United States embassy officials in Harare were confident that President Robert Mugabe had not won the 2008 elections, the very first day of the count, but at the same time they were not certain that Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had received over 50 percent of the vote.
According to a cable released by Wikileaks MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti had held two press conferences by 11am and he claimed that Tsvangirai was winning two-thirds of the presidential vote.
There were even reports that Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front heavyweights had lost their seats.
Those mentioned were Didymus Mutasa (Minister of State Security), Joseph Made (Minister of Agriculture), Patrick Chinamasa (Minister of Justice), Sydney Sekeramayi (Minister of Defence) and Savious Kasukuwere (Youth Minister).
There were conflicting reports as to whether Vice President Joice Mujuru had been defeated.
To sum up the confusion that surrounded the election results, the embassy commented: “Zimbabwe is riding a roller coaster. Based on the MDC’s polling as well as observations by diplomatic observer teams, there was a feeling this morning that Mugabe was heading for a stunning defeat. Long-time Zimbabwe watchers who have been waiting for years to see Mugabe go, but had despaired of the MDC, were starting to believe that the end was in sight. But failure of the MDC to proclaim victory, and later news that Mugabe was going to be declared the winner, resulted in an abrupt change of mood.”
Viewing cable 08HARARE247, POST-ELECTION UPDATE
OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSB #0247/01 0901838
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301838Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2649
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1854
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1978
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0551
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1255
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1612
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2034
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4465
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1105
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000247
AF/S FOR S. HILL,
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS
STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2018
SUBJECT: POST-ELECTION UPDATE
REF: A. HARARE 245
¶B. HARARE 246 AND PREV.
¶C. PRETORIA 604
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (SBU) An initial wave of euphoria, prompted by returns
from polling stations indicating an MDC landslide, has
morphed into concern, as further results are slow in arriving
and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has not released
any official results. The political opposition is expressing
concern that ZANU-PF, through the ZEC, is manipulating vote
totals in an effort to ensure a Mugabe victory. In the event
of a rigged-election victory for Mugabe, it is unclear how
the MDC will react. END SUMMARY.
From Euphoria to Concern
¶2. (U) The MDC held a press conference in the early hours of
Sunday morning at which MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti
discussed early election returns provided by MDC polling
agents from throughout Zimbabwe. Biti said that with the
exception of Bulawayo and Matabeleland, where Tsvangirai and
the MDC were running neck and neck with Simba Makoni and his
independent candidates, the MDC was winning overwhelmingly.
He averred that the MDC had won the election “beyond a shadow
of a doubt.”
¶3. (U) At a follow-up press conference at 11 am on Sunday,
Biti elaborated on results. He stated that the MDC had won
all 12 House of Assembly seats in Bulawayo and 5 of 6 Senate
seats. (The Mutambara faction’s David Coltart won the other,
according to Biti.) He said the MDC had captured all
Assembly seats in the Harare area and had done well in
Manicaland, Masvingo, and parts of Mashonaland. In response
to a question, Biti estimated that Tsvangirai was winning
two-thirds of the presidential vote; he admitted, however,
that the MDC had results from only 12 percent of polling
¶4. (C) Biti was more subdued in the later press conference
than in the earlier one. His remarks were brief–he
discussed the unfairness of the election–and there was no
mention of the next press conference. We later learned from
an MDC source that the MDC was having trouble getting
election results from the provinces. It would not hold
another press conference until it had more complete results.
At its next press conference, it hoped to announce victory.
ZEC Allows Confusion
¶5. (C) Following the MDC’s 11 am press conference, the ZEC
held a five-minute press conference at which it stated it was
working on election results and admonished diplomats not to
prejudge election results. Since then, we have heard that a
number of high-level ZANU-PF officials have been defeated.
These include Dydimus Mutasa (Minister of State Security),
Joseph Made (Minister of Agriculture), Patrick Chinimasa
(Minister of Justice), Sydney Sekeremayi (Minister of
Defense) and Savious Kasuhuwere (Youth Minister). We have
heard conflicting reports as to whether vice president Joice
Mujuru was defeated.
HARARE 00000247 002 OF 002
Parallel Vote Counts
¶6. (C) The MDC had hoped to rapidly complete a parallel vote
through communication with polling agents throughout the
country, preempt the ZEC by declaring victory, and then have
its supporters celebrate in the streets. Biti’s initial
optimistic assessment was based on reports received from the
field. Because it did not have agents at all polling
stations, and because communications in Zimbabwe are
problematic, the count slowed and the MDC was not yet ready
to announce a victory as of this morning.
¶7. (C) The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), with
the assistance of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is
conducting a sample parallel vote count using about 480
polling stations. As of this morning, ZESN had received data
from 88 percent of urban stations and 42 percent of rural
stations. ZESN hopes to have a large enough sample to
announce results tomorrow.
And the Winner is?
¶8. (C) Late in the day we received word from the MDC and
another source that the ZEC was going to declare Mugabe the
winner. The MDC told us it hoped to preempt Mugabe by
announcing that Tsvangirai had won. A couple of hours later,
the MDC informed us that Mugabe had postponed his
announcement and that the MDC for the time being would have
no announcement. We do not know whether our original
information was just rumor, or whether Mugabe for his own
reasons–or because of pressure–decided not to go forward.
¶9. (SBU) CNN has reported that the ZEC will make its
official announcement tomorrow. We have been unable to
confirm this, but an announcement two days after the election
would be timely.
¶10. (C) A source within the MDC told us Sunday evening that
the MDC’s parallel count was proceeding smoothly and the MDC
would probably make an announcement late Sunday evening or
¶11. (C) Zimbabwe is riding a roller coaster. Based on the
MDC’s polling as well as observations by diplomatic observer
teams, there was a feeling this morning that Mugabe was
heading for a stunning defeat. Long-time Zimbabwe watchers
who have been waiting for years to see Mugabe go, but had
despaired of the MDC, were starting to believe that the end
was in sight. But failure of the MDC to proclaim victory,
and later news that Mugabe was going to be declared the
winner, resulted in an abrupt change of mood.
¶12. (C) We are confident that Mugabe did not win the
election, and we are confident that Tsvangirai received the
most votes, although we cannot say with certainty that
Tsvangirai received over 50 percent of the vote. It appears
that many of Mugabe’s henchmen have lost their parliamentary
seats and, in light of the widespread antipathy to him from
within the party, Mugabe may be feeling cornered. The most
likely scenario is that he will have himself declared the
winner. If so, it remains to be seen how the MDC will react.