Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett told United States embassy officials that South African Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande had told MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai that the United States government had funded South African President Thabo Mbeki’s African National Congress re-election campaign because Washington did not want Jacob Zuma to become South African president.
Bennett said Nzimande seemed confident in his statement even when he asked him why the US would take such a position. He did not believe the allegation, but embassy officials said they had heard the same report from Zimbabwean exiled businessman Strive Masiyiwa.
Bennett was upbeat about the election of Zuma as ANC president because he was optimistic this would signal a policy change by South Africa towards Zimbabwe.
He said Zuma and his key allies did not “carry the same baggage” on Zimbabwe as Mbeki’s team.
Viewing cable 08PRETORIA38, MDC’S BENNETT HOPEFUL ON ANC CHANGES
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SUBJECT: MDC’S BENNETT HOPEFUL ON ANC CHANGES
REF: A. TRENKLE-WARREN EMAIL OF 12/21/2007
¶B. 07 PRETORIA 4261 (NOTAL)
¶C. 07 PRETORIA 3486 AND PREVIOUS
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Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(
b) and (d).
¶1. (C) SUMMARY. The MDC is hopeful that the election of
Jacob Zuma as ANC President will lead to changes in South
Africa’s policy toward Zimbabwe, according to MDC Treasurer
Roy Bennett. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai recently met with
South African Community Party (SACP) leader Blade Nzimande, a
key Zuma ally, who expressed sympathy for the MDC position
and promised to arrange a meeting with Tsvangirai and Zuma.
Nzimande also alleged that the USG funded Thabo Mbeki’s ANC
campaign. Bennett is struggling to raise funds for the MDC,
but hopes that planned rallies in Zimbabwe and upcoming
elections will refocus attention on Zimbabwe and the MDC. We
do not expect any immediate changes in South Africa’s policy
toward Zimbabwe, but might see a shift over the medium to
longer-term. Many Zuma allies, including Nzimande, are
sympathetic to the MDC and will push for a new SAG approach
to Zimbabwe. The MDC is also becoming more effective in
lobbying their cause in South Africa. END SUMMARY.
Upbeat on ANC Election
¶2. (C) Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Treasurer Roy
Bennett told PolOff January 4 that he was cautiously
optimistic that South Africa’s policy toward Zimbabwe would
“change for the better” under newly-elected ANC leader Jacob
Zuma. Bennett noted that Zuma and his key allies do not
“carry the same baggage” on Zimbabwe as Mbeki’s team.
Bennett hoped, for example, that the ANC would send a
separate team to observe the Zimbabwean elections, and that
the ANC observation mission would include individuals from
the trade union federation COSATU and the South African
Community Party (SACP), both of which have been critical of
Mugabe. (NOTE: Contrary to Bennett’s hopes, Zuma defended
Mbeki’s policy of “quiet diplomacy” in Zimbabwe in his
December 20 press remarks (ref A). END NOTE.)
¶3. (C) MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai recently met with SACP
General Secretary and Zuma ally Blade Nzimande, accompanied
by MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti and Bennett. According
to Bennett, Nzimande asked for an update on the South
African-led facilitation and expressed sympathy for the MDC
position. Nzimande said he would arrange a meeting between
Zuma and Tsvangirai.
Nzimande Told MDC USG Funded Mbeki
¶4. (S/NF) Nzimande told Tsvangirai that the United States
funded Thabo Mbeki’s ANC reelection campaign, claiming that
the United States did not want Jacob Zuma to become South
Africa’s president. Nzimande seemed very confident in his
statement, even when questioned by Bennett on why the U.S.
Government would take such a position. Bennett did not
believe the allegation. (NOTE: Post heard the same report
via Strive Masiyiwa, who had spoken with Tsvangirai (ref B).
As noted in ref B, the ridiculous allegation about USG
funding for Mbeki is evidence of the strong distrust of the
United States among Zuma’s leftist allies. END NOTE.)
¶5. (C) Bennett admitted that the MDC has had difficulty
raising funds to cover its operations and campaign strategy.
The USD 1 million that Bennett raised from a group of donors
QThe USD 1 million that Bennett raised from a group of donors
(ref C) has been spent, mostly on MDC vehicles for each
province, travel, retreats, training for Tsvangirai’s
personal security unit, and ongoing operations at Harvest
House. Bennett was optimistic that planned MDC rallies in
Zimbabwe over the next few weeks, culminating in a march in
Harare at the end of January, would refocus international
attention on the MDC. The upcoming elections would also make
fundraising easier, Bennett claimed.
¶6. (S/NF) Asked about efforts to raise funds among the
PRETORIA 00000038 002.2 OF 002
Zimbabwean diaspora in South Africa, Bennett said it has been
“very challenging.” He said that Zimbabwean businessman
Strive Masiyiwa (strictly protect) has promised the party USD
25,000 as an initial contribution, but the money has not yet
“hit the MDC account.” Tsvangirai and Bennett speak
regularly with Masiyiwa, who is providing advice.
¶7. (C) Bennett commented on other political developments in
— Bennett made contradictory statements on the MDC threat to
boycott the elections, saying the threat is “serious,” but
stressing that “the people want to vote.” Bennett believes
the election will take place in March.
— Nothing has happened on the South African-led SADC
facilitation since the December 16 meeting between Mbeki and
the MDC leaders, according to Bennett. Bennett was not aware
of future planned meetings, and was generally pessimistic on
prospects for a positive outcome from the facilitation.
— “Rumors are swirling” about the possible creation of a
“third way” political force, Bennett said, to be led by
former GOZ minister Simba Makoni. Ibbo Mandaza, the Mujurus,
and possibly Welshman Ncube are reportedly involved in the
— Talks with the pro-Senate MDC faction on unification are
advanced, with as many as ten pro-Senate MPs ready to “return
to the fold,” Bennett claimed. He said that Welshman Ncube,
Arthur Mutambara, and Fletcher Dulini-Ncube are pressing the
MPs not to rejoin the Tsvangirai faction. Ncube and
Mutambara want a coalition, not reunification. Bennett noted
that the Mutambara faction is “nervous” about the changes in
South Africa, since they are closely connected to the “Mbeki
¶8. (C) We are not as optimistic as Bennett that the election
of Zuma will result in any immediate changes in South
Africa’s foreign policy toward Zimbabwe. However, several
newly-elected ANC leaders and Zuma allies, including the
SACP’s Nzimande, have sharply criticized Mbeki’s Zimbabwe
policy and will push for a new SAG approach. In addition,
the MDC, in part because of Treasurer Bennett’s presence in
Johannesburg, is beginning to play the South African
political game more effectively, lobbying key players and
reaching out to the influential Zimbabwean business diaspora.
Therefore, we may begin to see policy changes over the
medium to long-term, especially if the GOZ cracks down on the
MDC (as in March 2007) or when a new South African President
takes office in 2009.