Bennett said Zimbabweans in the diaspora were divided and tribalist


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Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett said Zimbabweans in the diaspora were so divided and “tribalist” that he had chosen to focus on fundraising among the smaller group of elite Zimbabwean businessmen living in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.

Bennett’s sentiments were echoed by Mathula Lusinga, Project Officer for the Peace and Democracy Project.

PDP was a British-funded programme, implemented through an American organisation Freedom House, that sought to encourage Zimbabweans living in South Africa to return to Zimbabwe to vote in the March 2008 elections.

Lusinga said PDP was attempting to work with a range of Zimbabwean exile organisations based in South Africa to encourage political activism, including the National Constitutional Assembly, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, SAWIMA, the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, the Zimbabwe CSO Forum, and the Zimbabwe Torture Survivors Project.

He admitted that coordination was difficult because of the extensive in-fighting between the various diaspora organisations, centred around jealousy over donor funds, political differences, and ethnicity.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08PRETORIA633, FEW ZIMBABWEANS RETURNING HOME TO VOTE

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA633

2008-03-27 15:46

CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXYZ0347

RR RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHSA #0633/01 0871546

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 271546Z MAR 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3948

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1468

RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L PRETORIA 000633

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

 

DEPT FOR AF/S, PRM

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/26/2018

TAGS: PREL SF ZI

SUBJECT: FEW ZIMBABWEANS RETURNING HOME TO VOTE

 

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Donald Teitelbaum. Reason 1.4(d).

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Only a small number of Zimbabweans living

in South Africa will return to Zimbabwe to vote in the March

29 election, according to Mathula Lusinga, a Zimbabwean exile

community activist and head of a DFID-funded project on

diaspora voting. The reasons vary: many Zimbabweans live in

South Africa illegally so they are afraid they will have

difficulty returning to South Africa if they vote in

Zimbabwe; others were unable to register to vote (or were

unsure if they were still registered); and a significant

number are cynical about the value of elections. Neither the

opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) nor the

divided diaspora groups are successfully organizing

Zimbabweans in South Africa around the election. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) PolOff met on March 26 with Mathula Lusinga, Project

Officer for the Peace and Democracy Project (PDP). PDP is a

DFID-funded program, implemented through Freedom House, that

seeks to encourage Zimbabweans living in South Africa to

return to Zimbabwe to vote in the March 29 election, to

increase awareness in the Zimbabwean diaspora about the

conditions for free and fair elections, and to build links

between the disparate Zimbabwean exile groups. PDP has set

up ten “Get Out the Vote” stations in Johannesburg and

Pretoria to hand out materials to Zimbabwean exiles and

stimulate discussion about political events in Zimbabwe. The

stations are drawing large crowds, especially in the late

afternoon. Despite the likely benefit to their cause, the

MDC is not playing a major role in the campaign, Lusinga

said.

 

———————

Few Returning to Vote

———————

 

3. (SBU) A significant number of Zimbabweans have asked PDP

about receiving free transport to Zimbabwe for the election,

although Lusinga said he suspects most are not properly

registered voters; some simply want a free ride home. As of

March 26, PDP and its partner groups planned to transport

only two buses of people (approximately 90 people) to

Zimbabwe for the election. Lusinga noted that a much larger

number of Zimbabweans are already home via public transport

or their own vehicles, many for the Easter holiday break.

However, he speculated that no more than 10,000 – 20,000

Zimbabweans living in South Africa (out of an estimated

800,000 to 3 million) will, in the end, return home to vote

in the election.

 

4. (SBU) Lusinga cited a number of reasons that Zimbabweans

in the disapora are not returning to Zimbabwe to vote:

 

— many Zimbabweans live in South Africa illegally, so are

afraid they will have difficulty returning to South Africa

after they vote;

 

— many Zimbabweans cannot afford to leave work in South

Africa — often in the informal sector — for the time

required to vote;

 

— many Zimbabweans were unable to register to vote, or are

unsure where they should vote given the recent delimitation

changes in Zimbabwe; and

 

— many Zimbabweans have lost faith in the electoral system

and believe change will only come when President Mugabe dies.

 

—————————————-

Diaspora Groups Divided and Doing Little

—————————————-

 

5. (C) Lusinga’s PDP is attempting to work with a range of

Zimbabwean exile organizations based in South Africa to

encourage political activism, including the National

Qencourage political activism, including the National

Constitutional Assembly (NCA), the Crisis in Zimbabwe

Coalition, SAWIMA, the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, the Zimbabwe

CSO Forum, and the Zimbabwe Torture Survivors Project.

However, Lusinga admitted that coordination has been

difficult given the extensive in-fighting between the various

diaspora organizations, centered around jealousy over donor

funds, political differences, and ethnicity. These divisions

have undermined the election initiative. MDC Treasurer Roy

Bennett told PolOff that the Zimbabwean diaspora community

was so divided and “tribalist” — much more so than in

Zimbabwe itself, he believes — that Bennett chose to focus

on fundraising among the smaller group of elite Zimbabwean

businessmen living in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

6. (C) We agree with Lusinga’s assessment that only a small

number of Zimbabweans living in South Africa will return home

to vote in the election. Estimating even an approximate

number is nearly impossible, but we do not believe the number

of voters will be statistically significant. We also agree

with Lusinga’s observation that the Zimbabwean diaspora is

sharply divided along ethnic, generational, and economic

lines, with many — perhaps most — exiles just trying to

survive and send remittances to their families in Zimbabwe.

Ironically, this migration of Zimbabweans to South Africa,

brought about by Mugabe’s misrule, has largely benefited

Mugabe and his ZANU-PF regime: a significant number of

regime opponents, especially young men, have left the

country, and the disapora’s remittances to family members at

home help keep Mugabe’s sinking regime afloat.

TEITELBAUM

(10 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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