Cross was sceptical about the MDC’s chances in 2008


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Eddie Cross, the Movement for Democratic Change’s policy coordinator, and Sam Nkomo, a parliamentarian, were sceptical about the party’s chances in the 2008 elections just two months before the poll.

They told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee that while the MDC was strong in Matebeleland, it lacked strong structures and sufficient personnel in Mashonaland.

It had no money and there was insufficient time to take advantage of an improvement in the political atmosphere that might emerge from the Southern African Development Community talks.

Nkomo argued that a coalition with Dumiso Dabengwa and Simba Makoni was unlikely. He believed Dabengwa had little support and it was doubtful Makoni would leave ZANU-PF.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE45, AMBASSADOR TAKES POLITICAL PULSE IN BULAWAYO

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08HARARE45

2008-01-23 13:05

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO8935

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0045/01 0231305

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 231305Z JAN 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2412

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1731

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1857

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0452

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1134

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1491

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1913

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4341

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0984

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000045

 

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: 01/23/2018

TAGS: PREL PGOV ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR TAKES POLITICAL PULSE IN BULAWAYO

 

REF: HARARE 16

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee. Reason: 1.4 (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) On his first trip to Bulawayo (Zimbabwe’s second

largest city), the Ambassador met with leading opposition

political figures and civil society leaders to gauge

attitudes toward upcoming elections. They uniformly told him

that an MDC victory in March was highly unlikely. Paul

Themba Nyathi and David Coltart of the MDC Mutambara faction

thought that a broad-based coalition that included Simba

Makoni and former Joshua Nkomo lieutenant Dumiso Dabengwa

could be a potent force, but they doubted Makoni would leave

ZANU-PF. Bulawayo Mayor Japhet Ndebede Ncube supported the

same broad-based coalition, but was skeptical there was

enough time to put it together. Eddie Cross and Sam Nkomo of

the MDC Tsvangirai faction were dismissive of the idea of a

third force. Civil society leaders, including church

representatives, expressed a lack of confidence in the MDC,

and said they were looking to the post-election to fill what

they believe will be a political void.

 

2. (U) The Ambassador visited Bulawayo from January

17-January 19. USAID Director, PAO, and Pol/Econ Chief

accompanied him. During the trip, the Ambassador

participated in a media roundtable where he articulated U.S.

policy toward Zimbabwe and U.S. principles for reengagement.

He also visited USAID humanitarian assistance projects, a

self-help project, attended a reception for International

Visitor alumnae, and attended a PAS-sponsored concert at a

local high school. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————————— ————–

MDC Mutambara Faction Leaders Support Broad-based Coalition

——————————————— ————–

 

3. (C) MDC Mutambara faction members Paul Themba Nyathi and

David Coltart told the Ambassador January 17 they were

confident the MDC would do well in the anticipated March

elections in Matabeleland. Coltart believed that Dumiso

Dabengwa, a former Joshua Nkomo lieutenant who joined ZANU-PF

as part of the 1987 Unity Accord and who is now a member of

its Politburo, would split off from ZANU-PF and help the MDC

win seats in Matabeleland and perhaps parts of Mashonaland

where Dabengwa has some following. If Dabengwa worked with

the MDC, a national parliamentary majority was possible.

 

4. (C) Neither Nyathi or Coltart was optimistic about MDC

presidential chances in the election. Coltart noted that the

MDC was weak in vote-rich Mashonaland, long a ZANU-PF

stronghold. Nyathi added that many people in these rural

areas were superstitious. They believed that their votes

were not secret, and that individuals who cast votes for the

MDC would be discovered by ZANU-PF officials who would then

retaliate against them.

 

5. (C) Coltart opined that a Simba

Makoni-Dabengwa-Tsvangirai coalition would be powerful and

capable of defeating Mugabe. But he doubted this would

occur. Makoni lacked courage to leave ZANU-PF, and Dabengwa

was still deciding his course of action.

 

6. (C) On a side note, Nyathi, who was imprisoned by the

Rhodesians and who later lost relatives in the Gukurahundi

massacres of the early 1980’s, insisted to the Ambassador

that Mugabe must be held accountable for his participation in

Gukurahundi. He said he and many other Ndebeles would not be

satisfied to let Mugabe step down and live out his life in

 

HARARE 00000045 002 OF 003

 

 

peace.

