Zimbabwe Election Supervisory Network chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove criticised the government for vote buying and said in the Insiza by-election people had voted for food and not for the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front candidate who won the election.
He said that distributing food as an integral part of the campaign process in near famine conditions could hardly result in a democratic outcome.
People in Insiza, he said, had voted for food, not their preferred political leadership.
He reported that the Grain Marketing Board had already stepped up food deliveries in Kuwadzana, which was represented by the late Learnmore Jongwe, to influence the upcoming by-election there.
Viewing cable 02HARARE2478, DEMOCRATIC SPACE FURTHER RESTRICTED
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 HARARE 002478
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2012
SUBJECT: DEMOCRATIC SPACE FURTHER RESTRICTED
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) recently
issued a report unusually critical of the GOZ, detailing a
chronology of violence during the October by-election in
Insiza. ZESN recommends that an Independent Electoral
Commission be appointed by Parliament to conduct future
elections to prevent the “democratic space” in Zimbabwe from
further shrinking. Like many others working for a more
democratic Zimbabwe, ZESN is not hopeful of progress in the
near future. End Summary.
¶2. (U) On October 31, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN), an association of NGOs, issued an unusually critical
preliminary report on the by-election held in Insiza October
26 – 27. The report blames irregularities squarely on
ZANU-PF and uses stronger, more condemnatory language than
ZESN’s previous election reports. Included is a chronology
of vote buying by the ruling party during the run-up to the
elections, the disruption of MDC rallies by ZANU-PF officials
giving out food, the shooting of an MDC official by the
ZANU-PF candidate, the theft of MDC campaign materials by
ZANU-PF members, the denial of access to the constituency for
the MDC candidate, and other shootings and attacks on MDC
members or their homes. The report complains that the GOZ
accredited only eight ZESN observers, that many voters were
turned away at the polling stations, and that voter turnout
was low amidst a tense environment.
¶3. (U) ZESN recommends that an Independent Electoral
Commission, as opposed to the partisan Electoral Supervisory
Committee (ESC) that now oversees elections, should be
appointed by Parliament to conduct future elections. The
report recommends that GOZ accredit independent observers
expeditiously, and that the voters’ roll be made available to
all stakeholders. And it suggests that polling stations
should be easily accessible and that food should not be used
to entice votes.
¶4. (U) The Chairman of ZESN, Dr. Reginald Matchaba Hove,
expressed ZESN’s frustration at the GOZ’s continued
willingness to use violence, intimidation and vote buying to
control an election outcome, security threats against the
opposition candidate, and the GOZ’s denial of accreditation
of 42 ZESN observers. He said he would meet with the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Elections in a lobbying
effort to keep the pressure on, but was not hopeful that
freer elections would result. Instead, he anticipated that
the “democratic space” would be further restricted. He noted
that distributing food as an integral part of the campaign
process in near famine conditions could hardly result in a
democratic outcome. People in Insiza, he said, had voted for
food, not their preferred political leadership. He reported
that the Grain Marketing Board, (GMB) had already stepped up
food deliveries in Kuwadzana, the suburb of Harare
represented by the recently deceased MDC MP Learnmore Jongwe,
to influence the upcoming by-election there.
¶5. (C) ZESN has used more neutral language in past election
reports to describe irregularities. In a frustrated tone,
this report blames the GOZ squarely for hijacking the
democratic process in what amounts to appointing its
candidate into office. Yet, like many others working for a
more democratic Zimbabwe, Dr. Hove is not hopeful of progress
in the near future so long as maintaining political power
remains the predominant objective of the current government.
We share his view. End Comment.