Full text of MDC and Mbeki's explosive letters

Mr Thabo Mbeki,\r\n\r\nDear Sir, \r\nRe: Constitutional Amendment No 19 – \r\nGiven the fact that the SADC resolution is a nullity and has not been rescinded, it is then difficult for any of the parties to move in any direction for fear of legitimising the SADC Summit "ruling". It means then that the negotiators cannot meet and work on the draft of Constitutional Amendment No 19.

There is a total meltdown in Zimbabwe and indeed a complete collapse of the state. Put simply, the state has lost any capacity to provide the basic amenities to the people in the form of food, education, health, transport. This situation, if left unresolved, will explode or implode and indeed such explosion or implosion will have a contagious multiplier effect in the region.

In addition to the meltdown, there are vicious attacks on the members of the MDC contrary to the dictates and spirit of the MOU and the GPA. There is a renewed wave of violence, abductions and assaults against the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe in the obvious direction of replicating the post 29 March barbaric violence, in particular the arrest and continued detention at unknown centres of MDC Mashonaland West senior leadership such as Concilia Chinanvanana and 11 others. Furthermore, the Zanu PF regime is crafting an assassination plot, code-named Operation Ngatipedzenavo (Let Us Finish Them) intended to eliminate the MDC leadership and decimate the party through frivolous allegations.

There are flimsy attempts to frame the MDC as a terrorist organisation that is training people for the purposes of banditry and insurgence. There are people that are being used to frame confessions and militias are being trained by Zanu PF to act as MDC bandits in an attempt to delegitimise the MDC.

We look forward to hearing from you on the way forward.

Tendai Biti, MP

MDC Secretary General

(Mbeki’s response was addressed to "Mr Morgan Tsvangirai")

Dear Morgan

Today I received the letter dated 19 November 2008, which was correctly communicated through the South African Embassy in Harare, written to me by your secretary general, the Hon Tendai Biti, MP, concerning Constitutional Amendment No 19.

I must confess that the contents of this letter came to me as a complete surprise, causing me grave concern.

As you know, Mr Biti’s letter describes the decisions on Zimbabwe, taken by the November 9 SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting held in South Africa, as "a nullity".

The letter goes further to say that "it is then difficult for any of the parties to move in any direction for fear of legitimising the SADC Summit ‘ruling’".

The first point I would like to make with regard to the foregoing is that, as you know, we were appointed as facilitator of the Zimbabwe Dialogue by the SADC.

This position was later endorsed by both the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN), both of which expressly rely on SADC to facilitate the Zimbabwe Dialogue, and thus contribute to the resolution of the Zimbabwe problem.

You will, therefore, understand that it is absolutely impossible for us as the SADC-appointed facilitator to contemptuously to dismiss solemn decisions of an SADC Summit Meeting as "a nullity".

Indeed, and necessarily, all such decisions serve as a binding mandate on the facilitator.

The second point I would like to make is that contrary to what the Hon Tendai Biti says in his letter, the three Zimbabwe negotiating parties, including yours, and with the support of the facilitation, have agreed that they should meet with the facilitation to consider the Draft Constitutional Amendment No 19.

The facilitation had proposed that this meeting should take place in South Africa on November 19 and 20, with the intention to finalise this draft during this interaction.

Both Zanu PF and the MDC (M) agreed to this proposal. However the meeting did not take place, essentially because of the reportedly unavoidable unavailability of your secretary general, the Hon Tendai Biti, who is one of your negotiators.

Subsequently, your negotiators suggested that the meeting should be rescheduled to take place in South Africa on November 25.

The facilitation canvassed this proposal with the other Zimbabwe negotiating parties and secured their agreement.

Accordingly, as of now, we expect that the meeting to consider the Draft Constitutional Amendment No 19 will be held on November 25, as your negotiators proposed.

As you know, on November 17, the facilitation received from the Hon Patrick Chinamasa the First Draft of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 19 Bill, 2008.

We immediately distributed this draft to all three Zimbabwe negotiating parties, preparatory to the meeting then scheduled to be held on November 19-20.

Subsequently, the facilitation was informed that the MDC (T) had prepared its own Draft Constitutional Amendment No 19.

The facilitation welcomed this initiative by the MDC (T), which was consistent with the manner in which the SADC-mandated Zimbabwe Dialogue has been conducted during a period of over 18 months.

