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Masiyiwa funded anti-rigging plan in 2008 elections

Econet boss Strive Masiyiwa predicted victory for Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change and funded an anti-rigging plan which he hoped would generate enough pressure on Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front’s Robert Mugabe to accept defeat.

Masiyiwa disclosed his plans to United States embassy officials in Pretoria on 19 March, 10 days before the crucial parliamentary and presidential elections, according to a cable just released by Wikileaks.

He said the information had to be strictly protected because he was not sharing it with any other government.

The exiled Zimbabwean businessman said he was funding campaign materials for the MDC which were being printed in South Africa and smuggled into Zimbabwe.

He had also created a hotline to report rigging with financial rewards for those who reported verifiable cheating.

Masiyiwa had also created a parallel vote counting centre in Johannesburg that would report the results publicly as soon as they were available.

Once the results were announced at each polling place, MDC agents were to text messages or call in the results to a Zimbabwe cell phone number.

The call would be secretly rerouted to a computer centre in Johannesburg, where Masiyiwa had compiled a team of technical experts to enter the results into a database.

The centre would then post the results on an Internet site as they come in, essentially pre-empting the Zimbabwe Election Commission results and any ill intention of Mugabe to falsely claim victory.

Masiyiwa hoped that the quick public announcement on his Internet site — before the ZEC had time to consult with Mugabe — would generate intense public pressure on Mugabe to accept defeat.

The parallel results could also be used by the United States government and others to encourage South African President Thabo Mbeki, African Union Chairman Jakaya Kikwete, and others to intervene with Mugabe.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08PRETORIA604, S/NF) MASIYIWA PREDICTS MDC VICTORY IN ZIMBABWE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA604

2008-03-20 14:50

2011-08-30 01:44

SECRET//NOFORN

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO0485

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #0604/01 0801450

ZNY SSSSS ZZH

R 201450Z MAR 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3903

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5437

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9667

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 000604

 

SIPDIS

 

NOFORN

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/19/2018

TAGS: PREL KDEM SF ZI

SUBJECT: (S/NF) MASIYIWA PREDICTS MDC VICTORY IN ZIMBABWE

POLL; FUNDS ANTI-RIGGING PLAN

 

REF: A. PRETORIA 0419

 

B. 05 PRETORIA 01253

 

PRETORIA 00000604 001.2 OF 003

 

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Donald Teitelbaum. Reasons 1.4(

b) and (d).

 

1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai will win the

March 29 election, predicted respected Zimbabwean businessman

Strive Masiyiwa (strictly protect). The only question is the

extent of ZANU-PF rigging and whether this might force a

second round presidential poll. Masiyiwa downplayed the

impact of Simba Makoni’s candidacy, arguing that Makoni has

made significant blunders and lacks public support from key

ZANU-PF leaders. Tsvangirai will never accept a secondary

role to Makoni. Masiyiwa is quietly floating a proposal in

which Makoni would endorse Tsvangirai in return for Makoni’s

appointment as Prime Minister — although he was not

optimistic the deal would happen. Masiyiwa is funding a

sophisticated “anti-rigging” initiative in cooperation with

the MDC (1) that seeks to discourage rigging at the local

level and (2) that will tabulate results from local MDC

electoral agents at a center in Johannesburg and post these

results on an Internet site. Masiyiwa hopes the public

announcement of parallel results through will generate

pressure on Mugabe to accept defeat. END SUMMARY.

 

—————————–

Tsvangirai Has Support to Win

 

SIPDIS

—————————–

 

2. (C) In a March 19 meeting with visiting Staffdel Marsh,

PolCounselor and PolOff (notetaker), exiled Zimbabwean

businessman Strive Masiyiwa claimed that Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has the

votes to win in the March 29 Zimbabwe elections. Tsvangirai

is drawing huge and enthusiastic crowds, including in deep

rural areas that were thought to be Mugabe strongholds. In

any “normal” election, Tsvangirai would win in the first

round with more than 50 percent of the vote, although in

Zimbabwe it’s possible there will be a run-off between

President Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

 

———————————–

Tsvangirai-Makoni Alliance Unlikely

 

SIPDIS

———————————–

 

3. (C) Masiyiwa downplayed the impact of Simba Makoni’s

candidacy, stating categorically that Makoni will come in

third in the presidential poll. Makoni has made significant

blunders in his campaign, including scheduling

(poorly-attended) rallies in Harare and Bulawayo the same

weekend. The support of ZANU-PF strongman Solomon Mujuru —

and even the Zimbabwean military — means little unless they

come out publicly. That said, the “Makoni phenomena” is

“extremely valuable,” Masiyiwa said. It has exposed

divisions in ZANU-PF and served as a “foil” for Tsvangirai,

who has been able to campaign relatively freely with Mugabe

focused on Makoni.

