Chombo was after Mudzuri because he was Karanga


Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo was after Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri because he was Karanga and wanted to finish him off politically.

This was the view of Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Welshman Ncube and party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi who argued that Chombo was more lenient with Zezuru members of the MDC like Christopher Mushonga.

Chombo’s divide and rule tactics had put the MDC in a dilemma as it was afraid to ask its councillors to resign as only those loyal to the parity were likely to resign while the rest, including the acting mayor Sekesayi Makwavarara, could simply cross the floor to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

Nyathi and Ncube said that Makwavarara had sold out and even refused to take phone calls from the MDC leadership.


Full cable:



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






2003-12-15 14:25

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 002412









E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013






B. HARARE 2332

C. HARARE 2179


Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d


1. (C) SUMMARY: Various MDC Officials have commented that

there is increasing despondency and frustration within the

party rank and file. The MDC is planning mass action for

early in the New Year, but much homework remains undone, and

with an increasingly resigned public, it is unclear whether

people will be motivated to follow leaders tomorrow whom they

feel have failed them today. End Summary.


Suspended Mayor Wants Party Support



2. (C) On November 26, Judge Moses Chinhengo issued a

decision upholding the suspension of Harare Mayor Elias

Mudzuri. On December 2 Minister of Local Government Ignatius

Chombo sent reportedly identical letters to six suspended MDC

Harare City councilors notifying them that they were fired.

Over lunch with the Ambassador on December 3 the Mayor

complained that the MDC leadership failed to make a public

statements condemning the firings of MDC councilors and the

continued suspension of the Mayor. Mudzuri also complained

the party had failed to compel councilors to make decisions

in council, which had previously been agreed to at

caucus–except to request their resignations. While he did

not specify, the Mayor was likely referring to decisions such

as the one to withdraw the Mayor’s salary and other benefits;

the failure to object to the reinstatement of Town Clerk

Chideya (Ref C); and the failure to object to the suspensions

and firings of the six councilors. Mudzuri complained that

the rank and file were asking for leadership and the party

was not delivering.


Acting Mayor Refuses to Resign



3. (C) Dennis Murira, Special Assistant to the MDC Party

Chairman, said that the commission of inquiry set up to

investigate the actions of MDC Harare City Councilors who

were not toeing the party line (Ref C) interviewed the

wayward councilors and the Acting Mayor and issued a report

to the party leadership in late November. The commission

recommended that the leadership request that the councilors

in question resign, and that the party reprimand them. The

MDC followed through and in late November requested that

Acting Mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and six councilors resign by

December 1. All complied except Makwavarara. Although news

reports suggested that the MDC might expel Makwavarara from

the party, Murira said that would be futile, that Makwavarara

would join the ruling party immediately. Instead the MDC

would likely let her serve out her term before expelling her.


Minister Bent on Ruining Mayor



4. (C) Over lunch with the Ambassador and DCM on December

11, MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube and Spokesman Paul

Themba Nyathi said that MDC Councilor Christopher Mushonga is

from the Zezuru clan of the Shona, as is Minister of Local

Government Ignatius Chombo. Although the two are from

different political parties, the MDC officials said this

common ethnic background has provided a basis for Mushonga

and Chombo to at least communicate. Mushonga, until the

recent MDC disciplinary action, led a group of MDC councilors

who complied with directions from the Minister (Ref C). The

MDC officials said that in contrast Mudzuri is from the

Karanga subgroup and Chombo is committed to ruining him.

Chombo would be satisfied to leave the rest of the City

Council alone–he is after Mudzuri with the investigating

commission and he intends to finish him off politically.


5. (C) Nyathi and Ncube said that the Acting Mayor has sold

out and even refuses to take phone calls from the MDC

leadership. It was an inexperienced council, and Chombo has

played his hand perfectly by identifying councilors who are

soft and influencing them. The MDC officials agreed that

requesting the council to resign en masse would likely result

in solid MDC councilors resigning, and weak ones prone to

yielding to ZANU-PF blandishments retaining their posts – a

worst case scenario for the party.


Party in Disarray in Kadoma



6. (C) Losing MDC candidate for the Kadoma Central

parliamentary by-election, Charles Mupandawana reiterated his

complaint (Ref B) to poloff on December 3 that a lack of

support from the party was a critical factor in his loss.

Mupandawana said that his campaign team budgeted a need for

Z$8 million (US$1,350) per week for the last three weeks of

his campaign, but instead received Z$8 million total. He

also said they had requested five vehicles, but had only

received four, of which two were in reliable working order.

By comparison, Mupandawana said that the MDC sent 20 vehicles

for use during the October 2002 by-election in Insiza.

Mupandawana said that no one from the MDC Information or

Legal Departments came to assist him in with publicity and

legal representation for detainees respectively. While MDC

President Morgan Tsvangirai did visit once and address a

gathering, Mupandawana said that paled in comparison to

ZANU-PF Ministers Elliott Manyika and Ignatius Chombo, as

well as MP Philip Chiyangwa’s regular visits to Kadoma in

support of the ZANU-PF candidate.