By agreement, this has allowed that each and any of the Zimbabwe Negotiating Parties should be absolutely free to present their views during the dialogue process, without let or hindrance, which has happened.

I would therefore like to assure you that consistent with previous practice, the facilitation is ready to facilitate consideration of all Drafts of Constitutional Amendment No 19 in an even-handed manner, guided by what is contained in the signed Global Political Agreement.

(As has been agreed, we will take all necessary steps to ensure that Amendment No 19 includes the provisions contained in the agreement signed privately on September 11, which, for whatever reason, are absent from the agreement signed in public on September 15.)

Correctly, the Zimbabwe negotiating parties had agreed, without any SADC intervention, that some of their decisions, as reflected in the Global Political Agreement, would have to be legalised through constitutional amendments.

We are completely at a loss as to what the Hon Tendai Biti means when he writes that with regard to Constitutional Amendment No 19, "it is then difficult for any of the parties to move in any direction for fear of legitimising the SADC Summit ‘ruling’".

When the SADC Summit Meeting called for the approval of Constitutional Amendment No 19, it did nothing more than to endorse a logical decision which the Zimbabwe negotiating parties had already concluded.

Neither the MDC (T), nor the other two Zimbabwe negotiating parties had expressed this (Biti) view to the facilitator, as we prepared for the November 19-20 and November 25 meetings, that the SADC approval of an existing decision of the Zimbabwe negotiating parties created a new problem.

And indeed, neither Zanu PF nor the MDC (M) has, to date, expressed any such view. To the best of our knowledge, they remain ready to participate in the November 25 meeting.

In addition, you will also remember that, in your presence, at the November 9 SADC Summit Meeting, both President Mugabe and Professor Mutambara informed the meeting that they accepted the SADC decisions, and committed their organisations to their full implementation.

The deputy treasurer general of the MDC (T), and one of your negotiators, the Hon Elton Mangoma, kindly conveyed to the facilitation the resolutions adopted by the 7th MDC National Council of 2008, which met in Harare on November 14, 2008.

In this regard, the facilitation took particular note of the resolution which stated that:

"3. Given the lack of sincerity and lack of paradigm shift on the part of Zanu PF, the MDC shall participate in a new government once Constitutional Amendment No 19 has been passed and effected into law."

In this regard, the facilitation also took note of the November 14 report carried on the Kubatana Internet website, which said:

"(MDC (T) Vice President Thokozani) Khupe said: ‘Given the lack of sincerity and lack of paradigm shift on the part of Zanu PF, the MDC shall participate in a new government once Constitutional Amendment No 19 has been passed and effected into law."

All this suggested to the Facilitation that the Zimbabwe Negotiating Parties should indeed proceed as speedily as possible to agree on Constitutional Amendment No 19.

The immediate foregoing is part of the reason why we find it immensely puzzling that even after the announced decisions of the 7th MDC National Council of 2008, your secretary general has now informed us that it is in fact impossible and impermissible to draft and enact Constitutional Amendment No 19 into law.

This is not the appropriate platform to discuss the intricacies of the Zimbabwe negotiations, in which you and ourselves have been involved for many years.

However, you know the circumstances which led the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson, and subsequently the November 9 SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting, to focus on the matter of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

As the SADC executive secretary reported to the November 9 SADC Summit Meeting, when the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson met in Harare on October 27-28, they engaged the Zimbabwe negotiating parties, including yourself, in intense negotiations, deliberately without the participation of the facilitator.

The clear message communicated to the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson during these interactions was that the only obstacle to the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government, as agreed in the Global Political Agreement (GPA), was the finalisation of the dispute about the political leadership of the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the subsequent legalisation of the GPA through the enactment of Constitutional Amendment No 19.

You will remember your own insistence that in the context of the agreement that there should be two ministers of home affairs, these should serve in rotation, with the MDC (T) appointee taking the first slot.

You affirmed that if this were to be agreed, it would mark the conclusion of the negotiations about the distribution of the ministerial portfolios, and therefore enable the establishment of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government, with your endorsement and support.

