RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #0348/01 0520908
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 210908Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3530
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9587
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5322
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 000348
DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2018
SUBJECT: MDC TREASURER BENNETT SAYS PARTY WILL "SHOCK THE
WORLD" IN UPCOMING ELECTIONS
REF: A. HARARE 130
B. 07 PRETORIA 3875
C. 07 PRETORIA 3486
PRETORIA 00000348 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(
b) and (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
Treasurer Roy Bennett claimed that support for the MDC is
growing and that the party will "shock the world" in the
March 29 presidential and parliamentary elections. Bennett
says he has raised "significant" funds for the party in
recent weeks, most from Zimbabweans living in exile, and is
providing resources to each MDC candidate. The presidential
candidacy of former ZANU-PF Minister Simba Makoni (ref A) has
generated excitement among the "chattering class" in Harare,
but Makoni lacks grassroots support, Bennett suggested.
Tsvangirai is open to an alliance with Makoni, but only with
Tsvangirai at the head. Bennett is concerned that Secretary
General Tendai Biti, discredited by his role in the SADC
talks, might defect to Makoni's camp. On the failed MDC
coalition talks, Bennett said that the leadership was willing
to make compromises, but the Mutambara faction "pushed too
far" and the MDC membership rejected the proposed deal. END
"World Will be Shocked"
2. (C) A visibly upbeat MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett told PolOff
February 19 in Johannesburg that he has "no doubt" that the
MDC will win the upcoming March 29 elections in Zimbabwe.
"We will shock the world," Bennett proclaimed. The exiled
Bennett said the MDC is picking up significant support in
rural areas throughout the country. Not since 2000 has he
seen such excitement on the ground. "The people want Mugabe
gone" and know that the MDC is the "party of change."
3. (C) Bennett says he has raised "significant" funds in the
past few weeks for the MDC electoral campaigns, largely from
Zimbabweans living in exile (NFI). He is providing each MDC
parliamentary candidate USD 1,000 for their campaign, with a
USD 5,000 "constituency fund" if they win their seat.
Similarly, he is giving local councilor candidates USD 100,
with USD 500 for victors. He has also set aside funds for
the presidential campaign. This is the most resources the
MDC has ever had to contest elections, Bennett said, which
will greatly help them get their message out. (COMMENT:
Bennett did not reveal the total amount of money he has
raised and added that only he knows how much the MDC has.
Makoni No Grassroots Support
4. (C) According to Bennett, Simba Makoni has very limited
grassroots support. The "chattering classes" in Harare and
Johannesburg are excited about Makoni, but not the Zimbabwean
people, who do not trust him. The "Makoni project" is
nothing more than an attempt by some in ZANU-PF to seize the
party from Mugabe. Makoni does not represent fundamental
change, simply a continuity of ZANU-PF corruption and
5. (C) On the prospects for an alliance between the MDC and
Makoni, Bennett says that Tsvangirai would never accept a
position second to Makoni. Tsvangirai is open to an
alliance, but Makoni would need to treat him with respect and
"bring something to the table," such as the support of the
military. Makoni has not reached out to Tsvangirai directly,
Qmilitary. Makoni has not reached out to Tsvangirai directly,
although he has sent several envoys to Tsvangirai to urge him
to support Makoni. Most recently, former ZANU-PF Minister
Dumiso Dabengwa met with Tsvangirai February 18 in
Johannesburg, the first time the two had met. Dabengwa
strongly encouraged Tsvangirai to support Makoni. However,
as the two spoke, Bennett said it became clear that Makoni
and Solomon Mujuru had not been honest with Dabengwa about
previous contacts with Tsvangirai. Dabengwa and Tsvangirai
PRETORIA 00000348 002.2 OF 002
agreed to meet again in the near future.
6. (C) Bennett is concerned that MDC Secretary General Tendai
Biti may "defect" to the Makoni camp. Biti has been
"thoroughly discredited" within the party due to his role in
the failed SADC facilitation talks. Biti's personal
relationship with Bennett and Tsvangirai has broken down,
although Deputy Treasurer Elton Mangoma and Spokesman Nelson
Chamisa remain close to Biti and are trying to keep him in
Failure to Unite MDC
7. (C) Bennett acknowledged that the failure to form a
coalition with the Mutambara faction of the MDC was
unfortunate. The Swedish Olof Palme Foundation and the Dutch
Institute for Multiparty Democracy both "put money on the
table" for the parties if they reunited, creating a strong
incentive to make a deal. Tsvangirai and the MDC leadership
were prepared to make tough compromises, but the
Mutambara-led MDC faction "pushed too far" in demanding
nearly all the parliamentary seats in Matabeleland. When
Tsvangirai went to the party membership with the proposed
deal, they overwhelmingly rejected it. There was no
possibility that Tsvangirai could have swayed them or
overturned their decision.
8. (C) Bennett was as upbeat as we've seen him since he
arrived in South Africa two years ago, buoyed perhaps by his
recent fundraising success. Bennett has slowly built ties
with key exiled Zimbabwean businessmen in South Africa, such
as Strive Masiyiwa, Wellington Chadahumbe, and Isaac
Takawira, an important and long-overdue step. The
Masiyiwa-led group of exiles appears to be siding with
Tsvangirai, not Makoni, in the upcoming election, although
other South African-based exiles such as Trevor Ncube are
clearly backing Makoni. We defer to Embassy Harare on
Bennett's claim that the MDC is poised to "shock the world"
in the upcoming election, a claim that strikes us as
9. (C) HARARE COMMENT: On 18 February, Tsvangirai told
Ambassador McGee that the MDC was strapped for money and was
having difficulty buying election necessities such as fuel.
When asked what the MDC would do for financial assistance,
Tsvangirai said they would appeal for private donations, but
that he was concerned. It is unclear if Tsvangirai was
looking for more money or if Bennett exaggerated how much he
has raised or not told Tsvangirai how successful he has been.
END HARARE COMMENT.
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