Is not winning, losing?

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.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE247, POST-ELECTION UPDATE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE247

2008-03-30 18:38

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO8444

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

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1105

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000247

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

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

TAGS: PREL PGOV ASEC ZI

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)

 

-------

SUMMARY

-------

 

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

stations.

 

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

Monday morning.

 

-------

COMMENT

-------

 

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

 

SIPDIS

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.

MCGEE

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