US embassy cable - 00HARARE2237

AMBASSADOR/TSVANGIRAI MEETING: MDC URGING RESTRAINT IN FACE OF ESCALATING ELECTION VIOLENCE, BUT INCHING TOWARDS A DEFENSIVE STRATEGY

Identifier: 00HARARE2237
Wikileaks: View 00HARARE2237 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2000-04-26 13:58:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR KDEM PINS ZI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

261358Z Apr 00


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ4670

PAGE 01        HARARE  02237  01 OF 03  261354Z 
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                  ------------------501930  261354Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5866
INFO AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 002237 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF A/S SUSAN RICE, AF/S RENDER, BOOTH, GURNEY 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR GAYLE SMITH 
 
LONDON FOR PFLAUMER 
 
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/26/00 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, PINR, KDEM, PINS, ZI 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR/TSVANGIRAI MEETING: MDC URGING 
RESTRAINT IN FACE OF ESCALATING ELECTION VIOLENCE, BUT 
INCHING TOWARDS A DEFENSIVE STRATEGY 
 
REF: HARARE 1970 
 
CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL OFFICER MAKILA JAMES, REASONS 
1.5 B/D. 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY: IN THE RUN-UP TO THE PARLIAMENTARY 
ELECTION, THE MDC IS CONFRONTING INCREASING POLITICAL 
VIOLENCE FROM ZANU-PF, WHICH HAS LEFT FIVE OF THE 
OPPOSITION PARTY'S SUPPORTERS DEAD AND HUNDREDS OF RURAL 
AND URBAN BACKERS INJURED.  NEVERTHELESS, MDC PRESIDENT 
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI BELIEVES THE ELECTION WILL LIKELY GO 
FORWARD IN JUNE.  THE OPPOSITION PARTY SAYS IT IS 
STRONGLY URGING RESTRAINT AMONG ITS MEMBERS AND BELIEVES 
IT WILL STILL TAKE A MAJORITY OF THE PARLIAMENTARY 
SEATS.  THE MDC, HOWEVER, IS UNDER PRESSURE FROM ITS 
MEMBERSHIP TO TAKE A MORE DEFENSIVE POSTURE AND HAS 
RECENTLY HINTED THAT IT IS MOVING IN THAT DIRECTION.  A 
CONFLICT BETWEEN LONDON'S LABOR AND CONSERVATIVE PARTIES 
IS BLOCKING A COHERENT RESPONSE TO ZIMBABWE'S DOMESTIC 
PROBLEMS OR SUPPORT FOR THE MDC, ACCORDING TO 
TSVANGIRAI.  THE MDC PRESIDENT CRITICIZED THE U.S. FOR 
 
SIPDIS 
WHAT HE PERCEIVED TO BE OUR EMPHASIS ON ENGAGING MUGABE 
ON THE DROC CRISIS AT THE EXPENSE OF PRESSING HIM ON THE 
COUNTRY'S DOMESTIC PROBLEMS.  THE MDC SEES MUGABE AS 
ALMOST OBSOLETE AND IS FOCUSED ON WORKING OUT AN AMNESTY 
DEAL FOR KEY MILITARY FIGURES TO FORESTALL MORE 
VIOLENCE.  SOUTH AFRICA IS UNABLE TO INFLUENCE MUGABE 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  02237  01 OF 03  261354Z 
BECAUSE OF PRESIDENT MBEKI'S JUNIOR POSITION, ALTHOUGH 
THE FAILURE TO DO SO IS INVITING ECONOMIC DISASTER FOR 
PRETORIA, THE MDC LEADER ASSERTED.  THE MDC SEEKS 
CONTINUED U.S. INSISTENCE ON THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPECT 
FOR THE RULE OF LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
POLITICAL VIOLENCE ESCALATING 
----------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE PRESIDENT (MDC), 
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, ACCOMPANIED BY LOCAL BUSINESSMAN AND 
MDC OFFICIAL CLIVE PUZEY, CALLED ON AMBASSADOR MCDONALD 
ON APRIL 25 TO DISCUSS THE ESCALATING POLITICAL VIOLENCE 
IN ZIMBABWE.  IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS SUCH VIOLENCE HAS 
GONE FROM PHYSICAL ATTACKS AND GENERAL INTIMIDATION OF 
VOTERS, TO MURDERS OF BLACK FARM WORKERS, WHITE 
COMMERCIAL FARMERS, AND OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS.  A TOTAL 
OF FIVE MDC SUPPORTERS HAVE BEEN KILLED IN POLITICAL 
VIOLENCE TO DATE, MOST RECENTLY THREE BACKERS WERE 
BEATEN TO DEATH IN HARARE, SHAMVA, AND ANOTHER PERI- 
URBAN AREA, THE MDC LEADER INFORMED.  TSVANGIRAI 
BELIEVES THE FARM VIOLENCE HAS BEEN ORCHESTRATED TO 
SHIFT THE FOCUS FROM ZANU-PF'S LIKELY ELECTORAL DEFEAT 
TO THE EMOTIONAL LAND REFORM ISSUE. 
 
3.  (C) OVER THE NEXT TWO WEEKS TSVANGIRAI PREDICTS THE 
POLITICAL VIOLENCE WILL INCREASE.  HE STATED THAT THE 
FEARED "FIFTH BRIGADE" ARMY MEMBERS, WHO WERE 
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE "GUKURUHUNDI" MASSACRES IN 
MATABELELAND AND THE MIDLANDS IN THE EARLY 1980'S, HAVE 
AGAIN BEEN UNLEASHED ON THE CIVILIANS IN THOSE PARTS OF 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  02237  01 OF 03  261354Z 
THE COUNTRY, AND POSSIBLY ELSEWHERE.  PUZEY ENVISIONS A 
RETURN TO THE DAYS WHEN THE COUNTRY LIVED IN TERROR 
BECAUSE OF THE DEGREE AND SEVERITY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE 
THAT RESULTED IN "TRAINLOADS" OF VICTIMS BEING 
TRANSPORTED FOR BURIALS BY THEIR FAMILIES.  THE VIOLENCE 
THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS ORGANIZING AND/OR CONDONING IS 
DESIGNED TO CREATE TERROR, ERODE MDC SUPPORT AND ENSURE 
THE RULING PARTY OF AN ELECTORAL VICTORY IN ITS 
HISTORICALLY LOYAL RURAL AREAS WHOSE SUPPORT IS NOW IN 
DOUBT.  IN SEPARATE MEETINGS, MDC SUPPORTERS HAVE 
DOWNPLAYED THE LIKELIHOOD OF MUGABE DECLARING A "STATE 
OF EMERGENCY," AS THE RULING PARTY'S STRATEGY SEEMS MORE 
FOCUSED ON GUARANTEEING AN ELECTORAL VICTORY TO 

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