ZANU-PF had three options after its 2008 defeat


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The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front had three options after its 29 March 2008 election defeat, according to a cable released by Wikileaks.

First, it could declare that President Robert Mugabe had won the election and declare a state f emergency if necessary but this would have required an obvious falsification of results.

This would have been unacceptable even to the Southern African Development Community.

Second it could negotiate an exit for Mugabe with the formation of a government of national unity headed by Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabe was ready to accept this but some of his inner circle, including defence forces chief Constantine Chiwenga, were insecure about their security and financial future and vetoed this option.

Lastly the party could go for a runoff and this was the option it chose but it had to make sure that Mugabe would win the election so it embarked on massive violence especially in the previous ZANU-PF strongholds.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE367, ZIMBABWE STATE OF PLAY–NO LIGHT AT THE END OF THE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE367

2008-04-24 12:30

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO0304

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0367/01 1151230

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 241230Z APR 08 ZDK NUM SVC

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2831

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1952

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2074

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0629

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1351

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1708

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2130

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4561

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1209

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HARARE 000367

 

SIPDIS

 

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (ZDK NUM SVC)

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR S. HILL

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/24/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE STATE OF PLAY–NO LIGHT AT THE END OF THE

TUNNEL

 

REF: HARARE 337 AND PREV.

 

HARARE 00000367 001.2 OF 004

 

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Katherine Dhanani for reason 1.4

(d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) The exuberance that greeted election returns over

three weeks ago has given way to despair and fear among many

in the wake of a seemingly interminable delay in announcement

of election results and ZANU-PF orchestrated and pervasive

violence. While regional and international focus has been on

recounting in 23 constituencies and the announcement of

results, most important now is an end to violence. Without

this, there is no clear path to either of the two most likely

scenarios: a runoff election or a government of national

unity (GNU). The MDC has indicated it will not contest

elections when its supporters are being beaten and worse by

ruling party gangs; neither can it be expected to negotiate a

GNU with ZANU-PF while that party is orchestrating mayhem.

While the idea of a GNU has been floated by ZANU-PF,

negotiation of such an agreement would not be easy. ZANU-PF

and Mugabe would want a GNU on their terms, maintaining power

as the dominant partner. The MDC, having won the election,

would understandably be adverse to allow Mugabe to remain in

power and for ZANU-PF to play the dominant role in

government.

 

2. (C) The fact that ZANU-PF is even discussing a GNU is a

reflection that many in the party do not see a way out of the

current crisis; it is also due to increasing pressure from

the region. It is crucial that the international community

in general and the region in particular, continue to apply

pressure for an end to violence and an adherence to

constitutional processes. It is also important that MDC

leaders, who have been outside of Zimbabwe for a considerable

time, return to lead the party and provide focus on the

events ahead. END SUMMARY.

 

——————————————— —

The Election Aftermath and the ZANU-PF Calculus

——————————————— —

 

3. (C) ZANU-PF’s apparent intent going into the March 29

elections was to open up democratic space and allow an

election that many would consider free and fair. ZANU-PF

hoped in this way to secure legitimacy. Thus, it permitted

the MDC to campaign with some access to media and allowed

some international observers (primarily SADC). There was

little to criticize on voting day itself which our observers

and others said went relatively smoothly. ZANU-PF

miscalculated, however, the degree of discontent in the

country and the willingness of many of its former supporters

to defy party and traditional leaders to vote for the MDC.

Thus it was clear soon after March 29 voting that the party

had lost its parliamentary majority and that MDC leader

Morgan Tsvangirai had won more votes than President Robert

Mugabe. (COMMENT: Although the MDC and Tsvangirai claim he

won an outright majority, we have no hard evidence on this.

END COMMENT.)

 

4. (C) We understand from numerous conversations that in the

10 days or so after the election ZANU-PF considered several

options. First, was a declaration that Mugabe had won and a

state of emergency if necessary, but this would have required

an obvious falsification of electoral results and would have

been unacceptable even to SADC. Second, was a negotiated

exit for Mugabe and a GNU headed by Tsvangirai. Mugabe may

have been amenable to this according to both ZANU-PF and MDC

 

HARARE 00000367 002.2 OF 004

 

 

sources, but some in his inner circle, including Defense

Forces Chief Constantine Chiwenga, were insecure about their

security and financial futures, and vetoed this approach.

 

5. (C) The last option, ultimately adopted, was a runoff

election, as mandated by the Electoral Act. ZANU-PF then,

stung by the election results and determined that it would

not lose again and give up power, apparently decided to

create conditions that would make a victory inevitable.

Military units were deployed to rural areas as a symbol of

strength and as a means of intimidation. And the party

structures in key provinces–Mashonaland East, Central, and

West; Manicaland; and Masvingo–unleashed youth militia and

war vets in an orchestrated and systematic reign of terror

against opposition (mostly MDC) supporters. The goal was to

create an atmosphere of fear so that in a runoff election,

many of those who voted for Tsvangirai and the MDC on March

29 would vote for ZANU-PF, or would not vote.   While the

actual numbers of victims of abduction, beating, and rape are

limited, the effect of course has been widespread.

