US funded MDC election court challenge


0

The United States Agency for International Development, a government agency, partly funded the Movement for Democratic Change’s court challenge of the 2002 presidential elections which were won the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s Robert Mugabe.

This is revealed in a cable dispatched by former United States ambassador to Christopher Dell on 29 August 2005.

The issue came out after MDC shadow minister of Justice, David Coltart told United States embassy officials that he and businessmen Strive Masiyiwa and Nigel Chanakira were planning to travel to the United States to meet President George Bush.

He said this would be a private visit and they were arranging the meeting through religious contacts. The trip was intended to be low-key with no media profile and Coltart was going to meet the President not as an MDC politician but rather as a fellow believer.

He said the group’s message to Bush would be to match the US government’s strong rhetoric on Zimbabwe with continued resources because the US was cutting back on democracy assistance at exactly the wrong time.

“Change in Zimbabwe remained a very real prospect in the next two-three years and US assistance was badly needed to get civil society and the opposition through the current difficult period,” the cable said.

Coltart said the MDC was continuing its campaign in the courts against government and ruling party abuses. The cases, which were funded in part by USAID, kept the spotlight on government electoral abuses and underscored the MDC’s non-violence and respect for rule of law.

The challenges also tied up government resources. Central Intelligence Organisation operatives, for example, typically outnumbered MDC functionaries in court.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 05HARARE1209, MDC MP COLTART ON PLANNED U.S. VISIT; REQUEST FOR

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE1209

2005-08-29 16:03

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

291603Z Aug 05

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001209

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC MP COLTART ON PLANNED U.S. VISIT; REQUEST FOR

PRESIDENTIAL MEETING

 

REF: HARARE 1156

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (C) MDC Shadow Minister of Justice, Legal and

Parliamentary Affairs David Coltart on August 25 told the CDA

that together with Zimbabwean exiled businessmen Strive

Masiyiwa and Nigel Chanakira, he was employing church

connections in the United States to seek a meeting with

President Bush in October. He planned to tell the President

that change in Zimbabwe remained a real possibility in the

short term and that the U.S. should continue assistance to

civil society. Coltart said Parliament would likely pass the

Constitutional Amendment Bill on August 30 and that he would

personally be a prime target of new travel restrictions. He

confirmed that the MDC opposed wider trade sanctions and IMF

expulsion, but favored stepped up international pressure on

the GOZ, including at the UN Security Council. End Summary.

 

——————————–

Wants Meeting With the President

——————————–

 

2. (C) Coltart told the CDA that he and two colleagues were

seeking a Washington meeting with President Bush in October

to discuss Zimbabwe. The two colleagues were Econet

principal owner and former Daily News publisher Strive

Masiyiwa and Kingdom Bank owner Nigel Chanakira. The three

shared a common religious faith, and were seeking the meeting

through their senior religious contacts in the U.S. rather

than through official channels. The group might also seek

meetings on Capitol Hill, especially if they failed to secure

a meeting with the President. Coltart said the trip was

intended to be low-key with no media profile and that he

would not be meeting the President in his guise as an MDC

politician but rather as a fellow believer.

 

3. (C) Coltart said the group,s message to the President

would be to match the USG’s strong rhetoric on Zimbabwe with

continued resources. The U.S. was cutting back on democracy

assistance at exactly the wrong time. Change in Zimbabwe

remained a very real prospect in the next two-three years and

U.S. assistance was badly needed to get civil society and the

opposition through the current difficult period.

 

—————————————

Predicts Constitutional Reforms Passage

—————————————

 

4. (C) Coltart said he expected Parliament to pass the GOZ’s

proposed constitutional amendments bill (reftel) on August

30. Of immediate potential impact to the MDC was the bill’s

restraint on travel by perceived regime enemies. He said

ZANU-PF MPs had made clear during the debate over the bill

that he would personally be one of the provision’s principal

and early victims. This could prevent his leaving Zimbabwe

including to meet with the President but in that event his

two colleagues would still make trip to Washington.

 

5. (C) Coltart added that the MDC had introduced its own

proposal for constitutional amendments to point up the

undemocratic nature of the bill. Among other things, the MDC

proposal included a requirement that constitutional

amendments be put to national referendum within two years of

passage. Coltart also noted that the GOZ would likely

conduct senate elections within three months of the bill’s

passage, notwithstanding its lack of budget for it. He

reported that the MDC continued to debate whether or not to

participate and had not reached a position.

 

——————————–

MDC To Continue Legal Challenges

——————————–

 

6. (C) Coltart said the MDC was continuing its campaign in

the courts against GOZ and ruling party abuses. The cases

(which are funded in part by USAID) kept the spotlight on GOZ

electoral abuses and underscored the MDC,s non-violence and

respect for rule of law. The challenges also tied up GOZ

resources; CIO operatives typically outnumbered MDC

functionaries in court. The current focus of the court

challenges was the 2002 presidential election. The MDC had

pursued a two-part case. The first part had been 27 legal

and constitutional challenges to the election’s conduct. Had

the courts found in the MDC,s favor the election result

would have been null and void. However, in June 2004 the

High Court had dismissed the MDC,s case (though without

providing any reasoning). The MDC was now moving forward on

the second part: establishing that the election had been

fraudulent.

 

——————————————— —–

MDC Opposes IMF Expulsion But Wants UNSC Attention

——————————————— —–

 

7. (C) Coltart said Zimbabwe,s economic distress posed a

dilemma for the MDC, which didn,t want the country to

collapse and the suffering of common citizens to rise but did

want to see the regime pay for its misrule. Accordingly, the

party remained opposed to generalized trade sanctions but

continued to support targeted sanctions on GOZ and ZANU-PF

leaders. In addition, Coltart confirmed that the MDC opposed

IMF expulsion but nonetheless hoped to see the international

community, and especially the UN increase the pressure on the

Mugabe regime, by recognizing Operation Restore Order as a

crime against humanity. Coltart said he further hoped to see

the UN Security Council adopt a resolution that would invite

the International Criminal Court to investigate the

operation. He acknowledged this could be problematic for the

U.S. but noted a precedent on Sudan and urged the U.S. not to

block such a development were it to occur.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

8. (C) Coltart has asked for neither Embassy nor Department

assistance in securing the meeting with the President and we

are unable to assess whether his connections are likely to be

able to secure an appointment. That said, we believe his

message to the President is the right one: the Mugabe regime

has weakened itself over the past three months, the chances

for real change in the next few years have improved as a

result, and the U.S. should continue to maintain its support

for democratic elements in Zimbabwe.

DELL

(24 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHARETweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email
Print this page
Print

Like it? Share with your friends!

0
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.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *