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Mandaza said rigging was biggest obstacle to defeating Mugabe

Ibbo Mandaza, who was Simba Makoni’s chief backer, dismissed a poll that showed that President Robert Mugabe had 30 percent support with Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai trailing by 2 percentage points at 28 percent and independent candidate Makoni a distant 12 percent.

He said the Central Intelligence Organisation believed that Makoni had 50 percent support which was growing and the biggest obstacle to a Makoni victory was electoral rigging by Mugabe.

Mandaza, however, said he and other Makoni supporters had long histories with ZANU-PF and were well acquainted with how rigging was accopmplished.

The primary areas of concern were the voter rolls, the polling centres where votes were miscounted and misreported, and the electoral command centre where votes from around the country were tallied and announced.

Mandaza said it was critical to have observers at all polling stations to prevent fraud in the tabulation and reporting process.

He was sceptical that the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network was up to the task.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE175, MAKONI IN FULL CAMPAIGN MODE

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08HARARE175

2008-03-05 12:53

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXYZ8939

RR RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHSB #0175/01 0651253

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 051253Z MAR 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2542

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1796

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1922

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0501

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1199

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1556

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1978

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4409

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1049

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000175

 

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: 01/16/2018

TAGS: PGOV KDEM ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: MAKONI IN FULL CAMPAIGN MODE

 

 

Classified By: CDA Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Simba Makoni kicked off his campaign last weekend

with a rally in Bulawayo and an endorsement from ZANU-PF

insider Dumiso Dabengwa. Ibbo Mandaza, one of Makoni’s

principal supporters, is hopeful that General Solomon Mujuru,

a Makoni backer, will also come out publicly in the coming

days. Although a recent opinion poll showed Makoni trailing

President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai,

Mandaza claims that internal Central Intelligence

Organization (CIO) documents show Makoni’s support at over 50

percent and growing. Mandaza, who claims the Makoni forces

have substantial support within ZANU-PF structures, including

the CIO and military, believes the key to defeating Mugabe is

containment of vote rigging. He acknowledges that a united

front with Tsvangirai would maximize chances of winning, but

Tsvangirai has so far rebuffed meetings to discuss a common

 

SIPDIS

agenda. The biggest obstacles facing Makoni, according to

Mandaza, are ZANU-PF harassment and lack of funds. Mandaza

expresses confidence Makoni will win, but Plan B is to take

over the party after the election. END SUMMARY.

 

—————-

Campaign Kickoff

—————-

 

2. (C) Makoni kicked off his campaign with a rally

reportedly attended by about 10,000 people in Bulawayo on

March 1. He held a smaller rally in the high-density suburb

of Highfield in Harare on March 2. In Bulawayo, ZANU-PF

Politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa publicly endorsed Makoni.

Dabengwa was the first high-level ZANU-PF official to make

his support public. Mandaza told us he was hopeful that

General Solomon Mujuru will soon follow Dabengwa. According

to Mandaza, Makoni has hit the road and will campaign full

time between now and the March 29 elections.

 

—————

Support Growing

—————

 

3. (C) We discussed with Mandaza a poll conducted by the

Mass Public Opinion Institute of Zimbabwe between February 18

and February 22 which showed 30 percent support for Mugabe,

28 percent for Tsvangirai, and 12 percent for Makoni (30

percent declined to state a preference.) Mandaza was

dismissive; the poll was taken before Dabengwa announced his

support, and the CIO believed that Makoni had over 50 percent

support which was growing. Mandaza maintained that Makoni

has substantial support from within the CIO and the military,

including top generals. He said he and Makoni both maintain

substantial contacts within ZANU-PF and regularly received

CIO intelligence reports.

 

———————-

Containment of Rigging

———————-

 

4. (C) Mandaza wryly stated that electoral rigging is the

biggest electoral obstacle to defeating Mugabe, and that he

and other Makoni supporters, who have long histories with

ZANU-PF, are well-acquainted with how it is accomplished.

The primary areas of concern were the voter rolls, the

polling centers where votes are miscounted and misreported,

and the electoral command center where votes from around the

country are tallied and announced.

 

5. (C) As to the voter rolls, Mandaza said he had obtained

 

one-half of the national rolls from the Registrar of Voters

and soon would have the other half. He had employed an

analyst to compare the rolls with death certificates in order

to weed out ghost voters. Mandaza was not concerned about

reports of voters failing to register; while there were, in

his opinion, isolated instances, the reported high levels of

registration, particularly after Makoni announced his

candidacy, belied this.

