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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
01HARARE3597
2001-11-30 09:52:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Harare
Cable title:  

MDC WILL NOT BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Tags:  PREL PGOV ZI 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

300952Z Nov 01


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ8374

PAGE 01        HARARE  03597  010817Z 
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                  ------------------45A7F3  010818Z /25    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0441
INFO NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
AMEMBASSY OSLO 
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 
AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 
AMEMBASSY KINGSTON 
AMEMBASSY ABUJA
						C O N F I D E N T I A L  HARARE 003597 

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL. 11/29/11
TAGS: PREL PGOV ZI
SUBJECT: MDC WILL NOT BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION


CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF MATT HARRINGTON.
REASONS: 1.5 (B) AND (D).

SUMMARY
-------



1. (C) MDC LEADER MORGAN TSVANGIRAI TOLD THE AMBASSADOR ON
NOVEMBER 27 THAT RAMPANT MANIPULATION OF THE ELECTORAL PROCESS AND
INTENSIFYING VIOLENCE AGAINST OPPOSITION SUPPORTERS CONFIRM THAT
THE RULING PARTY IS PREPARED TO WIN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BY
ANY MEANS. DESPITE THE UNLIKELY PROSPECTS FOR A FREE AND FAIR
VOTE, THE MDC WOULD NOT BOYCOTT, AS "PEOPLE HAVE SACRIFICED TOO
MUCH." TSVANGIRAI SAID INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS SHOULD BE IN PLACE
AT LEAST SIX WEEKS BEFORE THE ELECTION IN ORDER TO CONDUCT A
CREDIBLE ASSESSMENT AND HE WOULD EMPHASIZE THIS POINT WITH AF
ASSISTANT SECRETARY KANSTEINER IN THE LATTER'S UPCOMING VISIT TO
ZIMBABWE. THE MDC LEADER CONFIRMED THAT HIS PARTY AND ZANU-PF
REMAIN ENGAGED IN "VERY LOW-KEY, EXPLORATORY" TALKS FOCUSED NOT ON
POWER-SHARING BUT ON HOW TO RESTORE NORMALITY TO THE COUNTRY.
TSVANGIRAI EXPRESSED HOPE THAT THE ZIMBABWE DEMOCRACY AND

SIPDIS
ECONOMIC RECOVERY ACT WOULD PASS SOON. END SUMMARY.

USG POSITION


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





2. (C) IN A NOVEMBER 27 CONVERSATION WITH MDC PRESIDENT MORGAN
TSVANGIRAI IN THE OPPOSITION LEADER'S OFFICE, THE AMBASSADOR,

SIPDIS
ACCOMPANIED BY POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF, CONVEYED THE USG POSITION
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 HARARE 03597 010817Z
THAT CONDITIONS DO NOT NOW EXIST IN ZIMBABWE FOR FREE AND FAIR
ELECTIONS. IT WAS OUR VIEW, HOWEVER, THAT THERE IS STILL TIME TO
CREATE THOSE CONDITIONS, AND THE UNITED STATES WANTED TO BE
HELPFUL IN THAT PROCESS IF POSSIBLE. THE AMBASSADOR SAID WE WOULD
CONTINUE TO PRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF ADMITTING INTERNATIONAL
OBSERVERS AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. HE REPORTED THAT AF ASSISTANT
SECRETARY KANSTEINER WOULD BE IN ZIMBABWE DECEMBER 8-11 AND HOPED

SIPDIS
TO BE ABLE TO MEET WITH TSVANGIRAI. THE AMBASSADOR THEN SOLICITED
THE OPPOSITION LEADER'S ASSESSMENT OF RECENT POLITICAL
DEVELOPMENTS.

