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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03HARARE1717 2003-08-29 10:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Harare
Cable title:  

MIXED REPORTS IN RUN-UP TO ZIMBABWE'S LOCAL

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PINR ASEC ZI 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001717 

SIPDIS

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR J. FRAZER
LONDON FOR C. GURNEY
PARIS FOR C. NEARY
NAIROBI FOR T. PFLAUMER
DS/OP/AF

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2013
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ASEC ZI
SUBJECT: MIXED REPORTS IN RUN-UP TO ZIMBABWE'S LOCAL
ELECTIONS

REF: (A) HARARE 1711 (B) HARARE 636 (C) 2002 HARARE
2354

Classified By: Political Officer Audu Besmer for reasons 1.5 b/d



1. (C) SUMMARY: Zimbabwe will hold two parliamentary
by-elections, and mayoral and urban council elections in
twenty cities across the country on August 30 - 31. Embassy
Harare has been coordinating with other missions in Harare to
mount an observation effort to cover most of the
constituencies. There have been incidents of violence,
vote-buying, and other machinations; but there have also been
positive signs - police have arrested individuals alleged to
have been involved in intimidation, the GOZ has authorized
substantially more local election observers, and candidates
have met to reduce tensions. END SUMMARY



2. (U) Zimbabwe will hold two parliamentary by-elections,
seven mayoral, and eighteen urban council elections in twenty
cities across the country on August 30 - 31. By-elections
are scheduled for Makonde (Mashonaland West) and Harare
Central districts. In Makonde, ZANU-PF Minister of Higher
Education Dr. Swithun Mombeshora, who also had been MP for
Makonde since 1980, died from a stroke in March. MDC Harare
Central MP Michael Auret resigned due to prolonged illness.
The mayoral and urban council elections are being held
according to Zimbabwe's convoluted schedule for such events;
more are to be held in November. With terms of five years,
this is the fist time that the opposition MDC, formed in
1999, has contested these seats. ZANU-PF still needs five
parliamentary seats to obtain a majority - these by-elections
are unlikely to change that number.

Observers


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





3. (C) Embassy Harare has been coordinating with other
missions in Harare to mount an observation effort to cover
most of the constituencies around the country. The GOZ has
accredited 308 observers from the Zimbabwe Elections Support
Network (ZESN)-- enough to cover most of planned 350 - 400
polling stations. This stands in stark contrast to previous
elections in which a tiny fraction of ZESN's proposed
observers were accredited. At the same time, the government
has not responded to repeated requests from numerous
diplomatic missions (including this one) for accreditation of
observers.

Machinations


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





4. (C) Based on their initial audit, MDC director of
elections Remus Makuwaza said that 4,000 people have been
added to the voters' roll in Mutare, 3,000 in Gwanda, 7,000
in Makonde, and 6,000 in Gweru since the last elections in
those cities. 1,700 have been inexplicably dropped from
voters' rolls in Harare Central alone. MDC Shadow Minister
of Justice and Bulawayo MP David Coltart reported that the
Registrar General's Office in Bulawayo delayed release of
voters' rolls to MDC officials until the week before the
election despite repeated requests; one of five rolls remains
outstanding. The MDC Mayor of Bulawayo reported that his
staff observed youths engaging in activities suspected to be
associated with ballot-stuffing. According to an independent
councilor in Mutare, where council and mayoral elections will
be held, youth militia members recently distributed Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) sourced maize meal to ZANU-PF party
cardholders only, a practice MDC officials maintain is
widespread. In the same vein, the independent press reported
that youth militia members in Bulawayo also sold GMB maize
for Z$1,000 (US$.18) per 10 kg bag, while the normal price
had been around Z$14,000 (US$2.50).



5. (C) According to Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN)
Director Reginald Matchaba-Hove, the Registrar General had
not formally announced polling stations locations as of
August 27. He also anticipated there would be "mobile
polling stations" in Makonde, and that the Registrar General
might reduce the overall number of polling stations
throughout the country from 441 to 350.

Violence


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





6. (U) Ruling party supporters used intimidation tactics to
prevent at least twenty potential candidates from registering
their candidacies at nominations held on July 21 (Ref B).
Human rights lawyers in Mutare reported that during the week
of August 11, ruling party members beat about fifty MDC
supporters, including council and mayoral candidates. The
MDC also reported on August 27 that six of its polling agents
in Kwekwe were abducted and beaten by ruling party
supporters, and candidates in Kadoma and Kwekwe had been
intimidated by late-night visits by suspected members of the
Central Intelligence Office (CIO). In Makonde police
arrested members of a gang known as "Top Six" for attacking
MDC election agent Joseph Mutsvangwa on August 25. In Gwanda
police arrested ruling party supporters who reportedly had
intimidated MDC members and candidates during the week of
August 18. According to MDC officials, unknown assailants on
August 27 petrol-bombed the home of MDC council candidate
Nathan Makwasha in Kariba.

Progress


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





7. (C) The Mutare troika of bishops called a meeting of all
three mayoral candidates and secured their public agreement
to abide by a "code of conduct" agreement and to call on
their supporters to conduct their campaigns peacefully (Ref
A). They established an office to mediate pre-election
complaints associated with the code of conduct. According to
Thomas Bvuma, Public Relations Coordinator for the GOZ's
Electoral Supervisory Committee (ESC), as required by law ESC
officials had formed multi-party liaison committees in
Makonde and Harare Central to foster dialogue aimed at
reducing pre-election violence. ESC's Bulawayo coordinator
reported such a liaison committee was working well in his
district and already had resolved a number of complaints
amicably.

Comment


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





8. (C) While there have been troublesome levels of reported
violence, intimidation, and other machinations in the run-up
to these elections, the incidents appear to be fewer in
number and less egregious than in previous local elections
(Refs). On a national level, these elections will do little
to change the political imbalance of power in the short run.
Nevertheless, the integrity of their conduct and outcome may
have an impact on atmospherics for possible inter-party
dialogue and on the parties' efforts to play to international
opinion.
SULLIVAN