Ncube urged US to expel children of those on its sanctions list


Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Welshman Ncube said sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants were effective in turning the heat on Zimbabwe’s primary decision makers but he expressed concern that an asset freeze had not been implemented.

He urged the United States to expel children of those on its sanctions list insisting that the move would make ruling party insiders think long and hard before continuing with their disastrous path.

Ncube also said the party’s top six were divided over whether to participate in by-elections or not with party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, deputy secretary general Gift Chimanikire and chairman Isaac Matongo for a boycott while vice-president Gibson Sibanda, Ncube himself and treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube saying the party should participate or it would lose its relevance.


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Reference ID






2002-11-18 13:53

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 002560









E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/15/2012








Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington. Reasons: 1.5 (

B) and (D).





1. (C)   MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube told the

Ambassador on November 15 that the treason case against him

and his party compatriots has no legal merit, but it could be

assigned to a judge who is inclined to give more weight to

political considerations. He described growing resentment

within the MDC about South Africa’s stand on Zimbabwe and

said the party is likely to refocus its lobbying efforts

within SADC away from South Africa toward Mozambique, Malawi,

Botswana, and Mauritius. The MDC likely will contest the

Kuwadzana parliamentary by-election to replace former MDC

spokesman Learnmore Jongwe but will make a broader policy

decision after that on whether to continue to participate in

elections. Ncube claimed not to know why the independent

autopsy results on Jongwe had not yet been made available but

did not dismiss the possibility of suicide. He urged the USG

to impose an asset freeze with haste on Zimbabwe’s primary

decision-makers and said expulsion of their children from the

United States would have an effect. End Summary.


Treason trial



2. (C) In a November 15 conversation with the Ambassador

and polchief, MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube noted that

the treason trial in which he, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai,

and MDC MP Renson Gasela are facing charges of plotting the

assassination of Robert Mugabe had been postponed from

November to February 2003. He said the MDC had originally

sought a shorter delay because the Government has refused to

provide the defense with a copy of the incriminating

videotape which is the state’s key piece of evidence. Ncube

claimed that none of the charges would be sustainable in an

independent court, but he expressed worry that the case could

be assigned to a judge who would render a decision based on

political calculations, not legal merits.


3. (C) On a separate legal development, Ncube was asked to

comment on the November 14 Supreme Court decision denying the

MDC a copy of the electronic version of the voters roll used

in the March presidential election. (Note: The GOZ has

refused to provide the MDC with either hard copies or

electronic versions of the voters roll, a thorough analysis

of which will be crucial to the opposition party’s pending

legal challenge of the presidential election results. End

Note.) Ncube said the presiding Supreme Court justices had

used a minor legal technicality to deny the MDC’s request for

the electronic version of the roll. His party would now try

to obtain hard copies, but Ncube pointed out that scanning

the information from those into a computer program capable of

performing analysis would be a daunting, time-consuming task.



South Africa



4. (C) Ncube said many members of the MDC’s national

executive felt increasing resentment about South Africa’s

refusal to engage more actively in the search for a lasting

solution of Zimbabwe’s political crisis. He mentioned a

recent meeting in Harare with visiting Mbeki advisers who

said they were well-briefed on the political situation and

preferred to focus exclusively on the economic crisis.

According to Ncube, they clearly conveyed the impression that

they were looking at ways in which South Africa could help

assuage the economic situation, but were less interested in

addressing questions of governance. He said that South

Africa’s passivity raised questions in the MDC about their

appropriateness in any future mediation. The MDC was

considering shifting its lobbying efforts within SADC away

from South Africa and toward countries such as Malawi,

Mozambique, Botswana, and Mauritius, which have demonstrated

a greater willingness to express concern about developments

in Zimbabwe.

