Dell brushed off rift between Tsvangirai and Ncube


United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell brushed off reports about the rift between Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and secretary-general Welshman Ncube nine months before the party split.

Dell was told by Masvingo MDC legislator Silas Mangono that Tsvangirai was on a purge of Members of Parliament whom he thought were backing Ncube in the internal squabbles.

At least four legislators lost in the primaries for the 2005 elections. They complained about Tsvangirai’s heavy handedness and vowed to de-campaign the party which subsequently won 41 seats down from 57.

Welshman Ncube had predicted that the party would win 45 to 55 seats.

Dell said complaints about Tsvangirai’s heavy-handedness and non-transparency were not new.

He said the MDC’s intra-party squabbles did not rise to the level of divisiveness seen in ZANU-PF but with the elections just six weeks off they had come at a particularly inopportune time.

“We doubt the significance of a purported Tsvangirai-Ncube rift, rumours of which have been fanned by the official press for more than a year and are occasionally alluded to by some MDC members,” he concluded.


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Reference ID






2005-02-17 09:27

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 02 HARARE 000250







E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/11/2010




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




1. (C) SUMMARY: At a February 9 breakfast with the

Ambassador, MDC MP for Masvingo Central Silas Mangono gave an

account of the February 8 intra-party violence and his ouster

as MDC candidate for his current seat in the upcoming

election. According to Mangono, his supporters were

unsuccessfully petitioning to see Party President Morgan

Tsvangirai during a party rally in Masvingo when forces loyal



to Tsvangirai attacked them. Mangono attributed his ouster

to rumors that he supported a faction seeking to replace

Tsvangirai with Secretary-General Ncube – Several other MDC



candidates who lost out in intra-party selection processes

are pursuing internal party appeals and reportedly have

threatened to disrupt the party’s campaign if unsuccessful.




Spurned MP’s Tale



2. (C) Mangono told the Ambassador that his supporters had

gathered February 11 at the Masvingo Civic Center to seek an

audience with Tsvangirai, who was conducting party meetings

there. The supporters staged a &mini-demonstration8, with

placards demanding &free and fair elections8 in the wake of

a party candidate selection process that replaced Mangono as

the MDC candidate for his seat with a political rival of his,

Tongai Matutu. Mangono asserted that Tsvangirai refused to

meet them and set his bodyguards on the group while he

slipped out a back entrance. According to Mangono, the

bodyguards wielded logs and threw rocks at the crowd,

resulting in numerous injuries, including a broken arm and

dislodged teeth.


3. (C) According to Mangono, the friction stemmed from the

non-transparent and heavy-handed way in which Tsvangirai, who

is also the party’s campaign coordinator for Masvingo,

engineered the selection of Matutu. Mangono alleged that

Tsvangirai convened a meeting of the provincial executive on



January 16 with no announced agenda and with notice to only

one faction. The meeting was effectively a primary that

selected Matutu. Mangono complained about the procedural

irregularities and walked out. He said he then appealed, and

was told that Tsvangirai would look into the matter. The

National Council subsequently took note of the problems and

commissioned an investigation, which had yet to produce any



4. (C) Mangono said that the party had overcome the problem

of voter apathy in Masvingo but that this fiasco would cost

the MDC votes in his district in next month’s election. He

said most posts held in the district were loyal to him, as

was the business community and local rank-and-file. On the

Ambassador’s inquiry as to the reason for his purported

exclusion, Mangono asserted that Tsvangirai never told him.

He said he had heard from others in the party that Tsvangirai

believed Mangono was working with a faction to supplant

Tsvangirai with MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube.



Mangono claimed that the source of intra-party tensions was a

continuing power struggle between Tsvangirai and Ncube.



Supports Election Boycott



5. (C) Mangono maintained that in spite of popular support

for democracy, Zimbabwe lacked sufficiently rooted democratic

institutions to support an effectively functioning democracy.

He said he had come around to National Constitutional

Assembly President Lovemore Madhuku’s view that democratic

elements should not participate in the political process

until a new constitution was adopted. The former teacher

maintained that each party had powerful people who viewed

themselves as above the law. In closing, he warned that,

despite its democratic roots, the MDC may be prone to the

same kind of anti-democratic behavior characteristic of the

current regime should it ever take power.



Other Candidacies Contested



6. (C) The semi-independent Daily Mirror newspaper on

February 15 reported that three other sitting MDC MPs who

lost their seats ) Justin Mutendadzamera (Mabvuku), Dunmore

Makuwaza (Mbare East), Tichaona Munyanyi (Mbare West) ) were

contesting their exclusion and had pledged to “de-campaign”

for the opposition if they were not satisfied. MDC Secretary

for International Affairs Pauline Mpariwa Gwanyanya confirmed

to poloff on February 15 that several sitting MPs were

appealing their losses and that the party would complete the

appeals process by the end of the month. She asserted that

all would receive fair hearings and the party would put the

rancor behind it quickly.






7. (C) Complaints within the opposition of Tsvangirai’s

heavy-handedness and non-transparency are not new ) many

analysts, for example, attributed the party’s loss of its

traditional stronghold Zengeza seat in a by-election last

year in part to the party leadership’s overruling local

structures’ preference for a popular local candidate. The

opposition’s intra-party squabbles do not rise to the level

of divisiveness seen in the ruling party of late but, with

the elections just six weeks off, come at a particularly

inopportune time. The party’s twice-postponed national

campaign launch remains uncertain, projecting an air of

disarray. (Note: In contrast, ZANU-PF conducted a

well-organized, once-delayed campaign launch on February 11.

End note.) We doubt the significance of a purported

Tsvangirai-Ncube rift, rumors of which have been fanned by



the official press for more than a year and are occasionally

alluded to by some MDC members.




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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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