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Masiyiwa said MDC did not have plan for “day after” the election

Econet boss, Strive Masiyiwa, who was one of the advisors of Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai told United States embassy officials on 27 February, a month before the crucial 2008 elections, that the MDC did not have a clear plan for the “day after” the election.

He said he had recommended that the party should view the elections as part of the process of de-legitimising Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front leader Robert Mugabe- shrinking his international support base to a couple of countries like Namibia and Angola.

He also told the officials that former army commander Solomon Mujuru and former Home Affairs Minister Dumiso Dabengwa created the “Makoni Project” to get rid of Mugabe but Mujuru was never going to publicly back Simba Makoni who had now entered the presidential race.

He said Mujuru was essentially a “mafia boss,” and Mugabe could simply threaten to arrest Mujuru if he got out of line.

He also questioned the conventional wisdom that Mujuru controlled much of the military, noting that Mujuru had been out of uniform for some 16 years and may not have as much influence as experts believed.

Publisher Trevor Ncube had a different view. He claimed that Makoni decided to run for president without Mujuru’s blessing.

Now that Makoni was “gathering momentum,” Mujuru had begun quietly supporting him, but many core Makoni supporters resented Mujuru’s late conversion.

He said Mujuru was a controversial figure in ZANU-PF and could even become a negative factor in the Makoni campaign.

 

 Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08PRETORIA418, ZIMBABWEAN EXILES NCUBE AND MASIYIWA UPBEAT ON

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08PRETORIA418

2008-02-28 16:21

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO9968

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #0418/01 0591621

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 281621Z FEB 08

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3627

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2182

RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5337

RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9603

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PRETORIA 000418

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S E. BROWN, S. HILL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2018

TAGS: PREL KDEM SF ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWEAN EXILES NCUBE AND MASIYIWA UPBEAT ON

DEVELOPENTS, ELECTIONS

 

REF: A. PRETORIA 139

 

B. HARARE 130

C. PRETORIA 348

 

PRETORIA 00000418 001.2 OF 003

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric M. Bost. Reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY. Prominent exiled Zimbabwean businessmen

Trevor Ncube and Strive Masiyiwa agreed that the upcoming

March 29 elections offered opportunities for political change

in Zimbabwe, but differed on the electoral prospects for

independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni. Ncube, a

strong Makoni supporter, claimed that Makoni has generated

significant excitement in Zimbabwe and would do well in the

upcoming poll, whereas Masiyiwa questioned Makoni’s

organizational strength on the ground. Both believed that

Makoni’s candidacy has created sharp divisions in ZANU-PF,

and that Makoni and Tsvangirai may still form a coalition

before the election. Some key ZANU-PF officials who were in

involved in the rigging in previous elections now support

Makoni, potentially making it harder — but not impossible —

for Mugabe to steal the upcoming election. The MDC will

attempt to combat rigging, but has not yet devised a plan for

the “day after” in the event of a Mugabe victory. Masiyiwa

expressed his growing concern about the spiraling inflation,

suggesting that there may be “no more room” for the economy

to collapse. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) Visiting DAS Carol Thompson, AF/S Office Director, and

PolOff met February 27 with prominent and influential

Zimbabwean exile businessmen Strive Masiyiwa and Trevor

Ncube. Harare Ambassador McGee joined the meeting with

Masiyiwa. Ncube is publisher of the respected South African

weekly newspaper the Mail & Guardian, as well as the

Zimbabwean newspapers The Sunday Standard and The Zimbabwean

Independent. Masiyiwa is founder and CEO of Econet Wireless

Group, a global telecommunications company with operations in

Zimbabwe and 14 other countries.

 

——————————

Prospects for Makoni Candidacy

——————————

 

3. (C) A long-time advocate of a “third way” in Zimbabwe (ref

A), Trevor Ncube expressed his enthusiastic support for the

presidential candidacy of Simba Makoni (ref B). (NOTE: Ncube

appears to be deeply involved in the Makoni campaign, and

even received a phone call from Makoni during the meeting.

END NOTE.) Makoni has generated “tremendous excitement” on

the ground in Zimbabwe, Ncube claimed, leading to an upsurge

in voter registration. Makoni’s biggest enemies are time and

resources. Ncube said that the diaspora is helping to fund

Makoni’s campaign through a Johannesburg trust fund (Ncube

offered to provide the account number to the USG for

contributions, an offer we did not follow up on). Ncube

suggested that Makoni is making inroads in Mashonaland East,

where former General Solomon Mujuru has broad support, in

Harare, and in Matabeleland, both urban and rural areas.

This support would spread into other areas, Ncube believes.

 

4. (C) DAS Thompson stressed to Ncube that the United States

does not support particular political parties in Zimbabwe,

despite rumors that the USG backs the opposition MDC.

Instead, the United States wants to see leaders with vision,

who can create political and economic change in Zimbabwe and

a better life for the Zimbabwean people. Ncube said he

appreciated the message and would pass it to Makoni. Ncube

Qappreciated the message and would pass it to Makoni. Ncube

noted that any association between Makoni and the U.S. or

U.K. would be the “political kiss of death,” so urged the USG

to speak carefully when commenting on the campaign.

 

5. (C) Strive Masiyiwa was much more cautious about the

Makoni candidacy, questioning whether Makoni has support on

the ground. He noted that Makoni does not have any “foot

soldiers” to campaign for him, and thus limited ability to

communicate with the man on the street, many of whom are

deeply suspicious of Makoni due to his long association with

President Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Both Masiyiwa and Ncube agreed

that Makoni’s candidacy has divided ZANU-PF, including the

security structures. While no one knows the exact extent of

the division, Ncube said it is “extensive.” This division

has created tension, distrust, and even paranoia within

ZANU-PF.