 

6. (C) Mandaza said it was critical to have observers at all

polling stations to prevent fraud in the tabulation and

reporting process. He was skeptical the Zimbabwe Electoral

Support Network (ZESN) was up to the task. In particular, he

was suspicious of the independence of ZESN’s director. He

had had talks with the Christian Alliance, which he believed

was independent, and was willing, to the extent possible to

undertake the responsibility. (Comment: We agree that the

Christian Alliance could function well as observers. USAID

has had preliminary discussions with the organization

regarding observation in conjunction with ZESN. The

Christian Alliance told us it could provide about 1,000

observers. At least 11,000 will be needed to man all the

polling stations. ZESN, with assistance from other civic

society organizations, has inidicated it will be able to do

so. End Comment.) As to the election command center run by

the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Mandaza said several

Commission members are supportive of Makoni, and he hoped

this could control ZEC machinations.

 

—————

A United Front?

—————

 

7. (C) Mandaza acknowledged that a united front would

maximize the chance of defeating Mugabe. He said he had

unsuccessfully attempted to meet with Tsvangirai–Tsvangirai

had canceled several appointments–but had maintained contact

with a number of MDC members. He believed that Tsvangirai

had run and failed, and no longer commanded widespread

support. Therefore, Tsvangirai should act patriotically and

subordinate himself to Makoni. (Comment. Under Zimbabwe

electoral law, a presidential candidate must withdraw at

least 21 days before the election. Therefore, if an alliance

were formed aftr this week, both Tsvangirai and Makoni would

remain on the ballot. An alliance is unlikely, since Makoni

and Tsvangirai feel they are much stronger than the other.

End Comment.)

 

———

Obstacles

———

 

8. (C) Despite press reports that South African businesses

were funding Makoni’s campaign, Mandaza said that he himself

had provided most of the financial support. He added that

the campaign needed money for campaign materials and asked if

the U.S. could provide such support. He confirmed that

London-based businessman Nkosana Moyo was consulting with the

Makoni forces and trying to raise money.

 

9. (C) The government was harassing Makoni and his campaign

team according to Mandaza. Mandaza had arranged for

materials to be printed in South Africa, and the government

was preventing their importation. The police had interrupted

the Highfield rally on March 2 claiming that Makoni had

surpassed the (non-existent) time limit for the rally. But

many government officials, including police, were anti-Mugabe

and Mandaza thought Makoni would be able to hold unimpeded

rallies and otherwise function. He also expected that as the

election approached, access to the media would ease, as it

has in the past for the opposition before elections.

———————

Looking to the Future

———————

 

10. (C) Mandaza averred that Makoni had strong support,

particularly in Matabeleland, Manicaland, Midlands, and

Masvingo. He conceded that Tsvangirai would be strong in

Harare. A key for Makoni was to make inroads in the

Mashonaland provinces. He believed that Makoni’s support was

growing in these areas as people became aware of his

candidacy. Finally, he expressed confidence in a Makoni

victory. But if rigging prevented this, ZANU-PF was

fracturing, the 1987 Unity Accord was dead, and Mugabe would

not last long after the elections.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

11. (C) Without sophisticated polling, it is difficult to

measure Makoni’s strength. While the MPOI poll may be

understating support for Makoni, Mandaza is almost certainly

overestimating it. It is clear that within ZANU-PF there is

substantial opposition to Mugabe and corresponding support

for Makoni. With limited time until the election it is

uncertain how successful Makoni will be in using his

institutional support to gain votes. The Dabengwa defection

was significant and will certainly help him in Matabeleland.

Dabengwa is a war veteran and lieutenant of Joshua Nkomo who

was imprisoned by Mugabe and later supported the Unity Accord

between ZANU-PF and ZAPU. Further public defections, for

example by Solomon Mujuru, would further split the party and

provide support for Makoni.

 

12. (C) Many former supporters, including in the rural

areas, are turning against Mugabe and some political

observers believe that he will be unable to win 51 percent.

But ZANU-PF is going all out to achieve a victory. The money

printing presses are working full time to keep–to the extent

possible–the lights on and the water flowing, and to

increase salaries for police and military. Also, the party

is handing out agricultural equipment in the rural areas.

Predictions of a runoff would be premature. At this point, a

runoff is unlikely absent containment of the ZANU-PF rigging

machinery.

 

12. (C) The Dabengwa defection is a public manifestation of

what everyone knows is internecine ZANU-PF conflict, and, in

light of a crumbling economy and infrastructure, we believe

Mandaza is right in his assessment that ZANU-PF will continue

to fracture. If Mugabe wins the election, it is not

unreasonable to believe that those in ZANU-PF who now

covertly oppose him will grow in number and ultimately force

him out. The question would appear to be less “if” than

“when.” And the new leader (of a reformist ZANU-PF) could

still be Simba Makoni, who would be respected from within the

party for having had the courage to publicly oppose and run

against Mugabe.

DHANANI

 

(8 VIEWS)

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