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Paper said election officials tampered with Mugabe votes

The Herald reported a week after the 2008 elections that five Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials had been arrested for allegedly tampering with electoral results and prejudicing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front presidential candidate Robert Mugabe of 4 993 votes.

Though the results for the presidential elections had not yet been released, it was widely believed that Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won, though he had failed to secure an outright victory.

The Herald also warned that hordes of white farmers were trooping back into the country to repossess the farms that they had lost during the land reform programme.

The paper said this would be a “rude awakening for the thousands of Zimbabweans who endorsed the MDC at the polls as that amounted to voting away their rights to land, and everything on and under it”.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08HARARE296, RELAUNCHING REVOLUTION”: ZANU RHETORIC INTSENSIFIES

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE296

2008-04-08 16:50

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

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STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: “RELAUNCHING REVOLUTION”: ZANU RHETORIC INTSENSIFIES

 

REF: HARARE 274

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: With results for Zimbabwe’s March 29 presidential

election still unknown, the government mouthpiece The Herald

continued its runoff campaign rhetoric in its April 8 edition. In

articles on the arrest of electoral commission officials for

prejudicing ruling party results, land reform reversal by white

farmers and opposition links to Western conspiracies, the government

appears to be laying out its strategy for undermining the MDC and

justifying a crackdown on the democratic political process. END

SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) On April 8, the government newspaper, The Herald, reported

on page one that five Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials

who presided at polling stations in Masvingo, Manicaland and

Mashonaland Central provinces were arrested on April 7 “on

allegations of tampering with electoral results and prejudicing

ZANU-PF candidate President Mugabe of 4,993 votes cast in four

constituencies.” Police did not provide details as to which

constituencies were affected by the adjustment of vote tallies

(allegedly completed after results were posted outside polling

stations but before forwarding to the National Command Center), but,

according to the paper, an investigation was ongoing. The arrests

come on the heels of an announcement by ZANU-PF that it would

contest results in 16 House of Assembly constituencies, alleging

that ZEC officials were bribed to alter results in favor of the

MDC.

 

3. (SBU) While the newspaper did report that police ordered war

veterans who had seized white-owned farms in rural areas to

withdraw, it also reminded readers of “widespread reports of hordes

of white ex-farmers trooping back into Zimbabwe of late threatening

to repossess farms they lost during the land reform program in the

event that the MDC ascends to power.” Several op-ed pieces went on

to allege that MDC presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai’s main

platform was to restore land to whites at the behest of Western

donors, confirming “what ZANU-PF has been saying all along, that the

MDC was formed as a consequence of misplaced economics on the part

of the British, who believed it was cheaper to fund an opposition to

unseat the Government than to meet the costs of land purchase in

Zimbabwe.” The Herald’s editorial decried this as a “rude awakening

for the thousands of Zimbabweans who endorsed the MDC at the polls

as that amounted to voting away their rights to land, and everything

on and under it.”

 

4. (SBU) Additional reporting included a characterization by The

Herald of South African President Thabo Mbeki’s appeal for the

international community to wait patiently for results as refusal to

“criticize Zimbabwe’s conduct of the elections” and a rejection of

“a call by the MDC for international intervention in the Harare

polls.” An op-ed entitled “Run-off: Relaunching Revolution” intoned

that “even at it’s worst showing, ZANU-PF remained invincible…this

runoff will be a massacre for the MDC and Tsvangirai…The U.S., the

UK and everyone else can do absolutely nothing about Tsvangirai’s

impending defeat. It’s homeland or death. The revolution will

triumph.”

 

5. (SBU) COMMENT: The government appears to be continuing to lay

out its strategy for undermining an MDC win and justifying a

crackdown on the democratic political process. By framing the

opposition as a puppet of the U.K. and the United States,

reinvigorating racial disharmony and aggravating tensions around

land issues, ZANU-PF may be intending to play Zimbabwean’s reverence

for the liberation struggle as a main component of its campaign. At

the end of the day, if there is a runoff, the results may depend on

whether ZANU-PF rigging, including intimidation and violence, can

trump the desire of the vast majority of Zimbabweans for change.

END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

(3 VIEWS)

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