Pro-senate MDC wanted Shona leader with national appeal


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The secretary-general of the Movement for Democratic Change Welshman Ncube and vice-president Gibson Sibanda who led the split of the party after deciding to contest the senate elections against the orders of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai both said they would not contest leadership of the splinter party because it needed a Shona leader with national appeal.

They could, however, not get one. At one stage, Kwekwe Member of Parliament Blessing Chebundo emerged as the leading candidate according to Abednico Ncube.

Former deputy-secretary Gift Chimanikire was also interested in the post.

The post was, however, subsequently given to rank outsider Arthur Mutambara who was working in South Africa.

Both Chebundo and Chimanikire later returned to Tsvangirai.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 06HARARE160, MP ON “PRO-SENATE” FACTION ACTIVITIES, PLANS

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

06HARARE160

2006-02-14 05:01

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO5861

PP RUEHMR

DE RUEHSB #0160/01 0450501

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 140501Z FEB 06

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9577

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1079

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0913

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1090

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0348

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0711

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1144

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 3479

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0912

RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 1542

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1294

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK//DOOC/ECMO/CC/DAO/DOB/DOI//

RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ23-CH/ECJ5M//

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000160

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

AFR/SA FOR E. LOKEN

COMMERCE FOR BECKY ERKUL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2011

TAGS: PGOV ECON PHUM ZI

SUBJECT: MP ON “PRO-SENATE” FACTION ACTIVITIES, PLANS

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) MDC pro-senate faction MP Priscilla

Misihairabwa-Mushonga told poloff February 2 that little

progress had been made in resolving the dispute that had

split the MDC, though the tone was improving. She said the

biggest challenge facing her faction was selecting a national

leader. She reported that pro-senate members would work

through “the system” but also employ civic action as a

political tool. The faction intended to focus on local

bread-and-butter issues, including the GOZ,s failed land

reform, in its drive to press an increasingly divided ruling

party and restore its own credibility with the public. End

summary.

 

——————————–

Toward a Factional Modus Vivendi

——————————–

 

2. (C) Mushonga asserted that little progress had been made

in working out a modus vivendi between the two factions,

although tensions and public rancor were subsiding. She was

unaware of formal “divorce talks”, although members from each

side were talking informally. Mechanisms for communication

and cooperation between the factions in parliament had yet to

be worked out. She claimed that 23 of the MDC’s 41 MPs were

in the pro-Senate camp, with David Coltart in neither.

 

3. (C) Aside from addressing rights to the party name and

assets, the factions had to work out an arrangement for their

parliamentary delegation. Most recognized that challenging

each other’s seats would be self-defeating – as loathed as

ZANU-PF was, the MDC’s loss of credibility and debilitated

organizational capacity meant the ruling party would win most

by-elections. Each side, however, had elements that were

pushing for further confrontation, including legal battles

and by-elections.

 

——————————————-

Congress Bedevilled by Leadership Challenge

——————————————-

 

4. (C) Mushonga said the faction’s upcoming congress’s

fundamental challenge would be to select a leader. She

identified three possible outcomes – first, an organizational

leader to rebuild the party’s base but not necessarily be a

national presidential candidate; second, retaining acting

president Gibson Sibanda to serve as a care-taker president

for a limited period; and third, a wide-open election for a

full-term powerful leader.

 

5. (C) She noted that Welshman Ncube and Gibson Sibanda each

told her they would not run in an open contest in view of the

party’s need for a Shona leader with national appeal. (N.B.

Pro-senate MP Abednigo Ncube subsequently told poloff that

Kwekwe MP Blessing Chebundo was emerging as a possible Shona

leadership candidate.) She wouldn’t predict the outcome but

said she personally favored the first option, primarily to

forestall further potential division.

 

————————————

Using GOZ Institutions, Civic Action

————————————

 

 

HARARE 00000160 002 OF 003

 

 

6. (C) Mushonga reiterated that even though the “pro-senate”

faction would continue to pursue influence and power through

existing institutions of Government, the faction recognized

the value of civic action. Most did not believe the

political landscape would permit mass action to effect a

change in power soon. However, the faction’s members planned

to exploit local opportunities and collaborate with civil

society in projecting opposition to the regime, principally

on bread-and-butter issues such as food, prices, housing, and

municipal services. In that vein, they were attempting to

collaborate with civil society in preparation for their Party

Congress in late February, but most NGOs were effectively

aligned with the Tsvangirai faction and keeping their

distance.

 

———————————–

Municipal Challenges, Opportunities

———————————–

 

7. (C) Turning to municipal politics, Mushonga said the

parties were likely to be contending elections against each

other in three-way races with ZANU-PF. She said this would

likely cede some MDC-controlled municipalities to ZANU-PF,

except in Matabeleland, where each faction would tally more

than the ruling party. ZANU-PF’s co-opting of local

governments wasn’t necessarily bad since the opposition would

exploit the inevitable failures to rally the public against

it. Indeed, as municipal services collapsed, MDC

representatives could gain substantial political capital by

organizing rate boycotts or private community service

enterprises to address sanitation and other needs.

 

——————————

Taking Ownership of Land Issue

——————————

 

8. (C) On a national level, Mushonga said the pro-senate

faction intended to make particular hay out of ZANU-PF’s

failure to deliver on land reform, an issue that remained

emotionally and economically important to most Zimbabweans.

The putative beneficiaries of land reform, “new farmers” were

a key ZANU-PF constituency ripe for the picking. The faction

intended to hold out the promise of property rights to these

farmers, which would be especially crucial in making inroads

into Mashonaland, ZANU-PF’s most important bastion.

 

——————————————— —

ZANU-PF Outwardly Disciplined, Inwardly Divided

——————————————— —

 

9. (C) Mushonga said that, driven by succession tensions and

growing national economic distress ZANU-PF was in increasing

ferment. She nonetheless expected its MPs to remain

disciplined and ultimately deliver the succession-related

constitutional amendments being prepared for introduction

into the parliament. Passage of the amendment, however,

would do nothing to ameliorate tensions within the party.

 

10. (C) Mushonga said the United People’s Movement and the

United People’s Party served a useful purpose in fueling

divisions within the ruling party but predicted they would

ultimately amount to little. Despite increasingly vocal

dissatisfaction within the ruling party, she did not expect

any ZANU-PF defections to either third party, or to either

MDC faction for that matter. Dislodging or breaking up

ZANU-PF would still take time, she concluded.

 

———

 

HARARE 00000160 003 OF 003

 

11. (C) A regular mbassy interlocutor in her former

capacity of Seretary for Foreign Affairs in the unified MDC,

th normally ebullient Mushonga conceded she had neve been

so down. Apart from the stress and disappintment of the

party’s split, her husband was inthe process of taking a job

in Botswana. Accordng to Mushonga, her husband was one of

Harare’s lst two orthopedic surgeons. He was making

US$50/month in Harare but would command a starting salay of

US$3000/month in Botswaa. In addition, the decline of

medical infrastructure and personnel, scarcity of medical

supplies, and economic distress of his patient base had made

his Zimbabwe practice “unbearable.”

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

12. (C) With the divisive senate election behind them, the

factions’ respective strategies are fundamentally similar:

each involves some combination of working through the system

and stepping up overt opposition to the regime. The rancor

between the two leaderships will not dissipate completely but

reduced tensions likely foreshadow the emergence of a

practical modus vivendi and eventual reunification cannot be

ruled out. Many members of both factions would seem to

prefer a unified party, even if they appear to have given up

for now on reconciliation efforts.

DELL

 

(9 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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