Mugabe has to indicate by “body language” he wants change- Biti


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Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube said negotiations with the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front were going on well on paper but a “paradigm shift” by President Robert Mugabe was critical to the success of the negotiations and Mugabe had to indicate by his “body language” that he wanted change.

The two Movement for Democratic Change secretaries said negotiations had entered their final phase and agreement had been reached on most issues like the draft constitution, a new electoral law, reform of the Public Order and Security Act and reform of the media laws.

Negotiations were now to address the political environment and the potentially deal-breaking transitional issues of timing of implementation of the new constitution and date of the election.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07HARARE1080, SADC TALKS ENTER FINAL PHASE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07HARARE1080

2007-12-05 13:41

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO4230

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #1080/01 3391341

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 051341Z DEC 07 ZDK

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2199

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1673

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1804

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0417

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1081

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1429

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1860

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4288

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0931

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 001080

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL,

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2013

TAGS: PREL PGOV ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: SADC TALKS ENTER FINAL PHASE

 

Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Glenn Warren. Reason: 1.4 (d)

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (SBU) MDC negotiators Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube told

diplomats December 4 that the final phase of SADC-sponsored

negotiations will take place in South Africa between December

5 and December 10. Agreement has been reached on a draft

constitution, a new electoral law, reform of POSA, and reform

of media laws. In South Africa, negotiators will address the

political environment, and the potentially deal-breaking

transitional issues of timing of implementation of the new

constitution and date of the election. Noting gains on

paper, the negotiators said that critical to success on the

ground would be a “paradigm shift” by Mugabe, supporting a

changed political environment to allow implementation of an

agreement.

 

2. (SBU) On the role of the international community, the

negotiators acknowledged the importance of observers. Since

the invitation to non-Zibabweans is a sovereign decision,

they hoped this would be part of the agreement. On

sanctions, they opined that the international community

should await the outcome of the SADC process–maintaining

existing policies, but not ratcheting up pressure. End

Summary.

 

——————————————— ————-

Progress to Date–Constitution, Electoral Law, POSA, AIPPA

——————————————— ————-

 

3. (SBU) The MDC negotiators said negotiations would resume

on December 5 with a deadline for an agreement of December

10. If an agreement were reached, it would need to be

ratified by the executive committees of the respective sides.

This would presumably occur by December 15. (Note. The

EU-AU Summit takes place on December 9-December 10, the

ZNU-PF Congress is scheduled for December 11-December 14, and

the ANC National Congress is scheduled for December

15-December 20. End Note.)

 

4. (SBU) According to Biti, although ZANU-PF had initially

argued for amending the current constitution, agreement had

been reached on a new draft constitution that contained a

bill of rights, oversight committees, and a new electoral

framework. Subsequently, a new Electoral Act had been

introduced in Parliament, concretizing what had been agreed

to in the constitution. This included continuous voter

registration and inspection of voters’ rolls, access of all

parties to public broadcasting, ability of anyone or

group–not just the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)–to

do voter education, and restriction of the use of security

forces in the electoral process. Biti noted that agreement

had not been reached on whether the current ZEC should

continue the ongoing voter registration process and

constituency delimitation exercise, or whether these should

await the reconstitution of the ZEC (with new membership)

under the new constitution.

 

5. (SBU) Biti said the parties had agreed to modify POSA,

based on the South African model. Authorization for meetings

would still be necessary (impossible, he said, to avoid in a

post-9-11 world), but regulators would have to justify

denials, which would be the rare case. In the event of

denial, appeal would be to the courts rather than a minister.

 

6. (SBU) Finally, Biti said there was an agreement to reform

AIPPA to remove restrictive accreditation requirements.

Under the proposed AIPPA, journalists would not have to be

accredited. Accreditation would confer certain privileges,

 

HARARE 00001080 002 OF 003

 

 

such as sitting in Parliament and gaining access to

government-held information.