Because of this, basing themselves on what they learnt from the negotiations they conducted directly with the Zimbabwe negotiating parties, without the involvement of the Facilitation, the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson concluded that the most urgent and outstanding task relating to the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government was the resolution of matters relating to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

During the SADC meetings, the Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson emphasised that they recognise the fact that there are some outstanding matters that still need to be negotiated, and therefore asked that the facilitator should help ensure that this happens.

As we said earlier, for us as the facilitator, this constitutes a binding mandate which we must honour.

It is therefore factually incorrect that SADC has ignored various outstanding matters which you might have raised or which have served and serve on the agreed dialogue agenda.

In this regard, I would like to make one or two observations about the matter of "equity" with regard to the distribution of ministerial portfolios, which is mentioned in the resolutions of the 7th MDC National Council of 2008.

At your request, which was supported by the other two Zimbabwe negotiating parties, we prepared and submitted a document to you as the Zimbabwe principals, naturally including you, entitled "Reflections and Proposals of the Facilitation: Towards the Achievement of the Objectives of Equity and Power-sharing in the Constitution of the Inclusive Government: Harare, October 17 2008."

All three Zimbabwe negotiating parties responded to this document in writing. Of the three, only the MDC (T) fundamentally disagreed with the observations of the facilitator.

As you know, the facilitator’s document did not constitute a "ruling", as it could not. It was a response to a suggestion you yourself had made, and should have been subjected to a discussion among the Zimbabwe principals and the facilitator.

However, as was your right, you responded to the facilitator in two documents. This happened shortly before the Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson were to meet in Swaziland.

In the light of this decision, the facilitation thought it proper that it should submit to the Swaziland meeting copies of these five documents – the facilitator’s "Reflections …" and the four responses, two from the MDC (T), – both to the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson, as well as the SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting, which was done.

The facilitation has no reason to assume that these documents were not considered by the SADC structures.

We are, therefore, not aware of the basis of the statement made by the 7th MDC National Council of 2008 that SADC ignored the issue that MDC (T) had raised, relating to "equity" in the distribution of ministerial posts.

With regard to other outstanding matters, in your presence the SADC executive secretary reported that the SADC Troika of the Organ on Politics and the SADC chairperson agreed that these should not be forgotten or ignored, but should not hold up the formation of the Inclusive Government.

SADC directed that the facilitator should continue to focus on these matters, within the context that it set, which coincided with the approach of the facilitation.

It is perfectly clear to us as the facilitation that SADC is firmly of the view that the sooner the agreed Zimbabwe Inclusive Government is established, the better.

Our region considers this to be the most critical and urgent strategic task to implement, to move decisively towards the resolution of the challenges facing Zimbabwe.

As you know, the facilitation agrees with this view.

In this regard, you as the Zimbabwe principals agreed with the facilitator that senior officials of the Zimbabwe and South African governments should engage one another to address the issue of the provision of agricultural inputs that would help to ensure that during the current summer agricultural season, the people of Zimbabwe do everything possible to produce the food they need.

As you will recall, this decision was taken on the basis of an urgent request presented to the facilitator by the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU).

Together we agreed with the CFU that the intervention to produce food should not be held back because of delays in the conclusion of an agreement among the politicians about the composition of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government.

On the basis of this mandate, the relevant Zimbabwe and South African senior officials have indeed interacted with one another.

I have the assurance of the president of South Africa, HE Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, that the Government of South Africa is ready to honour its obligations in this regard, precisely because of its abiding concern about the welfare of the sister people of Zimbabwe.

I mention this particular issue, concerning the agricultural season that is upon us, to emphasise the point that all of you, the principal Zimbabwe Leaders, have consistently communicated to me your unqualified understanding of the reality that it was of strategic and urgent importance that the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government should be established without further delay, as the SADC Extraordinary Summit concurred.

In his November 19 2008 letter, the Hon Tendai Biti, secretary general of MDC (T), raised various matters of grave concern to the MDC (T).

In particular he mentioned:

  • a complete collapse of the Zimbabwe state;
  • the absolute inability of the state to "provide the basic amenities to the people";
  • the threat of an "explosion" or "implosion" in Zimbabwe, which would "have a contagious multiplier effect in the region";
  • "a renewed wave of violence, abductions and assaults against the MDC and the people of Zimbabwe";
  • the "crafting (by Zanu PF) of ‘an assassination plot, code-named Operation Ngatipedzenavo (Let us Finish Them) intended to eliminate the MDC leadership and decimate the party through frivolous allegations;
  • "flimsy attempts to frame the MDC as a terrorist organisation that is training people for the purposes of banditry and insurgence"; and,
  • "people being used to frame confessions, and militias being trained by Zanu PF to act as MDC bandits in an attempt to delegitimise the MDC".

