The United States government, through its international aid agency, poured US$250 000 to South African groups led by the South African Council of Churches and the Institute of Democracy in South Africa to monitor the 2005 parliamentary elections.
The consortium was headed by Reverend Molefe Tsele secretary general of SACC and Paul Graham of IDASA.
Other were members of the consortium were the Catholic Bishops Conference, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.
The group recognised that the elections would not solve Zimbabwe’s fundamental constitutional problems of excessive, unchecked executive power exercised by Robert Mugabe but they felt that their work had begun to generate increased regional civil society interest in Zimbabwe that would extend beyond the March 31 election.
Viewing cable 05HARARE182, SACC AND IDASA READY TO LAUNCH ZIMABABWE ELECTION
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000182
AF/SA D. MOZENA, B. NEULING
AFR/SA P. FLEURET, L. PIERSON, M.COPSON
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE,
PRETORIA FOR T. TRENKLE
¶E. O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SACC AND IDASA READY TO LAUNCH ZIMABABWE ELECTION
¶1. (SBU) One day after the the
Governament of Zimbabwe’s (GOZ)
announcement of March 31 as the date for
general Parliamentary elections, a group
consisting of the South African Council of
Churches (SACC) and the Institute for
Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) quitely
traveled to Harare to finalize plans for
election monitoring. The consortium,
which is operating with USAID funds, is
headed by Reverand Molefe Tsele, Secretary
General of SACC, and Paul Graham,
Executive Director of IDASA. Other South
African members include the Catholic
Bishops Conference (CBC), the Center for
Policy Studies (CPS), and the Institute
for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR).
¶2. (SBU) In meeting with the Ambassador
and USAID staff on February 3rd, the group
laid out a comprehensive plan for election
¶A. (SBU) Five different small delegations
quietly coming to Zimbabwe over the next
four weeks for relatively short periods (3-
4 days each) to assess the overall
electoral environment. These groups will
look at specific sub-sectors of society
including, civil society, the churches,
gender organizations and political
parties. As a result of the recent
expulsion of the Congress of South African
Trade Unions, a group of non-South African
but regional labor organizations may also
visit under the auspices of the SACC/IDASA
¶B. (SBU) Four medium-term monitors will
plan to arrive quietly at the end of
February or early March. They will stay
through the election and travel around the
country. These monitors will be election
specialists from South Africa, Kenya and
Nigeria who have worked in numerous
elections aound Africa.
C.(SBU) Fifty poll watchers will arrive
four to five days before the elections,
consisting of people from all over the
region. The hope is that the SACC and
IDASA consortium will receive official
accreditation, but if not, they will
consider “donating” the poll watchers to
another group that does receive
accreditation or, alternatively, bringing
them into Zimbabwe quietly.
¶3. (SBU) There remains a great deal of
uncertainity regarding how the GOZ will
handle election observation teams as well
as how the official SADC election
observers will be constituted. Reverand
Tsele and Mr. Graham indicated that they
will continue to explore the process for
official accreditation, but remain
flexible to adapt to the evolving
situation. The overall goal of the group
will remain to bring a broad cross-section
of civil society groups from the region
into Zimbabawe to objectively observe the
election environment and inform the
ultimate assessment of whether the
elections are free and fair.
¶4. (SBU) The group recognized that the
elections will not solve Zimbabwe’s
fundamental constitutional problems of
excessive, unchecked executive power
exercised by Robert Mugabe. They,
nontheless, feel that their work has begun
to generate increased regional civil
society interest in Zimbabawe that will
extend beyond the March 31 election.
Hopefully, these regional groups can
continue to exert pressure on SADC
governments to push for democratic change
in Zimbabwe, but, to date, there has been
no evidence that SADC governments are
willing to press the GOZ to mend its ways.
¶5. (SBU) This project is being funded by
a USD 250,000 grant from USAID, using a
combination of funds from the RCSA and the
bilateral mission in Zimbabwe.