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Cablegate: Mdc Announces New Strategy

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

010839Z Oct 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001993

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ZI MDC
SUBJECT: MDC ANNOUNCES NEW STRATEGY

REF: HARARE 1958

1. SUMMARY. (SBU) On September 30, MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai briefed the diplomatic community on the MDC's

SIPDIS
position on various current issues. While Tsvangirai did not
reveal anything earth shattering, he did acknowledge that
some contact with ZANU-PF was ongoing but said that the
inter-party talks process had not been yet been launched nor
achieved agreement. He also gave a nine-month timetable for
change in Zimbabwe and expressed appreciation to the SADC
diplomats for facilitating meetings between the MDC
delegation and SADC heads of state. END SUMMARY.

---------------------------
TSVANGIRAI BRIEFS DIPLOMATS

SIPDIS
---------------------------
2. (U) On September 30, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai
briefed the diplomatic community on the MDC's position on
various current issues, including developments on a
ZANU-PF/MDC dialogue and the regional tour recently completed
by MDC leadership. The MDC called the diplomatic briefing one
day before the October 1 deadline for talks that Tsvangirai
reportedly had set earlier. During the question and answer
period, Tsvangirai maintained that there had never been an
October 1 deadline and that no one had threatened mass
action. He blamed the press for distorting his words. He
said the MDC court challenge to the 2002 presidential
election slated to begin on November 3 would continue as
scheduled unless there was "demonstrable and irreversible"
progress toward a solution to the crisis. He did not rule
out using mass action but said it would be "determined by
circumstances."

--------------------
INTER-PARTY DIALOGUE
--------------------
3. (U) Tsvangirai said dialogue between the two principals
(President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai) would resolve
the crisis in the long term. He commented that, while the
church initiative and other attempts to broker a negotiation
were good efforts, they had not broken the impasse between
the two leaders. He expressed appreciation for Mugabe's
conciliatory statements during the Muzenda funeral but was
skeptical of the sincerity of the public announcement and of
the will to implement change. (See Reftel.) He said the MDC
had done a few things to try to break the ice, such as
attending the opening session of Parliament and Vice
President Simon Muzenda's funeral, and this had palliated
suspicion but had only improved informal relations between
the two party's members.

------------------
TIMETABLE REVEALED
------------------
4. (U) During the question and answer period, one diplomat
asked Tsvangirai for a timetable for a new Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai said that after a meaningful dialogue has begun,

SIPDIS
he could envision a three-month period of negotiations
followed by 3-6 months of transition, ultimately leading to
elections. He thought this should all happen by mid-2004 if
Zimbabwe is to survive. He then revealed that during the
first weekend in October, the party would be issuing new
policy papers, which would be available to the public at a
later date. He intimated that the party would try to market
its policies better, after being criticized over the last few
years for not having clear-cut policies.

------------------------
MENDING FENCES WITH SADC
------------------------
5. (U) Tsvangirai expressed appreciation to SADC diplomats
for facilitating meetings between the MDC delegation and
various SADC heads of state. He said the delegation would
travel to other countries in the region (Botswana, South
Africa, and Angola) and may travel to Nigeria too.
Tsvangirai said the purpose of the trips was to give an

SIPDIS
alternative interpretation of the crisis and to offer
possible solutions. He claimed that the delegation has been
well received in the host countries and that the meetings had
been successful, with no one disputing the cause of the
crisis--poor governance--rather than "land" or "Britain" as
Mugabe would have it. He added that as long as Mugabe thinks
he has the support of SADC leaders he would not budge in his
position. He asked SADC to help the process by urging
ZANU-PF to the negotiating table.
------------------------------
PERSONAL FREEDOMS STILL DENIED
------------------------------
6. (U) Tsvangirai said he was disturbed that despite the
MDC's efforts to break the tension between ZANU-PF and MDC,
the ruling party had closed the Daily News. (The MDC also
circulated a strong statement from the Tsvangirai about the
closure of the Daily News.) Tsvangirai said the closure of
the newspaper was an attack on the MDC by ZANU-PF, even
though the Daily News is not owned by the MDC. He vowed that
the MDC would do everything it could to get the paper back up
and running. He lamented the MDC's lack of access to public
media and implored the international community to express
outrage over the attack on freedom of expression.

7. (U) On the electoral process and the August elections,
Tsvangirai denied claims that the electoral environment had

SIPDIS
improved much. He said that although there may have been
less violence during the urban council elections, the
electoral process was still not free and fair, particularly
due to the problems with the voters roll and prevention of
candidate registration.

-------
COMMENT
-------
8. (SBU) The MDC diplomatic briefing signals a shift in its
public relations strategy. The combination of the regional
tour and diplomatic briefing suggests that the party is
seeking to strengthen its diplomatic links. Tsvangirai was
also careful to praise the SADC diplomats for their
assistance with the MDC delegation, a welcome change after
months of acerbic attacks on Zimbabwe's neighbors.
Tsvangirai,s comments about the public perception that the

SIPDIS
MDC has no policies and admission that the party failed in
the marketing of its policies also suggest a change in focus.
Through bolstering its public image and international
credibility, the MDC may hope to bring Mugabe to the
negotiating table with Tsvangirai. END COMMENT.
SULLIVAN

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