Government was desperate ahead of 2005 elections


The government was so desperate at the beginning of 2004 that it asked the United Nations for assistance to organise the 2005 parliamentary elections.

According to a cable released by Wikileaks key government officials including Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and the Movement for Democratic Change even agreed to have the elections supervised by the UN.

The only objection came from registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede who argued that the government should run the elections in the usual way with only financial assistance coming from the UN.

Even Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was ready for international engagement saying that this had been agreed by the entire cabinet.

The situation was so tense that Namibian President Sam Nunjoma offered to “weigh in” on President Robert Mugabe to find a rapid resolution of Zimbabwe’s political crisis.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2004-01-14 14:23

2011-08-30 01:44


Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000084






E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2014







B. (B) HARARE 47


Classified By: Joseph G. Sullivan for reasons 1.5B and D


GOZ request for UN Election Assistance



1. (C) UN Resrep Victor Angelo told us over lunch Jan 14 that

in response to a written, formal GOZ request for UN

assistance in organizing the 2005 parliamentary elections,

the UN Mission in Zimbabwe has engaged in a series of

consultations with GOZ officials and the opposition MDC.

Angelo said the UN made clear that it would only consider

providing election assistance if the election process were

organized in a free and fair manner and if environmental

impediments to a free election such as the Public Order and

Security Act and the misnamed Access to Information and

Privacy Act were repealed. Angelo said that key GOZ officials

such as Justice Minister Chinamasa and the MDC were united in

calling for UN supervision of the election process. He said

that only election registrar Mudede had argued that the GOZ

should run elections in the usual way (biased and under his

control) with only financial assistance from the UN. Angelo

said noone had yet suggested that the UN should actually

conduct the elections, but there was virtual consensus among

the major parties for a major UN supervisory role in

elections. The MDC had earlier favored elections in 2004, but

now has come to accept a March 2005 election date as most

practical. The UN would also be consulting with South Africa

because of its role in brokering dialogue among the political

parties. The UN was not certain whether elections should be

held after or before implementation of constitutional reforms

discussed in private talks between ZANU and MDC. The

Ambassador pointed out that elections held under the existing

constitution would continue to give the executive all the

power to rule arbitrarily before and after elections. Angelo

maintained a skeptical attitude toward the Mugabe regime’s

willingness to hold a free and fair election, but believed

the UN should deepen its engagement with the GOZ, the MDC and

civil society to help define the steps that must be taken in

what timeframe in order to have an election in which the UN

would assist and the international community would regard as

free and fair. Angelo believed that most GOZ interlocutors,

including Chinamasa, recognized that only a profoundly

different type of election would pass international muster.

He added that Chinamasa was convinced that ZANU-PF would win

such an election easily.


2. (C) Angelo was requesting that the UNDPA Election Unit

send out a small team in early February to engage more

specifically with the GOZ, the MDC and civil society, lay

down markers of what steps would be necessary and then return

to NY without making a commitment to monitor or assist in

elections pending further clear commitment by the GOZ to

conduct free and fair elections and repeal repressive

legislation to create an enabling environment for elections.

Angelo said there was some reluctance in UNDPA to send the

mission out of concern that the GOZ was not serious about

holding free elections and might only be seeking to

manipulate the UN. Angelo asked for US support with UNDPA

for the election sounding mission to be undertaken with all

appropriate caveats that the UN’s eventual willingness to

assist would depend on a firm conviction that the GOZ was

willing to cooperate in holding a free election.


Other Political Developments



3. (C) Angelo said he had been visited this week by the

Namibian Ambassador who said that his President had recently

decided to engage in pressing his longtime ally Mugabe to

resolve the political crisis. Perhaps concerned by

Zimbabwe’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth, President Nujoma

had asked his Ambassador to report personally to him this

week on where the South Africans and the UN were so that

Nujoma could weigh in appropriately with Mugabe in favor of a

rapid resolution of Zimbabwe’s political crisis. The

Namibians would reportedly press for immediate commencement

of formal ZANU-MDC dialogue in order to reach agreement in

the critical six months ahead. (We know from our own contacts

with the Namibians and the MDC that Namibia has in recent

months been pressing the MDC to visit Namibia in order to

brief GON officials.)


4. (C) Angelo said that recent UN meetings with Tanzanian

authorities, including a SYG meeting with President Mkapa,

had been far less encouraging with the Tanzanians merely

repeating GOZ talking points about Western sanctions and

opposition to land reform being responsible for all

Zimbabwe’s problems.


5. (C) Angelo also passed along a “credible” report that

President Mugabe had in recent days sent President Mbeki a

message at wide variance with what he told President Mbeki in

December(ref a); i.e. that Mugabe upon reflection had decided

it would be better for him to stay on as a non-executive

president rather than to leave in 2005. Angelo had no

information on how the South Africans would react to such a



6. (C) Angelo also said that following the Reserve Bank

Governor Gideon Gono’s inaugural address advocating GOZ

reengagement with the international community, including the

Bretton Woods Institutions, Information Minister Jonathan

Moyo told Angelo that this policy of reengagement had been

approved by the entire Cabinet. Angelo said he replied that

reengagement depended on concrete GOZ actions.


7. (C) Comment and Recommendation: While we are as skeptical

as anyone of Mugabe’s intent to permit free and fair

elections, we do believe it useful for the UN elections team

to visit in the near term to help lay out the steps necessary

to create appropriate election conditions. We note that, as

reported ref B, the MDC favors early UN engagement on

defining the conditions and steps necessary for free and fair

elections . Such a UN visit would help build pressure for

creating a level playing field and improving the environment

for elections sooner rather than later. We urge that USUN be

instructed to convey our support for an exploratory UN

election mission to UNDPA.





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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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