ZANU-PF surprised everyone including itself


The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front surprised everyone in the 2005 parliamentary elections including itself when it won 78 of the 120 contested seats garnering a two-thirds majority which enabled it to change even the country’s constitution.

To make matters worse, even though the electoral conditions were not right everyone, including the Zimbabwe Election Supervisory Network agreed that the voting had been free.

ZESN said there were “serious implications on the credibility of the electoral process” but polling day was calm and peaceful and citizens “had the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and were free to do so”.

The Movement for Democratic Change which had been confident of victory with Bulawayo mayor saying at worst they would win 70 seats, only won 41 seats, 16 less than in the previous elections.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2005-04-04 17:23

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 000509







E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010





REF: (A) HARARE 502 (B) HARARE 501 (C) HARARE 492


Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell under Section 1.4 b/d






1. (U) In the wake of the March 31 elections, Zimbabwe’s new

Parliament will include 108 MPs from ZANU-PF (including 30

appointees), 41 from the MDC, and one independent, Jonathan

Moyo. Despite the MDC,s claims that the results were

rigged, the South African, SADC and AU observer missions

have, as expected, blessed the results, casting the election

as reflective of the “free will of the people,” although not

without caveats and internal dissension. An initial

assessment by local non-governmental election watchdog

Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), however, has been

much more critical, highlighting myriad flaws and urging

serious investigation of discrepancies in the vote tallies.




ZANU-PF 78 (plus 30), MDC 41



2. (U) The final polling results released by the Zimbabwe

Election Commission late on April 1 gave President Robert

Mugabe’s ZANU-PF 78 seats (not including the 30 seats to be

appointed by Mugabe under the Constitution), the opposition

MDC 41, and independent candidate Jonathan Moyo one. The

results indicate a net loss of 16 seats for the MDC from

their showing in 2000, five of which had already been lost in

tainted by-elections since 2000 and three of which were

effectively lost when the GOZ gerrymandered three urban MDC

constituencies out of existence before the election. Moyo’s

seat was also at the MDC’s expense. In one of the more

surprising results, ZANU-PF took the seat held comfortably by

ZANU-Ndonga since independence.



South African Observer Mission Whitewash



3. (U) The weekend saw the initial battery of international

assessments of Zimbabwe’s elections. In a statement (text

faxed to AF/S) read on April 2 by delegation leader Minister

of Labor Membathisi Mdladlana, the South African Observer

Mission concluded that the elections reflected “the will of

the people.” Without discussing the pre-election

environment, the statement described improvements since 2000

and 2002 elections and concluded that the elections complied

with the Zimbabwean law, which “by and large” conformed to

SADC guidelines. In a combative exchange with the press

after reading the statement, Mdladlana said that the various

complaints about the election’s conduct either occurred

outside the observation of his mission or would be for

relevant Zimbabwean election institutions to address in the




SADC Whitewash



4. (C) Echoing the South African Government’s assessment,

the SADC delegation issued a statement on April 3 that also

concluded that the elections had expressed the will of the

people. The statement at least took note of numerous flaws

in the election environment but the spokesperson of the

observer mission asserted that they did not prevent voters

from casting their ballots secretly and freely. A British

diplomat told us that the Mauritian Vice-Chair of the

delegation had told her that he strongly disagreed with the

mission’s assessment but had to go along after conferring

with President Berenger’s office. At the press conference,

which had been delayed a day, the SADC spokesperson

acknowledged MDC complaints but, echoing the South Africans,

advised that those complaints would have to be pursued by the

relevant Zimbabwean election institutions.



African Union Qualified Endorsement



5. In a statement (faxed to AF/S) received by the Embassy

April 4, the African Union concluded that “at the point of

the ballot,” voters could “freely choose their preferred

candidates by casting a secret ballot.” The statement

commended the election’s non-violence and GOZ steps toward

“creating an even playing field” but urged attention to the

problems of voter turn-away, assisted voting, and the

passivity of party polling agents. Finally, it urged the ZEC

and Electoral Supervisory Commission to investigate MDC

allegations of serious discrepancies in the official results.



——————————————— —–

ZESN Highlights Flaws, Urges Further Investigation

——————————————— —–


6. (U) In a statement released April 4 (e-mailed to AF/S),

ZESN publicized a host of flaws in the election’s conduct,

including its underlying legal framework, the integrity of

the ZEC, the electoral court’s independence, the poor state

of the voters’ rolls, administration of postal voting, media

access, and intimidation of voters, and transparency of the

tabulation process. ZESN asserted that discrepancies between

the announced number of ballots cast and the number finally

recorded (reftels) had “serious implications on the

credibility of the electoral process” and urged the ZEC to

investigate. The statement did close with the observation

that polling day was calm and peaceful and that citizens “had

the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and were free

to do so.”






7. (C) A 2/3 parliamentary majority, cowed domestic reaction

(for now), and a regional blessing ) so far this election

has fulfilled all of the ruling party’s principal objectives.

Whether it will also lead to renewed international

legitimacy, however, is much less likely.



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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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