Retired army general Solomon Mujuru was taking advantage of the leadership vacuum in Masvingo left by the death of Eddison Zvobgo Snr by fielding military officers, both active and retired, who were loyal to him, according to United States ambassador Christopher Dell.
Dell made the comment after the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change failed to field candidates to contest a by-election in Zaka East because they did not have the resources and there was going to a national election within a few months.
The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front fielded an army colonel Livingstone Chineka who had to retire to contest the seat but was said to be very unpopular in Zaka East.
Chineka was reported to be from the Mujuru faction of ZANU-PF.
Dell said Mujuru seemed to be filling the vacuum left by the death of Zvobgo with military officials loyal to him because before Chineka he had fielded Killian Gwanetsa in the provincial elections.
Viewing cable 07HARARE418, MDC CEDES BY-ELECTION TO ZANU-PF
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RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1602
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RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1427
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000418
AF/S FOR S. HILL
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2017
SUBJECT: MDC CEDES BY-ELECTION TO ZANU-PF
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d
¶1. (SBU) The two factions of the MDC have decided not to
contest the Zaka East Parliamentary By-election on June 9,
virtually ensuring victory for the ZANU-PF candidate, retired
Colonel Livingstone Chineka, who is part of the Mujuru
faction. Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN) said it
plans to test its parallel vote count methodology during the
by-election, with an eye toward next year’s presidential and
parliamentary elections. End Summary.
MDC Bows Out
¶2. (SBU) Both factions of the opposition MDC decided against
contesting the Zaka East Parliamentary By-election on June 9,
almost certainly securing victory for the ruling ZANU-PF
party candidate, retired army colonel Livingstone Chineka.
The MDC factions said their decision was the result of
financial constraints and the fact that the incumbent would
face fresh Parliamentary elections at the start of next year.
ZANU-PF was the only major party to put forward a candidate
at the nomination court for the election to replace Deputy
Minister of Mining Tinos Rusere, who died of kidney failure
on March 1. Candidates from the minor United People’s Party
and the Zimbabwe People’s Democratic Party will run on June 9.
¶3. (SBU) Denford Beremauro, a program manager for local
election observation group ZESN, told poloff on May 14 that
Chineka was deeply unpopular in the constituency and secured
the ruling party’s nomination only after provincial leaders
forced a front-running businessman out of the primary.
Regardless, Beremauro assessed that Chineka would sail to
victory easily against his little-known contenders.
Beremauro added that Chineka retired from the army on May 9
in line with Parliament prohibitions against active duty
officers, and related that within Zaka East Chineka was
widely perceived as a member of Solomon Mujuru’s camp.
Election Observers Further Refine Methods
¶4. (SBU) While the outcome was not in doubt, Beremauro said
that ZESN planned to use the election as another opportunity
to further refine its observation and parallel vote counting
techniques with an eye toward next year’s presidential and
parliamentary elections. ZESN planned to field about 35
observers, using a mix of mobile and static observers, to
cover the 61 polling stations in Zaka East.
¶5. (SBU) Beremauro said ZESN was also conducting voter
education workshops in the constituency and had found a high
degree of interest in the election, especially from youths.
Many workshop participants, however, had expressed concerns
that the voter registration period was too short and that
traditional leaders had refused to issue youths letters
confirming their residency in the constituency ) a
requirement for registration. Meanwhile, other workshop
participants had expressed concern that the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission would not conduct free and fair
elections, and suggested instead that future elections be
overseen by the African Union or UN.
HARARE 00000418 002 OF 002
¶6. (C) Since the death of Eddison Zvogbo Sr. in 2004, there
has been a ZANU-PF leadership vacuum in Masvingo. The vacuum
is being filled by military officers, both active and
retired, with ties to Solomon Mujuru. Chineka’s likely
victory follows that of Colonel Killian Gwanetsa, who won the
province’s last by-election in February. Moreover, the
recently conducted ZANU-PF elections to select the party’s
new provincial executive council ushered a retired major into
the provincial chairmanship.