Movement for Democratic Change candidate for the Kadoma Central by-election in 2003, Charles Mupandawana, complained that he had lost because he had not received adequate support from his party.
He said though he had requested Z$8 million per week for the last three weeks of his campaign he had only received a total of Z$8 million.
In contrast ZANU-PF Ministers Elliott Manyika and Ignatius Chombo as well as Chinhoyi MP Phillip Chiyangwa had visited the constituency regularly in support of their candidate.
Party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi and secretary Welshman Ncube said party structures in Kadoma were in disarray. This was the reason why Mupandawana had lost.
MDC officials said they had indeed sent Z$8 million a week during the last three weeks of Mupandawana’s campaign.
Viewing cable 03HARARE2412, MDC MEMBERSHIP DESPONDENT AT PERCEIVED LACK OF
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 03 HARARE 002412
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013
SUBJECT: MDC MEMBERSHIP DESPONDENT AT PERCEIVED LACK OF
REF: A. HARARE 2313
¶B. HARARE 2332
¶C. HARARE 2179
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Various MDC Officials have commented that
there is increasing despondency and frustration within the
party rank and file. The MDC is planning mass action for
early in the New Year, but much homework remains undone, and
with an increasingly resigned public, it is unclear whether
people will be motivated to follow leaders tomorrow whom they
feel have failed them today. End Summary.
Suspended Mayor Wants Party Support
¶2. (C) On November 26, Judge Moses Chinhengo issued a
decision upholding the suspension of Harare Mayor Elias
Mudzuri. On December 2 Minister of Local Government Ignatius
Chombo sent reportedly identical letters to six suspended MDC
Harare City councilors notifying them that they were fired.
Over lunch with the Ambassador on December 3 the Mayor
complained that the MDC leadership failed to make a public
statements condemning the firings of MDC councilors and the
continued suspension of the Mayor. Mudzuri also complained
the party had failed to compel councilors to make decisions
in council, which had previously been agreed to at
caucus–except to request their resignations. While he did
not specify, the Mayor was likely referring to decisions such
as the one to withdraw the Mayor’s salary and other benefits;
the failure to object to the reinstatement of Town Clerk
Chideya (Ref C); and the failure to object to the suspensions
and firings of the six councilors. Mudzuri complained that
the rank and file were asking for leadership and the party
was not delivering.
Acting Mayor Refuses to Resign
¶3. (C) Dennis Murira, Special Assistant to the MDC Party
Chairman, said that the commission of inquiry set up to
investigate the actions of MDC Harare City Councilors who
were not toeing the party line (Ref C) interviewed the
wayward councilors and the Acting Mayor and issued a report
to the party leadership in late November. The commission
recommended that the leadership request that the councilors
in question resign, and that the party reprimand them. The
MDC followed through and in late November requested that
Acting Mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and six councilors resign by
December 1. All complied except Makwavarara. Although news
reports suggested that the MDC might expel Makwavarara from
the party, Murira said that would be futile, that Makwavarara
would join the ruling party immediately. Instead the MDC
would likely let her serve out her term before expelling her.
Minister Bent on Ruining Mayor
¶4. (C) Over lunch with the Ambassador and DCM on December
11, MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube and Spokesman Paul
Themba Nyathi said that MDC Councilor Christopher Mushonga is
from the Zezuru clan of the Shona, as is Minister of Local
Government Ignatius Chombo. Although the two are from
different political parties, the MDC officials said this
common ethnic background has provided a basis for Mushonga
and Chombo to at least communicate. Mushonga, until the
recent MDC disciplinary action, led a group of MDC councilors
who complied with directions from the Minister (Ref C). The
MDC officials said that in contrast Mudzuri is from the
Karanga subgroup and Chombo is committed to ruining him.
Chombo would be satisfied to leave the rest of the City
Council alone–he is after Mudzuri with the investigating
commission and he intends to finish him off politically.
¶5. (C) Nyathi and Ncube said that the Acting Mayor has sold
out and even refuses to take phone calls from the MDC
leadership. It was an inexperienced council, and Chombo has
played his hand perfectly by identifying councilors who are
soft and influencing them. The MDC officials agreed that
requesting the council to resign en masse would likely result
in solid MDC councilors resigning, and weak ones prone to
yielding to ZANU-PF blandishments retaining their posts – a
worst case scenario for the party.
Party in Disarray in Kadoma
¶6. (C) Losing MDC candidate for the Kadoma Central
parliamentary by-election, Charles Mupandawana reiterated his
complaint (Ref B) to poloff on December 3 that a lack of
support from the party was a critical factor in his loss.
Mupandawana said that his campaign team budgeted a need for
Z$8 million (US$1,350) per week for the last three weeks of
his campaign, but instead received Z$8 million total. He
also said they had requested five vehicles, but had only
received four, of which two were in reliable working order.
By comparison, Mupandawana said that the MDC sent 20 vehicles
for use during the October 2002 by-election in Insiza.