 

4. (C) On prospects for a Tsvangirai-Makoni alliance,

Masiyiwa was not optimistic. Buoyed by the large turnout at

his rallies, Tsvangirai will never accept a secondary role to

Makoni. Masiyiwa has been quietly floating the idea of

Makoni endorsing Tsvangirai in the next few days. In return,

Tsvangirai would promise to make Makoni prime minister, and

 

SIPDIS

offer Makoni’s camp at least seven cabinet ministers (out of

21 total), more if they win more than 50 parliamentary seats.

The person that Masiyiwa had identified to take the “deal”

to Makoni backed down the night of March 18, so Masiyiwa was

looking for another emissary. (NOTE: Masiyiwa discussed the

Qlooking for another emissary. (NOTE: Masiyiwa discussed the

prime minister idea, which draws on the Kenya model, with

former UNSG Kofi Annan, whom he recently met in Kampala. END

NOTE.)

 

—————–

Anti-Rigging Plan

—————–

 

5. (S/NF) Working with the MDC, Masiyiwa has developed a

sophisticated, two-part plan to prevent Mugabe from rigging

the election, or at least reduce the extent of rigging.

(NOTE: Masiyiwa asked Staffdel to strictly protect this

information, stating that he was only sharing this

 

PRETORIA 00000604 002.2 OF 003

 

 

information with the USG, not/not other governments, and had

planned to do so only next week. Any public disclosure would

doom the initiative, Masiyiwa stressed. In addition to the

anti-rigging effort, Masiyiwa is funding campaign materials

for the MDC, which are being printed in South Africa and

smuggled into Zimbabwe. END NOTE.)

 

— First, the Masiyiwa/MDC team is reaching out to

local-level GOZ election officials across the country with

cards and other materials to urge them not to rig the

election, pointing out that rigging is a criminal offense.

He has created a hotline to report rigging, with financial

rewards for those who report verifiable cheating. While

Masiyiwa recognizes the limitation of this effort, he

believes many local officials will be sympathetic to this

message; he also notes that even a small reduction in rigging

is potentially useful.

 

— Second, Masiyiwa has created a parallel vote count center,

based in Johannesburg, that will report the results publicly

as soon as they are available, independent of and in advance

of, any Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announcements.

The plan works like this: Once the results are announced at

each polling place, the MDC agents will text message or call

in the results to a Zimbabwe cell phone number. (Masiyiwa

and the MDC are ensuring that all their agents have access to

cell phones or even satellite phones as necessary, in the

event that the local network is interrupted.) The call will

be secretly rerouted to a computer center in Johannesburg,

where Masiyiwa has compiled a team of technical experts to

enter the results into a database. MDC observers will also

count the number of people who enter each local polling

station and will compare this number with the local precinct

vote count, highlighting discrepancies. The center will then

post the results on an Internet site as they come in,

essentially preempting the Zimbabwe Election Commission

results and any ill intention of Mugabe to falsely claim

victory. Masiyiwa’s team will send the Internet link to

diplomats and journalists once the results are tabulated.

 

6. (S/NF) Masiyiwa hopes that the quick public announcement

on his Internet site — before the ZEC has time to consult

with Mugabe — will generate intense public pressure on

Mugabe to accept defeat. The parallel results could be used

by the USG and others to encourage South African President

Mbeki, AU Chairman Kikwete, and others to intervene with

Mugabe.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

7. (S/NF) Masiyiwa’s anti-rigging initiative strikes us as

innovative and carefully planned. It plays to Masiyiwa’s

strength as an engineer and problem-solver. His technical

expertise and ownership of Zimbabwe’s Econet cellular phone

company, with coverage throughout the country, places him in

a unique position to pull this off. However, we note that

the initiative depends on the ability of MDC agents, many of

whom are not well trained, to accurately and quickly send

electoral results to Masiywa’s call center. It is possible

that GOZ intelligence officials will catch wind of the plan,

and corrupt the data being fed to Johannesburg. Even if the

results are compiled accurately and Tsvangirai’s victory

publicly announced, Mugabe may simply dismiss them as

“Western” manipulation. We also doubt that Mbeki would use

Q”Western” manipulation. We also doubt that Mbeki would use

the results to pressure Mugabe to step down. South Africa’s

core interest in Zimbabwe has always been stability, not

democracy, and we believe Mbeki will intervene only if he

feels it is necessary to prevent violent upheaval.

 

8. (C) On Masiyiwa’s political analysis, we defer to Embassy

Harare, but note that Masiyiwa is an ardent MDC supporter and

perpetual optimist. He predicted an MDC victory in the

parliamentary elections in 2005 (ref B), when ZANU-PF won 78

of 120 elected seats. Masiyiwa appears to be motivated by a

genuine and strong sense of nationalism and frustration with

the deterioration of Zimbabwean political, economic, and

social life. He is clearly investing significant personal

resources in this endeavor, joking that it is “costing as

much as the invasion of Iraq.” Masiyiwa also said that if

all goes well in the next few weeks, he will finally be able

to go home.

 

PRETORIA 00000604 003.2 OF 003

 

 

 

9. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Harare.

Staffdel Marsh did not/not have an opportunity to clear this

message before departing Johannesburg.

BOST

(26 VIEWS)

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