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Dabengwa was confident Mugabe could be defeated

Former Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa was confident that President Robert Mugabe would be defeated in the 2008 elections.

He told American embassy officials on 12 March, just two weeks before the elections, that the candidacy of Simba Makoni, who had announced his challenge and was now heading a party called Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn, was not about Makoni but about rescuing the nation.

Dabengwa said Makoni did not have any money but he did not want Western support for fear of being tainted in the electoral campaign as the puppet of the West.

According to a cable released by Wikileaks several senior Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front officials were behind Makoni but they preferred to stay in the background because of fear of Mugabe.

Contrary to what Dabengwa had said, however, British ambassador to Zimbabwe Andrew Pocock had told American officials the same day that the UK had provided financial assistance to Makoni.

American embassy contact Sydney Masamvu had also told them that South African businessmen were supporting Makoni and Dabengwa had raised 80 000 Euro and two tankers of fuel for the Makoni campaign.

 

Full cable:

 

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE200, AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH DUMISO DABENGWA

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE200

2008-03-13 13:25

2011-08-30 01:44

SECRET

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO3916

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0200/01 0731325

ZNY SSSSS ZZH

R 131325Z MAR 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2578

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1808

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1933

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0512

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1210

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1567

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1989

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4420

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1060

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000200

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

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: 03/13/2018

TAGS: PREL PGOV ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH DUMISO DABENGWA

 

REF: A. A) HARARE 197

B. B) HARARE 175

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) According to Dumiso Dabengwa, who met with the

Ambassador on March 12, Simba Makoni’s candidacy is not about

Makoni, but is an effort to rescue the country. Although

short on money, Makoni does not want Western support for fear

of being tainted in the electoral campaign as the puppet of

the West. Dabengwa is optimistic that Mugabe can be

defeated. Solomon Mujuru supports Makoni and will probably

make his support known before the election. If there is a

runoff between Mugabe and either Makoni or the MDC’s

Tsvangirai, he expects “horse trading” to establish an

 

SIPDIS

alliance between Makoni and Tsvangirai to oppose Mugabe.

Electoral rigging can be controlled; the biggest concern is

postal voting by the security forces. Dabengwa is concerned

that if Mugabe is defeated at the polls he will not accept

defeat. He believes, however, that the military, with

exceptions, will accept the will of the voters. If Makoni

wins, he will establish a “national authority” made up of

leaders to discuss a new constitution, economic reform, and a

government of national unity. END SUMMARY.

 

———————————-

The Genesis of the Makoni Campaign

———————————-

 

2. (C) Dabengwa told the Ambassador that Makoni’s candidacy

was not about Makoni, but was an effort to rescue the

country. Dabengwa recalled that Mugabe had promised two

years ago at the United Nations to step down at the end of

his current term. When Mugabe last year indicated his

intention to nevertheless run for re-election in 2008,

Dabengwa said he had fought from within the ZANU-PF politburo

for Mugabe to step down. He had intended to challenge him at

the December 2007 ZANU-PF Congress, but Mugabe had rigged it

to prevent a challenge. Dabengwa then became one of the

initiators of a Makoni candidacy.

 

3. (C) Dabengwa said he had been asked by other dissidents

to stand against Mugabe. As an Ndebele and former Zimbabwe

African People’s Union (ZAPU) leader from Bulawayo, he was

concerned, however, that he could not win support in

Mashonaland. After considering the national interest, he

decided that Makoni would be a more viable candidate.

 

4. (C) Dabengwa opined that Morgan Tsvangirai should have

made the same decision. The objective was to get Mugabe out.

Tsvangirai could not win, particularly in light of the MDC

split, and he should have considered the national interest

and supported Makoni.

 

——————

No to U.S. Support

——————

 

5. (C) According to Dabengwa, Makoni was short on money, but

would manage. There was a stigma attached to the U.S. and

UK, both of which were seen as supporting “regime change.”

Change should be left to the Zimbabwean people, Dabengwa

admonished. The negative impression of the U.S. as a

supporter of regime change had made it difficult for Makoni

to accept Western support without becoming tainted.

Therefore, Makoni did not want our financial support.

Dabengwa acknowledged that Western assistance would be

important once there is a new government; he would look

 

HARARE 00000200 002 OF 003

 

 

forward to discussing this with the Ambassador at that time.

 

6. (S/NF) (NOTE: British ambassador to Zimbabwe Andrew

Pocock told the Ambassador on March 12 that the UK has

provided financial assistance to the Makoni campaign. We

have also received reports that South African businessmen are

supporting Makoni. Embassies Harare and Pretoria contact

Sydney Masamvu recently met with Dabengwa in South Africa.

According to Masamvu, Dabengwa raised Euro 80,000 and two

tankers of fuel during his visit. END NOTE.)