Mupandawana said that no one from the MDC Information or
Legal Departments came to assist him in with publicity and
legal representation for detainees respectively. While MDC
President Morgan Tsvangirai did visit once and address a
gathering, Mupandawana said that paled in comparison to
ZANU-PF Ministers Elliott Manyika and Ignatius Chombo, as
well as MP Philip Chiyangwa’s regular visits to Kadoma in
support of the ZANU-PF candidate.
¶7. (C) Nyathi and Ncube said that party structures in Kadoma
have been in disarray for some time. They described a
conflict between factions which went unresolved through the
recent by-election. According to the MDC officials this
conflict was the major reason the MDC lost the election. In
contrast to Mupandawana’s statements, the MDC officials said
the MDC had indeed sent Z$8 million per week during the last
three weeks of the campaign.
Even Parliamentarians Get the Blues
¶8. (C) Miles Toder, Director of the State University of New
York’s Institutional Strengthening of Parliament Programs
here said recently that over the past couple months he has
sensed despondency and frustration among MDC parliamentarians
who feel that participating in Parliament has effected no
political change. Many MDC parliamentarians have in recent
months spent increasing time with their law firms, import
businesses, and retail stores primarily because they need the
money and they feel they are achieving nothing in Parliament.
Toder said MPs are facing stiff competition for the
nominations for their own seats and are subsequently
concerned about bolstering their campaign coffers. Toder
said he expects significant turnover among MPs at the next
parliamentary elections as each party attempts to spread the
patronage of being a parliamentarian to other party members.
GOZ Gearing up for Early Parliamentary Elections?
¶9. (C) Toder also said there was evidence that the GOZ may
be gearing up for early parliamentary elections. The GOZ is
currently aggressively pursuing an amendment to the
Citizenship Act that would enfranchise longtime residents of
Zimbabwe from neighboring countries with the right to vote.
He suspects this effort is directed at ex-commercial
farmworkers, many of whom are originally from neighboring
countries. Mike Murray of Justice for Agriculture, also
views ex-farmworkers as a persuadable swing vote.
Mupandawana said that he suspected food was used to buy votes
in resettled areas in Kadoma. Wishing he’d had some to dole
out, Mupandawana said in this environment a little food can
easily buy votes even among people like ex-farmworkers who
have lost their livelihoods due to ZANU-PF policies. Toder
said ZANU-PF had resurrected reform of the Electoral Act to
address SADC norms, but also to resolve technical problems
that would help the ruling party maintain control of the
electoral process. He said moves were underway to open the
registration rolls to new party members, and also to re-draw
constituency lines especially in urban areas by joining them
with nearby resettled areas to dilute the MDC’s urban
strength. Toder said the reputation of government was to
leave things until the last moment and these early
preparations could indicate planning to dissolve parliament
and call early elections, which the President could legally
MDC to Gain Religion
¶10. (C) Murira, who is also a leading member of a core group
of MDC officials charged with planning mass action, said on
December 11, that he sensed despondency among the MDC rank
and file. He said this was in response to the MDC leadership
pursuing talks that the rank and file feared would lead to
ZANU-PF swallowing the MDC. MDC members also perceived the
MDC leadership to be doing nothing to resolve the crises
¶11. (C) Murira said that in response to calls that the
leadership do something, the main strategy for mass action
early in the New Year (Ref A) was for MDC activists to hold
prayer vigils in high-density areas around Harare. Basically
the theory being that the GOZ might be able to suppress an
opposition party, but it would be more difficult for it and
security personnel on the ground to suppress people under the
auspices of the church. Murira said the MDC was talking to
the Bishops troika and other prominent clergy to get them to
declare the talks initiative dead, and to get their blessing
for MDC activists to hold prayer vigils as members of their
churches. Murira said that after several nights of vigils,
the MDC (via church leaders) would then hold a large vigil at
a venue in the center of Harare as a pretext to calling a
major march immediately thereafter.
¶12. (C) With a tacit strategy of lying low, focusing on
building grassroots party support, and waiting for public
opinion to fully realize that the GOZ has scuttled talks, the
MDC has been largely invisible in the past few months. In
the absence of the Daily News the party has also missed
various opportunities to issue government-critical press
statements, for firing MDC councilors, for
government-sponsored intimidation during the Kadoma
by-election and for continued GOZ mismanagement of the
economy. With its lowered profile, the party seems to have
created the perception that it is doing nothing to resolve
the political and economic crises. While the idea of
organizing events under the rubric of the church is novel,
with the government controlling the daily media the GOZ could
easily crack down on the prayer vigils and claim that the MDC
abused the church to hold political gatherings. Even if the
MDC fully developed this strategy, and got church officials
on board, it remains unclear whether an increasingly resigned
public would heed the call to gather in protest. Plagued by
a lack of resources and facing the many obstacles placed in
its way, the MDC has been hard pressed to mount effective
opposition to an increasingly repressive regime. As it
prepares itself for the crucial 2005 parliamentary elections,
the MDC will need to focus its energies and training on
allocating scant resources, executing planning, generating
internal consensus, and motivating both its membership and
the Zimbabwean electorate at large to remain in the game.