Movement for Democratic Change president Morgan Tsvangirai told a rally to celebrate the party’s first anniversary that “Mugabe should go peacefully, if he does not, we will remove him violently” because he had been caught up “in the excitement of the moment”.
This was the view of United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Tom McDonald who said the remark could be misinterpreted by those who sought to do so.
“Although we continue to believe that Tsvangirai is committed to the democratic process and the change of government through peaceful, democratic means, he has given a government salivating for a chance to lock him up an excuse to do so with a veneer of legality,” the ambassador said.
A Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front spokesman criticised Tsvangirai’s remarks as a “shocking statement from a person who claims to be democratic” and vowed that his party would “answer violence with violence”.
MDC chairman Isaac Matongo said Tsvangirai had meant that President Mugabe should go peacefully but if not, Zimbabweans, who were fed up with the country’s economic decline and political instability, would force him to go.
Viewing cable 00HARARE5585, PEACEFUL MDC RALLY, BUT CONTROVERSY OVER TSVANGIRAI’S
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
PAGE 01 HARARE 05585 021019Z
INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00
DS-00 EB-00 EUR-00 VC-00 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00
IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 DCP-01 NSAE-00 OIC-02
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SP-00 STR-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-01
DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 /010W
——————8C5CCA 021019Z /38
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7245
INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 005585
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH
LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS
PASS USTR FOR ROSA WHITAKER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/10
SUBJECT: PEACEFUL MDC RALLY, BUT CONTROVERSY OVER TSVANGIRAI’S
REF: HARARE 5581
PAGE 02 HARARE 05585 021019Z
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR MCDONALD. REASONS: 1.5 (B) AND (D).
¶1. (C) APPROXIMATELY 20,000 PEOPLE ATTENDED A PEACEFUL RALLY HELD
BY THE OPPOSITION MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE (MDC) ON SEPTEMBER
30 TO CELEBRATE THE PARTY’S ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY. MDC MEMBER OF
PARLIAMENT TENDAI BITI TOLD POLOFF THAT POLICE HARASSMENT HAD NOT
BEEN AS BAD AS HE EXPECTED. HIS ONLY COMPLAINT WAS THAT POLICE
ROADBLOCKS MOUNTED AROUND TOWN FOR A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE RALLY MIGHT
HAVE SCARED SOME PEOPLE AWAY. ACCORDING TO BITI, RALLY PARTICIPANTS
CALLED OVERWHELMINGLY FOR MASS ACTION AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT. THIS
WEEK THE MDC’S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE WILL DISCUSS WHAT KIND OF ACTION
TO ORGANIZE AND WHEN IT WILL TAKE PLACE.
TSVANGIRAI’S CONTROVERSIAL COMMENTS
¶2. (U) BOTH THE INDEPENDENT AND GOVERNMENT PRESS QUOTED TSVANGIRAI
AS DECLARING AT THE RALLY THAT “MUGABE SHOULD GO PEACEFULLY. IF HE
DOES NOT, WE WILL REMOVE HIM VIOLENTLY.” GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
REACTED STRONGLY, WITH POLICE SPOKESMAN WAYNE BVUDZIJENA ANNOUNCING
THAT TSVANGIRAI COULD FACE ARREST AND PROSECUTION FOR ADVOCATING THE
VIOLENT OVERTHROW OF THE PRESIDENT. A ZANU-PF SPOKESMAN CRITICIZED
TSVANGIRAI’S REMARKS AS A “SHOCKING STATEMENT FROM A PERSON WHO
CLAIMS TO BE DEMOCRATIC” AND VOWED THAT HIS PARTY WOULD “ANSWER
VIOLENCE WITH VIOLENCE.”
¶3. (C) MDC CHAIRMAN ISAAC MATONGO SAT BESIDE TSVANGIRAI AT THE
RALLY. HE TOLD POLOFF ON OCTOBER 2 THAT TSVANGIRAI HAD MEANT THAT
PAGE 03 HARARE 05585 021019Z
PRESIDENT MUGABE SHOULD GO PEACEFULLY BUT IF NOT, ZIMBABWEANS, WHO
ARE FED UP WITH THE COUNTRY’S ECONOMIC DECLINE AND POLITICAL
INSTABILITY, WOULD FORCE HIM TO GO. THE MDC, TSVANGIRAI HAD
IMPLIED, WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO CONTAIN PEOPLE IF MUGABE CONTINUED TO
HOLD ON TO POWER. MATONGO EMPHASIZED THAT THE MDC PRESIDENT HAS
RESISTED AND WOULD CONTINUE TO RESIST CALLS FROM MDC SUPPORTERS TO
RESORT TO VIOLENCE AGAINST THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT. THE GOZ, MATONGO
SAID, WAS TWISTING TSVANGIRAI’S WORDS IN ORDER TO HAVE AN EXCUSE TO
CRACK DOWN ON HIM AND THE OPPOSITION PARTY.
¶4. (C) AT THE SEPTEMBER 30 RALLY, TSVANGIRAI APPARENTLY GOT CAUGHT
UP IN THE EXCITEMENT OF THE MOMENT AND SAID SOMETHING THAT COULD BE
MISINTERPRETED BY THOSE WHO SEEK TO DO SO. ALTHOUGH WE CONTINUE TO
BELIEVE THAT TSVANGIRAI IS COMMITTED TO THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS AND
THE CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT THROUGH PEACEFUL, DEMOCRATIC MEANS, HE HAS
GIVEN A GOVERNMENT SALIVATING FOR A CHANCE TO LOCK HIM UP AN EXCUSE
TO DO SO WITH A VENEER OF LEGALITY. POLICE SAY THEY ARE STUDYING
HIS SPEECH TO DETERMINE IF THERE IS JUSTIFICATION FOR BRINGING
CHARGES AGAINST HIM. MEANWHILE, WE WILL STAY IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH
THE MDC AS THE PARTY DEVELOPS ITS PLANS AND TIMETABLE FOR MASS
ACTION. ADDITIONALLY, THE AMBASSADOR WILL CONTINUE TO URGE
TSVANGIRAI TO ACT IN A MEASURED WAY AND EXERCISE RESTRAINT. END