The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front which had agreed that President Robert Mugabe should step down after his defeat in the 29 March 2008 elections changed its mind the very day Mugabe was expected to concede defeat because the Movement for Democratic Change refused to accommodate him for another six months.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGhee that Mugabe had agreed to concede defeat but wanted an additional six months in office which the MDC rejected.
He also wanted a government of national unity which the MDC also rejected.
ZANU-PF, which had agreed that Mugabe would step down, changed its mind and garnered for a run-off.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and defence forces chief Constantine Chiwenga are reported to have convinced Mugabe to contest a run-off.
A committee to oversee the runoff was set up and comprised: Didymus Mutasa (Minister of State Security); Nicholas Goche (Minister of Labour); Elliot Manyika (ZANU-PF commissar); and Emmerson Mnangagwa.
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SUBJECT: SITUATION REPORT: TSVANGIRAI DISCUSSES RUNOFF WITH
REF: HARARE 254
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai requested a meeting
with the Ambassador after the MDC briefing (Septel) on
election results. Tsvangirai explained that yesterday the
MDC had negotiated with emissaries of President Robert Mugabe
and had reached a tentative deal. Mugabe had agreed to
concede defeat. He wanted an additional six months in office
which the MDC had rejected. He also wanted a government of
national unity. Tsvangirai said the MDC was not opposed in
principle to this; the MDC had always preached
reconciliation. The MDC had requested a list of 10 names to
consider for government positions. The parties agreed that
Mugabe and Tsvangirai would meet in the morning before a
concession speech by Mugabe and a later victory speech by
Tsvangirai. ZANU-PF negotiators failed today to contact the
MDC about the meeting. According to Tsvangirai, he later
heard from an individual whom he described as a high-level
ZANU-PF insider that Mugabe had rejected the agreement.
ZANU-PF was returning to Plan A–a runoff.
¶2. (C) Tsvangirai also told the Ambassador he had received
information that ZANU-PF would allege that a runoff election
within 21 days, as required by the Electoral Act, was not
logistically feasible. Mugabe, by presidential decree, would
set the runoff election 90 days from the date of the
election, March 29. Tsvangirai said he was concerned about
ZANU-PF violence and intimidation during the electoral
period, especially since the MDC, knowing it had strong
support in the urban areas, would focus campaigning in the
rural areas. Expressing strong concern about a 90-day
electoral period, Tsvangirai asked that the diplomatic
community support the 21-day period called for by the
¶3. (C) A business contact with excellent ZANU-PF contacts
confirmed to us today that the ruling party’s plan was a
runoff election. He said the ZEC would declare Tsvangirai
the winner of the March 29 election with about 48 percent of
the vote, and with Mugabe winning about 43 percent.
According to our contact, Mugabe and his inner circle had
yesterday agreed that Mugabe would step down, as outlined by
Tsvangirai, but Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Defense
Chief Constantine Chiwenga had convinced Mugabe to reverse
course and contest a runoff election. A committee to oversee
the runoff election had been set up. It would be chaired by
Didymus Mutasa (Minister of State Security) and would also
include Nicholas Goche (Minister of Labor), Elliot Manyika
(ZANU-PF commissar), and Emmerson Mnangagwa. Our contact
said the Central Intelligence Office (CIO) had informed him
that ZANU-PF would attempt to limit observers for the runoff
and limit the MDC’s access to rural areas. He also believed
that Gono was preparing to raise USD 200 million through the
sale of diamonds in London.
¶4. (C) Harare remains calm. We expect that the announcement
of a runoff will be greeted with acceptance, if not
resignation, by most people. It will damper any short-term
prospects for violence.
¶5. (C) Mugabe and his inner circle have discussed several
scenarios during the last several days (Reftel) and as
recently as yesterday were discussing a deal whereby Mugabe
would step down. It appears probable they have settled on a
runoff. We note that a sub-headline in today’s The Herald,
HARARE 00000267 002 OF 002
the government mouthpiece, stated “Presidential Poll Rerun
¶6. (C) The question arises as to why ZANU-PF would not steal
the election outright, since it has obviously resorted to
fraud during the election process. Under the Electoral Act
as amended in January as a resulQof the SADC negotiations,
each polling station was required to post a form outside the
station with results of counting. The ZEC is required to
maintain custody of the originals, and it is logical to
believe that Mugabe’s total vote, as revealed by the forms,
would be less than 50 percent and would approximate the 43
percent it appears the ZEC will ultimately declare he has
¶7. (C) ZANU-PF appears to have suffered a stunning defeat.
We believe it will pull out all the stops to ensure that this
does not happen again in a runoff election. END COMMENT.