Tsvangirai cries fraud


Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai who had been upbeat at the start of the 2005 elections was downbeat when the results started coming in though his party had won 28 of the 32 announced results.

He said the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front had manipulated the votes in the rural areas and had stolen the elections.

The MDC leader called on Zimbabweans to defend their vote but stopped short of calling for mass action.

Tsvangirai had stated before the elections that the MDC’s plan B, if it lost the elections, was to cry fraud and call on the region and the international community not to recognise the illegitimate elections.


Full cable:


If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID






2005-04-01 12:43

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 000492




E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/01/2015





Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Dell

Reason 1.4(b)






1. (C) Summary: Early election returns show that the MDC

has won 28 of the first 32 announced seats. However, almost

all of these wins were in urban areas, taking all 7 seats in

Bulawayo and 16 of 17 announced in Harare. Despite the early

official results, MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai was

downbeat in both his discussion with the Ambassador and in

his mid-morning press conference, alleging fraud and implying

that ZANU-PF had manipulated the vote in rural areas. He

predicted a “status quo” result when all of the seats are

counted. Others predict that the MDC may lose its

constitutional blocking minority in Parliament.


2. (C) Tsvangirai publicly called on the people of Zimbabwe

to “defend their vote,” but stopped short of calling for mass

action. In their private conversation, the Ambassador made

clear that Washington would have to determine whether and how

the U.S. could support an eventual civil disobedience

campaign. Turnout figures are incomplete, but appear to be

less than 40 percent and marked by high levels of rejected

voters, 10 percent nationwide, which appears to have been a

deliberate ZANU-PF tactic to deny MDC votes. Embassy and

independent observers noted other instances of intimidation

and potential fraud, especially in rural areas, that support

Tsvangirai’s claims. End Summary.








3. (SBU) As of noon local time, the Zimbabwe Electoral

Commission has called 28 of 32 early races in favor of MDC

candidates. The MDC took all 7 seats in Bulawayo, with their

candidates averaging around 80 percent of the vote. In

Harare, the MDC took 16 of 18 seats. One seat,

Tafara-Mabvuku, is still pending, while ZANU-PF candidate

Hubert Nyanhongo upset MDC candidate James Mushonga in Harare

South by about 800 votes out of over 22,000 cast. Contests

were generally tighter in Harare than Bulawayo, with several

ZANU-PF candidates claiming over a third of the vote. MDC

candidates also have won the urban districts of Mutare

Central, Mutare North, and Masvingo Central. The other three

announced ZANU-PF victories are in largely rural







4. (C) MDC head Morgan Tsvangirai called the Ambassador

Friday morning to discuss early election results and the

party’s next steps. A downcast Tsvangirai said despite the

promising early results, the trend appeared to be toward the

status quo. He said the MDC had expected to do well in the

urban constituencies. However, early returns from Masvingo

seemed to indicate that the party had failed to achieve the

hoped for breakthrough in that province. He said fraud was

the key factor. In Manyame constituency in Mashonaland West,

for instance, the original Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC)

voter count yesterday had 14,812 voters. However, today’s

official results had over 23,000 voters, with the seat going



5. (C) Tsvangirai said there were no results as yet from

the other principal battleground, Midlands province, but if

the same trend were seen there, it would be very difficult

for the MDC to get to its goal of 61 seats, a majority of the

contested seats. Tsvangirai told the Ambassador that he

hoped to build momentum among MDC supporters to challenge the

official results. The Ambassador asked if Tsvangirai judged

a civil disobedience campaign could succeed. A seemingly

dispirited Tsvangirai responded that he was unsure but that

the MDC needed to try. When asked if the U.S. would support

such a campaign, the Ambassador repeated his message of

Wednesday night: he could make no commitments without

Washington’s approval.








