MDC robbed again


That was the general feeling as it emerged that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, which was supposed to be in for a surprise in the 2005 parliamentary election, had garnered 59 percent of the vote and was heading for a two-thirds majority.

One prediction was correct though. Former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo had won his Tsholotsho seat as an independent candidate.

While there was widespread talk of fraud, even the United States embassy admitted that specific evidence might only come out later.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2005-04-02 12:47

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 000502




E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2015






Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell

Reason 1.4(b)






1. (C) Nearly complete results show ZANU-PF cruising to an

overwhelming win in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections amid

mounting (and credible) allegations of fraud by the MDC and

civil society. With five seats remaining to be announced,

ZANU-PF has taken 74 and the MDC 40, with one independent

also winning. Evidence of electoral fraud is growing, but

specific evidence is unlikely to come in from the field until

next week. Next steps for the MDC and civil society are

uncertain. The MDC party leadership is apparently leaning

toward a conservative approach in confronting the government,

although senior leaders are meeting the afternoon of April 2

to discuss other options. As expected, the SADC and South

African Government observer missions have blessed the poll.

End Summary.






2. (SBU) Zimbabwe Electoral Commission results as of 1300

local time show that ZANU-PF candidates have won 74 seats

nationwide and the MDC 40. Former Information Minister

turned independent candidate Jonathan Moyo won the

Matabeleland North seat of Tsholotsho. Five seats have not

yet been announced — four ZANU-PF held seats around Gokwe in

Midlands, and the MDC seat of Binga in Matabeleland South.

Curiously, the state-owned Herald newspaper announced in its

morning edition that ZANU-PF had taken 81 seats to 38 for the

MDC. A contact at the Japanese Embassy told Emboffs that the

Zimbabwean Embassy in Tokyo had relayed their Foreign

Ministry those numbers last night. The percentage of the

vote count nationwide runs 59 percent for ZANU-PF and 40

percent for the MDC, as compared to roughly 48 percent a

piece in the badly tainted 2000 elections.


3. (SBU) An analysis of the results shows a crushing defeat

for the opposition, particularly outside its urban bastions.

Should they win Binga but lose the four Gokwe seats (a likely

result), they will have lost 16 seats from their 2000 total

of 57. More significantly, the party will have been denied

every rural constituency outside of Matabeleland. MDC

candidates won only one seat in the three ZANU-PF-dominated

Mashonaland provinces, a peri-urban seat, seldom garnering

more than a third of the vote. Most disappointingly, the

party performed poorly in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces,

where they considered many seats up for grabs. Furthermore,

several senior party incumbents lost their seats, including

Evelyn Masaiti, Renson Gasela, and Paul Themba Nyathi.






4. (C) As disappointing as the election results are to the

MDC what may be worse is how they lost. This will mark the

third election in a row that ZANU-PF has stolen. Allegations

of electoral misconduct continue to mount, both from the MDC

and the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN).

An American consultant who has been working with ZESN told

us that the network is likely to make a statement soon about

the conduct of the polls, which will likely emphasize the

exceedingly unlevel playing field, the high number of

rejected voters (noted in Reftel), and in particular the

opacity of the tabulation process.


5. (C) Early analysis seems to indicate that a great many

rejected voters were either young (youth heavily supports the

MDC) or lived in MDC-controlled areas. In seven

constituencies thus far, the number of rejected voters is

higher than the margin of victory. The American consultant

said the opacity of the tabulation process appears to have

been a deliberate attempt by ZEC and the government to

prevent any sort of parallel vote count from emerging, as

well as the vehicle for manipulating the official data.

Contrary to provisions of the Electoral Act, relatively few

polling stations posted their numbers after the counting was

complete. In addition, many observers were not allowed to

leave their polling stations until very early Friday morning,

after the official results had been announced, and were not

allowed to phone in their observations. Finally, Embassy

observers have heard several reports of MDC polling agents

not being allowed to witness the count, and some within the

MDC believe there may have been ballot stuffing at these


6. (C) As reported reftel, in several constituencies, such

as Manyame, there were turnout numbers announced by the ZEC

Thursday evening that were much lower than those announced on

Friday. Shifting the tabulation paradigm from “flawed” to

“fraudulent,” however, may prove difficult for both ZESN and

the MDC, absent their own parallel vote counts. ZEC has been

slow to release their final results by polling station, but

neither organization has been able to take advantage and

counter with their own figures. In coming days, we expect

the MDC to produce figures to back up their claims, possibly

pointing to landslide ZANU-PF results at stations where their

agents were not allowed to witness the count. However, the

delay in getting this information to the public could prove

fatal to their efforts to spark public outrage.





7. (C) Senior MDC leaders are meeting at the moment to

discuss the party’s next steps in the wake of the result.

David Coltart, a reelected MP and senior party official, told

Emboffs in Bulawayo that the senior leadership is leaning

toward a “conservative” approach to confronting the regime,

and he noted that some party structures — and youth in

particular — have been held back from protesting by MDC

leadership. It is unclear, however, what options the party

has at its disposal. Tsvangirai at his press conference

yesterday ruled out a legalistic approach, but also declined

to call for mass action. It appears their “Plan B” was not

well thought out in advance and that by default the party may

have to regroup and start planning for 2008, an approach that

could bring Tsvangirai’s leadership into question.






8. (SBU) As expected, regional observer delegations have so

far blessed the poll result. Head of the SAG delegation,

Labor Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, gave a press conference

this morning at which he stated that the results reflected

the will of the people and praised the conduct of the polls.

The preliminary SADC statement, issued yesterday, also

blessed the polls, although it did note with concern the

large numbers of rejected voters and other opposition







9. (C) Although many more allegations, facts, and figures

are likely to keep coming in for several days, it is clear

that the MDC has again been defrauded in a badly tainted

election and will have few good options to reclama the

result. In fact, it appears that ZANU-PF cheating in this

election was on an even greater scale than in 2000. In any

event, they survived and will remain for the time being the

strongest opposition voice. At this point, the focus must

move to the future, particularly preparing for local council

elections next year and ultimately the presidential poll in

2008. One lesson learned from this election is the

importance of a parallel vote count.


10. (C) For its part, ZANU-PF’s strategy was apparently to

create ballot stuffing and to rely on fraud at higher levels

in the opaque tabulation process. This enabled them, with

the active connivance of the police, to create an orderly,

calm, transparent process at the polls on voting day. The

dirty tricks took place out of sight in the back room

operation and in the years and months befor the campaign



11. (C) We will be assessing the lessons of this poll in

more detail later, but it is already clear that the limited

capacity of ZESN and the MDC to effectively counter ZEC

figures has drastically limited their ability to challenge

the legitimacy of the poll. Preparing polling agents and

observers for 2006 and 2008 is a process that must start

immediately, and with sufficient funding, so that the same

situation does not happen again.



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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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