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Bennett kept million-dollar funding to MDC secret to keep vultures at bay

Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett told United States embassy officials that the party had obtained a US$1 million donation but only party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, secretary general Tendai Biti and himself knew about this funding. Bennett said he wanted to keep things that way to keep the “vultures at bay”.

The money was to be used in the 2008 presidential campaign. During the campaign Tsvangirai and Biti were to move out of the “chaos of Harvest House”, the party headquarters, into a separate headquarters.

It was also to be used to provide Tsvangirai and Biti the support they needed such as good personal assistants, schedulers and press secretaries.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07PRETORIA1557, MDC LEADERSHIP MEETS IN SOUTH AFRICA, DECIDES TO

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07PRETORIA1557

2007-05-03 15:08

2011-08-30 01:44

SECRET

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO4646

RR RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #1557/01 1231508

ZNY SSSSS ZZH

R 031508Z MAY 07

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9543

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0987

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2074

RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 1094

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0518

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1189

RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0468

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1077

RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0077

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4271

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 001557

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR P, AF, DRL, AF/S

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/01/2017

TAGS: PREL PHUM SF ZI SF

SUBJECT: MDC LEADERSHIP MEETS IN SOUTH AFRICA, DECIDES TO

LAUNCH CAMPAIGN

 

REF: A. HARARE 344

 

B. PRETORIA 1447

C. 06 PRETORIA 5084

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(b) and

(d).

 

1. (C/NF) SUMMARY. Meeting secretly in Johannesburg April

28-29, the leadership of the Zimbabwean opposition MDC party,

led by Morgan Tsvangirai, decided to launch the party’s

presidential campaign o/a June 1, while making clear they

will not participate in the elections without fundamental

reform. The MDC believes the public announcement will put

pressure on SADC Facilitator Mbeki to level the electoral

playing field. MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett (strictly protect)

told PolOff he had received a private donation of USD 1

million to support party activities from a group of donors

who prefer to remain anonymous. Only Secretary-General Biti,

Tsvangirai, and Bennett know about the donation. Talks on

 

SIPDIS

forming a coalition with the Mutambara-led MDC faction

continue at the grassroots, although Bennett has received

information that Gibson Sibanda, former MDC Vice President

under Tsvangirai, is considering returning to the Tsvangirai

camp. If so, Bennett believes this would ring the death

knell for the Mutambara splinter group. The MDC leaders are

skeptical about the Mbeki-led SADC facilitation, but believe

they must “play along.” Bennett is taking care of a number

of MDC leaders who have fled to South Africa after being

tortured in Zimbabwe. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) The senior leadership of Zimbabwean opposition party

the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), including President

Morgan Tsvangirai, Secretary General Tendai Biti, National

Chairman Isaac Matongo, and 11 other officials, met secretly

in Johannesburg April 28-29 to discuss strategy. MDC

Treasurer Roy Bennett (strictly protect) told PolOff April 30

that the meetings went “very well.” The group aired their

differences, and came away united and determined.

 

———————————–

MDC To Launch Presidential Campaign

———————————–

 

3. (C) The MDC leadership decided to launch their

presidential campaign soon, likely around June 1, according

to Bennett. The party formed committees to develop an

election manifesto and strategy. Bennett says they will make

it clear that the party will participate in elections only if

the GOZ levels the playing field by removing repressive

legislation and other steps outlined in their electoral

roadmap (septel). The MDC believes publicly launching their

campaign will keep the pressure on SADC Facilitator Mbeki to

create the conditions for free and fair elections. The

public launch will also put the MDC back in the news. During

the campaign, Tsvangirai and Biti would move out of the

“chaos of Harvest House,” in Bennett’s words, and into a

separate headquarters.

 

4. (S/NF) Bennett told PolOff (in the strictest confidence)

that the MDC has received a private donation of approximately

USD 1 million from a group of donors who prefer to remain

anonymous. With this new private funding, Bennett will help

ensure that Tsvangirai and Biti have the support they need,

such as good personal assistants, schedulers, and press

secretaries. (NOTE: Only Tsvangirai, Bennett, and Biti know

 

SIPDIS

about the private donation of USD 1 million to the party.

