The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front won the crucial Zengeza seat but its victory was marred by reports of violence in which ZANU-PF Minister Elliot Manyika was accused of shooting a Movement for Democratic Change youth.
MDC supporters had protested against the imposition of candidate James Makore who lost by just over 1 000 votes.
Manyika was reportedly at his farm in Bindura at the time of the shooting.
Although several people fingered Manyika as the shooter, MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube told a local British diplomat that there were legitimate questions about the accuracy of the eyewitness reports.
Viewing cable 04HARARE553, VIOLENT RULING PARTY VICTORY SETS TONE FOR
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 000553
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER, D. TEITELBAUM
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2014
SUBJECT: VIOLENT RULING PARTY VICTORY SETS TONE FOR
REF: HARARE 540 AND PREVIOUS
Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: In a demoralizing blow to the opposition,
ZANU-PF took an MDC stronghold in the March 27 – 28
by-election in the urban high-density constituency of
Zengeza. The government press reported that Minister Elliott
Manyika, rumored to be involved in the shooting of an MDC
youth (Ref), was in Bindura during the incident. The
successful use of violence and manipulation in the Zengeza
election will embolden the ruling party to use similar
strategies in upcoming elections. Can the MDC compete? END
ZANU-PF Wins Zengeza
¶2. (U) The results of the March 27 – 28 by-election in
Zengeza (a high-density suburb of Harare) were announced late
on March 29. ZANU-PF candidate Christopher Chigumba polled
8,442 votes to defeat the MDC candidate James Makore, who
polled 6,706 votes. Two other candidates from minor
political parties each polled less than 100 votes.
¶3. (C) The government will hold another by-election in the
rural Matabeleland North district of Lupane on May 15 – 16 to
fill a seat vacated by the February 3 death of MDC MP David
Mpala. Emboffs will observe the Lupane by-election with
other diplomats, as they did in Zengeza (Ref).
Manyika Establishes Alibi
¶4. (U) The Government-controlled Herald reported on March 30
that MDC MP Ben Tumbare-Mutasa was arrested in Zengeza on
March 29 for allegedly firing shots at ZANU-PF supporters.
MDC officials said Mutasa fired warning shots into the air in
self-defense. No one was injured in the March 29 incident.
¶5. (U) The article devoted considerable space to defending
ZANU-PF Political Commissar and Minister Without Portfolio
Elliott Manyika against rumors “circulating around the world
and in the country” that he or his bodyguard was involved in
the March 28 shooting death of an MDC youth (Ref). According
to the article Manyika was at his Bindura (Mashonaland
Central) farm at the time — the Electoral Supervisory
Commission Chairman, police officers in Zengeza, officers
manning a roadblock in Mazowe (between Harare and Bindura),
and employees of a Mazowe hotel and Manyika’s farm all
confirmed this alibi. The article went on to say that those
involved in political skirmishes usually did not know each
other and so clashes could happen within parties, not just
¶6. (C) Harare-based Swedish, Australian and British diplomats
who arrived on the scene of the shooting about two hours
after the event occurred reported that many on the scene
fingered Manyika as the shooter. MDC Secretary-General
Welshman Ncube told a local British diplomat that there were
legitimate questions about the accuracy of the eyewitness
reports, however, and the party was not prepared to accuse
Manyika yet. Party statements denouncing the election and
associated violence have not mentioned Manyika.
The Gathering Gloom
¶7. (C) The Director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN) Dr. Reginald Matchaba-Hove told emboff on March 29
that the Zengeza election was the most outrageous election
fraud ever perpetrated on the people of Zimbabwe.
¶8. (U) According to the March 30 Herald, in response to the
announced results Chigumba in a speech said Zimbabweans even
in urban areas now know that the British-sponsored opposition
MDC has nothing to offer them. Harare Province Governor
Witness Mangwende said, “this is the beginning of the end for
the MDC”. The article reported that in response to these
speeches some ZANU-PF supporters shouted that MDC supporters
should be deported from Zimbabwe.
¶9. (U) In the March 30 Herald, columnist Donald Charumbira
accused the MDC of being terrorists and asserted that “the
best MDC is a dead MDC”, and “the MDC has no basis to remain
in existence.” The column highlighted the notion that the
interests of ZANU-PF were to empower the masses and build the
nation whereas the inclination of the MDC was to engineer
chaos and usurp power; therefore there was no basis for talks
between the two. Charumbira recommended that the MDC
dissolve itself or join ZANU-PF.
¶10. (C) ZANU-PF’s success in violently taking a solid MDC
urban stronghold may embolden ZANU-PF to use the Zengeza
blueprint of intimidation and manipulation in upcoming
elections. Indeed, Zengeza was consistent with comprehensive
bullying tactics employed by the ruling party in elections
throughout its history. The brazenness of its abuses on this
occasion and the party’s apparently heightened disdain of
diplomatic observers underscores that domestic and
international perceptions of election legitimacy do not
appear to be a serious concern for ZANU-PF. Ruling party
officials’ unapologetic statements and explicit unwillingness
to compromise on electoral issues even superficially, and the
brazenness of abuses, suggest that the ruling party will not
be satisfied to emasculate the MDC in next March’s
parliamentary elections. Instead it may seek to obliterate
the opposition entirely.
¶11. (C) (continued) For the MDC, the demoralizing loss will
likely lead to further despair and frustration within the
already dispirited party. Growing rage and hopelessness born
of the Zengeza experience and rigid structural electoral
imbalances could fuel so-called “adventurist” elements that
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai and other officials have
cautioned about in recent weeks. MDC leaders have confided
to emboffs that they already spend significant time and
energy trying to quell such inclinations. Absent an
unexpected change in the ruling party calculus, the stage
appears to be set for more violence in the run-up to May’s
Lupane by-election and next March’s national parliamentary