6. (SBU) At 1100 local time, Tsvangirai held a press

conference at MDC Headquarters in Harare and publicly accused

the GOZ and the ZANU-PF party of stealing the elections. He

noted the discrepancies in Manyame and said the MDC had clear

evidence of similar fraud in many constituencies, especially

rural ones. He cited a number of constituencies that ZANU-PF

had “stolen:” namely Hwedwa, Beitbridge, Chimanimani,

Chipenge North, and Chegutu. Tsvangirai rejected criticism

of MDC’s decision to participate in an unequal election,

saying it had been the “people’s choice” that MDC run. He

noted the high percentage of rejected voters nationwide and

called on the people of Zimbabwe to “defend their vote.”

However, he declined to go as far as to call for mass action,

saying simply that he had a “plan,” and that it would not be

the failed legal route the MDC had followed after the 2000



——————————————— —-


——————————————— —-


7. (SBU) Although figures are incomplete, turnout

nationwide appears to have been low. The most recent figures

for 6 available provinces show turnout at 39 percent with

Bulawayo at just 31 percent. This low turnout appears to be

partly a reflection of an inflated voter roll. However, it

also reflects the high percentage of rejected voters, which

the ZEC acknowledged averaged 10 percent nationwide. ZESN,

Embassy and EU observers noted that in some areas, MDC

strongholds and close seats, the rejection rate was 20 to 25

percent. Most voters were rejected because, due to

redistricting, they had tried to vote in the wrong

constituency and no longer appeared on the voter rolls.

These individuals were unable to cast a ballot.


8. (SBU) Most Embassy and ZESN observers said polling

appeared to be calm and orderly. However, there has been a

growing number of reported cases of intimidation at or around

polling stations the day after the election:


–MDC Acting Elections Director Lucia Matibenga said there

were instances of MDC polling agents being harassed, and that

the party was looking into claims of violence in rural areas.


–A Canadian observer said he saw men who appeared to be

police officers taking names of voters outside a station in

Zvimba (Mashonaland West).


–In Kadoma, Embassy observers noted that three stations had

tables outside the 100 meter perimeter manned by unidentified

individuals who asked voters for their names and ID numbers

and had papers with constituents’ names. Polling officials

said the tables were outside their jurisdiction.


–At a station in Manicaland, Embassy observers noted a stack

of mealie meal about 100 meters from the polling station.

They were told that the Grain Marketing Board was

distributing it, but while no official from the Board was

present, the presiding election official repeatedly walked

back and forth to the stack.


–In Mt. Darwin South, Embassy observers spoke with the local

MDC candidate, who told them that ZANU-PF incumbent-and

well-known thug-Saviour Kasukwere had been intimidating

voters, and had threatened kombi drivers into not

transporting MDC polling agents into the field. Embassy

observers also saw a local headman, who also happened to be

the ZANU-PF polling agent, being given a copy of the voter







9. (C) The MDC’s growing momentum and the Zimbabwean

people’s yearning for change may have been thwarted yet

again. That said, we are skeptical that Tsvangirai’s Plan B

will have much resonance given a “status quo” result. We

have argued all along that given the prevailing conditions,

such a result is a victory for the MDC. Instead of crumbling

under ZANU-PF’s onslaught of the past five years, and despite

the highly uneven electoral playing field, the party will

have held its ground. Moreover, whether the MDC gets 51 or

61 seats doesn’t alter the fundamental post-election reality.

They will have prevented a two-thirds ZANU-PF majority and

set the table for renewed intra-party talks on the

Constitution. A more dire prediction, from the UK Embassy,

is that the MDC will end up with fewer than 51 seats and will

lose its ability to block constitutional change. In any

event, we will need to put the pressure on President Mugabe

to recognize the MDC as a legitimate and permanent part of

Zimbabwe’s political landscape and to negotiate accordingly.




Don't be shellfish... Please SHARETweet about this on Twitter
Share on Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Email this to someone
Print this page

Like it? Share with your friends!

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.


Your email address will not be published.