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Bennett said MDC is good at campaigning not governing

Movement for Democratic Change treasurer Roy Bennett said the party was good at campaigning but it lacked a cadre of people who knew how to run a government.

He told the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray about the MDC’s inability to deliver the goods to the people despite its strong ability to campaign on 2 February 2010 and said there was a need to refocus external assistance more toward institution building and strengthening civil society.

The MDC under Morgan Tsvangirai’s leadership had a tremendous amount of popularity throughout the country, in part due to Tsvangirai’s sincerity and humility, and in part due to ZANU-PF arrogance and lack of concern for the common citizen.

Bennett said Western aid had a strong focus on the MDC as a party. While this had been appreciated, it had not done enough to build the party’s capacity to provide government services or manage the bureaucracy.

He said that MDC-T had been unfocused. The Office of the Prime Minister was weak and the party had been left largely unattended as party stalwarts such as Tendai Biti were occupied with government.

Bennett said the party’s standing committee had resolved that elections should take place in 2011.

Ray in his commentary said:”Bennett is an MDC hardliner who has been frustrated with the MDC’s progress in the coalition government and in party building. While he was encouraged by the determination of the Standing Committee to take a more assertive approach vis-a-vis ZANU-PF, we have seen this scenario before.

“Hardliners in the party convince Tsvangirai to be more assertive. He agrees, there is a flurry of activity, and then MDC-T falls back into the same dance with ZANU-PF. We’ll see if this time is any different.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 10HARARE83, Conversations with MDC-T Minister-in-Waiting Roy Bennett

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

10HARARE83

2010-02-04 14:45

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO6225

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0083/01 0351445

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 041445Z FEB 10

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0009

INFO SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

RHMCSUU/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 0001

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0001

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0001

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0001

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000083

 

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR BRIAN WALSH

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/04

TAGS: PREL PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: Conversations with MDC-T Minister-in-Waiting Roy Bennett

 

CLASSIFIED BY: Charles A. Ray, Ambassador, STATE, EXEC; REASON:

1.4(B), (D)

 

——-

 

SUMMARY

 

——-

 

 

 

1. (C) MDC-T Finance Chairman Roy Bennett told the Ambassador

that while the MDC is good at campaigning, it lacks a cadre of

people who know how to run a government. While much of U.S. and

other Western support has focused on the party, there is a

compelling need for institution building. Apart from the MDC,

Bennett acknowledged that ZANU-PF will be involved in a future

Zimbabwe; the challenge is to identify those in ZANU-PF who can

play constructive roles, and to find ways to bolster them against

extremists.

 

2. (C) In a separate conversation with polecon chief, Bennett

focused on MDC-T strategy. MDC-T has concluded that the Global

Political Agreement (GPA) is deadlocked. The MDC-T Standing

Committee has resolved to make a last effort to negotiate with

ZANU-PF, and then appeal to SADC. But it expects little assistance

in that forum and will focus on elections which it would like to

see occur next year. Bennett also discussed perceptions of MDC-T

corruption. END SUMMARY.

 

3. (SBU) The Ambassador discussed MDC-T with Bennett at a dinner

hosted by the British ambassador for visiting UK parliamentarians

on February 1. Attending the dinner, in addition to the usual cast

of Western diplomats, were representatives of the coalition

government, including the deputy foreign minister, and Bennett, the

MDC-T Finance Chairman. Polecon chief met separately with Bennett

on February 2.

 

——————————————— —

 

MDC WEAKNESS IS IN GOVERNING, NOT IN CAMPAIGNING

 

——————————————— —

 

 

 

4. (C) Bennett talked with the Ambassador about MDC-T’s inability

to ‘deliver the goods’ to the people, despite its strong ability to

campaign; he saw a need to refocus external assistance more toward

institution building and strengthening civil society. He said the

MDC-T under Morgan Tsvangirai’s leadership had a tremendous amount

of popularity throughout the country, in part due to Tsvangirai’s

sincerity and humility, and in part due to ZANU-PF arrogance and

lack of concern for the common citizen. The party was very good at

campaigning, but lacked a strong bench in terms of governing.

Campaigning was limited to a degree by a paucity of resources.

Bennett said, for instance, in one province, with several hundred

thousand voters, the party had only one vehicle to transport

campaign workers around. Hardly any of the MDC ministers had any

previous experience in administration, and the few with any

capability were overstretched.

 

———————————-

 

NEED FOR MORE THAN GOOD INTENTIONS

 

———————————-

 

 

 

5. (C) According to Bennett, Western aid (primarily EU and U.S.)

has had a strong focus on the MDC as a party. While this has been

appreciated, it has not done enough to build the party’s capacity

to provide government services or manage the bureaucracy. He said

he understood the limitations on working with elements of the

 

HARARE 00000083 002 OF 003

 

 

government because of sanctions and ZDERA, but without more

capacity building, democratic reform would be delayed even longer.

