emphasized MDC interest in the prospective UN

elections mission to evaluate prospects for involvement in

Zimbabwe’s next parliamentary election (ref B), and reported

that the party had been communicating with local UN

representatives on the matter. He was encouraged that the

office’s discussions with Chinamasa had gone well and not

surprised that engagement with election administrator Mudede

had been negative.


Party Doing Well



11. (C) Addressing the health of his party, Ncube asserted

that party planning generally was improving. The party’s

various committees were active developing action programs,

with attention recently being devoted to party organization;

voter education; and diplomatic strategies, especially with

respect to Africa. The Information Department was

spotlighting the party’s so-called “RESTART” economic

program, which had been launched officially January 29

despite a clumsy government attempt to thwart the associated

public event. (The event commenced an hour late when party

lawyers had to obtain an urgent court order quashing police

attempts to close the meeting over lack of a permit.) In

some detail, Ncube denied reports in this week’s edition of

the Financial Gazette that he had been involved in a secret

effort in 2002 to link up with Mnangagwa and then Armed

Forces Chief Zvinavashe to create a coalition to sideline

both Mugabe and MDC Party President Morgan Tsvangirai.


Litigation Vexes



12. (C) Ncube observed that Tsvangirai’s treason trial was

proving to be even more politicized than expected. The

prosecution was seeking gratuitous details on the party’s

functioning and strategies, and emphasizing things that

Tsvangirai did not know in an effort to undermine his



stature. Ncube was scheduled to testify for the defense when

the trial resumes on February 11.


13. (C) Elsewhere on the legal front, Ncube said he

understood that the report on Harare’s MDC Executive Mayor

Elias Mudzuri (ref D) reached negative conclusions and

recommended criminal proceedings against the beleaguered

politician. He implied that the process would take

considerable time, noting that Local Government Minister

Chombo wanted to make sure he had an “airtight” case and that

Mudzuri would not be able to respond legally.





14. (C) MDC officials have previously confided to us

cautious openness to a government of national unity but this

is the first confirmation that portfolios actually have been

dicussed with the ruling party. Ncube and his party may view

such conceptualizing as hypothetical, but it may fuel ZANU-PF

expectations for a coalition and put the MDC on a slippery

slope. Ncube’s expectation that most important issues will

be nailed down before formal talks are announced may prove

elusive. Historically, ZANU-PF interlocutors often indicate

tentative agreement or flexibility, only to be snapped back

on a short, rigid leash.



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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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