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ZESN helped prevent Mugabe from stealing 2008 election

The Zimbabwe Election Supervisory Network’s parallel vote tabulation may have helped prevent President Robert Mugabe from “stealing” the 2008 election outright according to a cable released by Wikileaks.

The cable dispatched by United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee, three weeks before the presidential election run-off, says the ZESN vote tabulation was key in demonstrating Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s lead in the March 29 presidential election, thus “preventing Mugabe from stealing the election outright”.

The cable was about preparations the ZESN was making for the presidential elections as it was hoping to repeat the parallel tabulation process.

The ZESN figures for March were closer to the final results than those that were initially released by the MDC.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 08HARARE487, LOCAL ELECTION OBSERVERS READY, WAITING FOR

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

08HARARE487

2008-06-04 14:26

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXYZ0002

OO RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHSB #0487/01 1561426

ZNY CCCCC ZZH (CCY AD9DBBB7 MSI4646-695)

O 041426Z JUN 08

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2988

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2025

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2146

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0688

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1423

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 1781

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2202

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4633

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1288

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000487

 

SIPDIS

 

C O R R E C T E D COPY TEXT

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: DECL: 06/04/2018

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM KDEM ZI

SUBJECT: LOCAL ELECTION OBSERVERS READY, WAITING FOR

ACCREDITATION

 

 

Classified By: Ambassador James McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) In a meeting with a Zimbabwe Election Support Network

(ZESN) official on June 3, ZESN appeared confident and

prepared to mobilize efforts to deploy observers throughout

the country for the June 27 Presidential runoff. On June 2,

ZESN submitted their list of about 10,000 proposed observers

to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) – the first step towards

securing a MoJ invitation to participate as local election

observers. However, the MoJ said they would not respond

until June 10 at the earliest, leaving ZESN less than three

weeks to bring the observers to Harare for training in new

election rules and to apply for their individual

accreditations. ZESN views the delay as a deliberate move by

the Zimbabwean Government (GOZ) to limit the number of

independent observers. Nonetheless, ZESN plans to conduct an

independent, sample-based vote tabulation in the runoff, with

the aim of providing an accurate estimate of the election

results. ZESN did this successfully in the March 29

election, and believes it can pull it off again. This could

prove essential should the GOZ attempt to rig the election.

END SUMMARY.

 

———————————–

Observers Displaced, But Going Home

———————————–

 

2. (C) In a meeting on June 3, ZESN Program Manager, Tsungai

Kokerai, expressed confidence to poloff that ZESN would have

the capacity to distribute election observers to the

estimated 9,000 polling places for the June 27 presidential

runoff between the incumbent, ZANU-PF’s Robert Mugabe, and

the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai.

Kokerai said that some of ZESN’s first round observers had

been displaced – either pre-emptively or fleeing violence –

in Mashonaland East, Sarabani, Mudzi South, and the Mt.

Darwin area. Displaced observers from Mashonaland Central

returned home about two weeks ago, following assurances from

Vice President Joice Mujuru that the region was safe. Thus

far, those observers have not experienced problems, giving

confidence to another group of about 36 observers who plan to

return to the other areas later this week. Kokerai expressed

pride in ZESN observers, citing observers in the

violence-ravaged Mt. Darwin area in Mashonaland Central who

vowed they would observe the election again, regardless of

threats.

 

3. (C) Commenting on the MDC’s campaign strategies, Kokerai

opined that the MDC needs to change tactics away from holding

rallies – which are now poorly attended and also used by

ZANU-PF militias to identify MDC members. Rather she thought

that MDC should focus its efforts on encouraging people that

it is safe to vote rather than who to vote for. (NOTE:

Police denied permission for at least two MDC rallies over

the weekend of June 1. Press reports indicate Tsvangirai

toured high density neighborhoods near Bulawayo on June 4 on

foot. END NOTE.) Kokerai also confirmed rumors that people,

especially in rural areas, are being threatened with beatings

if they do not vote at all. While some are afraid, Kokerai

believes people will still vote for MDC rather than stay home

on June 27. She cited a Shona proverb that is being repeated

across the country, “which option is not death?” While some

round-one observers fear retribution if they observe again,

Kokerai said that other volunteers are emerging to fill the

gaps.

 

———————————-

 

GOZ Delaying Accreditation Process

———————————-

 

4. (C) Kokerai explained that for ZESN to receive

accreditation as an election-observing organization, it first

needs an invitation from the MoJ, currently headed by Mugabe

stalwart Patrick Chinamasa. (NOTE: Chinamasa was voted out of

his seat in the March 29 election by his constituency in

Marondera, Mashonaland East. He has, nonetheless, refused to

relinquish his seat as Minister, to the protests of members

of the opposition. END NOTE.) Normally, the MoJ would

publish an announcement in the local press, inviting

organizations such as ZESN to submit letters requesting

invitation. Although this advertisement had not yet been

published, ZESN – along with other independent organizations

– submitted its letter yesterday. Kokerai said that the MoJ

appeared disinterested and asked them why ZESN had sent the

letter when MoJ haven’t yet put out the advertisement.

 

5. (C) ZESN plans to submit a second, slightly different

list of names on Friday June 7, so that either list that

Chinamasa approves will have enough observers. ZESN is also

coordinating efforts with churches and other local election

observing groups to put people on multiple organizations’

lists, with the goal of having at least two independent

observers at each polling place.

 

—————————————-

Polling Locations, Numbers Still Unknown

—————————————-

 

6. (C) In the March 29 election there were approximately

9,000 polling places. However, the polling places for the

June 27 runoff have not yet been announced, complicating

ZESN’s efforts to distribute observers. Kokerai said the

polling places should be identified and agreed upon by all

parties and the Zimbabwe Election Commission in advance of

the election. Nonetheless, some places were identified or

changed just before the March 29 election.

 

————————————-

Confident in Parallel Vote Tabulation

————————————-

 

7. (C) Kokerai appeared confident that ZESN will be able to

repeat their successful parallel vote tabulation for this

election. Assuming the number of polling places holds, it

needs about 4,000 observers to provide “cover” for the random

sample of 435 polling places that they will use for the

parallel vote tabulation. Even in the unlikely circumstance

ZESN cannot get accreditation for all of its observers, ZESN

has mechanisms to coordinate data collection with other local

observers. Kokerai dismissed the idea that the GOZ would

deny local organizations accreditation to observe the

election.

 

——————

Fighting the Clock

——————

 

8. (C) As the electricity went out in the house ZESN uses

for its offices, Kokerai cited time as the biggest challenge

they face. With their request for an accreditation

invitation sitting on Minister Chinamasa’s desk, ZESN cannot

yet bring in its observers for training or to apply for new

accreditation badges. As part of the Electoral Amendment

passed in mid-May, the GOZ modified the V-11 form observers

and party officials must sign at the polling place, ZESN

needs to ensure its observers understand the form and keep a

copy after the votes are counted. In addition, ZESN has

about 2,000 new observers that need training. While such

 

training should last two days, she believes they will have

only a couple hours to train the different groups of new

observers.

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

9. (C) ZESN’s parallel vote tabulation proved key in

demonstrating Tsvangirai’s lead in the March 29 presidential

election, preventing Mugabe from stealing the election

outright. ZESN appears confident that even if accreditations

are delayed or denied, they will be able to gather enough

information to repeat the parallel tabulation process. While

they are frustrated with GOZ efforts to delay the

accreditation process, ZESN is prepared to work around the

clock to prepare. It is also reassuring that displaced

observers are returning home and that they have as many as

2,000 new volunteers. END COMMENT.

 

McGee

(34 VIEWS)

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