The following month MDC national campaign coordinator Ian Makone said the party’s election strategy for 205 had four pillars: pressure for free and fair elections; preparation for the elections; campaigning; and securing the vote but he added that “International Republican Institute representatives who were working with the party were disappointed not to see more visible activism”.
When the MDC lost the 2005 elections dismally and challenged some of the results, the US embassy in Harare disclosed that the electoral challenges were being part funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a government agency. The court challenges also included the 2002 presidential election results which Tsvangirai lost but claimed they had been rigged.
After the MDC split in 2006, the two organisations were also said to be working with Arthur Mutambara’s faction to arrange meetings for Mutambara and his colleague David Coltart during their visit to Washington.
In the 2008 elections, which the MDC won, one of the key advisors of Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC, Kathi Walthers, was said to be a former consultant of the IRI.
She was responsible for helping to set up an anti-rigging platform in Johannesburg together with Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa but it flopped.
The party, however, beat the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front and Tsvangirai also beat President Robert Mugabe in the first round though the delayed results showed that he had not won an outright victory necessitating a run-off from which Tsvangirai pulled out after massive violence in the run-up to the run-off.
The most damning report on how the MDC and IRI were working together was stated by IRI country director for Zimbabwe Djordje Todorovic when he moved to South Africa in 2008. He described the MDC as movement which would collapse as soon as Mugabe left the scene.
He also made a scathing attack at some of the MDC senior officials whom he said were only interested in money.
When Tsvangirai became Prime Minister of the inclusive government, the two organisations hosted a dinner for him in June 2009.
Recently after Emmerson Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe, a senior official of the IRI, Elizabeth Lewis told the United States congress that sanctions were the only weapon that the United States had to force the new administration of Emmerson Mnangagwa to implement democratic reforms and respect human rights and freedoms.
She also lamented divisions within the Movement for Democratic Change.
“The importance of a viable opposition capable of competing in the electoral process cannot be understated. A critical benchmark in achieving this is the prevention of a supermajority in the Zimbabwean National Assembly – which ZANU-PF currently has – to prevent further amendments to the 2013 Constitution that would restrict political space and fundamental freedoms or grant additional powers to the presidency,” she said.