ZANU-PF and MDC separated by “too much war of words”


The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and the Movement for Democratic Change were not separated by substantive policy differences but by “to much war of words” United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tuliameni Kalomoh said eight years ago.

He also said ZANU-PF had deep antipathy toward MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai but had a more positive view of secretary-general Welshman Ncube and wondered about the relationship between the two.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2004-08-12 15:05

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 03 HARARE 001360









E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2009




REF: (A) HARARE 1335 (B) HARARE 1313 (C) HARARE 1250


Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5 b/d


1. (C) SUMMARY: In a meeting at the Embassy Augus

the Ambassador’s assessment of t 6, United

Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs

Tuliameni Kalomoh solicited

the Zimbabwean political and humanitarian situations. He

advised that his five-day visit to Zimbabwe was “private” but

that he had met with leaders from the ruling and opposition

parties and would report back to Secretary-General Annan, who

was following Zimbabwe closely. Kalomoh commented on the

ruling party leadership’s hostility to the United States, and

inquired what steps might be taken by either side to lower

temperatures. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) The Assistant Secretary-General, a Namibian

national, was in Zimbabwe August 2-7. He did not request a

meeting with the Ambassador (he said he thought the

Ambassador had left post), and the Embassy only became aware

of his visit through other diplomats. We understand that he

met separately with Swedish and Norwegian ambassadors, ruling

party officials (NFI), selected representatives of civil

society, and MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai. His visit was

ignored by the state media but noted in the independent

Financial Gazette (owned by Reserve Bank Governor Gono) in a

front page article, “UN Spying on Zim.” Kalomoh reportedly

was hosted by the Center for Peace Initiatives in Africa,

whose director, Leonard Kapungu, is a retired UN official and

Zimbabwean national. During the meeting with the Ambassador,

Kalomoh was accompanied by Kapungu but no UN officials.


UN Posture



3. (C) Kalomoh said that Secretary-General Annan was

concerned that, while Zimbabwe was not in conflict, its

political crisis lacked resolution. The Secretary-General’s

hope was for the creation of an environment for free and fair

elections in 2005 that would effectively put the 2000

parliamentary and 2002 presidential elections behind the

country. The UN was interested in fostering dialogue between

the two parties and civil society, and was encouraged by

proposed electoral reforms and prospects for the

establishment of a truly independent election commission with

real authority. The UN was not in a position to observe

Zimbabwean elections but could help to coordinate observers

and offer technical assistance. The GOZ, however, still

maintained that it had sufficient resources to conduct its

election without assistance. Kalomoh noted that ruling party

elements differed in their views of the UN; some regarded it

as a lackey of the British and Americans but others appeared

willing to engage meaningfully.


Polarization and Elections



4. (C) Kalomoh remarked on the leading parties’ starkly

different perceptions regarding upcoming elections. To the

ruling party, the election climate was fine; it looked

forward to elections in March or at the latest June following

the implementation of proposed election reforms. The

opposition had nothing good to say about the election

climate; its principal objections to election reforms were

that they didn’t go far enough and the opposition had not

been sufficiently consulted.


5. (C) Kalomoh asserted that the parties were not separated

as much by substantive policy differences as by “too much war

of words” over the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential

elections. He noted deep ruling party antipathy toward MDC

leader Morgan Tsvangirai in contrast to its more positive

view of MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube; he inquired

about the relationship between the two. He said he had

discussed concerns over the treason trial with the parties

and with civil society; many thought Tsvangirai would be

convicted but ruling party interlocutors gave the impression

that he would not be executed. He recognized that the

upcoming parliamentary elections and the ZANU-PF succession

issue complicated political posturing within each party and

between them. Kalamoh asserted that the fact that each side

seemed to believe that it would win a free and fair election

offered some hope that they could come together on the terms

of a free and fair election. He reported that the GOZ

planned to conduct a by-election in September for the Seke

seat vacated by MDC MP Ben Tumbare-Mutasa’s death last month.

(Comment: Electoral Supervisory Commission officials told

poloff they were unaware of plans to conduct the by-election,

which we understand would not be required legally given the

imminence of scheduled parliamentary elections. End comment.)


