The Movement for Democratic Change was going to look for a new leader if its leader Morgan Tsvangirai lost the 2008 elections regardless of its character or legitimacy.
This was said by IDASA analyst Sydney Masamvu who met Tsvangirai in Pretoria shortly after Tsvangirai had addressed the diplomatic corps in June 2007.
Tsvangirai told Masamvu that there was a 95 percent chance that the MDC would boycott the elections because it was pointless to participate in a forlorn hope.
He said the MDC participated in an unfair election the last time around and achieved nothing by their effort.
Masamvu said though Tsvangirai consistently pointed out that his supporters did not want to participate in a charade; Tsvangirai also appeared to have selfish motives in that he realised that the next election would likely be his last chance to become the President.
Masamvu said if Tsvangirai lost the next election, despite its character or legitimacy, MDC grassroots would likely look for another leader with a better chance of achieving a better result.
Viewing cable 07PRETORIA2105, ZIMBABWE: SADC INITIATIVE OFF TO SLOW START
PP RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #2105/01 1631330
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121330Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0300
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4479
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 002105
DEPT FOR P, AF, DRL, AF/S
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/06/2017
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE: SADC INITIATIVE OFF TO SLOW START
REF: PRETORIA 2044
Classified By: Charges d’Affaires Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(b) an
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. Political analyst Sydney Masamvu told PolOff
on 5 June that the SADC initiative is off to a slow and
disheartening start. ZANU-PF’s official submission to Mbeki
includes troublesome non-starters like demanding that the MDC
acknowledge that Mugabe was elected in a free and fair poll
and is the legitimate President of Zimbabwe. MDC is growing
frustrated with the process and is already leaning toward
boycotting the next election. If one were keeping score,
Mugabe would be in the lead. However, Masamvu, who was in
Harare last week, also believes that many in ZANU-PF are
ready for the SADC-led initiative to work, especially those
who see themselves as Mugabe’s successors. END SUMMARY.
ZANU-PF PLAYS GAMES WITH NEGOTIATIONS
¶2. (C) After asking for a week’s extension, ZANU-PF on 4 June
gave President Mbeki its official response to MDC’s
submission on their vision of the way forward. Political
analyst Sydney Masamvu (strictly protect) told PolOff on 5
June that ZANU-PF’s submission calls on the MDC to: 1) join
SADC leaders in their call for an end to all foreign
sanctions, 2) acknowledge that the last election was free and
fair and that Mugabe is the legitimate President of Zimbabwe,
and 3) agree to a constitutional amendment guaranteeing
Mugabe immunity from any prosecution. (Comment: The ZANU-PF
insistence on labeling Mugabe “legitimate” could be viewed as
one pillar of immunity, but also as a stalling tactic since
ZANU-PF must realize the MDC would never acknowledge such a
statement. End Comment). Rex Mujuru told Masamvu last week
in Harare that Mugabe’s biggest fear is prosecution (i.e.,
before the International Court in the Hague), but that many
in the party, included Rex himself, no longer share Mugabe’s
concerns and would not be upset if he were prosecuted.
Mujuru also told Masamvu that Mugabe had tried to put him
under CIO surveillance three months ago, but that the CIO
refused and told him immediately. At that point, according
to Mujuru, he would have handed Mugabe over if he could.
¶3. (C) In the meantime, Masamvu believes that Mugabe and his
team are already trying to outfox Mbeki (again). For
example, Mugabe’s attempts to enlarge the legislature and
allow Parliament to choose the President will prevent the MDC
from becoming king-makers. Currently, if the MDC regained
all of its 41 seats, it would break the tie between the two
ZANU-PF factions that support either Mujuru or Mugabe.
Masamvu also said that during the first face to face meeting
between ZANU-PF negotiators and MDC Secretaries Generals,
Goche told Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube that they did not
need Mbeki and suggested that they negotiate amongst
themselves in Harare. Masamvu called the move “cheeky” and
said that Mbeki was not happy with the comment. Masamvu also
added that Mbeki should never have chosen someone like Sydney
Mufamadi (SAG Minister of Local Government and Mbeki’s
diplomatic trouble-shooter) to become involved since “the
Zimbabweans will run circles around him.”