Bennett wants to keep it that way to keep the “vultures at

bay.” END NOTE)

 

——————————————— —–

Talks on Coalition with Mutambara Faction Continue

——————————————— —–

 

5. (C) On the coalition talks with the Mutambara MDC faction,

Tsvangirai stressed in the meeting that the grassroots

 

SIPDIS

structures must continue their discussions before the

leadership makes any decisions. Reunification or coalition

 

PRETORIA 00001557 002 OF 002

 

 

cannot be forced from the top. Bennett stressed that the

anti-Mutambara feeling is very strong in the Tsvangirai camp,

and the issue has to be treated delicately. Bennett told

PolOff that they have information that Gibson Sibanda, former

MDC Vice President under Tsvangirai, may return to the

Tsvangirai camp with as many as 12 MDC MPs very soon.

 

SIPDIS

Sibanda would become MDC Vice President. If this happens,

the “game is over” since Ncube and Mutambara would be

isolated.

 

——————————————

Skepticism of Mbeki, but Must “Play Along”

——————————————

 

6. (C) The leadership agreed that the Mbeki mediation was

unlikely to succeed. They believe Mbeki’s goal is a

government of national unity involving Welshman Ncube and

other Mutambara faction allies. That said, Tsvangirai and

the MDC leadership believe they have no choice but to “play

along.” Tsvangirai requested a meeting with Mbeki during

this trip to South Africa (ref A). Mbeki told him to see his

point person on Zimbabwe, Minister for Provincial and Local

Government Sydney Mufamadi, who never returned Tsvangarai’s

call (although it was not clear whether this was a timing

issue or an intentional snub).

 

—————————————

Torture Victims Fleeing to South Africa

—————————————

 

7. (C) Bennett said that a number of MDC leaders have fled to

South Africa after being tortured in Zimbabwe, including

“Mazoda” (Chair of Mashonaland East), “Shone” (Organizing

Secretary Harare), and “Mgodi” (Treasurer Harare). Bennett

 

SIPDIS

is trying to assist them with medical care and other basic

needs. He said that Mazoda and Shone both received

electrical shocks to their genitals, and were badly scarred

physically and psychologically.

 

————————————–

Lobbying to Continue, Success in ANCYL

————————————–

 

8. (C) In addition to engaging Mbeki and his team on the SADC

mediation, the MDC plans to expand their contacts with

opposition parties in South Africa and the region. Bennett

planned on bringing the National Chair, Isaac Matongo, to

South Africa to meet with all the South African opposition

parties, starting with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP),

followed by the South African Communist Party (SACP) (which

is not technically an opposition party since it belongs to

the ANC alliance), the Independent Democrats (ID), and

others. (Note: Embassy does not know how Matongo’s death on

2 May will affect these efforts. END NOTE).

 

9. (C) The MDC will continue its efforts to “work the ANC

from the bottom up.” Bennett was pleased that the ANC Youth

League (ANCYL) had issued a statement on April 23 following

its National Policy Dialogue that criticized the situation in

Zimbabwe (“no revolution can thrive on the degrading of the

people it supposedly seeks to serve”). The statement follows

months of lobbying by MDC student leaders, as well as MDC

Information Secretary Nelson Chamisa’s address to the

national student congress (ref B). It represents a marked

shift in the ANCYL position, which had previously supported

Mugabe. ANC Youth League head Fikile Mbalula told his

ZANU-PF counterpart as recently as October 2006 that “you

must go back and tell Mugabe we love what he is doing for the

people of Zimbabwe.” (COMMENT: While the ANCYL has limited

influence in the ruling party, its public statement is

another sign that attitudes in South Africa are shifting

against Mugabe and his violent rule, even among former

“friends.” END COMMENT.)

TEITELBAUM

(8 VIEWS)

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