Movement for Democratic Change policy advisor Eddie Cross said the party had no funds for the 2008 election campaign but admitted that it had received US$750 000, which included 17 trucks, from Sweden through the Olof Palme Foundation.
He told this to a United States embassy official who was on a tour of Matebeleland.
The official, who toured Nkayi, was told by the people that the split of the MDC had caused confusion among the people because they did not know which faction stood for what.
The people were, however, not going to vote for the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front.
One woman told the official that given a choice between a donkey and ZANU-PF candidate, people would vote for the donkey.
Viewing cable 07HARARE849, MATABELELAND AND BULAWAYO OBSERVATIONS
RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0849/01 2601312
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 171312Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1898
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 1698
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1570
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1702
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0339
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0968
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1331
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1759
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4177
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1530
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2192
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0823
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1919
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000849
AF/S FOR S.HILL
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E.LOKEN AND L.DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B.PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/09/2012
SUBJECT: MATABELELAND AND BULAWAYO OBSERVATIONS
Classified By: Polecon chief Glenn Warren for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d)
¶1. (SBU) In addition to severe shortages of goods caused by
the GOZ’s price control policies, Bulawayo and Matabeleland
South are suffering from a critical lack of water.
Nevertheless, people are until now coping and there is no
evidence of starvation. Although this area of the country is
solidly anti-ZANU-PF, the ruling party has strong
administrative structures to manipulate and intimidate
voters. There is consensus the MDC split will hurt the party
in upcoming elections by splitting the vote. Most people do
not understand the inability of the party’s factions to form
a coalition, and are becoming increasingly convinced the MDC
cannot prevail against ZANU-PF in elections. The MDC
continues to complain about a lack of resources to prepare
for an election, although the anti-Senate faction recently
received $750,000 from Sweden. End Summary.
¶2. (U) The following are polecon chief’s observations based
on visits to Bulawayo and Nkayi in rural Matabeleland South.
Scarcities, but Still Coping
¶3. (U) In Bulawayo, once the industrial engine of Zimbabwe,
shelves are empty and there is no automobile fuel in most
stations. There is a severe lack of water, a consequence of
this year’s drought, an inadequate reservoir system, and
crumbling infrastructure that includes disabled wells.
People continue to cope through mechanisms now well-known.
Young people go to South Africa to work, people whose rural
homes are in agricultural areas go to these homes for maize,
and cross border traders bring back food and goods, including
fuel, to sell on the black market to those who, mostly
through remittances, can pay. Entrepreneurial Zimbabweans
seek out new ways to profit from the situation. We heard of
one individual who bought a number of vans to ferry the
increasing number of Zimbabweans fleeing the country to the
¶4. (U) Nkayi is about two hours north of Bulawayo in cattle
ranching country. There is little agriculture here; people
have traditionally relied on the sale of cattle for money to
buy food and goods. Price controls have resulted in beef
being withheld from the market. With the little money they
have, people buy grain from the government’s Grain Marketing
Board–when it’s available. We were told that many eat only
one meal a day. As in Bulawayo, there are acute water
shortages–equipment to pump water from the nearest river is
broken, and well have not been maintained.
¶5. (U) The scarcity of fuel has made it difficult for buses
and vans to ply the Nkayi-Bulawayo route. Additionally, the
mandated ceilings on passenger tariffs have made public
transportation uneconomical for vehicle owners. As a result,
when owners have fuel to travel, they will charge passengers
a tariff that allows them to profit, but issue passengers
with a receipt for the lesser, government-controlled amount.
If stopped at a police road block, they instruct passengers
to show the falsified receipt.
¶6. (U) The government secondary school in Nkayi has six
HARARE 00000849 002 OF 003
hundred co-educational students, many of them boarders.
School fees for the term (education and room and board) are
the parallel market equivalent of about $US 10. According to
the headmaster, the fees are insufficient to buy supplies,
but the government, pandering to parents with limited
incomes, refuses to raise them. The school has managed to
get limited supplies of food for the students, but
facilities, including science laboratories, are
deteriorating. While the school should have 31 teachers, it
now has 24. Some have left to become cross-boarder traders;
others have gone to South Africa.
ZANU-PF Rural Structures Strong
¶7. (C) We visited the school with Nkayi Member of
Parliament, Abenico Bhebbe. Bhebbe, a member of the
pro-Senate MDC faction, graduated from the school in 1982.
After discussing possible applications on the part of the
school to the Ambassador’s Self-Help Fund, we were informed
that the District Administrator (DA) wished to see us. We
proceeded to her office; also present for what she described
as a meeting of the district “Development Committee” were the
local head of police and members of the CIO. The DA insisted
that the provincial governor be notified of all visits and
projects to the province; Bhebbe insisted that the school was
under the jurisdiction of the local council and that such
notification was unnecessary.
¶8. (C) Bhebbe told us afterward that despite the
district–and province–being heavily MDC, ZANU-PF through
its appointed governor and through district administrators,
police, and CIO, continued to flex its muscle. Local ZANU-PF
administrators wanted to be informed of any projects in order
to take credit for them. Importantly, the Grain Marketing
Board (GMB) used maize sales to traditional leaders as a
means of extending patronage to their clan members, the
ultimate recipients. In this way, the government was
attempting to maintain its influence in elections.
MDC Split Harmful
¶9. (SBU) People we met in both Bulawayo and Nkayi opined
that the MDC split had resulted in confusion about what each
faction stood for, and had engendered a sense of apathy–if
the MDC couldn’t work together, what chance would it have of
winning? Some of our interlocutors also commented that the
MDC was being viewed ethnically, with the Mutambara-led
pro-Senate faction being the party of the Ndebele and the
Tsvangirai anti-Senate faction seen as the Shona party.
ZANU-PF did not have much support–as one young woman said,
given a choice between a donkey and a ZANU-PF candidate, most
everyone would vote for the donkey–but the ruling party
nevertheless could benefit from reduced voter turnout in the
¶10. (C) Eddie Cross, the anti-Senate faction coordinator in
Bulawayo, complained about an acute lack of resources for
campaigning in the upcoming election. He did note that
Sweden, through the Olaf Palme foundation, had recently given
his party $750,000, which included 17 pick-up trucks.
HARARE 00000849 003 OF 003
¶11. (C) With elections on the horizon, the MDC has held some
rallies, but has yet to begin organizing in the rural areas
of Matabeleland. Its task is made difficult by a lack of
resources, the failure to achieve a coalition of its two
factions, and ZANU-PF organization. The ruling party’s
structures in Matabeleland, which is MDC country, are
impressive. They are even stronger and more pervasive in
ZANU-PF’s traditional stronghold of Mashonaland where the MDC
must make some inroads to be competitive in a national