ZANU-PF opens election space


The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front opened election space in the run-up to the 2005 elections after the Movement for Democratic Change had indicated that it would boycott the poll. 

Registrar-general Tobaiwa Mudede gave the MDC an electronic copy of the voters’ roll to enable the party to examine it and prepare for the elections if it decided to participate.

The government also publicly stated that it would give the MDC greater access to the media which was virtually controlled by the State.

Talks about coming up with a new constitution which would see the reintroduction of a bicameral house and the abolition of presidentially appointed seats that were being carried out by ZANU-PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa and MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube were, however, cut off.

Full cable:



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Reference ID 





2004-09-17 08:17


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 001562 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/16/2009 
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.5 b/d 
1. (C) SUMMARY: MDC Secretary for Presidential Affairs 
Gandhi Mudzingwa told poloff on September 14 that the party 
was finding it easier to conduct rallies around the country, 
although no-go areas remained. In a surprise move, Mudzinga 
said Election Registrar General Mudede had agreed to share 
with the MDC an electronic copy of the voter rolls, which 
would facilitate the party,s preparations for the national 
parliamentary elections should they choose to participate. 
Finally, the GOZ has suggested publicly that it would take 
measures to afford the opposition greater access to the state 
media, a development Mudzingwa said the party planned to 
exploit. END SUMMARY. 
Party Rallies 
2. (C) Mudzingwa reported that MDC President Morgan 
Tsvangirai and other party leaders had conducted successful 
rallies during the past week in Harare, Gweru, and other 
locales. Additional rallies were scheduled soon in Bulawayo, 
Mutare, and Masvingo. After denying MDC public meeting 
applications for weeks, police had granted the party blanket 
authority to hold rallies in Manicaland for a month. 
(Comment: Contentious territory dominated by the MDC in the 
last parliamentary elections, Manicaland this year has seen 
concerted ruling party efforts to suppress the opposition, 
including the violent seizure of MDC MP Roy Bennett,s farm 
and the forcible eviction of the MDC mayor of Mutare from his 
office. End comment.) 
3. (C) Mudzingwa went into detail on the party,s experience 
in Hwedza, a fairly remote venue in rural Mashonaland East, 
as representative of the improved but still mixed treatment 
the party was getting from authorities. When a regional 
party representative pursued a permit to hold a rally in 
Hwedza, he was told several times by police officials that it 
was not &your territory8 and that his safety could not be 
guaranteed. Party officials had complained of this and 
similar rebuffs elsewhere to their Central Intelligence 
Office (CIO) liaison and were told to keep trying. 
Subsequently, police convened a &peace meeting8 involving 
representatives from both parties in Hwedza and then issued a 
permit for the rally. 
4. (C) On the eve of the Hwedza rally, ruling party 
supporters beat opposition supporters and threatened local 
people with reprisals if they failed to attend a ZANU-PF 
rally scheduled for the same time. ZANU-PF youths abducted 
and beat two activists, dumping one of the victims at a 
police station. Nonetheless, the MDC rally came off 
successfully, according to Mudzingwa. Police dispersed 
ruling party youths who wanted to disrupt the meeting. To 
date, none of the MDC supporters had experienced reprisals 
customarily associated with similar circumstances. Police 
protection continued to be uneven, however, and MDC 
supporters had to disperse disruptive war vets without police 
assistance in a similar situation in Bikita. Many areas 
remained no-go areas, with police emphasizing their inability 
to guarantee the safety of a meeting, refusing to issue 
permits, or arresting those trying to meet without a permit. 
State Media Opening? 
5. (C) Mudzingwa also reported that the party,s CIO liaison 
recently indicated that the MDC party would be given access 
to the state media. According to state radio on September 
15, the GOZ was drawing up guidelines for opposition access 
to state media. Mudzingwa said the MDC planned soon to seek 
advertising in the official Herald newspaper. It would later 
press to get airtime on broadcast media. 
MDC Preparing for Election Campaign 
6. (C) According to Mudzingwa, the MDC was going &full 
blast8 in preparations for the election, should the boycott 
be called off. The party was engaging in a membership drive, 
consolidating local structures, and conducting campaign 
training. It had completed primaries or other processes in 
connection with the selection of candidates for nearly all MP 
7. (C) Mudzingwa advised that Election Registrar General 
Mudede had agreed to share with the MDC an electronic copy of 
the entire national voter rolls. The party was raising the 
ZD 12 million (about USD 2000) required to cover costs of the 
copy. The roll would permit the opposition to conduct voter 
registration audits as well as audits of its own registered 
Talks on Talks Scotched 
8. (C) Mudzingwa confirmed press reports that Minister for 
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa 
and MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube had cut off informal 
interparty discussions on constitutional amendments to 
restructure the government, including the introduction of a 
bicameral parliament and elimination of presidentially 
appointed &non-constituency8 members of parliament. He 
shared with poloff a copy of the draft legislation to support 
the amendments, which he said could be the departure point 
for resumed discussions should the parties choose. 
8. (C) It would be premature to attach too much significance 
to these apparently positive developments. ZANU-PF likely 
intends the opening of campaign space and media access to 
offer cover for SADC endorsement of its March election, a 
high ruling party priority. That said, if granted, access to 
voter rolls )- a central component of election transparency 
and integrity missing in the last election )- would 
represent concrete progress in the election environment. 
Suspension of informal discussions on constitutional 
amendments probably represents a tactical move by each party 
to step back in the wake of the MDC's publicized boycott 
9. (C) These developments present the MDC with an 
opportunity and a challenge. The party leadership hopes to 
exploit the opening of campaign space and channels of 
communication to energize a moribund support base that has 
grown apathetic and disillusioned. Improvement of the 
election environment affords the party a face-saving option 
to participate in the election, even if it could not win. 
Participation in a flawed process might confer greater 
legitimacy to a ruling party victory (according to the terms 
of the MDC,s conditional boycott) but is also more likely to 
assure the party,s survival to contest another day. 


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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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