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04HARARE1587 2004-09-23 08:52:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Harare
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230852Z Sep 04
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001587 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2014

AND 1.5 (D)

1. (C) Summary: DCM met September 21 with Gandhi
Mudzingwa, Director of Presidential Affairs for the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Mudzingwa
confirmed that the MDC had met over the weekend with
President Mbeki, who had asked what, short of pressure,
he could do to help manage Zimbabwe,s political crisis.
The MDC leaders told Mbeki that the next best thing
would be to convince President Mugabe to resume
negotiations on constitutional changes that would level
the playing field. Mbeki promised to raise the issue
with Mugabe when the two meet in New York at the UNGA.
End Summary.


MDC,s Mbeki Briefing


2. (C) Mudzingwa said the MDC,s Vice President, Secretary
General and Deputy Secretary General traveled to Pretoria
September 18-19 to meet with South African President Mbeki
at the latter,s request (N.B. Party leader Tsvangirai is
prohibited from traveling as a result of his on-going
treason trial.) Mudzingwa said Mbeki had requested a
briefing from the MDC on the political situation in
Zimbabwe. These requests from Mbeki for briefings had
lately become quite regular, practically monthly. The
MDC assumed that President Mugabe and the GOZ were aware
of the visits but had yet to make any attempt to interfere
with them.

3. (C) The MDC leaders told Mbeki that President Mugabe
was making cosmetic changes designed to entice the MDC
into the parliamentary elections but without making the
fundamental changes needed to allow for a free and fair
election. They argued that the key to fundamental
reforms was to keep the pressure on Mugabe, both
internally and externally. Mudzingwa added that the
MDC continued to hope for public statements from the
U.S. and others that under the current rules, the
elections could not be free and fair.

4. (C) Mudzingwa said the party leaders were especially
critical with Mbeki of the ruling ZANU-PF party,s
decision to suspend negotiations over constitutional
reform in July. The government had withdrawn the reform
bill and replaced it the Electoral Commission Bill
currently being discussed in Parliament. The MDC
leaders told Mbeki that the two parties were at
loggerheads over the Electoral Commission Bill, with
ZANU-PF proposing that Parliament nominate seven names
from which Mugabe would choose four members of the
electoral commission and that the President would have
the sole voice in choosing the fifth member, the Chairman.
The MDC,s counter-proposal had been that each party
choose two members and that the Chairman be nominated
by the President and approved by Parliament or vice-versa.
In any event the key was to establish a check on executive
authority. In addition, the MDC team voiced its opposition
to a provision in the bill that MPs had to be at least
35 years old, which would hamstring the youthful MDC leaders.


Mbeki/Mugabe in NY


5. (C) Mbeki asked what, short of pressuring Mugabe, he
could do to help. The MDC leaders responded that Mbeki
should focus on convincing Mugabe to drop the electoral
bill and resume negotiations on constitutional reform,
including eliminating the 30 positions (out of 150)
appointed by the President, and establishing an upper
house based on proportional voting. Mbeki had said he
would meet with Mugabe in New York at the UNGA and
would raise this issue. Mudzingwa said he expected Mbeki
to ask the MDC leaders to visit Pretoria again and be
briefed on the results of the meeting in two-three weeks.




6. (C) The MDC continues to believe pressure on the
Mugabe regime, especially external pressure from South
Africa and the West, is the key to a breakthrough that
will allow free and fair elections. Time is running
out for that breakthrough to occur. Fundamental change
will have to happen by the end of the year to give time
for the MDC to campaign effectively. While heartened
that Mbeki is meeting regularly with the MDC, we see no
sign that he or any other regional leader is prepared to
act soon, if at all, in pressuring Mugabe to take the
necessary steps. Moreover, constitutional reform was an
odd choice for the MDC. The electoral reform bill is the
centerpiece of Mugabe,s SADC charm offensive and he is
unlikely to abandon it nor is Mbeki likely to press him
to do so.