Presidential aspirant Simba Makoni said he was ready to meet Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai anytime anywhere for negotiations but Tsvangirai was “too much under the influence of advisors Strive Masiyiwa, Roy Bennett and Melinda Ferris”.
Makoni was trying to sell the idea of a government of national unity to United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee in the hope that he could in turn sell it to Tsvangirai.
Makoni said the country needed a government of national unity to save it from an expensive and divisive election re-run.
The GNU would have a life of two to three years and would gradually remove President Robert Mugabe from office and would adopt a new constitution.
Makoni said the MDC, which was based solely on an anti-Mugabe stance, could reposition and adopt positive policies.
He had approached ZANU-PF interlocutors and they were agreeable and he thought Mugabe would be as well.
Tsvangirai was likely to be the problem because when Makoni made his proposal of a GNU to leaders at the Lusaka SADC Summit in the presence of
Tsvangirai, Tsvangirai expressed opposition to the idea and was upset that Makoni had not briefed him first.
Viewing cable 08HARARE337, AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH SIMBA MAKONI
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2018
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH SIMBA MAKONI
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) In an introductory meeting with the Ambassador on
April 15, Simba Makoni floated the idea of a government of
national unity (GNU). Makoni believes another election is
unworkable. He presented the idea of a GNU to leaders at the
Lusaka SADC Summit in the presence of MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai who opposed the proposal. Makoni requested the
good offices of the Ambassador in trying to sell his idea to
Tsvangirai, but acknowledged this would be difficult. Makoni
said he was more than willing to meet with Tsvangirai but was
skeptical of a positive outcome because of the influence of
Tsvangirai’s advisors. The Ambassador said he would speak to
Tsvangirai. While we believe there is little or no chance
that Tsvangirai will buy into Makoni’s plan, the Ambassador
will attempt to facilitate a meeting between the two as a
possible prelude to a common strategy. Makoni also discussed
electoral fraud. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) During the election campaign, Makoni, who was
attacked by ZANU-PF and the government media as a stooge of
the West, avoided western diplomats. This was the
Ambassador’s first meeting with Makoni, who clearly realizes
the importance of engagement with the West.
Current State of Play
¶3. (C) Makoni said that ZANU-PF was now preparing for either
a rerun of the election or a runoff. It preferred a rerun,
as Makoni would also be a candidate and, in ZANU-PF’s view,
would take more votes from Tsvangirai than Mugabe. ZANU-PF
would try to get Makoni to drop out and support Mugabe;
Makoni said there was no chance of this happening.
¶4. (C) Makoni opined that Tsvangirai believed he had won the
election by himself and did not need to work with anyone
else. Tsvangirai thought he could win a runoff (presumably
with a relatively level playing field) by taking some votes
from Mugabe and some from voters who supported Makoni in the
¶5. (C) While Makoni thought the most likely scenarios at
this point in time were either a rerun or runoff, he thought
a new paradigm was needed. At present, neither party had a
workable parliamentary majority; hence there would be a
“hung” parliament. Most Zimbabweans wanted ZANU-PF and the
MDC to work together. The country could not financially
afford another election. Another campaign would further
cripple the economy. People would become more stressed.
Government paralysis would continue; food was about to run
out and there were no plans to bring in more. And violence
Makoni’s Proposal for a GNU
¶6. (C) Makoni suggested to the Ambassador that to save the
country from these ills and normalize the country a GNU
should be established. It would have a life of two to three
years, would gradually remove Mugabe from office, and would
adopt a new constitution. The MDC, which was based solely on
an anti-Mugabe stance, could reposition and adopt positive
policies. Makoni said he had approached (unnamed) ZANU-PF
interlocutors and they were agreeable; he thought Mugabe
would be as well.
HARARE 00000337 002 OF 002
¶7. (C) Makoni stated he had made his proposal of a GNU to
leaders at the Lusaka SADC Summit in the presence of
Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai expressed opposition to the idea and
was upset that Makoni had not briefed him first. Makoni said
he had tried to see Tsvangirai before the summit, but
Tsvangirai had not been in Harare.
¶8. (C) The cuntry did not want either Mugabe or Tsvangirai
a its president, according to Makoni. He thought ZNU-PF
might accept him as the head of a GNU, butTsvangirai would
probably not. He was willing t try to mediate between the
MDC and ZANU-PF, eventhough such a role would eliminate him
as a potetial leader. Alternatively, the parties could loo
for another mediator, and he would continue to e a player.
¶9. (C) At Makoni’s request, the Amassador agreed to discuss
Makoni’s proposal with Tsvangirai and, if possible, to
arrange a meetingbetween the two.
On Electio Fraud
¶10. (C) Makoni saidthat two weeks ago he went to the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to pursue his rights
under the Electoral Act and observe counting of presidential
votes. The chairman of the ZEC, George Chiweshe, and the
Chief Electoral Officer, Lovemore Sekeremayi (son of the
Minister of Defense) refused to allow him to do so; they told
him his presence would be distracting and intimidating. Less
than 24 hours later, according to Makoni, the ZEC decamped
from its headquarters and moved to an undisclosed location.
¶11. (C) ZANU-PF, said Makoni, was working to reverse the
parliamentary results in order to gain a majority and to
change the actual presidential vote. This would not be
acceptable, however, to Zimbabweans, SADC, and the
international community. Makoni added that recounting could
not be done since there had been no chain of custody of
ballot boxes and tabulation had not been done in the presence
of the parties.
Willing to Meet with MDC
¶12. (C) Makoni ended the meeting by reiterating that he was
willing to meet anytime, anywhere with Tsvangirai. He was
flexible and he hoped Tsvangirai would be as well. He
thought, however, that Tsvangirai was too much under the
influence of advisors Strive Masiyiwa, Roy Bennett and
Melinda Ferris, and that therefore negotiations would be
¶13. (C) We believe there is no chance that the MDC will buy
into Makoni’s plan. Nor should it agree to any plan that
allows Mugabe to remain in power. But the Ambassador will
attempt to facilitate a Tsvangirai-Makoni meeting. As two
elements of the opposition, it is important that they talk.