Bennett feared that Biti might defect to Makoni


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Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett was concerned, just a month before the 2008 elections, that secretary-general Tendai Biti might defect and join Simba Makoni.

Bennett said Biti had been “thoroughly discredited” within the party due to his role in the failed SADC facilitation talks.

Biti’s personal relationship with Bennett and Tsvangirai had broken down, although deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma and spokesman Nelson Chamisa remained close to him and were trying to keep him in the party.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08PRETORIA348, MDC TREASURER BENNETT SAYS PARTY WILL “SHOCK THE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA348

2008-02-21 09:08

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO3411

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

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

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

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2018

TAGS: PREL KDEM ZI SF

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

 

SIPDIS

Tsvangirai at the head. Bennett is concerned that Secretary

 

SIPDIS

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

SUMMARY.

 

———————–

“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.”

 

——————-

Fundraising Success

——————-

 

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.

END COMMENT)

 

—————————-

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

misrule.

 

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

the party.

 

——————–

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

 

SIPDIS

deal, they overwhelmingly rejected it. There was no

possibility that Tsvangirai could have swayed them or

overturned their decision.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

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

 

SIPDIS

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

optimistic.

 

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

 

SIPDIS

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.

BOST

(6 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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