Oppah Muchinguri, fired as Minister of Women’s Affairs because President Robert Mugabe could no longer accommodate those who had lost in the 2008 elections, bounced back as a member of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee of the inclusive government.
JOMIC was expected to discuss breaches of the July 22 Memorandum of Understanding between ZANU-PF and MDC and of the 15 September Global Political Agreement.
These included media hate speech and restrictions on independent media, and the status of activists that had been abducted by security agents.
ZANU-PF members were Patrick Chinamasa, Nicholas Goche, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Oppah Muchinguri.
MDC-T members were Elton Mangoma, Innocent Chagonda, Elias Mudzuri, and Tabitha Khumalo.
MDC-M members were Welshman Ncube, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Frank Chamunorwa, and Edward Mkhosi.
Chair of the Committee was to rotate among the three parties. Ncube would preside for the first month, then Mangoma, then Goche.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000079 SIPDIS AF/S FOR B.WALCH DRL FOR N. WILETT ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2019 TAGS: PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PREL [External Political Relations], ASEC [Security], PHUM [Human Rights], ZI [Zimbabwe]
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE DEALING WITH OUTSTANDING ISSUES Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
——- SUMMARY ——-
¶1. (C) MDC-M secretary general Welshman Ncube believes the power-sharing agreement is imperfect with questionable chances of success, but failure to form an inclusive government in his opinion could have resulted in an increasingly anarchic situation. With all sides supporting the SADC communique calling for MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai to be sworn in on February 11, representatives from the parties are now meeting to resolve outstanding issues. SADC negotiators will discuss the issues of governorships and the National Security Council. The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) has already met and will continue to discuss breaches of the July 22 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ZANU-PF and MDC and of the September 15 agreement. These include media hate speech and restrictions on independent media, and the status of abductees. Ncube is skeptical that all issues, including that of the abductees, can be resolved before February 11. It is unclear what the MDC will do if they are not. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Ncube briefed polecon chief February 2 on the power-sharing agreement and efforts to resolve outstanding issues.
—————– A Hobson’s Choice —————–
¶3. (C) Ncube stated that throughout SADC-sponsored negotiations, he had been a strong supporter of a power-sharing government, not because he necessarily believed it would be successful, but because it offered the only possibility out of Zimbabwe’s desperate situation. The alternative was to await the demise of ZANU-PF. He was convinced that ZANU-PF would never willingly relinquish power. The probable outcome of a continuing political stalemate and imploding economy, Ncube told us, would be a disintegration of ZANU-PF into country-wide power centers presided over by the equivalent of Somali war lords.
¶4. (C) MDC-T had no palatable choice, in Ncube’s opinion. Without a viable Plan B, remaining outside of government would have given the MDC little prospect of assuming power, and it would have been in the position of wathing the country collapse and the people continuing to suffer. By joining government, MDC-T was making the unenviable decision to work with a party that holds the MDC in contempt, does not want to give up power, and has been responsible for Zimbabwe’s economic deterioration, myriad human rights violations, and a humanitarian crisis. MDC-T had concluded, as had he, that the only possibility of political and economic recovery was an inclusive government.
¶5. (C) Even though he supports it, Ncube was skeptical the new government would ultimately succeed. Amendment 19, which encapsulates the September 15 agreement, had a number of internal inconsistencies. There were skeptics in both parties who were not interested in making the government work. And skeptics in the international community would Qwork. And skeptics in the international community would withhold critical support. “It won’t be easy,” Ncube concluded.
¶6. (C) Ncube was scornful of ZANU-PF. ZANU-PF, more than anyone, needed an agreement to continue to survive as a viable party and to function as part of a government attempting to resuscitate the country. If ZANU-PF was HARARE 00000079 002 OF 004 strategic, it would have attempted to demonstrate a paradigm shift by ceasing its campaign of terror and easing up on media hate speech. This would have earned it international good will, and facilitated the formation of an inclusive government. The ZANU-PF-orchestrated abductions, coming during the negotiating period, were “incomprehensible.” The only explanation, opined Ncube, was that hawks in ZANU-PF wanted to scuttle the possibility of an agreement.
—————— Outstanding Issues ——————
¶7. (C) Ncube told us that ZANU-PF, MDC-T, and MDC-M negotiators would meet February 3 and 4 in South Africa to discuss governorships and the National Security Council. (NOTE: MDC-T issued a press release this afternoon stating that ZANU-PF had claimed it was unready to proceed because it had not received instructions from Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe who is in Addis Ababa for the AU Summit. The MDC-T in the press release attacked ZANU-PF for backtracking and questioned its good faith in forming a government. END NOTE.) On governorships, there were three issues to resolve: a formula for allocating the 10 provincial governorships between parties, a method of creating vacancies in those seats that would go to either MDC-T or MDC-M, and timing of replacing designated ZANU-PF governors. ZANU-PF, according to Ncube, wants the party that received the most votes in the March 29 election in a particular province to have the governorship for that province. This would result in 6 ZANU-PF governors, 3 MDC-T governors, and 1 MDC-M governor. MDC-T wants to give the governorship to the party that had won the most parliamentary seats in a particular province in the March election. Under this formula, it would have 5 governors, ZANU-PF would have 4, and MDC-M would have 1. MDC-M supports using the same formula as was used to apportion ministers. This formula looks at the overall strength of each party and aims to ensure a significant presence for each party in government. This would result in ZANU-PF and MDC-T each having 4 governors and MDC-M 2.
