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MDC leaders planned to go into exile after presidential poll

After witnessing thousands of its supporters being barred from voting in the 2002 presidential poll, the Movement for Democratic Change decided that some of its leaders must leave the country to carry on the struggle but secretary-general Welshman Ncube was arrested near the border with Botswana.

Ncube was implicated along with party leader Morgan Tsvangirai in an alleged plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

According to Tsvangirai’s special advisor Gandi Mudzingwa Ncube had been advised by the party’s national executive to leave the country.

The party had decided that several key leaders should remain outside the country to carry on the struggle if the government arrested top party officials after the election.

Deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikire was already out of the country.

Gandi said he and Tsvangirai and his wife were staying for the next several days in the North Wing of the 12th floor of Meikles Hotel because many international observer delegations and foreign journalists were staying there during the election period and would witness any post-election abuse of the MDC leader.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 02HARARE657, ZIMBABWE ELECTION: VOTE COUNTING UNDERWAY ON MARCH 12

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

02HARARE657

2002-03-12 15:38

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.

 

121538Z Mar 02

 

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6008

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00657 01 OF 02 121603Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 WHA-00   SRPP-00 EAP-00   EUR-00

VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00   L-00     AC-01

NSAE-00 OMB-01   PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00

SP-00   SSO-00   SS-00   TRSE-00 T-00     USIE-00 PMB-00

DRL-02   G-00     SAS-00     /005W

——————733B97 121603Z /45

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1183

INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY KINGSTON PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY

NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000657

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR DIRECTOR FRAZER

PARIS FOR NEARY

LONDON FOR GURNEY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/06/12

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE ELECTION: VOTE COUNTING UNDERWAY ON MARCH 12

 

 

CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF MATT HARRINGTON. REASONS:

1.5 (B) AND (D).

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) POLLING STATIONS IN HARARE AND CHITUNGWIZA CLOSED AT 7:00

P.M. ON MARCH 11, LEAVING LONG LINES OF VOTERS IN SOME AREAS UNABLE

TO CAST BALLOTS. THE VERIFICATION OF BALLOT BOXES BEGAN THE

MORNING OF MARCH 12 AND VOTE-COUNTING AT MOST BALLOT CENTERS DID

NOT BEGIN UNTIL EARLY AFTERNOON. GIVEN THE LATE START, WE DO NOT

EXPECT COMPLETE RESULTS TO BE ANNOUNCED UNTIL SOMETIME ON MARCH 13.

MEANWHILE, THE MDC SECRETARY-GENERAL WAS ARRESTED — AND LATER RELEASED

AFTER

AN OVERNIGHT DETENTION — AND FORMALLY

CHARGED WITH TREASON, WHILE AT LEAST FIVE MDC ELECTION AGENTS

ASSIGNED TO MONITOR THE COUNTING OF VOTES WERE ARRESTED. A SECOND

AMERICAN CITIZEN HAS BEEN ARRESTED, BUT WE HAVE BEEN UNSUCCESSFUL

IN GAINING ACCESS TO HIM TO LEARN ADDITIONAL DETAILS. END SUMMARY.

 

DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF HARARE AND CHITUNGWIZA VOTERS

——————————————— ——

 

