in Stories

US officials given cold shoulder in Mujuru’s constituency

United States embassy officials deployed 11 teams to observe elections on March 29 and all reported that voting took place in a calm and orderly manner. Observer teams were generally well-received at polling stations and throughout the different constituencies, including ruling party strongholds, but they were given a cold shoulder in Mt Darwin Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s constituency.

“At most polling stations, the presiding officers and election officials were accessible and freely answered questions about the process. Many took pride in showing log books meticulously detailing voting activities, including the number of voters assisted and turned away,” the officials said in a cable released by Wikileaks.

“We received a cold response from election officials and police at a few polling stations, especially in the Mt. Darwin constituency in Mashonaland Central province – a ruling party stronghold and the constituency of Vice-president Joice Mujuru. However, several persons near a polling station in Mt.Darwin approached our team and thanked us for taking an interest in the elections.”

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE270, EMBASSY HARARE ELECTION OBSERVATIONS: A POSITIVE

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE270

2008-04-03 15:40

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO2511

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0270/01 0941540

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 031540Z APR 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2678

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 1871

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1994

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0567

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1271

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1628

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2050

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4481

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUAEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1121

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000270

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

SES-O

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: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM ASEC ZI

SUBJECT: EMBASSY HARARE ELECTION OBSERVATIONS: A POSITIVE

EXPERIENCE

 

REF: HARARE 00245

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Embassy Harare deployed 11 teams to observe

elections on March 29; all reported that voting took place in a calm

and orderly manner. Observer teams were generally well-received at

polling stations and throughout the different constituencies,

including ruling party strongholds. All teams noted a sense of

excitement coming from the electorate. Election officials paid

particular attention to showing that the voting process on Election

Day was transparent and fair. Police had a noticeable presence in

all polling stations and interacted cordially and professionally

with observer teams. The teams were impressed by the apparent

overall quality of the voting process on Election Day. END

SUMMARY.

 

—————————-

Observer Teams Well-Received

—————————-

 

2. (SBU) Embassy Harare deployed 11 teams in the country’s 10

provinces to observe the harmonized elections on March 29. The

teams primarily covered remote rural areas visiting polling stations

and speaking with the public. Each team included one accredited

embassy officer, one local embassy employee and for som teams an

unaccredited American, and a driver. Only the accredited American

was able to enter the polling stations. Observer teams were

generally well-received at polling stations and throughout the

different constituencies. The public appeared excited to see and

talk with our teams. And, in two locations, the queue of voters

actually broke out into applause when the observer team arrived.

 

3. (SBU) Our non-accredited team members were able to interview

voters and the general public without interference or intimidation.

We heard a few isolated reports of apparent efforts at voter

intimidation and manipulation, such as ruling party supporters

writing down names of voters or promising bags of mealie meal if a

person showed a ZANU-PF card and voted. In all cases, police acted

to stop the suspect activity. One presiding officer in the

Chimanimani West constituency in Manicaland province told us that

she was confident police would act properly and prevent such

activities because no one at the polling station wanted a complaint

entered into “the book.”

 

4. (SBU) Throughout Election Day, we found the public eager to

discuss election conditions, but in a show of the palpable fear

surrounding politics in the country, nearly everyone we asked at the

end of a discussion refused to identify their party allegiance –

many simply walked away without responding. In between polling

stations, mostly along dirt roads in rural areas, groups and

individuals frequently would smile and give the open hand sign of

the MDC. Many of those we spoke with, including several police

officers working at polling stations, said the country needed

“change” – indicating support for the MDC.

 

——————————————— ——–

Election Day Voting Process Organized and Transparent

——————————————— ——–

 

5. (SBU) Observer teams noted a high-level of attention to procedure

and transparency demonstrated by the election officials. Polling

stations for the most part were well organized, equipped, prepared,

and managed. Election officials tended to be school teachers from

the surrounding area, but not from the immediate school polling

station; the presiding officer tended to be a school headmaster or

deputy headmaster.

 

6. (SBU) At most polling stations, the presiding officers and

election officials were accessible and freely answered questions

about the process. Many took pride in showing log books

 

HARARE 00000270 002 OF 003

 

 

meticulously detailing voting activities, including the number of

voters assisted and turned away. We received a cold response from

election officials and police at a few polling stations, especially

in the Mt. Darwin constituency in Mashonaland Central province – a

ruling party stronghold and the constituency of Vice-president Joice

Mujuru. However, several persons near a polling station in Mt.

Darwin approached our team and thanked us for taking an interest in

the elections.

 

7. (SBU) For the most part, polling stations opened on time. In one

instance in the Binga South constituency in Matabeleland North

province, the polling station opened at 10:45 am because the voters

roll had not been delivered. By early afternoon, the wait to vote

was more than an hour and growing. The presiding officer, however,

secured another voter booth from a neighboring polling station and a

second copy of voter rolls to speed up the process.

 

8. (SBU) At the closing of polls, our observers noted that the

presiding officers showed discipline in conducting the vote count

and verification. The presiding officers conferred with the other

election officers, party agents, and observers with each step in the

process. In most cases, the proceedings were quiet and orderly,

with little or no reaction to the actual returns. In one polling

station in the Bulawayo constituency, after it was announced that

President Mugabe received only a paltry eight votes, everyone in the

room burst into laugher when the party agent for one of the MDC

formations said “as it should be.”

 

9. (SBU) Our observer teams were allowed to view vote counting

exercises; however, in one instance in the Chiredzi constituency,

the presiding officer required the police to radio the constituency

command center to seek permission for our accredited embassy

observer to attend the proceedings. Permission was finally granted.

In the Kadoma Central constituency in the Mashonaland West

province, our observer noted that police were radioing in results to

an unknown location.

 

—————————-

A Noticeable Police Presence

—————————-

 

10. (SBU) Police were present in all polling stations and generally

interacted cordially and professionally with observer teams. No

overtly intimidating behavior was observed by teams; however, police

presence was clear, and their authority was understood.

 

11. (SBU) At several polling stations we visited, police stationed

inside had an active roll in the process beyond simply participating

in voter assistance. In one polling station in the Chiredzi South

constituency in Masvingo province, we observed a police officer

sitting at the registration table in front of the voter rolls busily

transcribing data from the rolls and the log book into a notebook.

In one polling station in Binga South constituency, voters appeared

to instinctively look to the police officer rather than the

presiding officer for permission to drop the ballot in the box.

 

12. (SBU) A pre-election concern had been an inadequate number of

polling stations in urban areas, particularly Harare. While we

observed long lines in some areas of Harare in the morning, there

were no lines when the polls closed and no reports of people unable

to vote.

 

13. (SBU) The only significant problem observed was voters unable

to vote because their names did not appear on the voter rolls. In a

few polling stations, almost 50 percent of people were turned away.

On average, about 15 percent were not allowed to vote. We suspect

some of these individuals located their names on voter rolls in

other wards.

 

 

HARARE 00000270 003 OF 003

 

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

14. (SBU) Despite inadequate pre-election preparations and sporadic

reports of intimidation and manipulation, the voting process on

Election Da was generally well-managed and orderly. Unfortunately,

the same cannot be said of the pre-election environment and the

post-election tabulation and reporting process. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

(27 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHAREShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePrint this page

Write a Comment

Comment