 

——————-

Unresolved Violence

——————-

 

7. (SBU) According to the MDC negotiators, the principal

unresolved issue was the political atmosphere. On September

30, ZANU-PF negotiators had promised that the party would

engage its structures and those of the government to stop

violence and permit opposition meetings. The South African

mediators had stressed the importance of this. Two months

later, despite continuing negotiations and progress on paper,

violence had continued.

 

8. (SBU) Biti and Ncube both stressed that a “paradigm

shift” had to take place, directed by Mugabe. Mugabe had to

indicate by his “body language”–the signals that he sends to

his party structures–that he wanted a change on the ground;

otherwise the progress at the negotiating table would not

ensure free and fair elections.

 

——————————

Outstanding Substantive Issues

——————————

 

9. (SBU) In addition to the overall issue of violence, the

MDC had placed on the agenda the following issues which had

not yet been discussed and/or resolved: militarization of

the state (increasing role of security forces in traditional

government functions such as distribution of food and

elections), coopting by the government of traditional leaders

to carry out its objectives, manipulation of food aid whereby

ZANU-PF membership is sometimes necessary to obtain food

assistance, and the role of security forces such as “green

bombers” or youths who extra-officially intimidate the

opposition and its supporters.

 

10. (SBU) Issues tabled by ZANU-PF included sanctions, land,

“pirate” or off-shore radio such as VOA, recognition by the

opposition of national days, and opposition recognition of

the 2002 election results and Mugabe’s reelection as

president.

 

———————————–

Transitional Issues–Deal Breakers?

———————————–

 

11. (SBU) Biti said that in exchange for support on

Amendment 18, the MDC was assured a new constitution would be

negotiated and put in place before elections. He and Ncube

said ZANU-PF was backing away from this, indicating a new

constitution should take effect after elections. The MDC

negotiators had received criticism–much of it

justified–from civil society for agreeing to Amendment 18

and negotiating a new constitution without input form civil

society. It was now important, they said, to allow civil

society to weigh in on the constitution and to implement it

before elections. ZANU-PF intransigence on this could be a

deal breaker.

 

12. (SBU) The date of the elections was also a potential

deal breaker according to the negotiators. Time was needed

to adequately conduct delimitation of parliamentary

constituencies, accomplish a fresh voter registration, and

allow free campaigning. The MDC was not yet suggesting a

date–this should be determined by the time necessary to

implement an agreement– but March might be too early.

 

———————————–

Role of the International Community

 

HARARE 00001080 003 OF 003

 

 

———————————–

 

13. (SBU) Asked about the role of the international

community, Ncube said it should for now stand still and await

the outcome of the negotiations. It should wholeheartedly

support the SADC process–“that’s all we have” at this point

in time. While existing pressures should be maintained, they

should not be increased.

 

14. (SBU) With regard to elections, Ncube said that

international observation would be important. Invitations to

observers was a sovereign decision; therefore, as a matter of

law, the MDC could not compel the GOZ to accept observers.

He hoped that provision for them would be negotiated as part

of an agreement. In any event, observers could apply to the

ZEC for authorization. Since this would be a transparent

process, it would be clear if the GOZ denied observation

status to interested individuals and groups.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

15. (C) As Biti and Ncube prepared to return to South Africa

for a conclusion to the talks, they seemed pessimistic about

an overall result that would lead to free and fair elections.

As they acknowledged, in exchange for concessions on

Amendment 18, they had not yet received what they needed

most: implementation of a new constitution before elections,

an improved political environment, and a reasonable election

date. The MDC seems to be looking toward the future, after

Mugabe is presumably reelected. As Ncube said, the MDC did

not want to insist on all or nothing in the current

negotiations. It will take what it can out of the SADC

process, eg., a new constitution, a new electoral law, and

reforms to repressive legislation, hoping to lay the

political and legal framework for the post-Mugabe era. If an

agreement is reached and substantially implemented, so much

the better, but nobody for the moment seems to be counting on

this.

MCGEE

(30 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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