Ncube said ZANU-PF had no presidential candidate


Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Welshman Ncube told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front did not want harmonised parliamentary and presidential elections because it did not have a presidential candidate.

He also said even with a favourable outcome from March 2005 parliamentary elections, without formal interparty talks, there would be no political reform because of presidential authority to use unchecked executive power.

He said power sharing between the MDC and ZANU-PF would be impossible without a new constitution.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2004-05-11 15:04

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000790










E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014








Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d


1. (C) SUMMARY: On May 10 the Ambassador met with MDC

Secretary General Welshman Ncube and MDC Spokesperson Paul



Themba-Nyathi. Ncube commented on lower levels of violence

in the pre-election period in Lupane, sympathetic meetings

with South African officials, and an internal MDC conflict

between trade unionists and non-trade unionists. END SUMMARY.


By-Election Environment



2. (C) Having just returned from two weeks in Lupane

(Matabeleland North) where campaigning for a May 15 – 16

by-election is well underway, Ncube reported that violence

was lower than in previous elections, however intimidation

was widespread. He said the MDC had been able to hold almost

all of its campaign meetings and rallies without disruption.

Ncube said the MDC had been able to convey its message

effectively, but it was unclear whether that would be

sufficient to win the election in the face of ZANU-PF tactics.


3. (C) Ncube reported that the GOZ-appointed District

Administrator had given kraalheads (traditional village

sub-chiefs) specific instructions to organize residents under

their jurisdictions to vote. The kraalheads were to maintain

lists of their residents, bring their people to the polling

stations, and record the names of residents who actually

voted. The voters were supposed to write down the serial

number of their ballot paper, and give that number to their

kraalheads after voting to verify votes for ZANU-PF.


4. (C) There were rumors circulating in Lupane that a

“Gukurahundi” (the name commonly used for the government

massacres of residents of Matabeleland in the early 1980s)

would happen again if the ZANU-PF candidate in Lupane did not



5. (C) Ncube said that ZANU-PF rallies and campaign meetings

had been sparsely attended and that kraalheads were

subsequently requested to convey campaign messages in

community meetings with their residents. Some ZANU-PF

rallies were later billed as “community meetings” in order to

get more residents to attend.


6. (C) Ncube said that there had only been about 4 – 5

incidents of direct violence on MDC supporters during the

campaign period. In one case a provincial organizer was

threatened by ZANU-PF youths and was escorted home without

incident. In another case ZANU-PF youths visited the home of

a ward chairman and assaulted his son when they did not find

the chairman. Ncube said there were 2 – 3 other cases about

which he did not have details.


7. (C) He reported that MDC leaders met with ZANU-PF

provincial authorities for Matabeleland North and agreed that

violence should be avoided. Ncube said that ZANU-PF

candidate Martin Khumalo had made a public statement that he

lived in Lupane, and would not want to preside over an

election marred by violence where anyone was killed. Ncube

said he thought ZANU-PF might have assessed that violence,

given the memory of the Gukurahundi, would backfire. Ncube

said police had been helpful making arrests irrespective of

political affiliation.


8. (C) Ncube said that Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC)

members, many actually from Lupane, had spoken at many MDC

rallies conveying the message that using kraalheads for

campaign organizing was illegal, and reinforcing an ESC

pamphlet that the ballot was secret. Ncube thought, however,

that it was unlikely ESC representatives made similar

comments at ZANU-PF rallies.


9. (C) Ncube said that some residents were angry at ZANU-PF

for having being ferried some 25 kilometers to a large

ZANU-PF rally held on May 8 at which Vice President Msika

spoke, but then having to walk home afterward.

