Why initial talks between MDC and ZANU-PF broke down


Talks between the Movement for Democratic Change and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front broke down in 2004 because of divisions within the MDC which left ZANU-PF with no one to negotiate with.

This was said by Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao who added that the MDC had splintered into three groups: trade unions, farmers (who now realised that there could be no going back on land seizures) and intellectuals.

He said that the talks had been stymied because these three could not agree on a common platform.

Simao said that Tsvangirai as an articulate leader with clear ideas but those around him were now questioning his authority.

Simao also said that despite the threats, the MDC was not boycotting the 2005 elections but it was not contesting any by-elections because of repeated losses.


Full cable:



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






2004-11-22 15:41

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Maputo

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 MAPUTO 001520




E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/22/2014





REF: STATE 242995


Classified By: Ambassador Helen La Lime for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (C) Summary: Foreign Minister Simao told the Ambassador

that he believes the Zimbabwean opposition party Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC) will participate in the March

parliamentary elections. However, the MDC is growing weaker,

several factions have emerged and some are questioning Morgan

Tsvangirai’s leadership. He disagreed that Zimbabwe remains



stagnant in economic crisis; instead, “things are getting

better.” In any case, peace and stability are more important

than democracy at this time for Zimbabwe — a theme he

repeated several times during the meeting. End summary.


2. (C) On November 18 the Ambassador delivered reftel

demarche on March 2005 parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe to

Foreign Minister Simao. (Note: A request to meet with

President Chissano on this topic is pending. end note.) The

Ambassador outlined for Simao our view of Zimbabwe’s

difficult circumstances, including reduced trade with the

region and the consequent negative impact on the Beira

corridor and Mozambique’s economy as a whole. She stressed

that upcoming parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe, should

they follow SADC guidelines, would moderate the country’s

political climate, improve stability, and thereby return the

country to a path of prosperity. Mozambique has an important

role to play in encouraging Zimbabwe’s leadership to make the

March elections free and fair, she told Simao.


3. (C) FM Simao responded by characterizing the USG view of

Zimbabwe as “highly pessimistic.” Instead, “things are

getting better,” he insisted. There has not been much

violence lately. Inflation, which used to run as high as 600

percent per year, is now down to 200 percent. Food shortages

have been overcome and food production has begun to rebound.

As evidence, he pointed out that the Zimbabwean government

not long ago told the World Food Program (WFP) to cease food

deliveries. (Comment: In fact, we understand that in the

last several days the Zimbabwean has asked the WFP for more

food aid. End comment.) The Zimbabweans are paying for

electricity deliveries from Cahora Bassa dam in a timely,

regular manner.


4. (C) He told the Ambassador that discussions between the

MDC and ZANU-PF have broken down in the past several months

because dissension has fractured the MDC and there is no

longer anyone with whom the government can negotiate who

represents the party as a whole. According to Simao, the MDC

has splintered into three groups: trade unions, farmers (who

now realize that there can be no going back on land seizures)

and intellectuals. Talks have been stymied because these

three “cannot agree on a common platform.” He said that he

recently spoke with the Zimbabwean Minister of Justice, who

told him that the government decided there was no value to

continuing talks with MDC negotiators who do not represent

the party. Describing Tsivangirai as an articulate leader

with clear ideas, nevertheless he has heard that some of

those around Tsivangirai are now questioning his authority.


5. (C) Still, Simao believes that the MDC will not boycott

the March parliamentary elections. Tsivangirai assured

several others in the Mozambican government earlier that the

MDC would take part, he reported. However, the MDC would no

longer contest by-elections because of recent repeated

losses. The parliamentary elections will by no means be

perfect, Simao repeated several times, but in his view they

will be much better than the last ones. SADC will send



6. (C) Throughout the hour-long meeting Simao returned again

and again to stress that the Zimbabwe government must not be

“pushed” to improve its behavior and, more generally, that

peace and stability are “most important.” “Three years ago

Zimbabwe was on the brink of war,” he said. And if war had

come, there would have been no respect for democracy, nor

human rights, and many would have been killed. “We are not

pushing,” he admitted. Instead, rather than risk creating

enemies of its neighbors, such as happened in the case of

Malawi during the civil war, at times of strain it is better

to treat one’s neighbors “with understanding.” Some foreign

NGO’s are doing “more than they should,” are interfering,

something that occurs in Mozambique too, he added. The cost

of democracy must not be chaos, reforms must not break

society. Democratic change must be gradual, in 5-10 year

timeframes. “We are not in the Olympic games.”


7. (C) Comment: Though the discussion focused on Zimbabwe,

Simao clearly was thinking of Mozambique as well.



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

Like it? Share with your friends!

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.


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