Progress in the formation of an inclusive government following the singing of the Global Political Agreement was hampered by the fact that the Movement for Democratic Change now had three power centres.
According to a cable released by Wikileaks, the centres were: Harare, where most of the leadership was; Gaborone, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s temporary home; and South Africa, where businessman and advisor Strive Masiyiwa and MDC treasurer Roy Bennett lived.
“This has reduced the MDC’s ability to forcefully address Zimbabwe’s ongoing political, economic, and health crises; and to forge a common party position on issues,” the cable said.
“Many in the MDC believe, and we agree, that Tsvangirai should be seen in Zimbabwe leading his party, meeting with civil society leaders, and monitoring the health crisis–all things that a leader does.”
At the time Zimbabwe had been hit by the worst cholera outbreak in the country’s history. It claimed more than 4 000 lives.
Viewing cable 08HARARE1117, MDC MAPS STRATEGY
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STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/12/2018
SUBJECT: MDC MAPS STRATEGY
REF: HARARE 1065
Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Don Curtis for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) Polecon chief met separately with MDC negotiators
Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma and talked by phone with
Tsvangirai advisor Strive Masiyiwa on December 12 about MDC
strategy. The MDC, which held a strategy meeting in Gaborone
this week, will continue to engage in negotiations with
ZANU-PF, but as a “Plan B” will attempt to mobilize internal
and international pressure on the Mugabe regime. The goal is
elections. Tsvangirai will remain in Botswana for the
indefinite future. Most MDC officials believe there is a
leadership void in the party because of his absence from
Zimbabwe which has prevented the MDC from more effectively
responding to increasing ZANU-PF violence. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (C) Biti told us that at an MDC strategy meeting in
Botswana earlier this week, the MDC discussed development of
a “Plan B” in the event negotiations with ZANU-PF break down
and the MDC does not participate in government. Elements
would include increased efforts at mass action within
Zimbabwe such as protests and demonstrations, increased
global pressure such as speeches and perhaps concerts to
dramatize Zimbabwe’s predicament, advocacy of more sanctions
(which he maintained had hit ZANU-PF “hard”), efforts at UN
involvement, and more engagement with non-state actors at the
regional and national level such as COSATU. Not concealing
his contempt for ZANU-PF–and also for the MDC-M formation–,
and repeating what he has told us on a number of occasions,
Biti said the MDC would not pull out of negotiations to avoid
being blamed for failure of the negotiations. Nevertheless,
he thought the September agreement was dead.
¶3. (C) The “Plan B” strategy, according to Biti, is aimed at
new, internationally-supervised elections. As a prelude to
elections, there could be a transitional authority. Either
scenario would be dependent on pressure on ZANU-PF to create
a level playing field.
¶4. (C) Mangoma presented a different and (we believe) a less
widely-held view within in the MDC. He opined Amendment 19
contained a significant circumscription of presidential
powers because it enumerates powers and requires agreement
with the prime minister or parliament on important
appointments. Therefore, he believed the MDC could achieve
major power as part of a government. We asked him about
continuing to negotiate with ZANU-PF while it was engaged in
abductions of MDC officials. He replied that the MDC should
not allow ZANU-PF to drive it from the negotiating process,
which it may be trying to do by its attacks on the MDC, and
should focus on achieving power.
Negotiations and Amendment 19
¶5. (C) Biti and Mangoma said that they had met with South
African facilitators Frank Chikane and Sydney Mufamadi in
Harare earlier this week. The MDC had previously told the
facilitators while negotiating the Amendment in South Africa
(Ref) that agreement was dependent on ZANU-PF acceptance of
language contained in the September 11 agreement rather than
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the ZANU-PF changes contained in the September 15 document.
The facilitators, according to Biti and Mangoma, said they
had talked to Zimbabwean president Mugabe this week, and were
awaiting a decision from him.
¶6. (C) If Mugabe accepts the MDC position on Amendment 19,
according to Biti, it can then be gazetted (published
officially for public comment.) (NOTE: The Amendment could
be presented to Parliament for debate and vote 30 days after
gazetting. END NOTE.) Biti said that even if Amendment 19
is gazetted, the MDC would not vote for it unless and until
outstanding issues (Ref) were resolved.
¶7. (C) Apart from the meeting with the facilitators, Biti
and Mangoma said there had been no talks with either the
facilitators or ZANU-PF since the negotiations on Amendment
19 in South Africa. Biti said he was leaving Zimbabwe on
December 19 for holidays; it was therefore unlikely there
could be renewed talks until next year.
¶8. (C) Biti and Mangoma both told us, consistent with the
views of other MDC officials, that Tsvangirai’s absence from
Zimbabwe since the SADC Extraordinary Summit in South Africa
on November 9 had created an MDC leadership void in Zimbabwe.
They both thought that there had been threats against
Tsvangirai’s life which should not readily be discounted, but
said there are always risks in Zimbabwe. At a critical time,
when ZANU-PF was abducting MDC officials and attempting to
destroy MDC party structures, it was important for Tsvangirai
to be in Zimbabwe.
¶9. (C) Taking a contrarian position, Masiyiwa said he did
not believe there were serious threats against Tsvangirai.
But he thought Tsvangirai could be more effective outside of
Zimbabwe. SADC had sided with ZANU-PF on November 9 when,
ignoring other issues, it urged the parties to resolve the
Home Affairs issue and form a government, and it was
important to reverse SADC’s position. It was therefore
necessary for Tsvangirai to meet with foreign leaders. Also,
it was easier for Tsvangirai to meet the international press
from outside Zimbabwe.
¶10. (C) On Tsvangirai’s ability to travel, Biti said South
Africa, piqued by Tsvangirai’s refusal to complete an
agreement with ZANU-PF, was refusing to allow him to enter
the country. Masiyiwa, on the other hand, said Tsvangirai
could enter South Africa on his current travel document. But
he had been harassed last time he came to South Africa
because he did not have a passport, and he now refuses to
travel again on the document for fear of being embarrassed by
South African immigration officials.
¶11. (C) The MDC now has three power centers: Harare, where
most of the leadership is; Gaborone, Tsvangirai’s temporary
home; and South Africa, where Masiyiwa and MDC treasurer Roy
Bennett live. This has reduced the MDC’s ability to
forcefully address Zimbabwe’s ongoing political, economic,
and health crises; and to forge a common party position on
issues. Many in the MDC believe, and we agree, that
Tsvangirai should be seen in Zimbabwe leading his party,
meeting with civil society leaders, and monitoring the health
crisis–all things that a leader does. END COMMENT.
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