President Robert Mugabe blamed his negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche for the poor showing in the 29 March 2008 elections because their negotiations with the Movement for Democratic Change had opened up the electoral process.
This was the opinion of the secretary-general of the smaller faction of the MDC, Welshman Ncube.
Ncube was also his party’s negotiator and had been involved in negotiations with Chinamasa long before the MDC split.
Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front lost narrowly to the MDC in the lower house but won more seats in the upper house.
Mugabe himself lost to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential elections but Tsvangirai did not win an outright victory which necessitated a run-off from which he pulled out because of violence.
Ncube said that stung by Mugabe, Chinamasa decided to make an example of the secretary-general of the larger faction of the MDC Tendai Biti, who was also the lead negotiator for his party by allowing him to be arrested on treason charges.
Ncube said Goche, on the other hand, tried to help Biti.
Viewing cable 08HARARE582, HARARE: WELSHMAN NCUBE ON SADC NEGOTIATIONS
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/02/2018
SUBJECT: HARARE: WELSHMAN NCUBE ON SADC NEGOTIATIONS
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) Welshman Ncube briefed PolEcon chief July 2 on SADC
negotiations, Tendai Biti, and the state of violence in
¶2. (C) PolEcon Chief met with Ncube immediately after a
meeting he had had with South African negotiators Mufamadi
and Gumbi. According to Ncube, Zimbabwean president Mugabe
and ZANU-PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa told Mbeki at the
African Union summit in Sharm El Sheikh that they would
return MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti’s passport so that
he could travel to South Africa as early as July 3 for
SADC-sponsored negotiations. Ncube said negotiators would be
Nicholas Goche and Chinamasa representing ZANU-PF, Biti and
Elton Mangoma representing the MDC Tsvangirai faction
(MDC-T), and Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga for
the MDC Mutambara (MDC-M) faction.
¶3. (C) Ncube said that before the June 27 election, then
negotiators Goche, Chinamasa, Biti, and Mangoma had agreed to
a negotiating framework which contained four options for
–The 1980 model with a ceremonial president and executive
prime minister. The MDC favored this option with Morgan
Tsvangirai as prime minister;
–Mugabe continuing as president with Tsvangirai as vice
president. This was favored by ZANU-PF;
–The Kenyan model with an executive president and executive
–A transitional authority to take effect before the June 27
¶4. (C) Negotiations ended with the arrest of Biti on June
¶12. Nevertheless, Tsvangirai subsequently spoke to Mbeki and
agreed to the 1980 model. Mbeki presented Tsvangirai’s
position to Mugabe, according to Ncube, but Mugabe avoided
further contact with the South Africans before the June 27
election and did not respond. According to Ncube, the South
Africans were not advocating the 1980 model or any other
formulation, but rather acting as messengers.
¶5. (C) Ncube said that he, Biti, and Goche had met on June
30 to discuss further negotiations. They agreed that, since
the election had taken place, negotiations would begin from
“square zero,” although Ncube said it was likely the four
options described in paragraph 3 would be on the table.
¶6. (C) Ncube said Mbeki would conduct the negotiations. He
said there was no interest at this time on the part of the
AU, SADC, or individual African leaders in becoming involved
in the process. (NOTE: In a diplomatic and press briefing
today (Septel), Tsvangirai said the MDC would not proceed
with negotiations absent an AU mediator to complement Mbeki.
¶7. (C) Ncube expressed pessimism about a successful outcome
to the negotiations. Tsvangirai was willing to accept Mugabe
as a ceremonial president, but wanted the real power for
himself; Mugabe’s initial negotiating position was for
ZANU-PF to maintain power with a junior role for the MDC —
and perhaps no role for Tsvangirai. Ncube thought one
possible compromise could be the Kenyan model with Mugabe and
Tsvangirai sharing power. This would require compromises,
however, which neither of the two had demonstrated a
willingness to make.
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A Note on Biti
¶8. (C) Ncube said Biti had emerged from jail bitter and
angry, particularly toward Chinamasa. He thought that Mugabe
had blamed the results of the March 29 elections on Chinamasa
and Goche because their negotiations with the MDC had opened
up the electoral process. Ncube opined that Chinamasa, stung
by Mugabe, had decided to make an example of Biti by allowing
him to be arrested and collaborating in his interrogation.
On the other hand, said Ncube, Goche had tried to help Biti.
Trajectory of Violence
¶9. (C) According to Ncube, violence had subsided since the
June 27 election. The process of dismantling many of the
ZANU-PF “reeducation” camps was continuing.
¶10. (C) ZANU-PF stole the election in order to, inter alia,
be able to negotiate with the MDC from a position of
strength. The MDC does, however, have leverage. It can
simply refuse to participate in a government with ZANU-PF,
and leave it to ZANU-PF to deal with Zimbabwe’s myriad
problems. This might eventually force ZANU-PF to deal
realistically with the opposition. ZANU-PF knows, despite
its apparent state of denial, that at the end of the day it
needs MDC support and western engagement to fix the economy.
¶11. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: Violence does seem to have
subsided, particularly since the pre-election peak. We have
received some reports that police in urban areas are rounding
up the ZANU-PF renegade youth responsible for attacks on the
opposition. Nevertheless, we also continue to receive
reports of assaults and deaths from around the country. We
will continue to track and assess the situation. END COMMENT.