An American consultant who was working the with the Zimbabwe Election Supervisory Network during the 2005 elections said the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was likely to win a two-thirds majority in the election- which it eventually did- but the party had probably stolen the election.
He described three ways how the party could steal the election.
The first was the high number of voters that were turned away. About 10 percent of the voters had been turned away which was alarmingly high because the rate for most African countries was two or three percent.
At some polling stations the turn-away figure was as high as 20 percent. The reasons generally offered by polling station officials were: not being on the voter roll, inadequate identification, or presence in the wrong constituency.
Most people were turned away in areas perceived to be Movement for Democratic Change strongholds.
The second was the sudden increase in the number of voters. Several constituencies in the six provinces showed large, and unexplained, increases in the total number of voters. The four seats with the highest increase were all won by ZANU-PF by margins that were less than the additional voters.
The third was the increase in the numbers of registered voters. In several key swing constituencies that went to ZANU-PF, there were very large increases in the number of voters compared to previous elections.
Viewing cable 05HARARE501, INTERIM RESULTS INDICATE NET SHIFT TO RULING PARTY
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 000501
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010
SUBJECT: INTERIM RESULTS INDICATE NET SHIFT TO RULING PARTY
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d
¶1. (C) As of 9:30 p.m. local time, the Zimbabwe Election
Commission (ZEC) had reported 49 seats won by ZANU-PF and 35
seats won by the MDC. More importantly, the results so far
represent a net shift of ten seats to the ruling party’s
favor from the 2000 election. The opposition MDC has also
failed to win a number of seats it expected to take from
ZANU-PF. It is increasingly clear that the results are
fueled by ZANU-PF manipulations of the vote, including:
sudden large increases in registration in contested
constituencies, an extremely high rate of voters turned away
from polling stations on technicalities, and suspicious vote
counts. END SUMMARY.
MDC Early Lead Evaporates
¶2. (C) Latest ZEC reports indicate that ZANU-PF has taken at
least eight constituencies from MDC control ) Chimanimani,
Harare South, Mutare South, Mutasa South, Mutasa North,
Nyanga, Mhondoro, and Chipinge North, the latter of which the
opposition had considered a safe seat. In addition, ZANU-PF
won Bikita West and Insiza, seats that went MDC in 2000 but
were reclaimed by ZANU-PF in violent by-electionS in 2001 and
2003, respectively. The ruling party also took Masvingo
North and the newly created (gerrymandered out of Harare)
Manyame seat in Mashonaland West ) both of which the MDC had
considered as in play. ZANU-PF also took Chipinge South from
ZANU-Ndonga. For its part, the MDC won the Kadoma seat in
Mashonaland West from ZANU-PF and reclaimed the Zengeza
constituency near Harare that it lost in a violent
by-election last year after winning it in 2000.
¶3. (C) An American consultant who has been working with the
neutral Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), which put
over 6000 monitors in the field, told us that based on these
results and other date, ZESN,s current projections were 73
seats for ZANU-PF, 45 for MDC, and two independents, the
latter including controversial former Information Minister
Jonathon Moyo in Tsholotsho. This plus the 30 seats
President Mugabe appoints would give ZANU-PF a 2/3 majority
in Parliament and with it the ability to change the
Three Ways to Steal an Election
High Turn-Away Rate
¶4. (C) The percentage of voters turned away on a national
level ) about 10 percent ) is alarmingly high. The
consultant noted that in other African elections, where
voters typically had to vote at a specific polling station
rather than at any station in a given constituency as in
Zimbabwe, the rate was 2 or 3 percent. In some polling
stations, moreover, the turn-away figure jumped to 20 percent
or more ) typically in heavily contested constituencies.
The reasons generally offered by polling station officials to
Embassy observers ) not being on the voter roll, inadequate
identification, presence in the wrong constituency ) are
associated with numerous GOZ manipulations that disfavored
the opposition: redistricting efforts without informing
voters, lack of adequate GOZ voter education efforts
generally, and the effective disenfranchisement of Zimbabwean
youth (considered likely MDC voters) through onerous proof of
¶5. (C) Further indicating conscious manipulation, Embassy
observers found that the turn-away figure jumped in areas
where the MDC posed the greatest threat. For example, in
Gokwe North, a ZANU-PF stronghold in Midlands, no more than
10 people were turned away at any polling station. However,
in the highly contested constituency of Gokwe Central, about
20 percent were turned away. Figures from within
constituencies show a similar pattern. In Chimanimani, for
example, Embassy observers found the highest turn-away
figures in the neighborhood around imprisoned MDC MP Roy
Bennett’s seized farm.
Sudden Increases in Numbers of Voters
¶6. (C) Vote counts released so far by the ZEC are
undermining confidence in the integrity of the results. In
the wee hours of Friday morning, the ZEC announced total
votes cast in constituencies for six provinces. However, the
announcements suddenly stopped without any explanation, and
no new numbers were ever released for the remaining four
provinces. When official results began to be released later
in the morning, several constituencies in the six provinces
showed large, and unexplained, increases in the total number
of voters. The four seats with the highest increase were all
won by ZANU-PF by margins that were less than the additional
voters. The newly created Manyame seat in Mashonaland West
had the highest increase, 72 percent, and has become exhibit
A in the MDC,s claims of fraud.
Large Increases in Registered Voters
¶7. (C) Other numbers reflect the impact of GOZ efforts to
stock the voter rolls with ruling party support. In several
key swing constituencies that went to ZANU-PF, there were
very large increases in the number of voters compared to
previous elections. Given the high emigration from these
areas over the past several years this strains credulity. In
Bennet,s Chimanimani seat, for example, the number of
ballots cast increased from 20,000 in 2000 to 26,000 this
year. In a striking coincidence, MDC numbers remained flat
in Chimanimani while ZANU-PF’s increased by 6,000, enough to
claim the seat. The sudden increase was reportedly caused in
large part by 4,000 soldiers registering in the constituency.
Other constituencies that experienced inexplicable jumps in
the number of votes cast were Bikita West, Chipinge North,
Bindura, and Marondera East ) all MDC prime targets that
went for the ruling party.
MDC as Yet Unable to Substantiate Fraud
¶8. (C) Complicating the MDC,s efforts to substantiate fraud
is the late start they and ZESN got in conducting parallel
vote counts. The U.S. analyst attributed this to
inexperience and disorganization but said the net result was
that the MDC, despite having multiple polling agents at
virtually every polling station, is days away from being able
to announce alternative vote totals, even for its test case
of Manyame, where the 72 percent discrepancy between the
original vote count and the official results should be easily
exposed by a tallying of all the relevant polling agents’
figures. ZESN is similarly behind in its parallel count,
which would in any event also lack coverage of all polling
¶9. (C) The opposition now appears unlikely to win the 51
seats it will need to thwart the ruling party’s targeted 2/3
parliamentary majority. The MDC continues to talk bravely of
plans to take to the streets but we are increasingly
skeptical that anything will come of it. As reported
earlier, at his morning press conference Tsvangirai declined
an opportunity to call for protests. Moreover, it will
unfortunately take time to substantiate the manner of
ZANU-PF’s rigging, by which time the dust may have settled
politically and left the MDC in a position familiar to it
after apparently stolen national elections in 2000 and 2002.
On a bright note, Tsvangirai has said he will not launch
legal appeals, which should save USAID millions that could be
better spent supporting Mugabe,s democratic opponents.