 

—————————-

Political Support for Makoni

—————————-

 

7. (C) Dabengwa averred that Makoni had substantial support

in the country, even though high-profile leaders had, for

personal reasons, chosen not to publicly express their

support. He commented that General Solomon Mujuru also was

one of the initiators of Makoni’s candidacy; Mujuru was still

solidly behind Makoni, but Dabengwa was unsure when and if he

would make his support public. (NOTE: Dabengwa told Sydney

Masamvu that Mujuru had delayed his public support because of

fear of prosecution by Mugabe for corrupt business dealings;

he would make his support public a couple of days before the

March 29 election. END NOTE.) Dabengwa said he was

confident Mugabe would be defeated.

 

8. (C) The Ambassador queried Dabengwa as to Makoni’s

position in the event of a runoff between Mugabe and either

Makoni or Tsvangirai. Dabengwa responded that there would be

“horse trading” in an effort to coordinate opposition to

Mugabe.

 

—————–

Electoral Rigging

—————–

 

9. (C) Dabengwa commented that he had served in the

government as Minister for Home Affairs and had overseen

elections. He thought as minister he had largely controlled

electoral rigging. The Makoni forces intended to have

polling agents at almost all polling stations. (NOTE: There

will be 8,200 stations. END NOTE.) According to Dabengwa,

the most vulnerable part of the process was military and

police voting as one week before the election, members of the

military and police and their spouses were allowed to vote by

mail. Dabengwa said that in the past, many of these

individuals, at the behest of their superiors, had submitted

multiple ballots through the post. (NOTE: The number of

military and police is about 60,000 to 70,000. END NOTE.)

 

———————–

Mugabe and the Military

———————–

 

10. (C) Dabengwa shared the Ambassador’s concern that Mugabe

would not accept defeat. Dabengwa noted that there was

widespread opposition to Mugabe within the ruling party;

nevertheless, at the December ZANU-PF Congress, Mugabe,

despite knowledge that the country was sinking, had chosen to

foreclose discussion of succession and appeared intent on

continuing in office.

 

11. (C) Dabengwa was optimistic the military would not play

a destabilizing role. He noted that as the commander of

ZIPRA, ZAPU’s military arm, he knew the current crop of high

ranking Zimbabwean military officials, many of whom had

served under him. He offered his opinions of the top three

military leaders: Zimbabwe Army Chief Philip Sibanda had

commanded UN forces in Angola and had rescued Zimbabwe from

defeat in the Congo. He was professional and level headed.

 

HARARE 00000200 003 OF 003

 

 

Perence Shiri, Commander of the Air Force, had long been

critical of Mugabe’s leadership and his unwillingness to

permit change within ZANU-PF. He had repented of his role in

Gukurahundi, the Matabeleland massacres instigated by Mugabe

in the early 1980s. Defense Forces Commander Constantine

Chiwenga, on the other hand, was so corrupt that “he would

rather sink with the ship than oppose the captain.” (NOTE:

Chiwenga recently told The Standard newspaper that “elections

are coming and the army will not support or salute sell-outs

and agents of the West before, during and after the

presidential elections.” END NOTE.)

 

————————————–

Makoni’s Plan for a National Authority

————————————–

 

12. (C) If Makoni is elected, Dabengwa told the Ambassador,

he would establish a national authority made up of leaders,

including representatives of political parties. (COMMENT:

This concept is ill-defined. Makoni will be unable to form a

conventional government unless a large number of independent

candidates win seats, since all ministers must be members of

the legislature, and floor-crossing is forbidden under

Zimbabwean law. END COMMENT.) He would then determine

priorities, including constitutional and economic reform.

Finally, he would choose a cabinet from independent

parliamentarians and from ZANU-PF and the MDC in an effort to

establish a government of national unity. According to

Dabengwa, Makoni was not now offering solutions. These would

come from the national authority, and later from the

constituted government.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

13. (C) Nicholas Goche told the Ambassador that Solomon

Mujuru had pledged his loyalty to Mugabe (Ref A), and a March

13 banner headline in The Herald announced that “Gen Mujuru

Disowns Makoni.” Nevertheless, Dabengwa, a long-time ally of

Mujuru from the pre-independence days when Mujuru commanded

ZANLA (the military arm of ZANU) forces and Dabengwa

commanded ZIPRA forces, is in a position to know the truth.

His assertion that Mujuru is backing Makoni jives with what

we have heard from other Makoni supporters. Mujuru appears

to be deceiving Mugabe in the same way Makoni did before

announcing his candidacy.

 

14. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: We have received numerous

reports that a large number of the military are dissatisfied

with the status quo and support a change in leadership.

Solomon Mujuru continues to enjoy widespread support from

within the military. Sibanda and Shiri can be expected to

act professionally. Despite Chiwenga’s loyalty to Mugabe, at

this point there is little reason to believe that the

military would attempt to contravene a Mugabe electoral loss.

END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

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