    Again, as you know, the letter from the Hon Tendai Biti ends with the appeal to the facilitator – "We look forward to hearing from you on the way forward."

    The above observations and allegations made by the Hon Tendai Biti are indeed extremely grave and demand immediate action.

    The very firm and unequivocal view of the facilitation in this regard, which the Hon Biti requests, is that we must move with the greatest speed to establish the Inclusive Government, as provided for in the Global Political Agreement.

    We must, as a matter of extreme urgency, establish the new Zimbabwe government, which will include the three parties represented in the democratically elected Zimbabwe parliament.

    This government must operate according to the principles and procedures detailed in the Global Political Agreement, which both determines that RG Mugabe will be president, and that Morgan Tsvangirai will be prime minister, and specifies the roles of these leaders in the Inclusive Government.

    The MDC (T), like the other Zimbabwe parties, must, within an Inclusive Government, take responsibility for the future of Zimbabwe, rather than see its mission as being a militant critic of President Mugabe and Zanu PF.

    The signing of the Global Political Agreement has provided the possibility for the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe to govern Zimbabwe together, and together to solve the national problems, including the ones raised by the Hon Tendai Biti in his letter to me.

    All that is now required is that these leaders must remain true to their word. They must implement the agreement they have signed.

    In this regard, they have absolutely no need to refer to their external supporters for approval, however powerful they might seem, including any and all South African formations.

    All that is required is that you, the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, should do what you have committed yourselves to do, and that is all!

    In the context of the observations made by the Hon Tendai Biti in his November 19 letter to the facilitator, Zimbabwe urgently needs precisely the agreed Inclusive Government, to:

  • rebuild the state machinery of Zimbabwe;
  • enable it to meet the needs of the people;
  • overcome the current socio- economic crisis;
  • end the threat of the explosion or implosion of Zimbabwe;
  • end all manifestations of repression, intimidation and violence; and
  • guarantee the democratic and human rights of all Zimbabweans, including their political and other formations.

    The Hon Tendai Biti should not transfer the achievement of these tasks to the facilitator, SADC and the AU.

    This responsibility belongs squarely to the people of Zimbabwe and their leaders.

    The official signing of the Global Political Agreement in Harare on September 15 opened the way for you as Zimbabwe’s leaders, and the formations you represent, to act together not as political opponents, but as partners in pursuit of a shared and defined objective of the reconstruction and development of Zimbabwe, the reconciliation and unification of its people, and the entrenchment of democracy.

    As you have agreed, in the first instance this must be expressed in the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government, which must work together as a cohesive formation, together as one, to address the priorities identified in the Global Political Agreement, in the manner prescribed in this agreement.

    You and I know that objectively, Zimbabwe desperately needs the establishment of this Inclusive Government, and that this is the most urgent demand of the masses, the people who elected the three parties, including yours, which are represented in the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

    Without in any way reflecting on their merits, which would require protracted investigations, the only and most rational way to address the challenges raised by the Hon Tendai Biti is to form the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government and table the matters at issue even at the very first meeting of the cabinet of the Inclusive Government.

    We suggest, humbly, that given the fact of the Global Political Agreement, the MDC (T), and indeed the MDC (M), should no longer treat themselves as opposition parties or protest movements, and neither should Zanu PF consider and relate to them as such.

    The agreement that has been reached and signed provides that Zimbabwe will and must have a ruling coalition of three co-operating parties.

    Acting together, within the agreed framework, these will and must constitute the new "ruling party" of Zimbabwe, which must govern Zimbabwe as this "one" entity.

    Contrary to all this, the Hon Tendai Biti asks that we should support the delay in the formation of the Zimbabwe Inclusive Government and help to sustain an untenable situation according to which, despite the agreed and signed Global Political Agreement, the signatories should continue to treat one another as opposed political formations engaged in a deadly fight, one against the other.

    Where conflicts and problems continue to persist among the Zimbabwe political parties and the supporters of these, surely the framework has now been established for these to engage one another to address these conflicts and problems!

