US ambassador told Tsvangirai that Mugabe should go


United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan told Movement for Democratic Change leader that any settlement that would lead to the setting up of an interim coalition government should provide for President Robert Mugabe’s departure.

He said he had been told by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira that Mugabe was willing to go.

Other terms dictated by the ambassador included the restoration of the rule of law; the provision of a legitimate role for the MDC to prevent ZANU-PF from dominating the interim government; and paving the way for new, free and fair elections.

Tsvangirai confirmed that the conditions set by the ambassador reflected MDC views on how a transition might proceed.

He said Mugabe’s departure was a necessary first step which would reduce tensions between the parties and increase the chances for a serious negotiation.

An interim period was essential, during which time a number of confidence-building measures would be implemented, laying the groundwork for an environment conducive to a free and fair election.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2003-04-17 14:54

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

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 SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000768









E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/17/2013




REF: A) HARARE 767 B) STATE 98702 C) PRETORIA 2012


Classified By: political section chief Matt Harrington. Reasons: 1.5 (

B) and (D).


1. Summary: In an April 17 conversation with the Ambassador,

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai

welcomed the initiative by President Muluzi to encourage

political dialogue in Zimbabwe and expressed hope that it

might help forestall further mass action — and its

unpredictable consequences — planned by the MDC. He said

Muluzi should facilitate talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC

while leaving substantive details of potential agreements to

the two parties. The MDC leader enouraged the USG to make it

clear to the Zimbabwean armed forces that we would not accept

military intervention in favor of any one political party.

The Ambassador once again expressed concern about reports

that individuals are planning violence and claiming senior

MDC endorsement of their activities. Tsvangirai promised to

make clear the MDC’s opposition to violence internally and to

consider issuing a statement condemning violence as a means

of achieving political change and anyone advocating such an

approach in the name of the MDC. End Summary.


2. (C) The Ambassador met on April 17 to deliver points in

reftel B to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) President

Morgan Tsvangirai. He emphasized that the USG sees the

upcoming April 24 visit by Presidents Muluzi and Mbeki as a

potentially constructive development that could lead to an

interim coalition government. He stressed our view that any

agreement resulting from this initiative should provide for

President Mugabe’s departure; restore the rule of law;

provide a legitimate role for the MDC and prevent domination

by ZANU-PF in an interim government; and pave the way for

new, free and fair elections. The Ambassador indicated that

we were prepared to be helpful in this effort, by offering

incentives or maintaining international pressure. He asked

whether Tsvangirai agreed that an interim coalition would

represent a useful way forward. Tsvangirai confirmed that

our conditions reflected MDC views on how a transition might



Muluzi involvement “positive”



3. (C) Tsvangirai said the Malawian High Commission in

Harare had been in touch with him to arrange a meeting with

President Muluzi. He was not aware of President Mbeki’s

plans to attend, but said Mbeki’s participation would be

welcome. (Note: We later confirmed that the South African

High Commissioner here is aware of Mbeki’s planned

participation and will head to South Africa on April 18 to

consult on the visit. End Note.) Tsvangirai described the

Muluzi initiative as a positive development which could help

avoid looming confrontation in Zimbabwe, and said it was

consistent with the three-phased solution long advocated by

the MDC. First, Mugabe’s departure was a necessary first

step which would reduce tensions between the parties and

increase the chances for a serious negotiation. Second, an

interim period was essential, during which time a number of

confidence-building measures would be implemented, laying the

groundwork for an environment conducive to a free and fair

election. The last phase would be a new election held under

international supervision.


4. (C) The Ambassador noted that Muluzi had told us he had

some concerns about the MDC’s receptiveness to his

engagement. If Tsvangirai considered Muluzi’s involvement

positive, it was important for him to encourage the Malawian

president in his efforts. Tsvangirai said he had done so via

the Malawian High Commission. Mugabe, he reported, was

trying to “throw a spanner” into the Muluzi visit, dictating

when and where the SADC heads of state could meet with

Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai underscored that they preferred



Muluzi to be a “facilitator” rather than a “negotiator,”

finding a way to engage the two sides in direct talks but not

focusing on substance. Any substantive details regarding the

way forward should be addressed by the two parties during the



MDC negotiating position getting stronger



5. (C) Tsvangirai said he hoped Muluzi could convince

ZANU-PF to engage in serious talks, as he preferred the route

of dialogue to a sustained nationwide mass action whose

outcome was unpredictable. He noted that the longer ZANU-PF

continues its repression and the longer the economic decline

continued, reconciliation would become increasingly hard to

achieve. ZANU-PF’s negotiating position was weakening by the

day, he said, while the MDC’s was getting stronger. The

Ambassador cautioned against allowing overconfidence to

preclude a willingness to talk to the other side, and

Tsvangirai agreed. Asked how the U.S. could be helpful,



Tsvangirai replied that, although there was no need for a



USG-led Baghdad-like intervention in Zimbabwe, after Iraq the

USG was now better placed to exert pressure on the regime in

Harare. The MDC leader urged the Ambassador to make it clear

to Zimbabwe Defense Forces Chief General Zvinavashe that the

United States would consider unacceptable any military

intervention in support of any one political party. The

Ambassador agreed to look for ways to make that point.


6. (C) We briefed Tsvangirai on ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan

Shamuyarira’s remarks to us regarding Mugabe’s willingness to

retire (ref A). Tsvangirai found it interesting that Mugabe

may be prepared to leave office early, although the MDC finds

an interim transitional arrangement more appealing than an

immediate election.


MDC Violence



7. (C) The Ambassador revealed that we continue to hear

reports of MDC-associated individuals planning violence,

claiming party endorsement for their activities, and said the

USG might be forced to distance itself from the party if such

activities occurred. The Government of Zimbabwe believes it

has firm evidence of the opposition party’s instigation of

some of the violence during the mid-March stayaway. The

Ambassador added that four people had approached our embassy

in Pretoria on April 16 (ref B) claiming they had

authorization from the highest levels of the MDC to carry out

violent attacks, and he provided Tsvangirai with their names.

Tsvangirai looked at their names, appeared not to recognize

them, and undertook to look into their allegations and get

back to us with a response. Tsvangirai stated that he is

planning to make remarks at an upcoming celebration of the

party’s recent parliamentary by-election victories strongly

criticizing anyone advocating violence in the MDC’s name.

Encouraged by the Ambassador to issue a public statement with

the same message, Tsvangirai agreed to consider this.





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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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