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.
Viewing cable 08HARARE175, MAKONI IN FULL CAMPAIGN MODE
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SUBJECT: MAKONI IN FULL CAMPAIGN MODE
Classified By: CDA Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4 (d)
¶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
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.
¶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.
¶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.
¶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.
¶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
¶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