That was the general feeling as it emerged that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, which was supposed to be in for a surprise in the 2005 parliamentary election, had garnered 59 percent of the vote and was heading for a two-thirds majority.
One prediction was correct though. Former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo had won his Tsholotsho seat as an independent candidate.
While there was widespread talk of fraud, even the United States embassy admitted that specific evidence might only come out later.
Viewing cable 05HARARE502, FRAUDULENT LANDSLIDE “WIN” FOR ZANU-PF
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 000502
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2015
SUBJECT: FRAUDULENT LANDSLIDE “WIN” FOR ZANU-PF
REF: HARARE 501 AND PREVIOUS
Classified By: Ambassador Christopher W. Dell
¶1. (C) Nearly complete results show ZANU-PF cruising to an
overwhelming win in Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections amid
mounting (and credible) allegations of fraud by the MDC and
civil society. With five seats remaining to be announced,
ZANU-PF has taken 74 and the MDC 40, with one independent
also winning. Evidence of electoral fraud is growing, but
specific evidence is unlikely to come in from the field until
next week. Next steps for the MDC and civil society are
uncertain. The MDC party leadership is apparently leaning
toward a conservative approach in confronting the government,
although senior leaders are meeting the afternoon of April 2
to discuss other options. As expected, the SADC and South
African Government observer missions have blessed the poll.
MDC ROBBED AGAIN
¶2. (SBU) Zimbabwe Electoral Commission results as of 1300
local time show that ZANU-PF candidates have won 74 seats
nationwide and the MDC 40. Former Information Minister
turned independent candidate Jonathan Moyo won the
Matabeleland North seat of Tsholotsho. Five seats have not
yet been announced — four ZANU-PF held seats around Gokwe in
Midlands, and the MDC seat of Binga in Matabeleland South.
Curiously, the state-owned Herald newspaper announced in its
morning edition that ZANU-PF had taken 81 seats to 38 for the
MDC. A contact at the Japanese Embassy told Emboffs that the
Zimbabwean Embassy in Tokyo had relayed their Foreign
Ministry those numbers last night. The percentage of the
vote count nationwide runs 59 percent for ZANU-PF and 40
percent for the MDC, as compared to roughly 48 percent a
piece in the badly tainted 2000 elections.
¶3. (SBU) An analysis of the results shows a crushing defeat
for the opposition, particularly outside its urban bastions.
Should they win Binga but lose the four Gokwe seats (a likely
result), they will have lost 16 seats from their 2000 total
of 57. More significantly, the party will have been denied
every rural constituency outside of Matabeleland. MDC
candidates won only one seat in the three ZANU-PF-dominated
Mashonaland provinces, a peri-urban seat, seldom garnering
more than a third of the vote. Most disappointingly, the
party performed poorly in Masvingo and Manicaland provinces,
where they considered many seats up for grabs. Furthermore,
several senior party incumbents lost their seats, including
Evelyn Masaiti, Renson Gasela, and Paul Themba Nyathi.
FRAUD ALLEGATIONS MOUNTING
¶4. (C) As disappointing as the election results are to the
MDC what may be worse is how they lost. This will mark the
third election in a row that ZANU-PF has stolen. Allegations
of electoral misconduct continue to mount, both from the MDC
and the independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN).
An American consultant who has been working with ZESN told
us that the network is likely to make a statement soon about
the conduct of the polls, which will likely emphasize the
exceedingly unlevel playing field, the high number of
rejected voters (noted in Reftel), and in particular the
opacity of the tabulation process.
¶5. (C) Early analysis seems to indicate that a great many
rejected voters were either young (youth heavily supports the
MDC) or lived in MDC-controlled areas. In seven
constituencies thus far, the number of rejected voters is
higher than the margin of victory. The American consultant
said the opacity of the tabulation process appears to have
been a deliberate attempt by ZEC and the government to
prevent any sort of parallel vote count from emerging, as
well as the vehicle for manipulating the official data.
Contrary to provisions of the Electoral Act, relatively few
polling stations posted their numbers after the counting was
complete. In addition, many observers were not allowed to
leave their polling stations until very early Friday morning,
after the official results had been announced, and were not
allowed to phone in their observations. Finally, Embassy
observers have heard several reports of MDC polling agents
not being allowed to witness the count, and some within the
MDC believe there may have been ballot stuffing at these
¶6. (C) As reported reftel, in several constituencies, such
as Manyame, there were turnout numbers announced by the ZEC
Thursday evening that were much lower than those announced on
Friday. Shifting the tabulation paradigm from “flawed” to
“fraudulent,” however, may prove difficult for both ZESN and
the MDC, absent their own parallel vote counts. ZEC has been
slow to release their final results by polling station, but
neither organization has been able to take advantage and
counter with their own figures. In coming days, we expect
the MDC to produce figures to back up their claims, possibly
pointing to landslide ZANU-PF results at stations where their
agents were not allowed to witness the count. However, the
delay in getting this information to the public could prove
fatal to their efforts to spark public outrage.
NEXT STEPS FOR MDC UNCLEAR
¶7. (C) Senior MDC leaders are meeting at the moment to
discuss the party’s next steps in the wake of the result.
David Coltart, a reelected MP and senior party official, told
Emboffs in Bulawayo that the senior leadership is leaning
toward a “conservative” approach to confronting the regime,
and he noted that some party structures — and youth in
particular — have been held back from protesting by MDC
leadership. It is unclear, however, what options the party
has at its disposal. Tsvangirai at his press conference
yesterday ruled out a legalistic approach, but also declined
to call for mass action. It appears their “Plan B” was not
well thought out in advance and that by default the party may
have to regroup and start planning for 2008, an approach that
could bring Tsvangirai’s leadership into question.
REGIONAL OBSERVERS ISSUE GLOWING REPORTS
¶8. (SBU) As expected, regional observer delegations have so
far blessed the poll result. Head of the SAG delegation,
Labor Minister Membathisi Mdladlana, gave a press conference
this morning at which he stated that the results reflected
the will of the people and praised the conduct of the polls.
The preliminary SADC statement, issued yesterday, also
blessed the polls, although it did note with concern the
large numbers of rejected voters and other opposition
¶9. (C) Although many more allegations, facts, and figures
are likely to keep coming in for several days, it is clear
that the MDC has again been defrauded in a badly tainted
election and will have few good options to reclama the
result. In fact, it appears that ZANU-PF cheating in this
election was on an even greater scale than in 2000. In any
event, they survived and will remain for the time being the
strongest opposition voice. At this point, the focus must
move to the future, particularly preparing for local council
elections next year and ultimately the presidential poll in
¶2008. One lesson learned from this election is the
importance of a parallel vote count.
¶10. (C) For its part, ZANU-PF’s strategy was apparently to
create ballot stuffing and to rely on fraud at higher levels
in the opaque tabulation process. This enabled them, with
the active connivance of the police, to create an orderly,
calm, transparent process at the polls on voting day. The
dirty tricks took place out of sight in the back room
operation and in the years and months befor the campaign
¶11. (C) We will be assessing the lessons of this poll in
more detail later, but it is already clear that the limited
capacity of ZESN and the MDC to effectively counter ZEC
figures has drastically limited their ability to challenge
the legitimacy of the poll. Preparing polling agents and
observers for 2006 and 2008 is a process that must start
immediately, and with sufficient funding, so that the same
situation does not happen again.