ELECTORAL MACHINATIONS


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





3. (C) THE GOZ, TSVANGIRAI BEGAN, IS DETERMINED TO WIN THE
ELECTION USING ALL MEANS, AND WANTS TO ENSURE A PREDETERMINED
OUTCOME. MANIPULATION OF THE ELECTORAL PROCESS IS RAMPANT, AS
GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO DISENFRANCHISE LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE. THE
MDC, HE SAID, PLANNED THE FOLLOWING DAY TO FILE SUIT CHALLENGING
THE ONEROUS REQUIREMENTS BEING IMPOSED ON ZIMBABWEANS WHO ARE
TRYING TO REGISTER TO VOTE. THAT MORNING, HE SAID, HIS 18 YEAR-
OLD DAUGHTER HAD INITIALLY BEEN TURNED AWAY WHEN SHE WENT TO
REGISTER, TOLD EITHER TO PRODUCE PROOF OF RESIDENCE OR TO BRING
HER FATHER TO THE OFFICE. THE ELECTORAL OFFICIAL ONLY RELENTED
UNDER PRESSURE FROM THE GIRL'S BODYGUARDS. "IF THIS CAN HAPPEN TO
MY DAUGHTER IN HARARE," TSVANGIRAI ASSERTED, "IMAGINE WHAT IS
HAPPENING IN ISOLATED RURAL AREAS."



4. (C) THE ELECTORAL SUPERVISORY COMMISSION (ESC), TSVANGIRAI
LAMENTED, HAS NOT PERFORMED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW. IT IS
SUPPOSED TO ENSURE THAT THE ELECTORAL PROCESS IS CARRIED OUT
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 HARARE 03597 010817Z
FAIRLY AND CONSISTENT WITH LAID-DOWN RULES, BUT MUCH OF ITS
AUTHORITY HAS BEEN USURPED BY THE REGISTRAR-GENERAL. TSVANGIRAI
DESCRIBED THE REGISTRAR-GENERAL, TOBAIWA MUDEDE, AS A ZANU-PF
PARTISAN, WHO ACTS LIKE A REFEREE WHO THROWS AWAY HIS WHISTLE AND
JOINS ONE TEAM. ASKED WHETHER THE MDC HAS ACCESS TO THE ELECTORAL
SUPERVISORY COMMISSION (ESC), TSVANGIRAI SAID THE PARTY'S
ELECTIONS DIRECTOR WAS SEEKING A MEETING WITH ESC CHAIRMAN SOBUSA
GULA-NDEBELE. HE DISMISSED THE ESC MEMBERS AS "ZANU-PF ZEALOTS"
BUT THOUGHT GULA-NDEBELE'S BACKGROUND AS A LAWYER MIGHT MAKE HIM
MORE MODERATE THAN HIS COLLEAGUES. THE AMBASSADOR ENCOURAGED THE
MDC TO MEET WITH THE REGISTRAR-GENERAL AS WELL. TSVANGIRAI AGREED
IT WAS IMPORTANT TO TRY. THE BOTTOM LINE, THOUGH, IS THAT
ZIMBABWEANS DO NOT HAVE A NON-PARTISAN BODY MONITORING THE
ELECTION PROCESS. HE SAID THE MDC MIGHT PROPOSE IN ITS INTER-PARTY
DIALOGUE WITH ZANU-PF (SEE PARA 8 BELOW) FORMATION OF AN ELECTORAL
COMMISSION COMPRISING BOTH RULING PARTY AND MDC REPRESENTATIVES, A
STEP THAT COULD OBVIATE THE NEED IN THE SHORT-TERM FOR AN
INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL BODY.



5. (C) TSVANGIRAI RAISED THE ISSUE OF INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS,
SAYING THE MDC ASSESSMENT WAS THAT OBSERVER GROUPS NEEDED TO BE IN
PLACE AT LEAST SIX WEEKS IN ADVANCE OF THE ELECTION IN ORDER TO DO
A CREDIBLE ASSESSMENT. HE SAID HE WOULD SHARE THAT VIEW WITH A/S

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 03 HARARE 003597

SIPDIS

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

CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 05 HARARE 03597 010817Z
E.O. 12958: DECL. 11/29/11
TAGS: PREL PGOV ZI
SUBJECT: MDC WILL NOT BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

KANSTEINER DURING THE LATTER'S VISIT TO ZIMBABWE. ASKED WHETHER
THE MDC HAS THE CAPACITY TO ASSIGN ITS OWN PARTY AGENTS TO EVERY
POLLING STATION, TSVANGIRAI SAID THEY HAVE ENOUGH PEOPLE. THE
PROBLEM IS THAT, IN ISOLATED AREAS, THE PARTY AGENTS ARE VERY
VULNERABLE AND "TAKE LOTS OF ABUSE."

