ZESN chair says people voted for food and not political candidate


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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.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE2478, DEMOCRATIC SPACE FURTHER RESTRICTED

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE2478

2002-11-13 05:55

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

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 HARARE 002478

 

SIPDIS

 

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

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL EAID ECON EFIN ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: DEMOCRATIC SPACE FURTHER RESTRICTED

 

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

Summary:

——–

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.

 

Comment:

——–

 

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.

SULLIVAN

(14 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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