He also said there was a compelling need to do more to build civil

society. While there are a number of civil society organizations

in Zimbabwe, there is no mass civil consciousness that can act as a

counterweight to ZANU-PF depredations. (COMMENT: What also seems

to be lacking is a sense of interconnectedness among all the

various civil society groups. The culture of fear and violence

that has been created over the past several decades has so cowed

the general population that tens of thousands of people can be

intimidated by the murder or beating of a few hundred. END

COMMENT.) Bennett contrasted Zimbabwe with South Africa where,

although apartheid was as odious as the colonial exploitation was

here, there was at least the pretense of a black society that was

along side but separate from the whites. In Zimbabwe there was not

even the pretense – blacks had been seen as merely labor to be

exploited, and coloreds as caudal appendages that were tolerated as

long as they didn’t make trouble. The result is that in South

Africa there is a strong and vibrant civil society that the West

concentrated on building during apartheid, and while there is

likely to be ethnic strife, the country will most likely survive

it.

 

6. (SBU) Bennett said that Mugabe and ZANU-PF did not actually

create this culture of a privileged few lording it over the masses

(this was done by British colonial masters and the Ian Smith

regime), but they have adopted it lock, stock, and barrel. If

there is ever to be sustainable progress in this country, he said,

in addition to building a strong, responsive governance capacity,

the people must be taught their civic rights and be empowered to

demand them.

 

7. (C) Western support for Mugabe and ZANU in the 1960s and

1980s, Bennett said, can be understood in the context of the Cold

War. The slaughter of Ndebeles in Matabeleland was viewed as an

internal incident less important than the chess game between the

USSR and the West, and the killing and dispossessing of ZAPU went

unremarked because ZAPU was supported by the USSR, the West’s main

enemy at the time. In the same vein, revulsion at ZANU-PF for

events since the late 1990s, particularly the violence associated

with farm invasions and the election-related killings, is

understandable. This should not, however, blind the West to the

fact that ZANU-PF will not go away. There are in ZANU-PF, people

who want to see progress, but they have no power to influence

events. We need to do a better job of identifying them, and

finding ways, without compromising or endangering them, to empower

them with a view to a future multi-party country and a need to

recognize that wishing for a future Zimbabwe without ZANU-PF is

naC/ve and counterproductive.

 

————–

 

MDC-T Strategy

 

————–

 

 

 

8. (C) Bennett told polecon chief that MDC-T had been unfocused.

The Office of the Prime Minister was weak and the party had been

left largely unattended as party stalwarts such as Tendai Biti were

occupied with government. Two weeks ago, according to Bennett, the

MDC-T Standing Committee, consisting of the top 12 ranking

officials, held a series of strategy sessions to address these

issues.

 

9. (C) The party concluded that ZANU-PF would not allow it to

effectively participate in government; it therefore resolved to

focus its efforts on the party in order to build it and prepare for

elections. MDC-T, according to Bennett, believes there will be no

significant progress on the GPA and that there is a stalemate. It

has not yet been declared a deadlock because it wants the Media,

 

HARARE 00000083 003 OF 003

 

 

Electoral, and Human Rights Commissions established before it does

so – it is concerned that declaring a deadlock first would cause

Mugabe to backtrack on the commissions. MDC-T’s plan after it does

declare a deadlock is to appeal to SADC. It believes SADC will be

unsuccessful in moving Mugabe. The next step will be to press for

elections.

 

10. (C) Bennett told us that the Standing Committee also discussed

the Marange diamond situation and resolved to take a firm stand.

He acknowledged that Murisi Zwizwai, the Deputy Minister of Mines,

is close to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and is possibly

corrupt. Turning to the issue of corruption, Bennett said there

were rumors about several MDC-T ministers, but the party could not

act on rumors. He admitted, however, that the perception of

corruption was harmful. He was aware of reports that Tsvangirai

was buying a US$1 million house in Harare. Bennett said he

investigated and discovered that two individuals associated with

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono had proposed buying

the house for Tsvangirai. Bennett said he urged Tsvangirai to turn

off the arrangement and Tsvangirai agreed. Tsvangirai had,

however, accepted two vehicles from these individuals.

 

11. (C) Bennett said the Standing Committee had resolved that

elections take place in 2011. He admitted that most MDC-T

parliamentarians were opposed to this, but said the party

leadership would prevail over the desires of parliamentarians or

the rank and file. We noted that a couple of weeks ago, Tsvangirai

had said the country was not ready for early elections, but had

apparently reversed course in Davos and supported 2011 elections.

Bennett said the party leadership had always supported 2011

elections; but despite party decisions, Tsvangirai had a tendency

to publicly take inconsistent positions.

 

——-

 

COMMENT

 

——-

 

 

 

12. (C) Bennett is an MDC “hardliner” who has been frustrated with

the MDC’s progress in the coalition government and in party

building. While he was encouraged by the determination of the

Standing Committee to take a more assertive approach vis-C -vis

ZANU-PF, we have seen this scenario before. Hardliners in the

party convince Tsvangirai to be more assertive. He agrees, there

is a flurry of activity, and then MDC-T falls back into the same

dance with ZANU-PF. We’ll see if this time is any different. END

COMMENT.

RAY

(3 VIEWS)

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