The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front was in the driver’s seat and was going to win big either way- reflecting its calculation that most Southern African Development Community members would accept cosmetic reforms and a crushing victory for the party.
This was the view of a United States embassy official eight years ago after the Movement for Democratic Change announced that it would not be participating in the 2005 elections unless the government met certain conditions.
The conditions were:
- An end to political violence;
- Repeal of repressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the Broadcasting Act;
- An end to government interference with MDC’s activities;
- And access to the media by the opposition.
The embassy official said the MDC’s position was not new but many in the party believed that a boycott would play into ZANU-PF’s hands and destroy the MDC.
Viewing cable 04HARARE1444, OPPOSITION REITERATES TENTATIVE BOYCOTT OF
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS HARARE 001444
AF/S FOR B. NEULING
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVELLE, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION REITERATES TENTATIVE BOYCOTT OF
¶1. (U) The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
announced August 25 that the party,s National Executive had
decided to suspend participation in elections. In a briefing
to the diplomatic corps the same day, MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai said the GOZ,s proposed election reforms were not
meaningful and that the following would be required for MDC
to consider participating in elections: an end to political
violence; repeal of repressive laws such as the Public Order
and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, and the Broadcasting Act; an end to government
interference with MDC,s activities; and access to the media
by the opposition. Tsvangirai added that the MDC applauded
the SADC protocol on election standards agreed upon in
Mauritius last week, but it was clear that the Government of
Zimbabwe did not intend to adhere to those principles.
¶2. (U) Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa, quoted in the
government-controlled Herald on August 26, said that MDC,s
decision was a move to avoid certain defeat in the March 2005
parliamentary elections. Chinamasa said he would present a
draft election reform bill to the Cabinet next week.
¶3. (SBU) COMMENT: The MDC,s position is not new but its
vocal reiteration at this time probably reflects the party,s
belief that, in the wake of Mauritius, regional attention is
at a high water mark. MDC is convinced that regional
pressure is key to forcing the GOZ to implement the
principles it agreed to at the SADC Summit. The practical
effect of the MDC,s decision is that it will not contest the
upcoming by-election in Seke–which it would likely have lost
in any event. Longer term, the party has yet to decide
whether it will contest the parliamentary elections if the
government fails to undertake real reform. The MDC would, of
course, lose such an election, but many in the party believe
that a boycott would play into ZANU-PF,s hands and destroy
the MDC. Still others argue for a boycott followed by a
campaign of civil disobedience to pressure the government.
For its part, the ZANU-PF leadership believes it is in the
driver,s seat and will win big either way–reflecting their
calculation that most SADC members will accept cosmetic
reforms and a crushing ZANU-PF victory. END COMMENT.