Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said party treasurer Roy Bennett was being persecuted by prosecution because he was white and part of the MDC leadership.
He said this after the MDC decided to disengage from the inclusive government following the re-arrest of Bennett.
Tsvangirai said in standing up for Bennett, the MDC was not pandering to the West. Rather, Bennett was part of a larger issue-failure of ZANU-PF to implement the Global Political Agreement.
The MDC leader said he supported the GPA and had done everything in his power to make it work with the goal of restoring dignity to the Zimbabwean people.
He had sought to persuade the world and his domestic constituencies that the Inclusive Government offered hope, and he had defended the government and proclaimed the GPA process as “irreversible”.
In so doing he had put his personal and political credibility on the line. But ZANU-PF was taking him for a ride.
Tsvangirai said the Bennett issue had exposed the “fiction of credibility” of ZANU-PF which was an “unreliable and unrepentant” partner that was incapable of a paradigm shift.
Viewing cable 09HARARE831, TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS DIPLOMATS ON MDC DISENGAGEMENT
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/17/2019
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS DIPLOMATS ON MDC DISENGAGEMENT
REF: HARARE 826
Classified By: CDA Donald Petterson for reason 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (SBU) A resolute Morgan Tsvangirai briefed diplomats on
October 16 on the MDC’s intention to disengage from ZANU-PF
until progress is made on the Global Political Agreement
(GPA). Commenting that what he termed a “constitutional
crisis” had been precipitated by the rearrest of Roy Bennett,
Tsvangirai said the current situation went beyond Roy Bennett
and was the result of a “dishonest and unreliable” partner
that had frustrated implementation of the GPA. Negotiations
would need to take place to result in substantial fulfillment
of the GPA; if this did not happen and the crisis escalated,
the MDC would push for internationally-supervised elections.
Tsvangirai urged international pressure on ZANU-PF,
particularly from the region. He refrained from criticizing
Mugabe, but acknowledged Mugabe had a responsibility to
control his party. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (SBU) Following the rearrest of Roy Bennett and the
denial of bail on October 15, the MDC met and resolved to
disengage from ZANU-PF at the cabinet level (Ref).
Tsvangirai held a press conference today to explain the MDC’s
position, and then briefed diplomats. His remarks regarding
ZANU-PF and the GPA were his most direct to date.
An Obdurate ZANU-PF
¶3. (SBU) The current crisis, according to Tsvangirai had
been precipitated by the “persecution by prosecution” of
Bennett because he was white and part of the MDC leadership.
But in standing up for Bennett, Tsvangirai added, the MDC was
not pandering to the West. Rather, Bennett was part of a
larger issue–failure of ZANU-PF to implement the GPA.
¶4. (SBU) Tsvangirai said he supported the GPA and had done
everything in his power to make it work with the goal of
restoring dignity to the Zimbabwean people. He had sought to
persuade the world and his domestic constituencies that the
Inclusive Government offered hope, and he had defended the
government and proclaimed the GPA process as “irreversible.”
In so doing he had put his personal and political credibility
on the line. But ZANU-PF was taking him for a ride.
¶5. (SBU) Tsvangirai said the Bennett issue had exposed the
“fiction of credibility” of ZANU-PF which was an “unreliable
and unrepentant” partner that was incapable of a paradigm
shift. He went on to detail ZANU-PF’s failure to comply with
–Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Attorney
General Johannes Tomana, despite illegal appointments, are
still in place;
–The government is not fully constituted as Roy Bennett has
not been sworn in as deputy secretary of agriculture;
–There has been no review of ministerial appointments as
required by the GPA;
–The security apparatus behaves as if the old order still
exists. The National Security Council, created by the GPA,
has met only once–for an introductory meeting. The Joint
Qhas met only once–for an introductory meeting. The Joint
Operations Command (comprised primarily of the service chiefs
and minister of defense Emmerson Mnangagwa) continues to meet;
–Militarization of rural areas is occuring, and bases to
coordinate violence are being established;
–Over 16,000 youths are on the government payroll and are
engaging in intimidation and violence in rural areas;
HARARE 00000831 002 OF 003
–Seven MDC MPs have been convicted on dubious charges, and
others are facing trial;
–The State media continues to engage in hate speech and
refuses to accept the MDC;
–A land audit, as contemplated by the GPA, has not commenced.
MDC Disengagement from ZANU-PF
¶6. (SBU) Noting that the MDC had in fact won the 2008
election, and had compromised with ZANU-PF for the good of
the Zimbabwean people by entering into a coalition
government, Tsvangirai said it was now time for the MDC to
assert itself as the dominant party. The MDC would exercise
its right to disengage from a “dishonest and unreliable”
partner. It would cease to meet with ZANU-PF in Cabinet or
in the Council of Ministers. (NOTE: Tsvangirai explained
that “disengagement” would be at the executive level; the MDC
would continue to participate in Parliament. END NOTE.)
Tsvangirai underscored that the MDC had no intention of
leaving government, but would continue working to serve the
¶7. (SBU) Tsvangirai said the MDC would renegotiate the GPA
with ZANU-PF with the goal of achieving substantial
fulfillment of the GPA. But ZANU-PF would need to show
seriousness and commitment to the GPA. If this did not
occur, however, and the constitutional crisis escalated, the
MDC would push for elections conducted by SADC and the AU
with UN supervision.
MDC-M on Board?
¶8. (SBU) Tsvangirai said MDC-M was an independent party and
MDC-T had explained their stance to MDC-M leaders. He did
not say whether MDC-M would support them. (NOTE: MDC-M
leader Arthur Mutambara today told us his party had condemned
the rearrest of Bennett and advocated his swearing-in as
deputy minister of agriculture. He declined to say whether
they would support disengagement from ZANU-PF. END NOTE.)
Reaching out to the International Community
¶9. (SBU) Tsvangirai said his next step would be to brief the
GPA guarantors (SADC) and selective countries in the region.
He urged the international community to continue to call for
full implementation of the GPA, but, without specifying how,
asked that progress be rewarded.
Easy on Mugabe
¶10. (SBU) In his prepared remarks, and in his responses to
questions, Tsvangirai did not, until the end, mention Mugabe.
He was finally asked about his working relationship with
Mugabe. He responded that if the spirit of compatibility of
the three principles–Mugabe, Tsvangirai, and
Mutambara–cascaded to lower ranks of government there would
be more progress. In response to a follow-up question by the
Charge, Tsvangirai admitted that Mugabe had a responsibility
to control ZANU-PF party structures.
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¶11. (C) Tsvangirai was unusually forceful and direct, and it
is unclear how ZANU-PF will react. We suspect that Mugabe
will meet with Tsvangirai and concede on some of the GPA
issues. Tsvangirai’s commitment to remain in government
removes MDC leverage so progress is likely to be minimal, but
enough for an MDC decision to reengage. The bottom line is
that it is highly unlikely that MDC-T will withdraw from
government and cause its collapse.
¶12. (C) Tsvangirai appears to have established a bond of
sorts with Mugabe, and therefore blames those around Mugabe
rather than Mugabe himself for the lack of GPA progress.
While Mugabe does not have total control, we have no doubt he
could do much more to fulfill the GPA and get the government