2. (C) ALL POLLING STATIONS IN HARARE AND CHITUNGWIZA CLOSED ON

MARCH 11 AT 7:00 P.M. OR SHORTLY THEREAFTER (EVEN THOUGH MOST HAD

NOT EVEN OPENED UNTIL 12:00 P.M. IN DEFIANCE OF A HIGH COURT

ORDER). VOTERS STANDING IN LINE AT THAT POINT WERE NOT ALLOWED TO

CAST BALLOTS, DESPITE EARLIER ASSURANCES TO THE CONTRARY FROM

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00657 01 OF 02 121603Z

SENIOR GOZ OFFICIALS, AND WERE FORCED TO DISPERSE BY HEAVILY-ARMED

POLICE. THE MDC INFORMED US THAT 1500 PEOPLE WERE STANDING IN LINE

AT BOTH ZUVARABUDA SCHOOL IN GLEN NORAH HIGH DENSITY SUBURB AND AT

DZIVARASEKWA COMMUNITY CENTER WHEN THE POLLING STATIONS CLOSED. A

NORWEGIAN DIPLOMAT TOLD US HE HAD PERSONALLY WITNESSED THE CLOSING

OF A STATION IN GLENVIEW TOWNSHIP WITH 700 WOULD-BE VOTERS STILL IN

LINE. THEY WERE ANGRY BUT LEFT PEACEFULLY AFTER BEING TOLD BY

POLICE TO DISPERSE. IT IS CLEAR THAT THERE WAS A SUBSTANTIAL

DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF VOTERS IN THESE TWO URBAN AREAS WHICH IS

EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO QUANTIFY. OUR NORWEGIAN COLLEAGUE ESTIMATES

THAT A TOTAL OF AT LEAST 10-15,000 VOTERS WERE STANDING IN LINE IN

GREATER HARARE AND CHITUNGWIZA WHEN THE STATIONS CLOSED. THAT

FIGURE, OF COURSE, DOES NOT INCLUDE THE POTENTIALLY LARGE NUMBERS

OF PEOPLE WHO DID NOT VOTE BECAUSE THEY WERE SCARED AWAY BY THE

ABSURDLY LONG LINES. WE NOTE THAT IN HARARE AND ENVIRONS, THE

CONSTITUENCY LISTS AVERAGE 5,000 VOTERS PER POLLING PLACE, WITH

SOME AS HIGH AS 7,000. THE AVERAGE FOR BULAWAYO WAS 3,000.

ELSEWHERE IN THE COUNTRY, THE CONSTITUENCY AVERAGE WAS 1,000

REGISTERED VOTERS PER STATION.

 

COUNTING

——–

 

3. (U) THE VERIFICATION OF BALLOT BOXES AND THEIR CONTENTS

CONSUMED MUCH OF THE MORNING OF MARCH 12, ACCORDING TO THE STATE-

CONTROLLED ZIMBABWE BROADCASTING CORPORATION (ZBC). COUNTING AT

MOST CENTERS THEN BEGAN IN THE EARLY AFTERNOON. INFORMATION

MINISTER JONATHAN MOYO ANNOUNCED AT A PRESS CONFERENCE THAT RESULTS

WOULD LIKELY BE ANNOUNCED ON MARCH 13 AND HE EXPRESSED SATISFACTION

AT HOW THE ELECTION PROCESS HAD BEEN CONDUCTED.

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 00657 01 OF 02 121603Z

4. (C) COMMENT: THERE IS ONE COUNTING CENTER FOR EACH OF

ZIMBABWE’S 120 CONSTITUENCIES. WHEN THE COUNTING AT EACH CENTER IS

FINISHED, THE RESULTS WILL BE COMMUNICATED VIA PROVINCIAL COMMAND

CENTERS TO THE REGISTRAR-GENERAL’S OFFICE IN HARARE, WHICH WILL

ANNOUNCE RESULTS. DURING THE JUNE 2000 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS,

THE REGISTRAR-GENERAL ANNOUNCED RESULTS CONSTITUENCY BY

CONSTITUENCY ON THE GOZ-CONTROLLED TELEVISION AND RADIO. THIS

TIME, IF THE CONSTITUENCY RESULTS BEGIN TO LOOK BAD FOR THE RULING

PARTY, THE R.G. COULD WAIT TO RELEASE THE NUMBERS. AN EU CONTACT

WAS TOLD BY A GOZ OFFICIAL THAT THE RG WOULD WAIT TO RELEASE

FIGURES UNTIL HE HAS A “CRITICAL MASS” OF NUMBERS.