MORE VIOLENCE BUT BOYCOTT NOT AN OPTION


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





6. (C) ACCORDING TO TSVANGIRAI, THE GOZ HAS STEPPED UP ITS
INTIMIDATION CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE MDC "BY LABELING US TERRORISTS."
HE INSISTED THAT THE MDC HAD HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CAIN NKALA
MURDER, WHICH WAS LIKELY AN INSIDE JOB. NONETHELESS, THAT
UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT WAS BEING USED AS A PRETEXT BY THE GOZ AND
ZANU-PF TO CRACK DOWN ON THE OPPOSITION PARTY. THE GOVERNMENT'S
CASE WAS UNRAVELING, HOWEVER, AS TWO KEY WITNESSES IN THE CASE HAD
TOLD JOURNALISTS THEIR "CONFESSIONS" HAD BEEN ERRONEOUS AND
EXTRACTED UNDER TORTURE. ACCORDING TO TSVANGIRAI, SIX MDC
SUPPORTERS HELD IN THE CASE HAD BEEN RELEASED, LEAVING ONLY FIVE
OR SIX STILL UNDER DETENTION. HE EXPRESSED CONCERN THAT ZANU-PF
SUPPORTERS ARE NOW GOING HOUSE-TO-HOUSE BEATING MDC SUPPORTERS IN
CHEGUTU, A TOWN 100 KM SOUTHWEST OF HARARE WHICH IS DUE TO HOLD A
MAYORAL ELECTION DECEMBER 8-9.



7. (C) TSVANGIRAI SAID SOME HAVE URGED THE MDC TO BOYCOTT NEXT
YEAR'S ELECTION, SINCE CURRENT CONDITIONS WOULD PRECLUDE A FREE
AND FAIR VOTE. TSVANGIRAI REJECTED THE SUGGESTION OUT OF HAND,
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 06 HARARE 03597 010817Z
SAYING A BOYCOTT IS NOT EVEN BEING CONSIDERED. HE SAID THE MDC
WOULD COMPETE EVEN IF IT HAS TO LIMP INTO THE ELECTION. "PEOPLE
HAVE SACRIFICED TOO MUCH FOR US TO DO OTHERWISE," TSVANGIRAI
DECLARED.

INTER-PARTY DIALOGUE


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





8. (C) ACCORDING TO TSVANGIRAI, ZANU-PF AND THE MDC REMAIN
ENGAGED IN "EXPLORATORY" ATTEMPTS AT INTER-PARTY DIALOGUE. THE
TALKS ARE "VERY LOW-KEY" AND HAVE NOT EVEN BEEN BROUGHT TO THE
ATTENTION OF HIS OWN NATIONAL PARTY EXECUTIVE. HE EMPHASIZED THAT
THESE DISCUSSIONS ARE NOT ABOUT POWER-SHARING BUT ABOUT HOW TO
RETURN THE COUNTRY TO NORMALITY. TSVANGIRAI SAID THE MDC HAS TOLD
ZANU-PF VIA THIS CHANNEL THAT AN ELECTORAL CODE OF CONDUCT IS
IMPERATIVE AND THAT, IF THERE IS AGREEMENT ON SUCH A DOCUMENT, THE
MDC WOULD BE WILLING TO CONSIDER A DELAY IN THE ELECTION. ASKED
WHETHER THE MDC WOULD JOIN ZANU-PF IN APPEALING FOR CALM AND AN
END TO THE VIOLENCE, TSVANGIRAI SAID HE WOULD DO SO
"ENTHUSIASTICALLY." THE MDC, HE ASSERTED, HAS ACTED AS A
"RESTRAINING FACTOR" IN ZIMBABWE'S CHARGED ATMOSPHERE BECAUSE THE
PARTY IS COMMITTED TO "PEACEFUL DEMOCRATIC DISCOURSE." THE
AMBASSADOR REMARKED THAT ANY PROGRESS IN THIS CHANNEL WOULD BE A
POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT AND SAID THE USG WAS PREPARED TO BE HELPFUL
IN ANY WAY IT COULD.