Mugabe, Africa, and the United States



6. (C) According to Kalomoh, the ruling party did not speak

with one voice but was unanimous on its view of the United

States, the UK, and the EU as being out to dictate Zimbabwean

policy and to impinge on Zimbabwean sovereignty. Ruling

party officials had been adamant that the parliamentary

elections would involve observers from SADC and African

countries but none from the United States, Canada or EU

member states.


7. (C) Kalamoh noted Mugabe’s skill at managing

confrontation — “he’s not so good when it’s not there.” In

this instance, Mugabe had played on African resentment of the

West and a genuine perception among Africans that the West

could not tolerate the GOZ’s redistribution of land from

whites to blacks. Kalamoh said Africans generally regarded

Zimbabwean elections as no worse than many other African

elections; the contrast between the West’s rejection of

Zimbabwe’s elections and its relative acceptance of others

fueled conspiracy theories. In that vein, he expressed

personal bitterness over the West’s reliance on Commonwealth

assessments of Zimbabwean elections in 2002 in complete

disregard of SADC observation reports with which he had been

involved. In any event, Africans perceived that the United

States had been enlisted by the UK to support its effort

reverse land reform and believed that the two western powers

should “make the first move”.


8. (C) Kalomoh asked about interactions between the USG and

State House, and whether the Ambassador would be paying a

farewell courtesy call on the President.   He inquired about

USG views of proposed electoral reforms and whether some

positive note could be taken of the reform efforts. If not

now, how far would the GOZ have to go? Under what

circumstances could any of the targeted sanctions be removed?


Doubts on Food



9. (C) Noting that he also had talked to offices involved in

the food situation here, Kalomoh expressed concern about GOZ

crop forecasts. He said that UN agencies and others had

concluded that GOZ forecasts were significantly



GOZ and USG Distance



10. (C) The Ambassador advised Kalomoh that he had submitted

a pro forma request for customary departure courtesies,

including a call on the President, but had yet to receive a

response. (Comment: The British Embassy received no response

to a similar submission prior to the recent departure of its

Ambassador; in blaring front page headlines, the state media

then blasted his “slinking out” without observing diplomatic

etiquette. End comment.)   He recounted his meeting

periodically with the MFA PermSec and selected members of the

Cabinet, but indicated that the GOZ and ruling party had

shown little interest in engaging. The USG had issued

balanced statements on elections and repeatedly voiced

support for lawful and non-violent land reform, but any

positive or encouraging tenor in USG pronouncements had been

ignored. On the contrary, the state media appeared to seize

and to exaggerate every possible issue to drive a deeper

wedge in bilateral relations.


11. (C) The Ambassador stressed the great importance attached

by the USG to progress on the rule of law, cessation of

political violence, and the conduct of free and fair election

as a means to move the country in the right direction. He

emphasized the potential significance of the treason trial

outcome: a guilty verdict based on the flimsy evidence

presented would erase the last vestige of judicial integrity

in the country and cast a pall over prospects for meaningful

political reconciliation. The Ambassador also noted

bipartisan Congressional support for the USG position on

Zimbabwe. Americans of all political stripes were concerned

about the situation in Zimbabwe not because “white land” had

been taken, but because of the violence, abuse of human

rights and attacks on the independence of the media and

judiciary that had occurred. In conclusion, the Ambassador

expressed concern that the proposed NGO bill (ref C) would

further shrink democratic space in the country and outweigh

any putative benefits of election reform.





12. (C) The ruling party generally has been suspicious of

the UN, as evidenced by its disinvitation of a UN election

assessment team in mid-visit last March and official media

castigation of selected UN employees for disseminating “bad

information” on Zimbabwe. The state media’s non-coverage of

Kalomoh’s visit was uncharacterisic in that regard, and may

reflect divisions or uncertainty in the leadership about the

means and ends of marketing electoral reforms

internationally. Some of Kalomoh’s inquiries implied

interest in tying benchmarks of political progress to

international re-engagement, echoing an effort by the bishops

troika to elicit benchmarks from us to entice the ruling

party into inter-party dialogue last year. We were impressed

with Kalomoh’s familiarity with the issues and believe that

UN interest can be constructive, especially to the extent it

connects election fairness to legitimacy in the eyes of

domestic and regional players.




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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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