MDC damned if they participate in elections, damned if they don’t


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History has a funny way of repeating itself. This was the situation the Movement for Democratic Change faced eight years ago as the 2005 parliamentary elections approached.

The party was not decided up to December 2004 on whether to participate in the elections which were scheduled for March.

The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front probably aware of the confusion within the MDC had announced the elections more than a year before they were to be held.

History is repeating itself. The MDC which wanted elections within 18 months of the formation of the inclusive government is now backtracking.

ZANU-PF which had argued that the transitional period should be five years has been pushing for elections raising questions as to where it is getting this confidence after its drubbing in 2008.

Commenting on the MDC’s indecision in 2004, the United States embassy said: “Many here, including within the opposition, have criticised the MDC’s indecision over whether to participate in elections, but the party is damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

“Announcing it will participate would confer some degree of legitimacy on the election climate in view of the party’s oft-reiterated pledge that it would not participate until the playing field was levelled.”

Ed: Indeed, it seems we are back to square one again.


Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE2062, MDC DEFERS BOYCOTT DECISION, PARTY CONGRESS

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

04HARARE2062

2004-12-21 08:41

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

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 HARARE 002062

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. NEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/08/2009

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC DEFERS BOYCOTT DECISION, PARTY CONGRESS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d

 

1. (U) In a circular distributed to the diplomatic community

on December 20, the MDC announced that it would defer until

January a decision on whether to participate in the

parliamentary elections scheduled for March. The missive

reported that the party would continue to canvass its

membership on the issue of election participation until early

January. The party’s National Council, its senior

decision-making body, was expected to make a final decision

on whether to participate later that month.

 

2. (SBU) MDC Secretary for Presidential Affairs Gandhi

Mudzingwa confirmed to the Embassy on December 20 a report in

the December 19 edition of the semi-independent Daily Mirror

concerning the MDC’s Party Congress. According to the

article, MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube indicated that

the party would postpone its National Congress until after

the March elections if the party decided to participate in

elections. Ncube added that if the party decided to boycott

the election, it could proceed with the Party Congress in

March after conducting the Women’s and Youth Congresses in

the preceding months.

 

3. (C) COMMENT: Many here, including within the opposition,

have criticized the MDC’s indecision over whether to

participate in elections, but the party is damned if they do,

damned if they don’t. Announcing it will participate would

confer some degree of legitimacy on the election climate in

view of the party’s oft-reiterated pledge that it would not

participate until the playing field was leveled.   Moreover,

participation would raise an outcry among the many within the

party and civil society who want a boycott. A boycott,

however, would risk giving an election sweep to the ruling

party, which could yet garner a sympathetic SADC’s

endorsement by portraying the boycott as unreasonably

obstructionist. Such an outcome conceivably could consign

the MDC to political oblivion. For now, a strategy of

temporizing — consulting with and preparing its membership

for a decision and probing for possible concessions by the

ruling party — may be the best it can do.

DELL

 

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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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