Contesting elections



5. (C) Ncube acknowledged that the MDC national executive

was currently considering whether to boycott future

elections, given that ZANU-PF has perfected the art of

“winning” them by utilizing violence, intimidation, food, and

fraud. The party’s top six leaders first gave serious

consideration to this possibility after the ruling party’s

“victory” in the Insiza parliamentary by-election in late

October. According to Ncube, they split right down the

middle, with Tsvangirai, Deputy Secretary-General Gift

Chimanikire, and national chairman Isaac Matongo favoring a

boycott, while Ncube, Vice-President Gibson Sibanda, and

treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube opposing it. Ncube

emphasized that it would be difficult to convince the MDC’s

supporters to continue fighting for positive change if the

party itself decided simply to concede elections. He thought

the national executive would decide to contest the upcoming

(but not yet scheduled) Kuwadzana by-election to replace

former party spokesman Learnmore Jongwe — since at leat six

of its members were interested in contesting the seat. He

thought the party would then make a broader policy decision

on contesting elections after that.


Jongwe autopsy results



6. (C) Polchief noted the government pathologist’s

conclusion that Learnmore Jongwe had died of chloroquine

poisoning and asked why the results of the second,

independent autopsy commissioned by the MDC had not yet been

announced. Ncube replied that he was unsure why the South

African pathologist retained by the party had not yet

provided his findings. He did not rule out that Jongwe may

have committed suicide, saying that the former MDC

spokesman’s lawyer had painted a bleak picture of his legal

options about a week-and-a-half before his death, in which he

had apparently stressed the likelihood of Jongwe’s facing the

death penalty. Those who visited Jongwe soon after this

meeting found him to be particularly morose. At about the

same time, according to Ncube, Jongwe had asked at least one

friend to bring him chloroquine, claiming to be suffering

from malaria and saying that the prison authorities had

refused to provide the appropriate medication.





7. (C) Ncube expressed concern about politicization of

international food assistance, reporting that he had received

numerous complaints that ZANU-PF functionaries at the local

level are involved in selection of beneficiaries. He added

that he had received the most complaints about World Vision’s

food distribution efforts, and said the NGO’s national

director had refused to meet with the MDC’s shadow

agriculture minister. Noting that he had observed many food

distribution events personally, the Ambassador explained that

beneficiaries are selected in a rigorous, transparent process

in which the entire community is involved. Local authorities

beholden to the ruling party do not have veto power, he said.

The Ambassador encouraged the MDC to establish a liaison

office whose objective would be to become familiar with WFP’s

beneficiary selection process and to vet complaints

thoroughly before passing them on to the UN and us. He

expressed his surprise that World Vision’s director, whom he

knew well, had refused to meet with MDC officials, but he

undertook to encourage her to do so.


U.S. Pressure



8. (C) The MDC’s Secretary-General thought the targeted

sanctions imposed by the U.S. to date had been effective in

turning up the heat on Zimbabwe’s primary decision-makers.

He expressed concern, however, that an asset freeze had not

yet been implemented and believed the absence of follow-up

sanctions had diminished pressure for a solution. Ncube also

encouraged the USG to expel the children of those on our

sanctions list, insisting that that move would make ruling

party insiders think long and hard before continuing with

their disastrous policies.





9. (C) One of the MDC’s leading intellectuals, Ncube did

not evince much hope that Zimbabwe’s political crisis would

be resolved in the short term, at least not peacefully. The

MDC has invested significant time and resources during the

past two years in trying to convince South Africa to engage

more actively in addressing Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

Ncube’s remarks suggest a growing feeling among the party

leadership that that effort has failed, and that it is a

waste of time to expect South Africa to play the role of fair

broker. We believe contesting the by-election in Kuwadzana,

a high-density suburb in Harare, is the better route.

Although ZANU-PF will employ its usual comprehensive array of

tactics to win the seat in this MDC stronghold, the people of

Kuwadzana will not be as vulnerable to violence and food

manipulation as rural residents, and the ruling party’s abuse

of the electoral process will be much more visible to outside

observers. We plan to send embassy officers regularly to the

constituency, beginning several weeks before the election,

and we will encourage other diplomatic missions to do the








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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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