Leaders of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front were not willing to offer anything in writing for an agenda on the proposed talks about talks that were being negotiated by bishops from Manicaland but instead wanted the Movement for Democratic Change to answer five questions.
MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said ZANU-PF wanted answers to these questions:
- Does MDC accept the legitimacy of the last national election.
- Will MDC drop its call for sanctions?
- Will the MDC become a “national party” free of foreign domination?
- Will the MDC drop its election petition
- What is the view of a government of national unity?
The ZANU-PF interlocutors refused the bishops’ request that the questions be presented in writing.
In response, the MDC leadership told the bishops they would not answer the questions in advance of talks, but would agree to have the questions included an agenda for formal talks.
Ed: The same questions seem to have been raised five years later in the Global Political Agreement.
Viewing cable 03HARARE1892, MDC SECRETARY-GENERAL ON SADC OUTREACH, TALKS, AND
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
171514Z Sep 03
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001892
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/17/2013
SUBJECT: MDC SECRETARY-GENERAL ON SADC OUTREACH, TALKS, AND
REF: HARARE 1792
Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton, under Sections 1.5(b)(d)
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube on
September 16 reported to Ambassador Sullivan on meetings with
selected SADC heads of state. He advised that the bishops
troika remained active as an informal intermediary between
MDC and ZANU-PF but that the ruling party continued to stall.
Ncube said he planned to join MDC colleagues in a discreet
negotiation workshop with Harvard Professor Roger Fisher
September 29 – October 1. Ncube was critical of The Daily
News management’s strategy in battling the GOZ and concluded
that, despite legal support for its continued operation, the
paper may be fighting a losing battle. END SUMMARY.
SADC Outreach Continues
¶2. (C) In a September 16 meeting in his law office, MDC
Secretary-General Welshman Ncube confirmed to Ambassador
Sullivan Morgan Tsvangirai’s report on Ncube’s two and a half
hour meeting on September 4 with Malawian President Muluzi
(reftel). He stressed the Malawian leader’s recognition of
economic costs imposed on Malawi by Zimbabwe’s crisis and of
the difficulty of building regional momentum for pressure on
the GOZ. Ncube went on to recount details of his meeting
with Tanzanian President Mkapa. Unlike Muluzi, Mkapa did not
have his Foreign Minister present for the meeting. Mkapa
“listened more, spoke less” during the meeting, in which
Ncube and Party Chairman Isaac Matongo essentially repeated
their message to Muluzi. They did not begrudge SADC its
stance on sanctions, but objected to the members’ inattention
to Zimbabwe’s real problems. They urged Mkapa and his SADC
colleagues to do more to encourage dialogue. Mkapa pledged
to consult with SADC colleagues, including Mugabe, further
based on the MDC presentation. Ncube advised that they were
scheduled to meet with Mozambican President Chissano on
September 18, with a trip to Botswana possibly to follow at
Bishops’ Initiative Continues
¶3. (C) Turning to the bishops’ efforts to rejuvenate
interparty talks, Ncube advised that the bishops had reported
to MDC leaders last week on their meeting with ZANU-PF
Chairman John Nkomo and party spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira.
ZANU-PF interlocutors continued to refuse to offer in writing
their input for an agenda, and instead requested that the
bishops obtain from the MDC their answers to five questions:
(1) Does MDC accept the legitimacy of the last national
election? (2) Will MDC drop its call for sanctions? (3) Will
the MDC become a “national party” free of foreign domination?
(4) Will the MDC drop its election petition? (5) What is
the view of a government of national unity? The ZANU-PF
interlocutors refused the bishops’ request that the questions
be presented in writing. In response, the MDC leadership
told the bishops they would not answer the questions in
advance of talks, but would agree to have the questions
included an agenda for formal talks.
¶4. (C) The bishops called on Nkomo again on September 15 at
Nkomo’s behest. They conveyed the MDC response to Nkomo, who
belatedly had reduced the five questions to writing for the
meeting. Nkomo told them that he had to consult further with
ZANU-PF principals and would meet them again on September 22.
Ncube concluded that such developments indicated that
ZANU-PF remained sensitive to public appearances and did not
want to be seen to scuttle efforts on talks, but that the
party had yet to show seriousness about getting talks
underway. He was aware of a ZANU-PF politburo resolution
authorizing talks so he was confident that the separate Nkomo
and Chinamasa channels represented a coordinated effort, not
¶5. (C) Ncube said he intended to join MDC colleagues on at
an IRI-sponsored negotiating workshop being scheduled for
September 29 – October 1 at a regional venue to be
determined. The workshop would be run by a team headed by
the group functioning under Harvard Professor Roger Fisher.
According to Ncube, MDC hoped the workshop would enhance the
cohesiveness and tactical awareness of the putative MDC
negotiating team. He said MDC representatives had conveyed
background on the local context to Fisher’s group in a 45
minute phone conversation. Topics covered included inner
party workings, likely negotiating issues, strategic
objectives of each side.
The Daily News
¶6. (C) Putting on his lawyer’s hat, Ncube briefly shared
observations on The Daily News (TDN) shut-down. He attacked
the judgment of TDN management in ignoring repeated legal
advice to register the paper provisionally even as it
attacked the registration requirement’s constitutionality.
The paper also seemed unprepared to register even when the
Supreme Court decision September 10 made registration, on
which its constitutional claim hinged, imperative. He noted
that the reported Supreme Court decision did not state any
legal consequences of the paper’s failure to register other
than its disqualification from pursuing its constitutional
claim. It did not address whether the paper could operate
and, by its terms, left open the possibility of examining the
constitutional claim as soon as the paper registered.
¶7. (C) Ncube corroborated reports that South Africa’s Vice
President had called Mugabe to express concern on the matter.
Mugabe professed to have been kept in the dark on plans to
raid the paper and implied that the paper would be permitted
to resume publication. In any event, existing law supported
quick resumption of the paper’s operation even as its legal
battles continued, according to Ncube. Based on unequivocal
GOZ statements and the police’s seizure of publishing
equipment, however, Ncube concluded that the GOZ intended to
extinguish the paper’s voice forever.
¶8. (C) The bishops’ activity of late seems to have avoided
publicity that impeded their earlier efforts. Of course,
with the threatened demise of TDN, publicity over potentially
meaningful political developments here is less likely to be a
factor in anything. Indeed, the fate of TDN will speak
volumes on the ruling party’s obsession to stifle dissent
notwithstanding its innumerable other crises and can be
expected to cast a pall over prospects for meaningful talks.