    I am certain that the longer we postpone using this framework, relying on the luxury of a facilitator and other informal advisers, the longer we will perpetuate the terrible misery that afflicts the people of Zimbabwe.

    As facilitator, a neighbour and an African, I am immensely proud of the extraordinary work you have done to develop the comprehensive consensus that now exists among yourselves as the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, which provides the roadmap which defines what must be done to pull Zimbabwe out of the abyss.

    What the people of Zimbabwe, our region and Africa now need is the sense of patriotism among yourselves as leaders of the people of Zimbabwe and as African patriots, which will inspire you, despite and beyond personal and partisan interests, to implement the agreements you have concluded.

    In this regard, it may be that together, openly, and sooner rather than later, we must give an account to the masses of the people of Zimbabwe of what has been agreed during 18 months of negotiations, and what it is that holds up the united, national advance towards the alleviation of the problems of Zimbabwe, and therefore the speedy improvement of the quality of the lives of the people.

    You know this, too, that the rest of Southern Africa, your neighbouring countries, has also had the unavoidable obligation to carry much of the weight of the burden of the Zimbabwe crisis, in many ways.

    You know that, among other things, various countries of our region host large numbers of economic migrants from Zimbabwe, who impose particular burdens on our countries.

    Loyal to the concept and practice of African solidarity, none of our countries and governments has spoken publicly of this burden, fearful that we might incite the xenophobia to which all of us are opposed.

    Nevertheless, the leaders of the people of Zimbabwe, including you, dear brother, need to bear in mind that the pain your country bears is a pain that is transferred to the masses of our people, who face their own challenges of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

    This particular burden is not carried by the countries of Western Europe and North America, which have benefited especially from the migration of skilled and professional Zimbabweans to the north.

    In the end, when all is said and done, Zimbabwe will have to exist in peace and productive collaboration with its neighbours in Southern Africa and the rest of Africa.

    Realistically, Zimbabwe will never share the same neighbourhood with the countries of Western Europe and North America, and therefore secure its success on the basis of friendship with these, and contempt for the decisions of its immediate African neighbours.

    I say this humbly to advise that it does not help Zimbabwe, nor will it help you as prime minister of Zimbabwe, that the MDC (T) contemptuously repudiates very serious decisions of our region, and therefore our continent, describing them as "a nullity".

    It may be that, for whatever reason, you consider our region and continent as being of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe, believing that others further away, in Western Europe and North America, are of greater importance.

    In this context I have been told that because leaders in our region did not agree with you on some matters that served on the agenda of the SADC Extraordinary Summit Meeting, you have denounced them publicly as "cowards".

    Such manner of proceeding might earn you prominent media headlines. However, I assure you that it will do nothing to solve the problems of Zimbabwe.

    As you secure applause because of the insult against us that we are "cowards", you will have to consider the reality that our peoples have accepted into their countries very large numbers of Zimbabwean brothers and sisters in a spirit of human solidarity, prepared to sustain the resultant obligations. None of our countries displayed characteristics of cowardice when they did this.

    All of us will find it strange and insulting that because we do not agree with you on a small matter, you choose to describe us in a manner that is most offensive in terms of African culture, and therefore offend our sense of dignity as Africans, across our borders.

    As facilitator I am more than convinced that we should hold the November 25 meeting as proposed by your negotiators, to agree on the text of Constitutional Amendment No 19, and the procedures for its approval.

    The facilitation therefore confirms the arrangements that have been made for this critically important meeting.

    Consistent with the principle agreed from the very beginning of the SADC-mandated negotiations, that no party to the negotiations has veto powers, the facilitation will engage any party that arrives to attend the November 25 meeting which your negotiators proposed, and which we convinced the other parties to accept.

    As a matter of courtesy, as well as for their information and action, I would like to inform you that I will make available the November 19 letter of the Hon Tendai Biti to me, and this response to you, to:

  • the other Zimbabwe negotiating parties;
  • the chairperson and acting chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics etc;
  • the chairperson of SADC;
  • the chairperson of the AU;
  • the chairperson of the AU Commission;
  • the secretary general of the United Nations; and,
  • the executive secretary of SADC.

    Yours sincerely,

    Thabo Mbeki