Mnangagwa tells his supporters violence does not pay


Several Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front leaders, including Emmerson Mnangagwa, were reported to have instructed their local organisers not to use intimidation to elicit votes in the 2005 elections because they had realised that it did not pay.

The United States embassy reached this conclusion in the run up to the 2005 parliamentary elections where there was reduced violence compared to the 2000 elections.

The embassy said one of the factors could be that some members of ZANU-PF had realised that rather than ensuring victory, intimidation may have precipitated a voter backlash in 2000.

Mnangagwa lost the 2000 elections in his urban constituency of Kwekwe to relatively unknown Blessing Chebundo of the Movement for Democratic Change.


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Reference ID






2005-03-25 09:16

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 03 HARARE 000459







E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010








Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d






1. (C) This is the latest in a series of cables post is doing

assessing the legal setting, pre-electoral environment, and

conduct of Zimbabwe,s March 31 parliamentary elections.

According to everyone involved in the election, violence is

much reduced from the 2000 parliamentary and 2002

presidential elections. We are seeing reports of continuing

intimidation and more overt violence may yet escalate in the

campaign,s remaining weeks. However, both sides have

largely adhered to their high-level public declarations of

the need for tolerance and non-violence. There are a variety

of factors that explain this welcome development, including:

regional and international pressure, ZANU-PF infighting and

overconfidence, and the opposition MDC’s late entry into the

race. The relative lack of violence may provide a foundation

for renewed intra-party talks following the election. End




Reduced Violence



2. (C) President Mugabe and other senior GOZ officials have

repeatedly emphasized in public that the March 31

parliamentary elections must be non-violent. At the end of

January, Vice President Joyce Mujuru led a well-publicized

national prayer service for peaceful elections, and most

ruling party candidates have consistently echoed the

leadership’s rhetoric on violence at campaign rallies and

media interviews. The opposition MDC has made similar

appeals for a non-violent election and even the police have

played a constructive role. Police Commissioner Augustine

Chihuri and other senior officials have publicly and

privately reiterated a “zero tolerance” policy toward

political violence.


3. (C) That said, contested Zimbabwean elections have always

engendered violence, leading observers to predict that 2004

would follow the familiar pattern of a rise in

campaign-related violence beginning around October. However,

as the elections on March 31 draw near, the anticipated spike

in violence has not materialized. To be sure, the run-up to

elections has not been without incident. Still, MDC

officials and NGOs such as The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO

Forum agree that violence is much lower now than during the

2000 and 2002 elections (ref A). MDC and NGO contacts

advise, for instance, that “pungwes” — days-long political

indoctrination sessions to which locals were force-marched

and sometimes beaten during past elections — have vanished

from the scene, even in the most remote rural areas.


4. (C) In addition, in many rural and urban areas, the

militia activity of past elections has reportedly noticeably

diminished. One resident from Chitungwiza, a high-density

district on the outskirts of Harare, advised that ruling

party cadres are still coming door-to-door, hectoring locals

to attend ZANU-PF neighborhood rallies, but unlike in the

past locals felt free to ignore them without fear of

retribution. Although the public display of party loyalties

still triggers occasional inter-party violence and

harassment, MDC and NGO contacts and diplomatic observers

around the country report that MDC posters and t-shirts are

evident practically nation-wide, again, in marked departure

from 2000 and 2002.


Intimidation May be Rising



5. (C) During the past two weeks, however, we have received

reports of increasing intimidation in some parts of the

country, particularly in rural and peri-urban areas of

Mashonaland, the center of the country and ZANU-PF,s

&heartland.8 An American legal permanent resident

Zimbabwean visiting his family home in Mashonaland Central,

for example, reported that ruling party elements had been

conducting door-to-door campaigns, telling residents that

translucent ballot boxes would enable local authorities to

see how people voted, and that the “blackboots8 would later

visit those who had voted for the MDC. In meetings on March

17 with Embassy staff, MDC candidates in Mashonaland East

cited similar examples of intimidation. ZANU-PF supporters

had been seen recording the names of those attending MDC

rallies, and voters had been instructed to go to the polls

with their village chief or headman, who would insure votes

went to the ruling party.


6. (C) With less than two weeks to go before the election,

however, many here still fear that the more relaxed

environment represents a ruling party experiment, and that

ZANU-PF may yet unleash violence in areas where its

traditional hold is most tenuous. We have heard reports, for

instance, that some ZANU-PF candidates and local organizers

recognize that the party cannot win without violence in their

constituency, and have been pressing the leadership for more

latitude on intimidation. In that regard, the increasing

reports of escalating intimidation may signal the ruling

party,s return to traditional tactics. Even without further

intimidation and violence, residual fear ) the legacy of

violence in past elections ) remains a very real factor.


Causes of Reduced Violence



7. (C) Several factors help explain the change in Mugabe and

ZANU-PF,s tactics during these elections. Many observers

cite the confidence ) some would say overconfidence ) of

the regime, which seems to believe it can score a victory

without overt violence. By all accounts, years of repressive

tactics have the electorate cowed. To boot, the opposition

MDC observed a conditional boycott of the elections in late

2004 and early 2005, bolstering the ruling party,s sense of

strength. ZANU-PF,s preoccupation with its own internal

politics may also have played a role in reducing violence.

The Tsholotsho affair, an espionage scandal, and divisive

primaries distracted the party from pursuing its usual

heavy-handed tactics, and took some of the focus off the



8. (C) The ruling party,s new non-violent stance is also

central to Mugabe,s attempt to regain legitimacy. The GOZ

can be expected to showcase the reduction in violence to make

its case that it has adhered to the Southern African

Development Community,s (SADC) election principles, even as

its performance has fallen short in many key areas. The

knowledge that he is under close scrutiny by the

international community, especially the U.S. and U.K.,

certainly contributed to Mugabe,s decision to ratchet down

the violence. He seems to have done so as well as part of a

more or less explicit understanding with his SADC neighbors

that this was key to winning their endorsement of the process

and outcome. According to unconfirmed rumors, President

Mbeki told Mugabe that SADC would bless the elections,

regardless of outcome, as long as they were non-violent and

Mugabe will, in turn, point to SADC,s approval as proof of

his mandate.


9. (C) Finally, another factor may have been the assessment

of some in the ruling party that its intimidating tactics,

rather then ensuring victory, may have precipitated a voter

backlash in 2000. Several ZANU-PF MPs have confirmed this to

us, and we have heard numerous reports of MPs, including

Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, who lost his seat in 2000,

instructing their local organizers not to use intimidation to

elicit votes. Whatever the causes, the diminution in

violence this year appears to have given the MDC an opening.

Senior MDC leaders tell us that even a last minute spike in

violence will now be too late to overcome the connection the

party has made with the electorate. They continue to predict

a good electoral showing for their party, which in turn could

spur resumed intra-party talks following the election to

resolve Zimbabwe,s debilitating political crisis.


10. (C) COMMENT. SADC will almost certainly justify its

expected endorsement of the elections largely based on a

comparison to the 2000 and 2002 elections, citing in

particular the much lower levels of violence as &proof8 of

a positive trend. In reply, we will want to emphasize that

the outcome should be judged against the SADC principles and

guidelines (as well as the recommendations of the 2002 South

African national observer team) and not by comparison to

other, even more deeply flawed previous elections. END





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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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