 

 

PRETORIA 00000418 002.2 OF 003

 

 

—————————

Complicated Ties to Mujurus

—————————

 

6. (C) Ncube and Masiyiwa provided differing accounts of the

relationship between Makoni and ZANU-PF heavyweight retired

General Solomon Mujuru. Ncube claimed that Makoni decided to

run for president without Mujuru’s blessing. Now that Makoni

is “gathering momentum,” Mujuru has begun quietly supporting

him, but many core Makoni supporters resent Mujuru’s late

conversion. Mujuru is a controversial figure in ZANU-PF and

could even become a negative factor in the Makoni campaign.

 

7. (C) Masiyiwa, on the other hand, said that Mujuru and

former Home Affairs Minister Dumisa Dabengwa created the

“Makoni project” as a means to get rid of Mugabe. Dabengwa

will publicly endorse Makoni in the coming days, which will

be “symbolically powerful” and will bring the former ZAPU

leadership firmly behind Makoni. Masiyiwa helped organize a

meeting in Johannesburg between Dabengwa and MDC leader

Morgan Tsvangirai (ref C), a potentially important bridge

between Makoni and the MDC. According to Masiyiwa, Mujuru

will never publicly back Makoni. Mujuru is essentially a

“mafia boss,” and Mugabe could simply threaten to arrest

Mujuru if he got out of line. Masiyiwa also questioned the

conventional wisdom that Mujuru controls much of the

military, noting that Mujuru has been out of uniform for some

16 years and may not have as much influence as experts

believe.

 

—————————————

Alliance between Tsvangirai and Makoni?

—————————————

 

8. (C) Both Ncube and Masiyiwa believed it was still possible

for Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai to form an alliance

before the presidential elections on March 29 — or perhaps

for a second round of elections if no one candidate receives

50 percent plus of the vote (a prospect both Ncube and

Masiyiwa thought likely). Ncube, a harsh Tsvangirai critic,

argued that the MDC-Tsvangirai has been “seriously weakened”

by its failure to reunite with the MDC-Mutambara faction, and

that Tsvangirai has no more than 20 percent support in the

country. Tsvangirai is under significant pressure, even

“rebellion,” from within his own party. Masiyiwa said that

both Makoni and Tsvangirai are still sizing up their support,

but at the appropriate time in the next couple weeks, he

expected — and would in fact help ensure — that the two

would meet and discuss forming a coalition. Masiyiwa floated

the idea of Makoni serving as Prime Minister and head of

government, while Tsvangirai would become president and head

of state.

 

—————-

Rigged Election?

—————-

 

9. (C) Asked about the possibility that Mugabe would rig the

election to ensure he received 51 percent of the vote, Ncube

and Masiyiwa noted that the “people who did the rigging last

time” are now divided between Mugabe and Makoni (Masiyiwa

even joked that one CIO contact expressed concern that Makoni

could steal the election from Mugabe!). Ncube said you

cannot rule out the impact of fear and intimidation from

Mugabe’s thugs, but that there were “competing forces at

work.” Blatant rigging might not be accepted by the young

people, Ncube observed, noting that many youth were

frustrated when they were unable to register to vote.

Qfrustrated when they were unable to register to vote.

Masiyiwa is helping the MDC set up an “anti-rigging unit”

that hopefully will help reduce the amount of electoral theft.

 

10. (C) The MDC does not have a clear plan for the “day

after” the election, Masiyiwa said. The party is beginning

to hold those discussions, but remains committed to

non-violence. Tsvangirai is concerned that post-electoral

protests could spin out of control. Masiyiwa has recommended

to the MDC that they view the election as part of the process

of de-legitimizing Mugabe — shrinking his international

support base to a couple countries in the region like Namibia

and Angola. Masiyiwa wants as many regional observers and

journalists as possible in Zimbabwe to witness the election.

He and others are urging the South African Communist Party

(SACP) and trade union federation COSATU — both sympathetic

 

PRETORIA 00000418 003.2 OF 003

 

 

to the MDC — to send observers through the ANC and South

African Government delegations.

 

—————

Economic Crisis

—————

 

11. (C) Concluding, Masiyiwa expressed concern about

spiraling inflation and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe is continuing to print and spend money in advance of

the election, creating a “roaring monster.” “We have talked

about the economy” for a long time, Masiyiwa said, but this

time there “may be no more room” for collapse.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

12. (C) Simba Makoni’s presidential bid has created

excitement among the well-educated Zimbabwean diaspora in

South Africa. Many, like Trevor Ncube, are supporting Makoni

and are likely contributing resources to his campaign. A

significant number of the elite and successful Zimbabweans

dismiss Morgan Tsvangirai as ineffective, uneducated and

incapable of ruling Zimbabwe, and see Makoni as the best hope

for change in Zimbabwe. Others, like Strive Masiyiwa,

continue to back the MDC and Tsvangirai, and Tsvangirai

retains strong support among the working class and poor

Zimbabwean exiles in South Africa. We expect few Zimbabweans

living in South Africa, estimated between one to three

million, will return to Zimbabwe to vote in the March 29

elections, although their financial resources, international

connections, and ties to family members may make them an

influential factor in Zimbabwean politics.

BOST

(16 VIEWS)

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