7. (C) Nyathi and Ncube said that party structures in Kadoma

have been in disarray for some time. They described a

conflict between factions which went unresolved through the

recent by-election. According to the MDC officials this

conflict was the major reason the MDC lost the election. In

contrast to Mupandawana’s statements, the MDC officials said

the MDC had indeed sent Z$8 million per week during the last

three weeks of the campaign.


Even Parliamentarians Get the Blues



8. (C) Miles Toder, Director of the State University of New

York’s Institutional Strengthening of Parliament Programs

here said recently that over the past couple months he has

sensed despondency and frustration among MDC parliamentarians

who feel that participating in Parliament has effected no

political change. Many MDC parliamentarians have in recent

months spent increasing time with their law firms, import

businesses, and retail stores primarily because they need the

money and they feel they are achieving nothing in Parliament.

Toder said MPs are facing stiff competition for the

nominations for their own seats and are subsequently

concerned about bolstering their campaign coffers. Toder

said he expects significant turnover among MPs at the next

parliamentary elections as each party attempts to spread the

patronage of being a parliamentarian to other party members.


GOZ Gearing up for Early Parliamentary Elections?

——————————————— —-


9. (C) Toder also said there was evidence that the GOZ may

be gearing up for early parliamentary elections. The GOZ is

currently aggressively pursuing an amendment to the

Citizenship Act that would enfranchise longtime residents of

Zimbabwe from neighboring countries with the right to vote.

He suspects this effort is directed at ex-commercial

farmworkers, many of whom are originally from neighboring

countries. Mike Murray of Justice for Agriculture, also

views ex-farmworkers as a persuadable swing vote.

Mupandawana said that he suspected food was used to buy votes

in resettled areas in Kadoma. Wishing he’d had some to dole

out, Mupandawana said in this environment a little food can

easily buy votes even among people like ex-farmworkers who

have lost their livelihoods due to ZANU-PF policies. Toder

said ZANU-PF had resurrected reform of the Electoral Act to

address SADC norms, but also to resolve technical problems

that would help the ruling party maintain control of the

electoral process. He said moves were underway to open the

registration rolls to new party members, and also to re-draw

constituency lines especially in urban areas by joining them

with nearby resettled areas to dilute the MDC’s urban

strength. Toder said the reputation of government was to

leave things until the last moment and these early

preparations could indicate planning to dissolve parliament

and call early elections, which the President could legally



MDC to Gain Religion



10. (C) Murira, who is also a leading member of a core group

of MDC officials charged with planning mass action, said on

December 11, that he sensed despondency among the MDC rank

and file. He said this was in response to the MDC leadership

pursuing talks that the rank and file feared would lead to

ZANU-PF swallowing the MDC. MDC members also perceived the

MDC leadership to be doing nothing to resolve the crises


11. (C) Murira said that in response to calls that the

leadership do something, the main strategy for mass action

early in the New Year (Ref A) was for MDC activists to hold

prayer vigils in high-density areas around Harare. Basically

the theory being that the GOZ might be able to suppress an

opposition party, but it would be more difficult for it and

security personnel on the ground to suppress people under the

auspices of the church. Murira said the MDC was talking to

the Bishops troika and other prominent clergy to get them to

declare the talks initiative dead, and to get their blessing

for MDC activists to hold prayer vigils as members of their

churches. Murira said that after several nights of vigils,

the MDC (via church leaders) would then hold a large vigil at

a venue in the center of Harare as a pretext to calling a

major march immediately thereafter.





12. (C) With a tacit strategy of lying low, focusing on

building grassroots party support, and waiting for public

opinion to fully realize that the GOZ has scuttled talks, the

MDC has been largely invisible in the past few months. In

the absence of the Daily News the party has also missed

various opportunities to issue government-critical press

statements, for firing MDC councilors, for

government-sponsored intimidation during the Kadoma

by-election and for continued GOZ mismanagement of the

economy. With its lowered profile, the party seems to have

created the perception that it is doing nothing to resolve

the political and economic crises. While the idea of

organizing events under the rubric of the church is novel,

with the government controlling the daily media the GOZ could

easily crack down on the prayer vigils and claim that the MDC

abused the church to hold political gatherings. Even if the

MDC fully developed this strategy, and got church officials

on board, it remains unclear whether an increasingly resigned

public would heed the call to gather in protest. Plagued by

a lack of resources and facing the many obstacles placed in

its way, the MDC has been hard pressed to mount effective

opposition to an increasingly repressive regime. As it

prepares itself for the crucial 2005 parliamentary elections,

the MDC will need to focus its energies and training on

allocating scant resources, executing planning, generating

internal consensus, and motivating both its membership and

the Zimbabwean electorate at large to remain in the game.



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

Like it? Share with your friends!

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.


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