ZANU-PF now a minority party


The 2005 parliamentary elections were peaceful because the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front had become a minority party so its supporters did not want to risk provocations.

This was said by Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai at the start of the elections which were generally said to be peaceful.

The MDC was optimistic about winning the elections because of the political space the government had opened and said it was going to win 85 seats and at worst 40.

The United States embassy sent out 24 observer teams while other embassies deployed 20 teams nationwide.

The Zimbabwe Election Supervisory Network deployed 600 monitors at the 8 000 polling stations.


Full cable:


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Reference ID






2005-03-31 14:22

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 02 HARARE 000487




E.O. 12958: DECL: OADR





REASON 1.4 (B)






1. (SBU) Early diplomatic observer reports characterize

Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections as peaceful and orderly

with only isolated reports of government or ruling ZANU-PF

harassment of the opposition MDC. Diplomatic observer teams

are reporting long queues at many polling stations, but

shorter than in the 2000 or 2002 elections. Voters have been

patiently waiting to cast their votes. The one incident to

mar an otherwise smooth opening of the polling is the

reported disappearance of MDC candidate Siyabonga Ncube

(Filabusi constituency in Mtabeleland). We have few details

at this point but expect to know more later in the day.   END




A Quiet Start



2. (SBU) The 24 U.S. Embassy observer teams and around 20

teams from other western embassies deployed nationwide have

reported often sizable lines of Zimbabweans waiting in

orderly queues to cast their vote. As of 1130 local time,

lines in urban areas in Harare, Mutare, and other cities have

generally been between 100-500 voters, with rural areas

reporting queues of considerably less than 100 individuals.

Despite the long lines, observers have reported generally

calm and orderly voting with the size of the queues

decreasing by the hour. By late morning the long lines had

dwindled considerably, in part due to on the spot efforts by

election supervisors to improve their procedures.


3. (SBU) Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials,

presiding officers, and other polling officers were reported

to have largely adhered to the electoral code of conduct,

including requiring the inking of voters’ fingers, sealing

ballot boxes with at least a lock or plastic tie (or both),

and helping voters in need of assistance. Observers in

polling places in Murewa and Masvingo did note high numbers

of assisted voters, up to 40% at one polling station,

although most did appear in genuine need of assistance.

Observers have also noted numerous voters who were turned

away because their names were not on the voter list, possibly

a result of redrawn districts. ZEC officials on multiple

occasions have refused observers’ requests for information on

turnout, although this likely extends from an unfamiliarity

with observers’ rights rather than a concerted campaign to

deny information to the international community.


4. (SBU) Zimbabwe Election System Network (ZESN) monitors

were ubiquitous at most polling places, as were the party

monitors. (N.B. There were 6000 ZESN monitors for the 8000

polling places.) ZESN officials also reported that their

observers’ early impressions were of generally calm voting

with only a handful of exceptions, and no pattern to those.

They did, however, note that their relatively inexperienced

monitors had yet to report any sense of the turnout. In

Mashonaland East, the ZESN provincial coordinator speculated

that the large number of polling places for this election

probably explains the relatively low numbers of voters at

most stations and she thought the overall turnout was high.






5. (SBU) Compared to the 2002 and 2000 elections, reports of

violence are almost non-existent. Most irregularities

reported have been little more than inappropriate questioning

of voters by ZANU-PF members and campaigning near polling

places. Ruling party members in Bindura in Mashonaland

Central province, which has seen long queues of voters,

reportedly have been questioning voters about their selection

and making notations on voter lists. Embassy observers in

Gwanda, near Bulawayo, reported that official MDC observers

were not allowed into the polling place because their names

were not on the proper list; ZANU-PF officials were allowed

into the same station. EU observers noted similar refusals

for MDC officials in a number of polling stations nationwide.


6. (SBU) The most disconcerting report has been the possible

disappearance of MDC candidate Siyabonga Ncube in Filabusi,

near Bulawayo. The constituency went to the MDC in the last

election but has since been gerrymandered by the government

to favor the ZANU-PF candidate and was considered a

“toss-up.” According to MDC officials in the area, ZANU-PF

members on Wednesday evening made “intimidating remarks” to

Ncube. Ncube then left the area, telling party members he

would soon be back, but has not been heard from since. The

MDC’s electoral hotline is reporting the disappearance as a

likely case of government dirty tricks. The MDC is

attempting to verify Ncube,s welfare and whereabouts and has

promised to let us know as soon as he is located.






7. (C) It is still much too early to say whether the MDC’s

forward momentum in recent weeks will translate into election

results. However, the lack of election day hi-jinks by

ruling party members and government security forces is

certainly a positive sign. As Morgan Tsvangirai told the

Ambassador and DCM late on March 30, knowing they are now a

minority party, ZANU-PF supporters do not want to risk





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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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