 

ARRESTS OF KEY MDC OFFICIALS

—————————-

 

5. (C) MEANWHILE, MDC SECRETARY-GENERAL WELSHMAN NCUBE WAS

ARRESTED BY POLICE ON MARCH 11 NEAR THE BORDER WITH BOTSWANA. HE

WAS ACCOMPANIED BY HIS FAMILY, WHICH WAS ALLOWED TO PROCEED INTO

BOTSWANA. NCUBE, MEANWHILE, WAS TAKEN TO BULAWAYO POLICE

HEADQUARTERS, THEN TRANSFERRED TO THE CENTRAL POLICE STATION IN

HARARE, WHERE HE ARRIVED AT 3:00 A.M. ON MARCH 12. NCUBE HAS BEEN

IMPLICATED — ALONG WITH MDC LEADER MORGAN TSVANGIRAI AND TWO

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6010

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 00657 02 OF 02 121604Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   CIAE-00 DODE-00 WHA-00   SRPP-00 EAP-00   EUR-00

VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00   IO-00   L-00     AC-01

NSAE-00 OMB-01   PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00

SP-00   SSO-00   SS-00   TRSE-00 T-00     USIE-00 PMB-00

DRL-02   G-00     SAS-00     /005W

——————733BB0 121604Z /45

O 121538Z MAR 02

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1184

INFO SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY KINGSTON PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY

AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY

NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

 

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 000657

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR DIRECTOR FRAZER

PARIS FOR NEARY

LONDON FOR GURNEY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/06/12

TAGS: PGOV PREL ZI

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 00657 02 OF 02 121604Z

SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE ELECTION: VOTE COUNTING UNDERWAY ON MARCH 12

 

JUNIOR MPS — IN THE ALLEGED PLOT TO ASSASSINATE PRESIDENT MUGABE.

POLICE SAID THEY SUSPECTED THAT NCUBE WAS TRYING TO FLEE

POTENTIALLY SERIOUS CRIMINAL CHARGES AND PROCEEDED FORMALLY TO

CHARGE HIM WITH TREASON ON MARCH 12. HE WAS RELEASED LATER THE

SAME DAY ON A BAIL OF 500,000 ZIMBABWEAN DOLLARS (APPROXIMATELY

U.S.$ 1500).

 

6. (C) TSVANGIRAI’S SPECIAL ADVISOR GANDI MUDZINGWA TOLD POLITICAL

SECTION CHIEF THAT NCUBE — AT THE INSTRUCTION OF THE MDC’S

NATIONAL EXECUTIVE — WAS PLANNING TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY THE DAY HE

WAS ARRESTED. HE HAD INTENDED TO ESCORT HIS FAMILY TO THE BOTSWANA

BORDER, THEN JOIN THEM IN JOHANNESBURG VIA A FLIGHT FROM BULAWAYO

LATER THAT DAY. THE PARTY’S NATIONAL EXECUTIVE HAD DETERMINED THAT

SEVERAL KEY LEADERS SHOULD REMAIN OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY TO

CARRY ON THE STRUGGLE IF THE GOZ/ZANU-PF ARREST TOP PARTY OFFICIALS

AFTER THE ELECTION. AS PART OF THIS CONTINGENCY PLANNING, DEPUTY

SECRETARY-GENERAL GIFT CHIMANIKIRE IS CURRENTLY IN JOHANNESBURG,

 

SIPDIS

WHERE HE ARRIVED ON MARCH 11. MUDZINGWA NOTED THAT HE, TSVANGIRAI,

AND TSVANGIRAI’S WIFE ARE STAYING FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS IN THE

NORTH WING OF THE 12TH FLOOR OF HARARE’S MEIKLES HOTEL, BECAUSE

MANY INTERNATIONAL OBSERVER DELEGATIONS AND FOREIGN JOURNALISTS ARE

STAYING THERE DURING THE ELECTION PERIOD, AND WOULD WITNESS ANY

POST-ELECTION ABUSE OF THE MDC LEADER. MUDZINGWA THOUGHT THAT

NCUBE WOULD PROBABLY REMAIN IN HARARE AFTER HIS RELEASE,

AND WOULD LIKELY STAY WITH TSVANGIRAI IN THE MEIKLES.

 

7. (C) MUDZINGWA TOLD US THAT FIVE OF THE MDC’S ELECTION AGENTS

(THOSE OFFICIALS ACCREDITED TO OBSERVE THE COUNTING PROCESS AT THE

DESIGNATED CENTERS) WERE ARRESTED TODAY. ONE WAS LATER RELEASED

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 00657 02 OF 02 121604Z

AND THE PARTY WAS NEGOTIATING FOR THE RELEASE OF THE OTHER FOUR.

