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Tsvangirai cheated

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was cheated by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front when it assured him that the MDC would be allowed to campaign freely in the local government elections if his party agreed not to boycott President Robert Mugabe’s opening of parliament.

The violence had continued and at least 20 MDC candidates had been prevented from registering by ZANU-PF youths.

The party was, however, advised that instructions had gone out too late but nomination courts would be re-opened in the affected areas.

The United States embassy said though the MDC was being given a chance to contest perceptions were important in the early stages of any election.

“The ruling party has gained 44 out of 269 council seats already, and one mayoral seat – 16% of the total seats being contested. This is a significant headstart, and it appears the harassment campaign sent a strong signal early that MDC candidates will face an uphill battle against the usual intimidation tactics if they try to campaign openly,” the embassy said.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 03HARARE1491, MDC NOMINEES HARASSED, PREVENTED FROM FORWARDING

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

03HARARE1491

2003-07-24 13:35

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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001491

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER

LONDON FOR C. GURNEY

PARIS FOR C. NEARY

NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI

SUBJECT: MDC NOMINEES HARASSED, PREVENTED FROM FORWARDING

THEIR CANDIDACIES

 

REF: HARARE 1475

 

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d

 

Summary:

——–

 

1. (C) On July 21, about 20 cities across Zimbabwe opened

nominations for candidates to stand in mayoral and urban

council elections to be held on August 30-31, but at least 20

would-be opposition candidates were prevented from

registering by ruling party youths. This occurred before the

MDC received assurances from ZANU-PF that they would be

allowed to campaign freely in exchange for Tsvangirai and MDC

MPs’ agreement not to boycott Mugabe’s speech at the opening

of parliament on July 22 (Ref). ZANU-PF officials have

reportedly promised to re-open the affected nomination

courts, and, if that happens and the MDC is allowed to

campaign freely, this could dramatically change the tenor of

these elections for the better, as compared to every other

election in the past two years, which has been tainted by

intimidation. End Summary.

 

2. (U) On July 21, nominations were held in about 20 cities

across Zimbabwe for candidates to stand in mayoral and urban

council elections to be held August 30-31.

 

Candidacies Prevented

———————

 

3. (U) According to the independent Daily News at least 20

opposition candidates in Chegutu, Bindura, Marondera, Rusape

and Karoi were forcefully prevented from registering their

candidacies. According to the government-owned The Herald,

ZANU-PF candidates subsequently won 44 council seats and one

mayoral seat uncontested. The ruling party did, however,

fail to field two council candidates in Bulawayo–those seats

fell to the opposition MDC.

 

4. (C) In Chegutu, Amani Trust (a local human rights NGO)

reported that ruling party youths beat 11 people in the

vicinity of the nomination court. The Daily News reported

that MDC council candidate Albert Ndlovu suffered severe neck

injuries when he was attacked by ruling party youths who

manned the gate at Chegutu Town House (where nominations were

to take place.) The Daily News reported that in Chegutu, 10

ZANU-PF council candidates subsequently won their seats

unopposed.

 

5. (U) The Daily News reported that In Karoi, two MDC

candidates were taken to hospital for treatment of wounds

inflicted by ruling party youths.

 

6. (U) In Bindura and Chegutu ZANU-PF youths set up makeshift

roadblocks and prevented MDC candidate Fred Chimbiri from

reaching the nomination court.

 

7. (C) Amani Trust also reported that ruling party youth

militia members beat 4 people in Marondera near the

nomination site on July 21.

 

8. (U) The MDC reported that they failed to field all their

candidates in Rusape, Bindura, Karoi, Chegutu, and Marondera

because of violence.

 

Campaign of Intimidation

————————

 

9. (C) In the weeks leading up to the nominations, the MDC

reported that ZANU-PF youths harassed and threatened one of

their council candidates in Marondera, Deliquah Nicholas

Simon Musiwa, and his family. According to the MDC, ZANU-PF

youths abducted Musiwa’s wife Sarudzai and their 18-yr old

son Peter on June 5, held them overnight, and assaulted them

at the ZANU-PF Mashonaland East Provincial Headquarters. On

June 6 Musiwa was detained by police for 2 days and was

reportedly assaulted by Criminal Investigations Department

(CID) Inspector Manjengwa and four other police officers.

Musiwa subsequently sought medical care at Masvingo General

Hospital.

 

Some Cities Unaffected

———————-

 

10. (U) According to the Daily News, both parties fielded a

full compliment of council candidates in Masvingo, Gweru and

Redcliff. In Kwekwe, Redcliff, Gweru, and Mutare, both

parties also fielded a full compliment of mayoral candidates.

 

Broken Promise?

—————

 

11. (C) In a conversation with the Ambassador on July 22, MDC

President Morgan Tsvangirai said that his party had received

assurances from ZANU-PF that they would be allowed to

campaign freely for the upcoming mayoral, urban council, and

parliamentary by-elections. This was in exchange for

Tsvangirai and MDC MPs’ agreement not to boycott Mugabe’s

 

SIPDIS

speech at the opening of parliament on July 22 (Ref). The

agreement came too late for ZANU-PF to notify their officials

in rural areas to stand down, and the intimidation campaign

went ahead. Tsvangirai was subsequently told that the

nomination courts would be re-opened in the affected areas.

We have not been unable to confirm with either the GOZ or MDC

officials that this might actually take place.

 

12. (U) In addition to mayoral and urban council elections,

parliamentary by-elections will also be held for a Harare

Central seat vacated by MDC MP Michael Auret who is stepping

down due to illness, and a Makonde, Mashonaland West, seat

vacated by the death of ZANU-PF MP and Minister of Higher and

Tertiary Education, Swithun Mombeshora.

 

Comment:

——–

 

13. (C) Perceptions are important in the early stages of any

election. The ruling party has gained 44 out of 269 council

seats already, and one mayoral seat – 16% of the total seats

being contested. This is a significant headstart, and it

appears the harassment campaign sent a strong signal early

that MDC candidates will face an uphill battle against the

usual intimidation tactics if they try to campaign openly.

The council terms are for 5-years, so this is the first time

the MDC has contested these seats. If the GOZ re-opens the

affected nomination courts, and allows the MDC to campaign

openly, they could dramatically change the tenor of these

elections for the better as compared to every election in the

past two years, which has been marred by intimidation.

Whether ZANU-PF is willing to re-open the nomination process

where it was blocked will be a significant test of ZANU-PF

goodwill and readiness to pay more than lip-service to calls

for national dialogue. End Comment.

SULLIVAN

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