 

7. (C) Bulawayo Mayor Ndebede Ncube (affiliated with the

Mutambara faction), during a courtesy call by the Ambassador

on January 18, bemoaned the economic situation in Bulawayo

and told the Ambassador that political change was imperative.

A possible solution, according to the mayor was an

anti-Mugabe coalition of Makoni, Solomon Mujuru, Dabengwa,

and Tsvangirai. These leaders would need to be brought

together; there was little time before the election.

 

—————————————

MDC Tsvangirai Faction Leaders Weigh In

—————————————

 

8. (C) Eddie Cross, the policy coordinator for the MDC

Tsvangirai faction, and Sam Nkomo, a Tsvangirai

 

SIPDIS

parliamentarian and provincial chairman of Matabeleland

North, told the Ambassador on January 18 they were skeptical

of the MDC’s chances in the March presidential election.

While the MDC was strong in Matabeleland, it lacked strong

structures and sufficient personnel in Mashonaland. It had no

money. And there was insufficient time to take advantage of

an improvement in the political atmosphere that might emerge

from the SADC talks.

 

9. (C) Nkomo, who unlike fellow Ndebele Dabengwa refused to

join ZANU-PF in 1987, argued that a coalition with Dabengwa

and Makoni was unlikely. He believed Dabengwa had little

support, and it was doubtful Makoni would leave ZANU-PF.

 

——————————————— —

Church and Civil Society Leaders Look to Future

——————————————— —

 

10. (C) Church and civil society leaders from USAID

partners, in meetings with the Ambassador on January 18 and

January 19, expressed uniform lack of confidence in the MDC.

They felt deceived by the MDC, which had not kept them

informed about SADC negotiations and had provided them no

opportunity for input. They did not see what had been gained

from the negotiations. In general, they told the Ambassador,

people were apathetic. The MDC split had resulted in a

perception that the MDC was ineffective, and apart from the

MDC, there was a lack of faith in the integrity of the

electoral process.

 

11. (C) The leaders said they supported participation in the

upcoming election as an educational process. They also

thought monitoring was important in order to document ZANU-PF

fraud and retaliation against regime opponents after the

election. A number of the Ambassador’s interlocutors told

him they thought there would be a political void after the

MDC’s defeat which could be filled by a new party.

 

—————————–

The Ambassador Meets the Press

—————————–

 

12. (U) The Ambassador addressed and took questions from

about 20 local journalists on January 19 at a media

roundtable organized by PAS at the Bulawayo Club. He made,

inter alia, the following points:

 

–The U.S. supports free and fair elections that allow the

will of the Zimbabwean people to be heard;

–The U.S. continues to support the Zimbabwean people with

annual humanitarian assistance of over USD 170 million in

food assistance and USD 35 million in HIV/AIDS assistance;

–International reengagement is dependent on political

reform, including free and fair elections and restoration of

the rule of law, and economic reform;

 

HARARE 00000045 003 OF 003

 

 

–Land policy was unfair before Independence and has been a

failure post-Independence, with Zimbabwe now a net importer

of food vice a net exporter before land reform;

–He is ready to meet with the GOZ directly and explain our

positions, but the GOZ has chosen not to meet with him; and

–Sanctions are targeted against GOZ and ZANU-PF policy

makers and are not general.

 

———————–

Visits to U.S. Programs

———————–

 

13. (U) During his stay in Bulawayo, the Ambassador visited

the USAID-funded Joint Initiative Humanitarian Aid program

and Oxfam Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene program, a

USAID-funded HIV clinic, and an Embassy-funded self-help

project at a local orphanage. He also attended a

PAS-sponsored reception for American citizens and

International Visitor alumnae and a Harmony for Humanity

concert, featuring local musicians, at a local high school.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

14. (C) Along with Simba Makoni, Dumiso Dabengwa has been

frequently mentioned recently as part of an opposition

coalition. While both Makoni and Tsvangirai are Shona,

Dabengwa is Ndebele and has impeccable liberation

credentials. He is also close to Solomon Mujuru. His

defection from ZANU-PF would be a significant blow to Mugabe.

Dabengwa, like Makoni, is reportedly considering his

options. Emissaries from Makoni, Mujuru, Dabengwa, and

Tsvangirai are undoubtedly meeting with each other, but we

 

SIPDIS

have seen no evidence that the principals are planning to

meet. While a broad-based coalition comprised of these

individuals would have an excellent chance of defeating

Mugabe, we have also seen no evidence that such a coalition

is emerging. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

 

(5 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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