CAMPAIGNING


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





9. (C) THE AMBASSADOR ASKED WHETHER TSVANGIRAI IS ABLE TO MOVE
FREELY AROUND THE COUNTRY. TSVANGIRAI REPLIED THAT HE HAD
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 07 HARARE 03597 010817Z
ADDRESSED TWO RALLIES THE WEEKEND BEFORE NEAR CHIREDZI, IN
SOUTHEASTERN ZIMBABWE, AND HE HAD NOT EXPERIENCED ANY SERIOUS
PROBLEMS. POLICE WERE IN ATTENDANCE, BUT THEY CONSTITUTED MORE OF
A THREATENING PRESENCE THAN A PROTECTIVE ONE. TSVANGIRAI SAID HE
DOES NOT ENJOY THE SAME FREEDOM IN MASHONALAND CENTRAL, A PROVINCE
WHICH IS LARGELY A NO-GO AREA FOR THE MDC. INSTEAD OF HOLDING
LARGE RALLIES THERE, THE PARTY BRINGS ITS SUPPORTERS FOR TRAINING
TO HARARE, THEN SENDS THEM BACK TO ENGAGE IN DISCREET DOOR-TO-DOOR
CAMPAIGNING, PRIMARILY WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

ZDERA


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





10. (C) THE MDC LEADER EXPRESSED HIS HOPE THAT THE ZIMBABWE
DEMOCRACY AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY ACT (ZDERA) WOULD BE PASSED SOON.
THE AMBASSADOR REPLIED THAT RECENT POLITICAL EVENTS HAVE LIKELY
INCREASED THE INCLINATION OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO
MOVE FORWARD QUICKLY ON THIS LEGISLATION. (NOTE: ZDERA WAS
APPROVED BY THE HOUSE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE THE
FOLLOWING DAY. END NOTE.)

COMMENT


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





11. (C) TSVANGIRAI SEEMED TIRED -- LIKELY A RESULT OF
GOVERNMENT'S INTENSIFIED CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE MDC OVER THE LAST
SEVERAL WEEKS -- BUT HE REMAINED UPBEAT. HE WAS CLEARLY
DETERMINED TO CONTEST THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION NO MATTER HOW MUCH
PRESSURE HE AND HIS PARTY ARE SUBJECTED TO. TSVANGIRAI'S POINT
ABOUT THE SACRIFICES MADE TO DATE BY THE MDC'S SUPPORTERS IS SPOT
ON, BUT HE ALSO REALIZES THAT THIS IS A POLITICALLY SAVVY
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 08 HARARE 03597 010817Z
POSITION. MANY ZIMBABWEANS ARE ANXIOUS TO CAST VOTES IN THE
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION AND WANT AN ALTERNATIVE TO MUGABE ON THE
BALLOT; TSVANGIRAI WOULD NEVER BE FORGIVEN BY HIS SUPPORTERS IF HE
WITHDREW FROM THE RACE OR IF THE PARTY OPTED OUT ON ELECTION DAY.
WE FOUND ODD HIS EXPRESSED WILLINGNESS TO CONSIDER A DELAY IN THE
ELECTION IF MDC AND ZANU-PF AGREE ON AN ELECTORAL CODE OF CONDUCT,
AS WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE CONSTITUTION PERMITS NO FLEXIBILITY FOR
POSTPONING THE ELECTION BEYOND MARCH 31, 2002. IT IS GOOD THAT
ZANU-PF AND THE MDC CONTINUE TO TALK, AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO
ENCOURAGE SUCH A DIALOGUE, BUT OUR EXPECTATIONS ARE NOT HIGH.
THEIR SECRET DISCUSSIONS HAVE BEEN ONGOING FOR MORE THAN A YEAR,
AND THE FACT THAT THEY REMAIN "EXPLORATORY" AND "VERY LOW-KEY"
DOES NOT PROVIDE MUCH HOPE FOR A BREAKTHROUGH.

SULLIVAN

CONFIDENTIAL

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