Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett planned to retire from politics if the Morgan Tsvangirai faction did not win the 2008 elections.
He told United States embassy officials in Pretoria that it was difficult to raise funds for the party and he was frustrated by the quality of people in the MDC.
He said there were a lot of non-performers. Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai had established timelines for various committees to produce policy papers.
The process was meant to refine the party’s policy positions and to expose leaders who were not capable of delivering.
Viewing cable 07PRETORIA3486, MDC TREASURER BENNETT “CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC” ON
RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #3486/01 2761006
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031006Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2114
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0186
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1314
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1172
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0493
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4919
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9239
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 003486
DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/03/2017
SUBJECT: MDC TREASURER BENNETT “CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC” ON
REF: A. HARARE 858
¶B. PRETORIA 3425
¶C. TRENKLE-DELL EMAIL OF 4/25/07
¶D. TRENKLE-WARREN EMAIL OF 9/7/07
PRETORIA 00003486 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(
b) and (d).
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. The pressure is now on SADC facilitator
Mbeki and ZANU-PF to deliver on reforms for the 2008
elections in Zimbabwe, argued MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett.
Bennett, who said he was initially skeptical of the
MDC-ZANU-PF agreement on Constitutional Amendment 18,
stressed that the MDC remained ready to boycott the elections
if ZANU-PF did not fulfill its part of the bargain. Mbeki
hopes to conclude the MDC-ZANU-PF negotiations by October 15.
Raising private funds remains difficult for the MDC. Only
USD 150,000 remain of a USD 1 million donation Bennett
received earlier this year. Bennett expressed his personal
frustration with the “quality of the people” in the MDC and
hinted he may retire from politics if the MDC does not
succeed in the 2008 elections. END SUMMARY.
Pressure Now on SAG and ZANU-PF in Talks
¶2. (C) Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Treasurer Roy
Bennett told PolOff September 28 that he is “cautiously
optimistic” on the South African-led SADC facilitation
between the MDC and ZANU-PF. Bennett admitted that he was
initially skeptical about the inter-party agreement on
Constitutional Amendment 18 (ref A), but MDC
Secretary-General Tendai Biti convinced him that the MDC
“made the right call.” The MDC demonstrated good faith, and
the pressure is now on South Africa and ZANU-PF to deliver
the rest of the package, including the repeal of the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information
and Privacy Protection Act (AIPPA), the return of political
exiles (such as Bennett), instituting a truly independent
electoral commission, and putting in place a new voter’s
roll. Mbeki hopes to conclude the talks no later than
October 15, Biti told Bennett.
¶3. (C) The Tsvangirai faction of the MDC will pull out of the
2008 election if ZANU-PF does not agree to the reforms,
Bennett said. (NOTE: He did not comment on whether the
Mutambara faction of the MDC would also boycott. END NOTE.)
Bennett argued that South Africa needs the MDC to participate
for the elections to be legitimate, which gives the MDC
¶4. (C) According to Bennett, Mbeki told the MDC Presidents
September 14-15 (ref B) that he suspected electoral support
in Zimbabwe was split “50/50” between ZANU-PF and the MDC.
Either could win, Mbeki suggested, emphasizing that the
winner must be willing to work with the losing party.
Bennett views this statement as Mbeki beginning to lay the
groundwork for a government of national unity following the
¶5. (C) Bennett said he is urging Tsvangirai to begin “mass
mobilization” of the people in the coming weeks. The party
felt constrained by the ongoing SADC negotiations, but now
that the talks are coming to a close, Bennett hoped that
Tsvangirai would lead a series of marches to energize the
people, such as a “march for jobs” or “march for free and
fair elections.” Tsvangirai is sympathetic to this idea, but
Bennett is not sure how much planning has taken place.
¶6. (C) Bennett admitted that raising funds for the MDC
remains “very challenging.” The party had earlier raised USD
1 million from a group of unnamed private investors (ref C).
PRETORIA 00003486 002.2 OF 002
These funds had been used to fund party events, to pay
salaries, and to purchase party vehicles in each province.
Only USD 150,000 of the initial USD 1 million remains, and it
is unclear whether the same donors will be willing to provide
¶7. (C) The party has used some of the private funds to train
a “close protection unit” for MDC President Tsvangirai. The
training, which is being provided in South Africa by a
private company called Delta One, is currently underway.
Fourteen Zimbabweans started the training, although three
have already been sent home. Bennett hopes that they will
end up with an eight-person, well-trained unit to protect
Tsvangirai during the election campaign.
Weakness of Party
¶8. (C) Bennett spoke openly about the challenges facing the
party, expressing his personal frustration with the “quality
of the people” in the MDC. At the last party policy
conference (ref D), Tsvangirai established clear timelines
for the various committees to produce policy papers. This
process was meant both to refine the party’s policy positions
and expose leaders who were not capable of delivering.
Instead, Bennett said that Tsvangirai has let the timetable
slip repeatedly with no consequence for the “non-performers.”
In part because of his growing frustration with the party
and its lack of progress, Bennett admitted that he is
considering leaving politics if the 2008 elections do not go