 

6. (C) We believe the original delay in announcing results

was aimed at giving ZANU-PF time to consider options. After

having apparently decided on a runoff election, further delay

occasioned by recounting allowed ZANU-PF to initiate and

continue its campaign of violence. The combination of the

delay and violence has, in addition to fear, caused many

Zimbabweans to doubt that there can be a fair electoral

outcome.

 

——————

The MDC’s Response

——————

 

7. (C) The MDC initially announced that, based on its

electoral analysis, Tsvangirai had won and there was no need

for a runoff election. MDC leaders added, however, that if

official results showed Tsvangirai had not received a

majority, he would contest a runoff under protest.

 

8. (C) As violence escalated, the MDC national council voted

to boycott the election and Tsvangirai told regional leaders

that he would not participate as violence and intimidation

made chances of a fair election impossible. In his talks

with these leaders, Tsvangirai has urged UN and AU

intervention to deal with the crisis. Tsvangirai also

addressed the April 13 SADC Summit in Lusaka.

 

9. (C) Tsvangirai is coming under increasing criticism from

his supporters, allies, and from civil society, for remaining

outside the country at a time of crisis and at a time when

MDC supporters are being attacked. Momentum from the March

29 results has dissipated. There is little internal

leadership with Tsvangirai and secretary general Tendai Biti

gone for the last two weeks; MDC supporters are unaware of

the MDC’s strategy and are becoming despondent. Apart from

international intervention to end the violence, Tsvangirai

and the MDC have not articulated what they see as the

resolution of the crisis. Is it an internationally

supervised election or a negotiated GNU? This is not clear.

 

————-

Toward a GNU?

————-

 

10. (C) With the crisis deepening, we understand some

regional leaders have urged consideration of a GNU. The

government newspaper The Herald carried an op-ed April 23

suggesting a GNU, albeit with Mugabe remaining in power

during a transitional period and a lifting of western

sanctions. (NOTE: The Herald later in the day pulled the

 

HARARE 00000367 003 OF 004

 

 

op-ed from its website and a government spokesman denied the

government was considering a GNU. END NOTE.) A business

source with strong ties to the ruling party told us Mugabe

insiders Nicholas Goche, Patrick Chinimasa, and Emmerson

Mnangagwa were now interested in a GNU with an interim leader

other than Mugabe. Last week, Simba Makoni suggested a GNU

to the Ambassador (Reftel). And regional leaders have

suggested a coalition government may be the best way out of

the crisis, most recently yesterday the ANC’s Jacob Zuma.

 

11. (C) The ZANU-PF interest in a GNU appears to be the

result of several factors. First, Mugabe and his party have

always been able to shrug off western criticism by noting

support from SADC and the region. Of late, however, SADC and

the region have demonstrated their unease with the current

situation. The fact that the April 13 Summit was called was

a clear signal. The Summit implicitly criticized the

electoral process by calling for enhanced participation by

party agents and observers in future electoral processes.

Despite South African president Thabo Mbeki’s proclamation

that there was no crisis, ANC president Jacob Zuma and COSATU

pointedly said otherwise. Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa

opined that the Chinese ship with armaments destined for

Zimbabwe should not be allowed to dock and offload in

neighboring countries. Secondly, ZANU-PF is now aware of its

lack of support and party insiders realize the party could

lose a runoff election. Thirdly, another election would be

expensive and logistically difficult. Finally, many in

ZANU-PF realize that under present circumstances it is

incapable of governing and turning around the economy.

 

12. (C) Whether ZANU-PF is serious about negotiating a GNU

is as of now subject to serious question. Goche, Chinimasa,

and Mnangagwa represent one power center, Reserve Bank

Governor Gideon Gono another, and the military, particularly

Defence Chief Chiwenga, a third. Finally, it is unlikely any

deal can be negotiated without the assent of Mugabe, and his

feelings on the matter are not known.

 

13. (C) As highlighted in The Herald op-ed, ZANU-PF believes

it should dominate a GNU.Q+l}QU~ppression and

violence over the years. We expect a GNU to be a continuing

subject of discussion both in Zimbabwe and among regional

leaders, but as of now the concept should be viewed with at

least a dose of skepticism.

 

————–

FINAL COMMENTS

————–

 

14. (C) Both apparent options are fraught with problems. A

runoff election at this time cannot be free and fair. Yet if

the MDC boycotts, ZANU-PF will proclaim victory and the MDC

will be forced to attempt negotiations from a weaker position

than it occupies now. A GNU appears difficult to achieve

unless ZANU-PF and the MDC agree to make concessions they are

not now willing to make.

 

15. (C) Perhaps most important is for Tsvangirai to return

to Zimbabwe and, with Simba Makoni, Arthur Mutambara, and

others, establish a united front and coordinate strategy:

Will they participate in elections and, if so, under what

conditions? An immediate end to violence, space to campaign,

and pre-electoral international observers? Or do they want

to pursue a GNU, and if so, under what conditions?

 

16. (C) Finally, the situation on the ground has

dramatically changed. The March 29 elections went relatively

 

HARARE 00000367 004 OF 004

 

N

(23 VIEWS)

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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.

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