 

PLANNED CIVIL UNREST

——————–

 

8. (C) MUDZINGWA TOLD US THAT DEMONSTRATIONS ORGANIZED BY THE MDC

AND ZIMBABWE CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS (ZCTU) COULD BEGIN AS EARLY

AS THE EVENING OF MARCH 12. ASKED WHY THE OPPOSITION PARTY WAS

CONTEMPLATING LAUNCHING SUCH ACTIVITIES BEFORE THE POLL RESULTS ARE

ANNOUNCED, MUDZINGWA SAID THE ANGER AT ZANU-PF IN URBAN AREAS WAS

AT ITS PEAK — AFTER THE LONG QUEUES AND DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF SO

MANY VOTERS — AND THE MDC WANTED TO BUILD ON THAT MOMENTUM. NOW

WAS THE TIME TO CAPITALIZE ON THIS SENTIMENT WITH ACTIONS INTENDED

TO PRESSURE ZANU-PF TO ACCEPT AN MDC VICTORY.

 

SECOND AMERICAN ARRESTED

————————

 

9. (C) A SECOND NON-OFFICIAL AMERICAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED — THIS

TIME IN THE MASHONALAND CENTRAL TOWN OF MVURWI ON MARCH 11. WE

WERE INFORMED OF HIS ARREST BY A PRIVATE CITIZEN. SINCE THE

GOVERNMENT HAS REFUSED SO FAR TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO HIM, WE HAVE

BEEN UNABLE TO DETERMINE THE DETAILS OF HIS CASE, ALTHOUGH WE HAVE

LEARNED HE IS A FREE-LANCE JOURNALIST WHO REPORTEDLY ENTERED ON A

TOURIST VISA. WE ARE LODGING A STRONG PROTEST VIA DIPLOMATIC NOTE

WITH THE MFA CONCERNING THE GOZ’S REFUSAL BOTH TO NOTIFY US OF THE

ARREST AND TO PROVIDE ACCESS. MEANWHILE, THE AMERICAN CITIZEN

ARRESTED IN MUTARE ON MARCH 8 REMAINS IN DETENTION ON CHARGES OF

“POSSESSING DANGEROUS WEAPONS.” (COMMENT: HE REPORTEDLY HAD A

HUNTING KNIFE AND A CAN OF PEPPER SPRAY IN HIS POSSESSION, BUT WE

SUSPECT THAT THE POLICE WERE ANNOYED BY HIS EFFORTS TO HELP

CONFIDENTIAL

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 00657 02 OF 02 121604Z

TRANSPORT MDC MONITORS TO POLLING STATIONS PRIOR TO ELECTION DAYS.

END COMMENT.) THE GOZ CONTINUES TO DENY ACCESS TO HIM. THE U.S.

WARDEN IN MUTARE WITNESSED HIS COURT APPEARANCE TODAY AND REPORTED

THAT HE APPEARED TO BE IN SEVERE PHYSICAL PAIN AND TO HAVE BEEN

PSYCHOLOGICALLY TRAUMATIZED. THE MFA TOLD US TODAY THAT IT IS

NEGOTIATING WITH THE POLICE TO SECURE US CONSULAR ACCESS TO THE

AMCIT.

 

EMBASSY OBSERVATION EFFORT

————————–

 

10. (U) TWENTY-FIVE EMBASSY OBSERVERS WERE DEPLOYED AROUND THE

COUNTRY ON THE TWO ELECTION DAYS PLUS THE EXTRA DAY OF VOTING IN

HARARE AND CHITUNGWIZA. DURING THAT THREE-DAY PERIOD, OUR TEAMS

COVERED 15,140 KILOMETERS AND VISITED 470 POLLING STATIONS

(APPROXIMATELY 10 PERCENT OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF STATIONS). THE

EMBASSY ELECTION OBSERVATION EFFORT HAS NOW FULLY COME TO ITS END.

 

SULLIVAN

 

CONFIDENTIAL

 

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