The Movement for Democratic Change gave the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front an easy victory in Seke raising the number of seats the ruling party held to 67, just two seats short of giving it a two-thirds majority that would enable the party to change the constitution.
ZANU-PF was likely to win another seat left vacant following the death of Eddison Zvobgo.
Although the MDC had boycotted the Seke election because of electoral imbalances, United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell said the decision could have put the party in a fix.
“The failure of MDC to put up a candidate has given the government added material for its rhetoric to domestic and regional audiences that MDC is a spent force afraid even to contest elections,” Dell said.
“More worrisomely, it may also give the ruling party an opening to both criticise the MDC for inconsistency should it later choose to contest elections, including especially the general election in the spring, and to claim that by participating the MDC has endorsed the fairness of the election.”
Viewing cable 04HARARE1520, ZANU-PF WINS SEKE BY-ELECTION THE EASY WAY —
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
091152Z Sep 04
UNCLAS HARARE 001520
AF/S FOR BNEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: ZANU-PF WINS SEKE BY-ELECTION THE EASY WAY —
REF: A. HARARE 1444
¶B. HARARE 1429
¶1. (U) ZANU-PF candidate Phineas Chihota was declared the
winner of the Seke parliamentary by-election on September 3
when no other candidate filed for the seat by that day,s
deadline. The seat had become vacant following the death of
MDC MP Bennie Tumbare-Mutasa in July. ZANU-PF now has 67
seats in parliament, bringing it to within two seats of the
two-thirds majority needed to enact constitutional
amendments. No election has as yet been scheduled to fill
the seat of the recently deceased ZANU-PF MP Eddison Zvobgo
(ref A), a seat ZANU-PF is certain to hold.
¶2. (U) The official Herald newspaper reported on September 8
that the government adopted the draft Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission Bill and plans to gazette it soon. The MDC
continues to maintain that the draft bill does not meet its
requirements for electoral reform (ref B).
¶3. (SBU) COMMENT: This is the first election the MDC has sat
out since declaring it would boycott elections unless
electoral imbalances are addressed. This no doubt seemed to
the MDC a low-risk implementation of the policy, since it was
not likely an MDC candidate would have won the by-election.
However, the failure of MDC to put up a candidate has given
the government added material for its rhetoric to domestic
and regional audiences that MDC is a spent force afraid even
to contest elections. More worrisomely, it may also give the
ruling party an opening to both criticize the MDC for
inconsistency should it later choose to contest elections,
including especially the general election in the spring, and
to claim that by participating the MDC has endorsed the
fairness of the election. Rather than putting pressure on
the ZANU-PF, the MDC may have painted itself into a corner.