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Masiyiwa said MDC would win 2008 elections but needed cash

Econet boss Strive Masiyiwa was confident that the Movement for Democratic Change would win the 2008 elections but the party needed US$10 million to run an effective campaign.

He also said the two factions of the MDC must unite so that every vote could count.

Masiyiwa was sceptical that South African president Thabo Mbeki would broker any agreement arguing that he had no leverage over Mugabe because the South African President was “at the weakest point in his presidency”.

He also said he had pulled out of the Zimbabwe Economic Recovery Plan. He, however, said Nkosana Moyo continued to lead the initiative but had told him he did not need his money.

Wellington Chadehumbe who was also linked to the initiative told United States embassy officials that he believed that the tensions between Masiyiwa and Moyo were personal.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 07PRETORIA3721, MASIYIWA SKEPTICAL ON MBEKI ZIMBABWE MEDIATION,

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

07PRETORIA3721

2007-10-23 09:40

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Pretoria

VZCZCXRO6752

RR RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSA #3721/01 2960940

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 230940Z OCT 07

FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2365

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 003721

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR AF/S S. HILL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2017

TAGS: PREL KDEM ZI SF

SUBJECT: MASIYIWA SKEPTICAL ON MBEKI ZIMBABWE MEDIATION,

BUT UPBEAT ON ELECTIONS

 

REF: A. HARARE 935

 

B. PRETORIA 3519

C. PRETORIA 2478

 

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

b) and (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Mugabe is not serious about the SADC/Mbeki

facilitation, according to exiled Zimbabwean businessman

Strive Masiyiwa. Masiyiwa dismissed reports of a MDC-ZANU-PF

agreement on a new constitution (refs A & B), noting that the

two sides reached a similar deal in 2004 that went nowhere.

Nevertheless, Masiyiwa was optimistic that the MDC could win

elections in 2008 if the party raises sufficient funds (he

estimates they need USD 10 million) and runs an effective

campaign. Masiyiwa is urging the two MDC factions to reunite

since every vote could count in a close election. Masiyiwa

is no longer involved in the Zimbabwe Economic Recovery Plan

(ZERP) and believes that the South African Government has

largely taken over (and is funding) the initiative. END

SUMMARY.

 

—————————————

Mbeki Facilitation Achieved Nothing Yet

—————————————

 

2. (C) Exiled Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa, CEO of

Econet Wireless, told PolOff October 18 that the Mbeki/SADC

facilitation in Zimbabwe will achieve “only what Mugabe

wants, and nothing more.” Masiyiwa dismissed reports of an

agreement on a new “compromise” constitution (refs A and B),

saying that ZANU-PF and the MDC initialed a similar document

in 2004. Mugabe killed the deal then and will do the same

thing again. “Call me when Parliament passes the

constitution, then I will believe it.” Mbeki has no leverage

over Mugabe, Masiyiwa argued, especially since the South

African President is “at the weakest point in his presidency.”

 

—————————

Yet MDC Could Win Elections

—————————

 

4. (C) Despite Masiyiwa’s pessimistic view of the Mbeki

facilitation, he believes that the MDC can still win the

March 2008 elections, even if they only have the same

“political space” they had during the 2005 parliamentary

elections. (COMMENT: Masiyiwa is a perpetual optimist and

believed that the MDC would win the 2005 parliamentary

elections. END COMMENT.)

 

5. (C) Analyzing the elections from a business perspective,

Masiyiwa tallies more “assets” than “liabilities” for the

MDC. On the asset side:

 

— the economy continues to deteriorate, creating severe

hardship for the people;

— ZANU-PF is split; and

— Robert Mugabe is 83 years old, and is not the campaigner

he once was.

 

On the liability side for the MDC:

 

— ZANU-PF has the repressive machinery to disrupt the MDC

campaign (although the police and army are much weaker than

in 2005);

— the press is not free; and

— the opposition is split.

 

6. (C) Masiyiwa believes that the MDC can win if it has

adequate funding, speculating that the party would need USD

10 million. He has urged the MDC to plan for a hard-hitting,

aggressive campaign in the eight-week period before the

elections. In past elections, Mugabe has opened the

political environment slightly in this period — or at least

cut back on the violent repression — in part because

regional observers are present in the country.

 

————————-

Elections Likely in March

————————-

 

7. (C) Masiyiwa is convinced that Mugabe will hold elections

in March 2008, despite MDC and other pundits claiming the

elections will likely be postponed. Masiyiwa recounted two

anecdotes to prove his point:

 

— Masiyiwa is part owner of a grocery store chain in

Zimbabwe, as well as the CocaCola Schweppes distributorship.

 

PRETORIA 00003721 002 OF 002

 

 

Senior GOZ officials have pressured the grocery chain and

Schweppes in recent days to “get goods on the shelves” by

early 2007. He takes as a sign that senior ZANU-PF

strategists realize that empty stores present political

difficulties and want to “fix this” before the election

campaign. What they do not seem to realize, Masiyiwa

explained, is that you cannot “snap your fingers” and restart

the supply chain.

 

— A group of “questionable” white South African businessmen

approached Masiyiwa’s cellular phone company to buy

broadcasting bandwidth over Zimbabwe in March. When asked

why, the businessmen said they were acting on behalf of

ZANU-PF and that President Mugabe plans to address rallies

via large-screen televisions since he is not able to move

around the country. While Masiyiwa dismissed the idea as

“hare-brained,” he took it as confirmation that ZANU-PF is

openly planning for a March election.

 

———

MDC Unity

———

 

8. (C) Masiyiwa is encouraging the two MDC factions to

reunite. Even though the Arthur Mutambara-led faction is

nothing more than a “splinter” and has limited support, its

5-10 percent of the total votes could be critical in the

presidential election. The best time for the “reunification”

would be in January, after the ZANU-PF conference — to keep

ZANU-PF focused on its internal divisions — but before March

elections.

 

————-

Brown Misstep

————-

 

9. (C) U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s decision not to

attend the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon was a “major blunder,”

Masiyiwa argued (and he has told this to U.K. High Commission

officials). The hard work that had been done to convince

African leaders that Mugabe was a problem was largely undone

by Brown’s announcement, which forced African leaders to

close ranks behind Mugabe.

 

10. (C) Masiyiwa asked why the Europeans could not have found

“some Spanish judge willing to indict Mugabe”? This would

have scared Mugabe and kept him away from the Portugal

summit, without undermining efforts to isolate Mugabe in

Africa.

 

——————–

SAG Takes Over ZERP?

——————–

 

11. (C) Asked about the Zimbabwe Economic Reconstruction Plan

(ZERP), Masiyiwa said he is no longer directly involved.

(NOTE: Per Ref C, ZERP is an initiative by exiled Zimbabwean

economists and businessmen to plan for Zimbabwe’s economic

recovery once an internationally-acceptable government takes

power. END NOTE.) Nkosana Moyo, the London-based former

Zimbabwean Minister of Industry and Trade, continues to lead

the initiative, but has told Masiyiwa that he “doesn’t need

his money.” Masiyiwa speculated that the South African

Government has essentially taken over ZERP and is funding its

activities. Wellington Chadahumbe, a Johannesburg-based

businessman, told PolOff September 20 that he believed the

tensions between Masiyiwa and Moyo are largely personal.

BOST

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