Exiled businessman Strive Masiyiwa who was trying to broker an agreement between the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change, after the indecisive 2008 elections, said he thought that the secretary-general of the smaller faction of the MDC Welshman Ncube was slippery and would not stand up to ZANU-PF.
He also thought that MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was weak because he had begun negotiations without even securing the return of his passport which had been seized by the government after his return to Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai had also publicly renounced violence, but President Robert Mugabe had not done so.
Tendai Biti, Tsvangirai’s lead negotiator, had been broken during his time in custody and could be manipulated by ZANU-PF.
Masiyiwa said he warned Tsvangirai that he could be picking up a “poison chalice” if he entered into an agreement that was not satisfactory to the United States and the European Union because a transitional government needed Western support and would fail without it.
Viewing cable 08PRETORIA1632, MASIYIWA FLOATS MDC-ZANU-PF POWER-SHARING AGREEMENT
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SUBJECT: MASIYIWA FLOATS MDC-ZANU-PF POWER-SHARING AGREEMENT
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Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Raymond L. Brown. Reason
s 1.4(b) and (d).
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. South African businessman and unofficial
MDC advisor Strive Masiyiwa told Harare PolEconChief and
Pretoria PolOffs July 24 that he believed a power sharing
agreement would be signed between ZANU-PF and the MDC within
two weeks. Masiyiwa has drafted a proposed agreement under
which Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe would remain as
ceremonial president. MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai would
become Prime Minister, and there would be a division of
government ministries. According to Masiyiwa, the draft was
presented to Mugabe who approved it in principle. Masiyiwa
is concerned, however, that South African President Thabo
Mbeki may attempt to impose his own agreement which would be
more advantageous to ZANU-PF. He urged the U.S. and EU to
impress upon South Africa the importance of reaching a
“quality” agreement that would satisfy criteria for
reengagement. END SUMMARY.
Masiyiwa’s Draft Agreement
¶2. (C) Under Masiyiwa’s agreement, the 1980 Zimbabwean
Constitution would be used as a basis for constituting
power-sharing transitional government with a life of two
years. Mugabe would become head of state (ceremonial) and
Tsvangirai would be head of government as Prime Minister.
ZANU-PF and the MDC would each appoint one Deputy Prime
Minister. ZANU-PF’s Deputy Prime Minister would be in charge
of defense, and the MDC’s would head home affairs (police).
The Prime Minister, the Deputies, and an additional ZANU-PF
minister would constitute a national security council to
which the Central Intelligence Organization would report.
Additionally, ZANU-PF would select eight ministers, MDC
Tsvangirai would select eight ministers, and MDC Mutambara
would select one. The parties would select five independent
ministers, presumably technocrats, to head the Ministries of
Finance, Justice, Land Resettlement, Agriculture, and State
Enterprises (parastatals). (A copy of the agreement sent to
AF/S and Embassy Harare.)
MDC and ZANU-PF Reaction
¶3. (C) According to Masiyiwa, Tsvangirai supported the
agreement. Masiyiwa also said that an intermediary had
presented the draft agreement to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Governor Gideon Gono who had in turn presented it to Mugabe.
Gono told the intermediary that he had discussed it with
Mugabe and Mugabe’s wife, Grace. Both Mugabe and Grace
reportedly were agreeable to the agreement with several
amendments, including that Mugabe would be allowed to serve
as President indefinitely and would not have to retire at a
¶4. (C) Masiyiwa thought Mugabe was willing to enter into an
agreement which ended ZANU-PF power because Gono had
convinced him the economy was almost beyond repair and
something had to be done. Also, Mugabe had been stung by
African criticism; he could no longer claim it was only the
West that was opposed to him. He therefore felt it necessary
to bring an end to the crisis that would win support from the
region and staunch his growing isolation.
¶5. (C) Although the military was not part of the
negotiations, Masiyiwa thought that Mugabe was still in
control of the government and could win military support for
Qcontrol of the government and could win military support for
an agreement, as long as an amnesty provision was included to
protect them from possible prosecution. Masiyiwa was
concerned that Emmerson Mnangagwa would resist an agreement,
but thought that if an agreement appeared likely Mnangagwa
would angle for a significant position in the new government.
South African and Pressure for an Agreement
¶6. (C) Masiyiwa said Mbeki was anxious to secure a prompt
agreement before he assumed the SADC Presidency and to ensure
PRETORIA 00001632 002.2 OF 002
his legacy. He understood there was also pressure from
Russia and China following the UNSC vote; the ANC had
promised Russian and China an agreement would occur before
¶7. (C) Because of this pressure, Masiyiwa was concerned that
Mbeki would press for a quick agreement that was less
favorable to the MDC than his draft agreement. Mbeki was not
concerned about a good agreement, he averred, but only one
that would pass muster with other African leaders.
¶8. (C) Masiyiwa expressed a lack of confidence in the MDC’s
resolve to hold firm and negotiate a good agreement along the
lines of his draft. He noted that Tsvangirai had begun
negotiations without even securing the return of his passport
which had been seized by the government after his return to
Zimbabwe in June. Also, after the signing of the Memorandum
of Understanding between ZANU-PF and the MDC on July 22,
Tsvangirai had publicly renounced violence, but Mugabe had
not done so. Masiyiwa thought that Tendai Biti, Tsvangirai’s
lead negotiator, had been broken during his time in custody
and could be manipulated by ZANU-PF. He believed the
Mutambara faction’s lead negotiator, Welshman Ncube, was
“slippery” and would not stand up to ZANU-PF.
International Support for an Agreement
¶9. (C) Masiyiwa said he warned Tsvangirai he could be
picking up a “poison chalice” if he entered into an agreement
that was not satisfactory to the U.S. and the EU. A
transitional government needed Western support and would fail
without it. Relatedly, Masiyiwa urged the U.S. to impress
upon Mbeki and his mediation team that a “quality agreement”
was necessary; otherwise there would be no Western economic
support and an agreement would be hollow.
Embassy Harare Comment
¶10. (C) Although Masiyiwa has definite ideas on what the
ultimate agreement should be, we don’t know whether Mugabe
and ZANU-PF will ultimately accept Masiyiwa’s draft agreement
or whether the South Africans will present (or have already
presented) something else. Regardless, it is increasingly
likely that there will be a power-sharing agreement reached
between ZANU-PF and the MDC, quite possibly sooner rather
than later. The parties are now working out the details of
the agreement. ZANU-PF and Mugabe are not willing to cede
power to Tsvangirai, and it appears that the MDC will accept
a government that includes a substantial role for Mugabe and
ZANU-PF. The MDC is tired and has apparently calculated that
it is better to try and to bring peace and stability now
through an agreement, with the promise of elections in two
years, than for Zimbabwe to continue to suffer violence, much
of it targeted at the MDC.
¶11. (C) If an agreement comes to pass, the new government
will undoubtedly ask for U.S. UK, and international financial
institution assistance. In fact, Tsvangirai may make the
request on behalf of the government.
¶12. (C) Ambassador will speak with Tsvangirai over the
weekend to reiterate to him that a substantive role for
Mugabe is a non-starter for the USG.
¶13. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Harare.