Econet boss Strive Masiyiwa was confident that the Movement for Democratic Change would win the 2008 elections but the party needed US$10 million to run an effective campaign.
He also said the two factions of the MDC must unite so that every vote could count.
Masiyiwa was sceptical that South African president Thabo Mbeki would broker any agreement arguing that he had no leverage over Mugabe because the South African President was “at the weakest point in his presidency”.
He also said he had pulled out of the Zimbabwe Economic Recovery Plan. He, however, said Nkosana Moyo continued to lead the initiative but had told him he did not need his money.
Wellington Chadehumbe who was also linked to the initiative told United States embassy officials that he believed that the tensions between Masiyiwa and Moyo were personal.
Viewing cable 07PRETORIA3721, MASIYIWA SKEPTICAL ON MBEKI ZIMBABWE MEDIATION,
RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #3721/01 2960940
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 230940Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2365
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 003721
DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2017
SUBJECT: MASIYIWA SKEPTICAL ON MBEKI ZIMBABWE MEDIATION,
BUT UPBEAT ON ELECTIONS
REF: A. HARARE 935
¶B. PRETORIA 3519
¶C. PRETORIA 2478
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(
b) and (d).
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Mugabe is not serious about the SADC/Mbeki
facilitation, according to exiled Zimbabwean businessman
Strive Masiyiwa. Masiyiwa dismissed reports of a MDC-ZANU-PF
agreement on a new constitution (refs A & B), noting that the
two sides reached a similar deal in 2004 that went nowhere.
Nevertheless, Masiyiwa was optimistic that the MDC could win
elections in 2008 if the party raises sufficient funds (he
estimates they need USD 10 million) and runs an effective
campaign. Masiyiwa is urging the two MDC factions to reunite
since every vote could count in a close election. Masiyiwa
is no longer involved in the Zimbabwe Economic Recovery Plan
(ZERP) and believes that the South African Government has
largely taken over (and is funding) the initiative. END
Mbeki Facilitation Achieved Nothing Yet
¶2. (C) Exiled Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa, CEO of
Econet Wireless, told PolOff October 18 that the Mbeki/SADC
facilitation in Zimbabwe will achieve “only what Mugabe
wants, and nothing more.” Masiyiwa dismissed reports of an
agreement on a new “compromise” constitution (refs A and B),
saying that ZANU-PF and the MDC initialed a similar document
in 2004. Mugabe killed the deal then and will do the same
thing again. “Call me when Parliament passes the
constitution, then I will believe it.” Mbeki has no leverage
over Mugabe, Masiyiwa argued, especially since the South
African President is “at the weakest point in his presidency.”
Yet MDC Could Win Elections
¶4. (C) Despite Masiyiwa’s pessimistic view of the Mbeki
facilitation, he believes that the MDC can still win the
March 2008 elections, even if they only have the same
“political space” they had during the 2005 parliamentary
elections. (COMMENT: Masiyiwa is a perpetual optimist and
believed that the MDC would win the 2005 parliamentary
elections. END COMMENT.)
¶5. (C) Analyzing the elections from a business perspective,
Masiyiwa tallies more “assets” than “liabilities” for the
MDC. On the asset side:
— the economy continues to deteriorate, creating severe
hardship for the people;
— ZANU-PF is split; and
— Robert Mugabe is 83 years old, and is not the campaigner
he once was.
On the liability side for the MDC:
— ZANU-PF has the repressive machinery to disrupt the MDC
campaign (although the police and army are much weaker than
— the press is not free; and
— the opposition is split.
¶6. (C) Masiyiwa believes that the MDC can win if it has
adequate funding, speculating that the party would need USD
10 million. He has urged the MDC to plan for a hard-hitting,
aggressive campaign in the eight-week period before the
elections. In past elections, Mugabe has opened the
political environment slightly in this period — or at least
cut back on the violent repression — in part because
regional observers are present in the country.
Elections Likely in March
¶7. (C) Masiyiwa is convinced that Mugabe will hold elections
in March 2008, despite MDC and other pundits claiming the
elections will likely be postponed. Masiyiwa recounted two
anecdotes to prove his point:
— Masiyiwa is part owner of a grocery store chain in
Zimbabwe, as well as the CocaCola Schweppes distributorship.
PRETORIA 00003721 002 OF 002
Senior GOZ officials have pressured the grocery chain and
Schweppes in recent days to “get goods on the shelves” by
early 2007. He takes as a sign that senior ZANU-PF
strategists realize that empty stores present political
difficulties and want to “fix this” before the election
campaign. What they do not seem to realize, Masiyiwa
explained, is that you cannot “snap your fingers” and restart
the supply chain.
— A group of “questionable” white South African businessmen
approached Masiyiwa’s cellular phone company to buy
broadcasting bandwidth over Zimbabwe in March. When asked
why, the businessmen said they were acting on behalf of
ZANU-PF and that President Mugabe plans to address rallies
via large-screen televisions since he is not able to move
around the country. While Masiyiwa dismissed the idea as
“hare-brained,” he took it as confirmation that ZANU-PF is
openly planning for a March election.
¶8. (C) Masiyiwa is encouraging the two MDC factions to
reunite. Even though the Arthur Mutambara-led faction is
nothing more than a “splinter” and has limited support, its
5-10 percent of the total votes could be critical in the
presidential election. The best time for the “reunification”
would be in January, after the ZANU-PF conference — to keep
ZANU-PF focused on its internal divisions — but before March
¶9. (C) U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s decision not to
attend the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon was a “major blunder,”
Masiyiwa argued (and he has told this to U.K. High Commission
officials). The hard work that had been done to convince
African leaders that Mugabe was a problem was largely undone
by Brown’s announcement, which forced African leaders to
close ranks behind Mugabe.
¶10. (C) Masiyiwa asked why the Europeans could not have found
“some Spanish judge willing to indict Mugabe”? This would
have scared Mugabe and kept him away from the Portugal
summit, without undermining efforts to isolate Mugabe in
SAG Takes Over ZERP?
¶11. (C) Asked about the Zimbabwe Economic Reconstruction Plan
(ZERP), Masiyiwa said he is no longer directly involved.
(NOTE: Per Ref C, ZERP is an initiative by exiled Zimbabwean
economists and businessmen to plan for Zimbabwe’s economic
recovery once an internationally-acceptable government takes
power. END NOTE.) Nkosana Moyo, the London-based former
Zimbabwean Minister of Industry and Trade, continues to lead
the initiative, but has told Masiyiwa that he “doesn’t need
his money.” Masiyiwa speculated that the South African
Government has essentially taken over ZERP and is funding its
activities. Wellington Chadahumbe, a Johannesburg-based
businessman, told PolOff September 20 that he believed the
tensions between Masiyiwa and Moyo are largely personal.