¶8. (C) To create vacancies for MDC governors to replace ZANU-PF governors, ZANU-PF governors could be summarily discharged, given a retirement package, or reassigned to other positions. Ncube said ZANU-PF wanted to replace governors when their terms expired; both MDCs wanted new governors in place by February 13.
¶9. (C) Ncube told us that MDC-T had drafted a bill to establish a National Security Council. Under the bill, the Council would oversee operations and activities of the security forces, including the Central Intelligence Organization, the defense forces, the police, and the prison service. Members would be the president and vice presidents, the prime minister and deputy prime ministers, Home Affairs and Defense ministers, chairperson of the Public Service Commission, and three other ministers assigned by the parties. Ncube expected no difficulty in reaching agreement Qparties. Ncube expected no difficulty in reaching agreement on a draft bill.
——————————————- JOMIC and Breaches of the MOU and Agreement ———————–
¶10. (C) JOMIC was inaugurated by South African mediator Frank Chikane on January 30. ZANU-PF members are Patrick Chinamasa, Nicholas Goche, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Oppah Muchinguri. MDC-T members are Elton Mangoma, Innocent Chagonda, Elias Mudzuri, and Tabita Khumalo. MDC-M members are Ncube, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Frank Chamunorwa, and Edward Mkhosi. Chair of the Committee will rotate among the three parties, Ncube will preside for the first month, HARARE 00000079 003 OF 004 then Mangoma, then Goche.
¶11. (C) Ncube said JOMIC at its first meeting on January 30 discussed administrative details–procedures, funding, office space, etc. JOMIC met again on February 2 and began to address the substantive issues of media and abductions. It will meet again on February 6 with journalists from the government and independent newspapers to discuss hate speech and media bias.
¶12. (C) On the issue of abductions, Ncube averred that there was consensus within JOMIC to convince legal authorities to release detainees who are now before the court on bail. The three JOMIC chairs had agreed to speak to Patrick Chinamasa, acting Minister of Justice, to request he encourage the Attorney General to agree to bail for all such detainees. For detained individuals who have not been brought to court, JOMIC agreed to talk with both the Attorney General and Commissioner of Police to seek their release from custody as soon as possible.
¶13. (C) Ncube believed there would be a crisis of confidence in the power-sharing agreement and prospective new government if the issue of abductions and detainees was not dealt with quickly. Absent sucess in talking with Chinamasa, the Attorney General and Commissioner of Police, Ncube said JOMIC would consider talking to Mugabe and, if necessary, SADC.
¶14. (C) MDC-T has alleged the reappointment of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and appointment of Attorney General Johannes Tomana were breaches of the MOU and September 15 agreement. Ncube said Gono was willing to resign; he was interested in a ministerial post, perhaps foreign minister. But he thought Mugabe might resist immediately reassigning Gono in order to retain negotiating leverage on other issues. Tomana’s situation was more difficult since under the Constitution he could not be involuntarily removed.
———————- Leadup to February 11 ———————-
¶15. (C) Ncube said he expected Amendment 19 to be passed by Parliament on February 5. He was doubtful that all the outstanding issues, including abductions and detainees, could be resolved by February 11. Nevertheless, he counseled MDC-T to avoid conditioning the swearing-in of Tsvangirai and ministers on resolution of all these issues. An atmosphere of collaboration was being established and ZANU-PF was wont to react negatively to conditionality by claiming MDC-T is acting in bad faith. Ncube was confident that outstanding breaches would eventually be resolved.
¶16. (C) In the same vein, Ncube opined that Western condemnation of ZANU-PF was counter-productive. ZANU-PF wanted at all costs to avoid appearing to follow Western dictates. Ncube advised a quiet approach in the near future to allow the new government to take hold. (COMMENT: Ncube is a general advocate of “quiet diplomacy.” He expressed displeasure at MDC-M president Arthur Mutambara’s criticism of the U.S. and other western countries, most recently in Qof the U.S. and other western countries, most recently in Davos, for interference in Zimbabwe’s affairs. Ncube said he and other MDC-M officials had advised Mutambara to lay off; Ncube despairingly said he follows their advice for a few days and then goes back to “default mode.” END COMMENT.)
——- COMMENT ——-
¶17. (C) Even Ncube who has been a prime exponent of a GNU is HARARE 00000079 004 OF 004 skeptical about its chances of success. But for the moment this is the only game in town, and there is little we can do in the immediate future other than to watch events unfold. The success of a GNU depends in large part on the good faith of ZANU-PF (historically a commodity in very short supply) and there are several markers – the outstanding issues – that in the next 10 days or so will indicate ZANU-PF’s intentions. Primary among these markers is the fate of abductees. Failure to release them soon will doom the government before it begins. And even if they are released, that would be but a first step on a long road.
¶18. (C) Tsvangirai at a diplomatic briefing on January 30 was asked what the MDC’s position would be if outstanding issues were not resolved by February 11. He sidestepped the issue, and in private conversations MDC officials have indicated they expect resolution of these matters by February
¶11. But if this is not the case, as Ncube suspects, the MDC will have to make a decision. If Tsvangirai is inaugurated with issues pending, particularly that of abductees, he will appear to have been manipulated by ZANU-PF. And if he insists on conditionality, he will be accused once again, rightly or wrongly, of flip-flopping and obstructing the formation of a GNU. END COMMENT.