Sympathy from South Africa



10. (C) Ncube reported that in a trip to South Africa during

Mbeki’s inauguration, he met with several Foreign Ministry

officials including Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad. Ncube said

that especially in the wake of the violence in Zengeza, South

African officials were unhappy that the situation in Zimbabwe

was not improving. They acknowledged that waiting for

ZANU-PF’s willingness to talk was like drifting without

urgency. RSA officials observed that ZANU-PF might simply be

waiting for the MDC to implode and cease to be a political

force. Ncube said he encouraged the GOSA to communicate to

the GOZ that proceeding to the March 2005 elections under the

current electoral environment was unacceptable and would not

result in a legitimate outcome.


Parliamentary Elections and Talks



11. (C) Ncube opined that ZANU-PF clearly did not want

presidential and parliamentary elections coordinated because

the ruling party had no presidential candidate.


12. (C) Ncube said that even with a favorable outcome from

March 2005 parliamentary elections, without formal interparty

talks, there would be no political reform because of

presidential authority to use unchecked executive power.

Similarly, without a new constitution, power sharing between

the MDC and ZANU-PF would be impossible.


Internal Conflicts Simmering



13. (C) Commenting on MDC internal differences, Ncube said

that there was cohesion and direction within the membership

and also between the membership and leadership. Ncube said

there was internal cohesion within all provincial party

structures except Harare, Chitungwiza (a large high-density

suburb of Harare) and Masvingo.


14. (C) Commenting on cohesion problems affecting Harare and

Chitungwiza, Ncube said differences between MDC leaders were

being resolved. He said that someone, presumably within the

MDC leadership, undoubtedly directed MDC youths to attack MDC

MP Job Sikhala but Ncube did not specify whom. Ncube said

current conflicts within the leadership stemmed from the

flawed selection of the party’s candidate for the Zengeza

by-election (a high-density suburb of Harare) (Ref C). Ncube

said the party simply did not follow its own candidate

selection procedures in that case, but now some within the

party were defending the candidate because he was a trade

unionist. Ncube said trade unionists within the party were

complaining that they were being prevented from running for

MP slots. Ncube said this confused the issue, the party

structures did not select the trade unionist as their

candidate simply because he was less popular than the

candidate they had in mind. It had nothing to do with him

being a trade unionist.


15. (C) Nyathi explained that MDC President Morgan

Tsvangirai, essentially under house arrest, sometimes did not



hear the whole story. Ncube, however, took responsibility

for the issue acknowledging that it was the Secretary General

who had ultimate responsibility for internal cohesion.


Restructuring Underway



16. (C) Ncube confirmed that the plan to restructure the

whole party to prepare for the March 2005 elections was

underway (Ref A). Ian Makoni, who had been appointed head of

the elections directorate, had not yet presented the

leadership with a strategy plan. On receipt of such a plan,

the leadership would review and approve it, then Makoni would

go forward with programming. Ncube said Makoni was now

reviewing the party’s performance in previous elections in

developing his plan.





17. (C) That the pre-election environment in Lupane has so

far been less violent that usual is a very good sign for the

MDC. Residents still resent the government for the

atrocities of the Gukurahundi, and it is possible that the

ruling party is afraid to do anything too violent in fear of

provoking people to vote against ZANU-PF. The ruling party’s

pattern has generally been to repress people only as much as

is necessary. Organizing kraalheads could be a more

effective way to motivate votes for ZANU-PF, but it remains

unclear whether residents will all follow instructions.


18. (C) Responsible for the party’s internal cohesion, Ncube

has generally downplayed internal conflicts. Nevertheless,

he has previously identified Party Chairman Isaac Matongo as

behind the debacle in Zengeza (Ref A), but this time he

shifted blame to “trade unionists” in general — clearly

identifying yet another fissure within the fledgling

opposition party.


19. (C) Ncube had very little to report from his engagement

within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in South Africa except

general sympathy for the MDC’s plight. The MDC and we still

look to the region for increased pressure on the GOZ, but

without South Africa’s leadership, other countries are

unlikely to take a stand against Mugabe, regardless of any

respective bilateral beefs (Ref B).




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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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