Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai scolded the media for sensationalising his going into hiding at the Dutch embassy rather than focusing on the continuing brutalisation of Zimbabweans at the hands of the government-sanctioned ZANU-PF youth and war veterans.
Addressing a press conference at his residence on 25 June, two days before the presidential elections runoff, Tsvangirai said elections were not a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis and called for a transitional period that would take into consideration the results of the 29 March elections, which he won.
Tsvangirai went into hiding at the Dutch embassy on 22 June.
He outlined four actions that were needed to restore the normal functioning of the country and create an environment conducive to political dialogue:
- All violence must stop, and all instruments of violence must be disbanded, including unofficial roadblocks and detention camps. War veterans and youth militias must go home;
- The humanitarian crisis must be addressed immediately. NGOs and the World Food Programme need access to the entire country to provide humanitarian assistance to people who are starving and dying;
- All Members of Parliament and the Senate who were elected on March 29 must be sworn in to office;
- All political prisoners and elected officials must be freed. In particular, Tsvangirai called for the release of MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti and 2 000 MDC polling agents who have been arrested.
Viewing cable 08HARARE548, TSVANGIRAI CALLS FOR AU, SADC INTERVENTION
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/26/2018
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI CALLS FOR AU, SADC INTERVENTION
REF: HARARE 532
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4(d).
¶1. (SBU) In a press conference at his residence on June 25,
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai called for African Union (AU)
and Southern African Development Community (SADC)
intervention in establishing a “transition period” in
Zimbabwe that will take into account the results of the March
29 election. Tsvangirai called for an immediate end to the
violence and the release of all political prisoners,
particularly MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti. He also
scolded the media for sensationalizing his having sought
refuge in the Dutch chancery when it should be focusing on
the continuing violence and brutalization of Zimbabweans.
Tsvangirai’s statement reinforced his continuing effort to
bring in African mediators other than South African president
Thabo Mbeki but did not offer any concrete proposals for a
transitional government or a government of national unity.
Tsvangirai comes out of hiding
¶2. (SBU) In his first public appearance since taking refuge
at the Dutch chancery on Sunday June 22, the MDC presidential
candidate held a press conference in his front yard on the
afternoon of Wednesday June 25. Tsvangirai appeared defiant
and in good health as he repeated his decision to pull out of
the Friday June 27 run-off election. He declared that any
election held on Friday would not be recognized by the
international community, which had rallied in support of
Zimbabwe in the form of the UN Security Council resolution
condemning the recent violence. Tsvangirai scolded the media
for “sensationalizing” his stay at the Dutch embassy rather
than focusing on the continuing brutalization of Zimbabweans
at the hands of the government-sanctioned ZANU-PF youth and
Actions needed to return to “normal”
¶3. (SBU) Tsvangirai outlined four actions needed to restore
the normal functioning of the country and create an
environment conducive to political dialogue: (1) All
violence must stop, and all instruments of violence must be
disbanded, including unofficial roadblocks and detention
camps. War veterans and youth militias must go home. (2)
The humanitarian crisis must be addressed immediately. NGOs
and the World Food Programme need access to the entire
country to provide humanitarian assistance to people who are
starving and dying. (NOTE: The number of displaced people in
Harare has risen dramatically in recent days. At least 200
people have approached the embassy seeking shelter and food
in the last three days. More details to come via septel.
END NOTE.) (3) All Members of Parliament and the Senate who
were elected on March 29 must be sworn in to office. (4) All
political prisoners and elected officials must be freed. In
particular, Tsvangirai called for the release of MDC
secretary-general Tendai Biti and 2,000 MDC polling agents
who have been arrested.
Calls on AU, SADC to help negotiate
HARARE 00000548 002 OF 002
¶4. (U) Tsvangirai called on the AU and SADC to manage what
he termed a “transitional process” that would take into
account the will of the people that was expressed in the
March 29 election. This period would allow the country to
heal, but must reflect the people’s will. He said he had
asked African heads of state to discuss a solution this
weekend at their conference in Egypt. Tsvangirai further
stated that it was time for action, not for “talking about
talks”, and that no discussion could move forward without
Tendai Biti’s release from prison (Reftel). Asked about
South African President Mbeki’s absence from the SADC troika
meeting in Swaziland, Tsvangirai was dismissive and “couldn’t
explain” his absence.
“An election is not a solution”
¶5. (U) Tsvangirai confirmed that he had spoken with numerous
African leaders including Presidents Mwanawasa of Zambia,
Wade of Senegal, Kikwete of Tanzania, and several foreign
ministers who supported his proposal as a possible solution.
He said that a negotiated agreement, not an election, was the
only way out of the current crisis. On his proposal for
peacekeepers, Tsvangirai rhetorically asked what other option
there was when there were armed groups brutalizing people and
no one was stopping it. He clarified that he had not called
for military intervention as reported in the press, but that
he hoped the UN would consider sending peacekeepers as one
Willing to negotiate, but when?
¶6. (U) Tsvangirai said he was willing to negotiate “this
side of June 27″. This contrasts with Mugabe’s reported
statements in The Herald, the government mouthpiece, that
Mugabe was willing to negotiate “after” the June 27 election.
Reporters pressed Tsvangirai for details on what his
“transition period” would entail, but he declined to offer
any details, saying that they would have to be negotiated.
¶7. (C) Tsvangirai continues to reach out to other African
leaders to press Mugabe into some form of transition that
would lead to an MDC-led government. However, it is unclear
when, where, how, and in what form such an agreement would be
developed. African leaders have been more outspoken in
recent days, but it does not appear they are making any
headway with an increasingly defiant and stubborn Mugabe.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announced it had rejected
Tsvangirai’s withdrawal and that the election was moving
forward no matter what. Tsvangirai’s anger was clear during
the press conference, but concrete solutions to the growing
crisis remain elusive. END COMMENT.