The 2005 parliamentary elections were peaceful because the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front had become a minority party so its supporters did not want to risk provocations.
This was said by Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai at the start of the elections which were generally said to be peaceful.
The MDC was optimistic about winning the elections because of the political space the government had opened and said it was going to win 85 seats and at worst 40.
The United States embassy sent out 24 observer teams while other embassies deployed 20 teams nationwide.
The Zimbabwe Election Supervisory Network deployed 600 monitors at the 8 000 polling stations.
Viewing cable 05HARARE487, ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS: SMOOTH OPENING
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 000487
E.O. 12958: DECL: OADR
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS: SMOOTH OPENING
Classified By: AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER DELL
REASON 1.4 (B)
¶1. (SBU) Early diplomatic observer reports characterize
Zimbabwe’s parliamentary elections as peaceful and orderly
with only isolated reports of government or ruling ZANU-PF
harassment of the opposition MDC. Diplomatic observer teams
are reporting long queues at many polling stations, but
shorter than in the 2000 or 2002 elections. Voters have been
patiently waiting to cast their votes. The one incident to
mar an otherwise smooth opening of the polling is the
reported disappearance of MDC candidate Siyabonga Ncube
(Filabusi constituency in Mtabeleland). We have few details
at this point but expect to know more later in the day. END
A Quiet Start
¶2. (SBU) The 24 U.S. Embassy observer teams and around 20
teams from other western embassies deployed nationwide have
reported often sizable lines of Zimbabweans waiting in
orderly queues to cast their vote. As of 1130 local time,
lines in urban areas in Harare, Mutare, and other cities have
generally been between 100-500 voters, with rural areas
reporting queues of considerably less than 100 individuals.
Despite the long lines, observers have reported generally
calm and orderly voting with the size of the queues
decreasing by the hour. By late morning the long lines had
dwindled considerably, in part due to on the spot efforts by
election supervisors to improve their procedures.
¶3. (SBU) Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) officials,
presiding officers, and other polling officers were reported
to have largely adhered to the electoral code of conduct,
including requiring the inking of voters’ fingers, sealing
ballot boxes with at least a lock or plastic tie (or both),
and helping voters in need of assistance. Observers in
polling places in Murewa and Masvingo did note high numbers
of assisted voters, up to 40% at one polling station,
although most did appear in genuine need of assistance.
Observers have also noted numerous voters who were turned
away because their names were not on the voter list, possibly
a result of redrawn districts. ZEC officials on multiple
occasions have refused observers’ requests for information on
turnout, although this likely extends from an unfamiliarity
with observers’ rights rather than a concerted campaign to
deny information to the international community.
¶4. (SBU) Zimbabwe Election System Network (ZESN) monitors
were ubiquitous at most polling places, as were the party
monitors. (N.B. There were 6000 ZESN monitors for the 8000
polling places.) ZESN officials also reported that their
observers’ early impressions were of generally calm voting
with only a handful of exceptions, and no pattern to those.
They did, however, note that their relatively inexperienced
monitors had yet to report any sense of the turnout. In
Mashonaland East, the ZESN provincial coordinator speculated
that the large number of polling places for this election
probably explains the relatively low numbers of voters at
most stations and she thought the overall turnout was high.
VIOLENCE AT A MINIMUM
¶5. (SBU) Compared to the 2002 and 2000 elections, reports of
violence are almost non-existent. Most irregularities
reported have been little more than inappropriate questioning
of voters by ZANU-PF members and campaigning near polling
places. Ruling party members in Bindura in Mashonaland
Central province, which has seen long queues of voters,
reportedly have been questioning voters about their selection
and making notations on voter lists. Embassy observers in
Gwanda, near Bulawayo, reported that official MDC observers
were not allowed into the polling place because their names
were not on the proper list; ZANU-PF officials were allowed
into the same station. EU observers noted similar refusals
for MDC officials in a number of polling stations nationwide.
¶6. (SBU) The most disconcerting report has been the possible
disappearance of MDC candidate Siyabonga Ncube in Filabusi,
near Bulawayo. The constituency went to the MDC in the last
election but has since been gerrymandered by the government
to favor the ZANU-PF candidate and was considered a
“toss-up.” According to MDC officials in the area, ZANU-PF
members on Wednesday evening made “intimidating remarks” to
Ncube. Ncube then left the area, telling party members he
would soon be back, but has not been heard from since. The
MDC’s electoral hotline is reporting the disappearance as a
likely case of government dirty tricks. The MDC is
attempting to verify Ncube,s welfare and whereabouts and has
promised to let us know as soon as he is located.
¶7. (C) It is still much too early to say whether the MDC’s
forward momentum in recent weeks will translate into election
results. However, the lack of election day hi-jinks by
ruling party members and government security forces is
certainly a positive sign. As Morgan Tsvangirai told the
Ambassador and DCM late on March 30, knowing they are now a
minority party, ZANU-PF supporters do not want to risk