MDC FOCUSING ON SELF-PRESERVATION FOR NOW
¶4. (C) MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai asked to meet with
Masamvu immediately after he addressed the diplomatic corps
in Pretoria on 5 June (Ref A). Though Tsvangirai told
diplomats that it is too early to take a decision about
whether they will participate in elections or not, Tsvangirai
confided to Masamvu that the chances of them boycotting are
currently at 95 percent. Masamvu agreed with Morgan’s
assessment that it was pointless to participate in a forlorn
hope. The MDC participated in an unfair election the last
time around, he concluded, and achieved nothing by their
effort. Though Tsvangirai consistently points out that his
supporters do not want to participate in a charade, he also
appears to have selfish motives in that he realizes that the
next election will likely be his last chance to become the
President. According to Masamvu, if Tsvangirai loses the
next election, despite its character or legitimacy, MDC
grassroots will likely look for another leader with a better
chance of achieving a better result.
PRETORIA 00002105 002 OF 002
ZANU-PF ALLIANCES STILL FLUID
¶5. (C) Masamvu described ongoing and changing alliances
between ZANU-PF members. According to Masamvu, Rex Mujuru is
“restless” and is becoming closer to Emerson Mnangagwa.
Masamvu also heard that the heightened state of alert by the
military was due to concerns about a palace coup, not the
activities of the opposition. When asked who would lead such
a coup, Masamvu said Rex Mujuru. The Women’s League, whose
president recently said that “a fish rotten at the head
should be thrown away,” is leaning toward Simba Makoni.
Masamvu also suspects that Gono is gaining ground and warned
PolOff that if Mugabe is not running, Gono will throw his hat
in the ring 3 months before an election. Masamvu told PolOff
that Gono acknowledges he could not defeat Mugabe, but that
Gono believes he could easily defeat Mujuru and Mnangagwa.
MBEKI CALLS ON MASAMVU FOR ADVICE
¶6. (C) Masamvu told PolOff that Mbeki asked him and Mike
McGovern from International Crisis Group to meet with him and
Deputy ForMin Pahad to discuss Zimbabwe at the beginning of
May. (Note: Masamvu said the meeting was held at 1:00 am at
Mbeki’s official residence and that Mbeki “was at his best,”
even at that hour. Masamvu was told that Mbeki’s last
meeting that day was scheduled for 3:00 am. End Note) Mbeki
specifically asked Masamvu about the configuration of
political loyalties within the Zimbabwean military and what
kind of assistance the MDC would need to govern. Masamvu
responded that the military is divided in thirds, with
one-third loyal to Mugabe, one-third to Mujuru, and one-third
to Mnangagwa. As for the MDC, Masamvu said, “I had to be
honest; I told them that MDC would win in a free and fair
election, but they would need significant help building
capacity to govern effectively.” Masamvu then joked that
given the shallowness of the MDC ranks, the party would have
to run two pages of classified ads just to get enough
ministers to fill a cabinet.
¶7. (C) Masamvu’s insights into the interpersonal, political
and social dynamics influencing events in Zimbabwe are in
demand by regional and international leaders and analysts.
He was the primary author of the recent analysis on Zimbabwe,
following the SADC Special Session in Dar es Salaam,
published by the International Crisis Group. South Africa’s
highest leaders who are most directly engaged in the
SADC-mandated initiative pursued by President Mbeki call on
Masamvu and seem to value his assessment of the situation.
They and others seek his advice as they formulate their
policies and strategies. As such, Masamvu has become as much
an influential player in these complicated developments as he
is a keen eyed observer and analyst. Nevertheless, his
judgment is valued because he is often close to the mark and
has the rare ability to move comfortably between opposition
and ruling party leaders while maintaining warm associations
within the Zimbabwean and international NGO communities.
Post has learned to trust his judgment. In this case, he
confessed a personal sense of despondency with the pace of
events that significantly chills any optimistic expectations
for the near term.