Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was against a transition with shared authority because he was afraid that joint management could yield joint failure.
He preferred a 6-12 months transition under the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, followed by internationally monitored elections.
This was nine years ago, but Tsvangirai entered into a government with shared authority in 2009.
The transition is now more than three years old but no one wants any elections.
Viewing cable 03HARARE2287, OPPOSITION LEADER ON OBASANJO VISIT, POLITICAL
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 HARARE 002287
AF/S FOR S. DELISI, M. RAYNOR
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/24/2013
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION LEADER ON OBASANJO VISIT, POLITICAL
REF: HARARE 2256
Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5(b)(d)
¶1. (C) Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on November 21
confirmed to Ambassador Sullivan the essential details
related by associates to the Embassy last week (reftel) of
his meetings with Nigerian President Obasanjo on November 17.
He clarified that Obasanjo had said that Mugabe indicated
agreement to meet Tsvangirai personally, but only at an
unspecified time after consultation with his party.
Stressing its potential importance, Tsvangirai suggested that
a face-to-face meeting could have a psychological impact on
Mugabe and his party, and noted the utility of having it done
in the presence of a credible African leader, such as
Obasanjo, to keep Mugabe honest. Even if Mugabe came to the
meeting without good will, he thought it possible to get an
agreement that the national crisis required the two sides to
work together toward a solution, which could get the ball
rolling. Addressing options for a transition, Tsvangirai
emphasized his preference for a 6-12 month period under
ZANU-PF rule, followed by internationally monitored
elections. He was vague on a transition under shared
authority, noting that “joint management” risked yielding
¶2. (C) Tsvangirai told Obasanjo that democratic space was
actually shrinking in Zimbabwe and emphasized that none of
the five conditions laid down by the Commonwealth had seen
any progress. Confidence-building measures, such as
re-opening The Daily News, would be important to build
credibility. He confirmed that Obasanjo had been vague about
CHOGM, not even mentioning it until Tsvangirai raised it
first. Tsvangirai saw Obasanjo’s objective for the trip as
“due diligence” — going the extra mile to justify whatever
course he took on Zimbabwe’s invitation trying to keep
Zimbabwe from casting a shadow over his CHOGM. Tsvangirai
attributed Mugabe’s theatrics over CHOGM to possible “false
assurances” from Namibian President Nujoma over his prospects
of being invited. At the end of the day, Obasanjo told
Tsvangirai that he would continue to press for a meeting to
take place, following up with a letter to Mugabe shortly.
¶3. (C) COMMENT: Tsvangirai’s emphasis on a face-to-face
meeting with Mugabe reflects his conviction, shared by most
here, that Mugabe’s approval is the most significant sine qua
non for talks to commence. He probably has few illusions
that Mugabe would agree to a peronal encounter, which, as
Tsvangirai suggests, could put into motion events beyond his
control. In any event, the government’s media propaganda
machine seems quite prepared to make political hay for the
ruling party no matter what Obasanjo decides to do with
Zimbabwe’s CHOGM invitation.