Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai said progress in forming an inclusive government was very slow because the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was still treating the MDC as a junior partner.
To complicate matters, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was the chief negotiator, still treated ZANU-PF as the ruling party ignoring the fact that the MDC had won the March 2008 elections.
He said even the Southern African Development Community did not fully understand what the problem in Zimbabwe was. It was not about allocating ministries but genuine power-sharing.
Viewing cable 08HARARE974, TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS AMBASSADOR ON SADC TROIKA
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/28/2018
SUBJECT: TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS AMBASSADOR ON SADC TROIKA
MEETING, REQUESTS ASSISTANCE
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) In an October 28 meeting with the Ambassador, MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai briefed on the SADC Troika meeting
which concluded in Harare in the early morning hours of the
28th. Tsvangirai expressed disappointment that SADC did not
understand that the issue is not about allocation of
ministries, but about a genuine sharing of power.
Nevertheless, he is pointing to the SADC Extraordinary Summit
within a couple of weeks. He asked U.S. assistance in
demarching SADC capitals about the importance of the Summit.
He also said it was important that AU regional leaders attend
since the AU is a guarantor of the September 15 agreement.
On sanctions, Tsvangirai said they had had their effect, and
a rollout of new sanctions was not important. The one
exception would be sanctions imposed against the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe–that could be a game changer. END SUMMARY.
¶2. (U) This message contains an action request. See
Troika Meeting Disappointing
¶3. (C) Tsvangirai told the Ambassador that in its 13-hour
meeting with ZANU-PF and the MDC in Harare on October 27, the
SADC Troika (Organ on Politics, Defense, and Security)
directed its attention at control of the contentious ministry
of Home Affairs. They failed to understand, however, that
the issue was not about allocation of ministries, but
equitable distribution of ministries as a prerequisite for a
genuine power-sharing agreement. A silver lining, Tsvangirai
noted, was new South African president Motlanthe who seemed
to understand the larger issue, unlike his predecessor Thabo
¶4. (C) Tsvangirai said progress in completing an agreement
was being made difficult by ZANU-PF. ZANU-PF had not made a
“paradigm shift” in its attitudes and actions. It continued
to treat the MDC as a junior partner and failed to exhibit
sincerity in the negotiating process. A symbolic example,
explained Tsvangirai, was its failure to give him a passport.
¶5. (C) Complicating matters, added Tsvangirai, was the
facilitator Mbeki. Throughout the negotiations, Mbeki had
always treated ZANU-PF as the ruling party, and had ignored
the fact that the MDC had won the March elections.
Therefore, Mbeki, as facilitator, had placed little pressure
SADC Extraordinary Summit
¶6. (C) Tsvangirai said the SADC Extraordinary Summit, as
recommended by the Troika after the breakdown of talks on
October 28, would take place within a couple of weeks,
probably in South Africa. SADC had no power, other than
moral suasion, but the MDC would direct its efforts toward
the Summit. To this end, he planned to visit Botswana, South
Africa, and possibly Tanzania next week (on an Emergency
Travel Document). Other MDC officials would fan out around
Africa. Tsvangirai averred it was important to have AU
regional leaders attend the Summit since the AU was a
guarantor of the September 15 agreement. He thought
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Tanzanian president Kikwete, as head of the AU and president
of a SADC country, was key to making this happen.
¶7. (C) The Ambassador asked how the U.S. could be helpful.
Tsvangirai suggested the USG talk to each SADC head of state;
explain that the issue is not allocation of ministries, but
commitment of ZANU-PF to treat the MDC as equals in a genuine
power-sharing government; and emphasize that SADC’s
credibility is at stake.
Tsvangirai Holding Firm
¶8. (C) Perhaps realizing the error of his ways in signing an
incomplete agreement on September 15, Tsvangirai promised to
hold firm and not give in to either ZANU-PF or SADC and sign
a bad agreement. He noted he had been traveling in Zimbabwe
and that the Zimbabwean people, despite hardships, were
solidly behind him. He also joked that he had to deal with
“hawks” among his advisors who made any compromise difficult.
¶9. (C) The Ambassador expressed his support of Tsvangirai
and the MDC and acknowledged the humanitarian problems that
are so troubling to the MDC. He told Tsvangirai he intended
to personally request a letter from Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) governor Gideon Gono to allow NGOs to use forex
throughout Zimbabwe, thus freeing up their assistance efforts.
Sanctions for the RBZ
¶10. (C) The Ambassador asked Tsvangirai if new sanctions
would hurt his negotiating position or if they would have an
effect on ZANU-PF and its willingness to negotiate.
Tsvangirai replied that sanctions had already had their
effect and that new sanctions were relatively unimportant.
The one exception, Tsvangirai emphasized, would be sanctions
on the RBZ which could have a devastating effect on ZANU-PF.
¶11. (C) We suggest that the Department consider a demarche
to SADC heads of state to 1) Emphasize the importance of the
Extraordinary Summit and that SADC is uniquely positioned to
help resolve the Zimbabwean crisis; 2) Suggest that the AU,
as a guarantor of the agreement, be invited to attend; and 3)
Explain that the issue to be resolved is not mere allocation
of ministries, but genuine power-sharing that involves inter
alia an equitable distribution of ministries, sharing of
governorships, and agreement on a constitutional amendment
that will encapsulate the September 15 agreement and allow a
government to work.
¶12. (C) Tsvangirai was less upbeat than when we have seen
him on recent occasions and he has predicted a deal would be
signed. We agree with him that ZANU-PF has not changed and
is not sincere about an agreement. While we cannot be
optimistic that SADC at its Summit will pressure Mugabe, SADC
is the only game in town at this time. Therefore, we should
discreetly encourage SADC and the AU to play more
constructive roles than they have in the past. In
particular, and following up on Tsvangirai’s comments, we
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should to the extent possible reach out to Motlanthe.