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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
01HARARE1620
2001-05-15 15:09:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Harare
Cable title:  

OPPOSITION WINS MASVINGO MAYORAL ELECTION

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  PINS  ZI 
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151509Z May 01


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ7783

PAGE 01        HARARE  01620  151502Z 
ACTION AF-00    

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                  ------------------EBF372  151503Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8880
INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
						C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 001620 

SIPDIS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER
LONDON FOR GURNEY
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: DECL. 05/07/11
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PINS ZI
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION WINS MASVINGO MAYORAL ELECTION

REF: A) HARARE 1584 B) HARARE 1556

CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 HARARE 01620 151502Z

CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL IRVING. REASONS: 1.5
B) AND (D).



1. (U) THE CANDIDATE FOR THE OPPOSITION MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC
CHANGE (MDC) OVERCAME A CONCERTED CAMPAIGN EFFORT BY THE RULING
ZANU-PF, INCLUDING SIGNIFICANT LEVELS OF VIOLENCE AND
INTIMIDATION (REFTELS), TO WIN THE MASVINGO MAYORAL ELECTION MAY
12-13. THE MDC'S ALOIS CHAIMITI, A RETIRED ENGINEER, RECEIVED
4,532 VOTES, WHILE 2,188 VOTES WENT TO JACOB CHADEMANA OF ZANU-
PF. THE THREE INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES WERE ONLY A MINOR FACTOR,
POLLING 664 VOTES AMONG THEM. ONLY SOME 7,000 PEOPLE OUT OF
27,000 REGISTERED VOTERS CAST THEIR BALLOTS, WHILE MORE THAN
3,000 VOTERS WHOSE NAMES DID NOT APPEAR ON THE VOTERS ROLL WERE
TURNED AWAY. CHAIMITI, ZIMBABWE'S FIRST MDC MAYOR, PLEDGED TO
WORK COOPERATIVELY WITH THE NINE ZANU-PF REPRESENTATIVES AND ONE
INDEPENDENT ON THE CITY COUNCIL FOR THE BETTERMENT OF MASVINGO.

MDC'S REACTION


--------------------------





2. (U) THE MDC LEADERSHIP WAS UNDERSTANDABLY ELATED AT THE
OUTCOME. PARTY PRESIDENT MORGAN TSVANGIRAI TOLD JOURNALISTS THE
PEOPLE OF MASVINGO HAD SENT A CLEAR MESSAGE THAT "THOSE PARTIES
THAT RELY ON VIOLENCE IN THEIR QUEST FOR PUBLIC OFFICE ...HAVE NO
PLACE IN THE NEW DEMOCRATIC DISPENSATION...NEVER AGAIN SHOULD THE
PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE LEGITIMIZE VIOLENCE." THE MDC'S NATIONAL
DIRECTOR OF ELECTIONS, PAUL THEMBA NYATHI, SAID THE RESULTS
DEMONSTRATED THAT ZIMBABWEANS WANT POLITICAL CHANGE. "THIS
SHOWS," NYATHI INSISTED, "THAT THE PEOPLE OF ZIMBABWE ARE NOW
AWARE THAT THE POWER TO CHANGE IS IN THEIR HANDS."
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 HARARE 01620 151502Z

REACTION OF GOVERNMENT AND ZANU/PF


--------------------------





3. (U) SAMUEL MUMBENGEGWI, ZANU-PF CHAIRMAN FOR MASVINGO
PROVINCE AND NATIONAL MINISTER OF EDUCATION, SPORTS, AND CULTURE,
BLAMED THE LOSS ON MDC-PERPETRATED VIOLENCE, WHICH HE SAID HAD
SCARED THE RULING PARTY'S SUPPORTERS AWAY FROM THE POLLS, AND ON
THE ALLEGEDLY POOR STATE OF THE VOTERS ROLL. THE GOVERNMENT'S
CHIEF PROPAGANDIST -- INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY MINISTER JONATHAN
MOYO -- DISMISSED THE MDC VICTORY, SAYING WHAT REALLY MATTERED
WAS THAT THE CITY COUNCIL REMAINED IN ZANU-PF'S HANDS.

COMMENT


--------------------------





4. (C) WE WERE NOT SURPRISED AT THE LARGE PERCENTAGE OF VOTERS
WHO STAYED AWAY FROM THE POLLS, GIVEN THE TENSE POLITICAL
ATMOSPHERE WHICH PRECEDED THE ELECTION. IN CONTRAST TO THE
HISTORICAL PATTERN, HOWEVER, ZANU-PF DID NOT BENEFIT THIS TIME
FROM THE LOW VOTER TURNOUT. THE FACT THAT THE MDC RECEIVED 8,000
FEWER VOTES IN MASVINGO THAN IT DID IN THE JUNE 2000
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION, WHILE ZANU-PF'S TALLY DECREASED BY FEWER
THAN 1,000 VOTES, IS LIKELY NOT A REFLECTION OF ERODING SUPPORT
FOR THE OPPOSITION PARTY. RATHER, MANY MASVINGO RESIDENTS -- THE
MAJORITY OF WHOM WERE CLEARLY MDC SUPPORTERS -- TOLD A VISITING
EMBASSY OFFICER THAT IT WAS NOT WORTH RISKING POSSIBLE
RETALIATION TO VOTE IN THE MAYORAL RACE. INSTEAD, THEY WERE
BIDING THEIR TIME UNTIL THE 2002 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, WHEN THEY
PLANNED TO CAST THEIR BALLOTS FOR THE PRIZE WHICH REALLY
MATTERED. IN THE SHORT TERM, THE MASVINGO OUTCOME WILL BOOST THE
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 HARARE 01620 151502Z
MORALE OF MDC SUPPORTERS NATIONWIDE, WHO WILL SEE THAT VICTORY IS
POSSIBLE EVEN IN THE FACE OF INTENSIVE INTIMIDATION, AND
INDICATES THAT THE MDC MIGHT HAVE THE UPPER HAND FOR NOW IN THE
PROVINCE THAT BOTH MAJOR PARTIES CONSIDER CRUCIAL TO THEIR
PRESIDENTIAL RACE PROSPECTS.

IRVING

CONFIDENTIAL

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