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Cablegate: Civil Society More Critical of Zimbabwe Situation

VZCZCXRO9369
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0371 1190746
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280746Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8821
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0151

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000371

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ZM MZ
SUBJECT: CIVIL SOCIETY MORE CRITICAL OF ZIMBABWE SITUATION

REF: A) MAPUTO 325 B) MAPUTO 365

1. (U) SUMMARY: At an April 22 roundtable on the Zimbabwean
elections organized by the Center of Mozambican and
International Studies (CEMO), local academics, press, and
NGOs expressed serious concerns regarding SADC's indifference
to the post-election situation in Zimbabwe. Throughout the
half-day roundtable, the group criticized SADC for declaring
the elections "free and fair," spoke out against blaming
outsiders for Zimbabwe's problems, urged a protest march to
the Zimbabwean High Commission, and pondered whether a
similar situation could occur in Mozambique. The roundtable
follows closely on the footsteps of an increasingly critical
press (refs A, B) and may signal that the impatience and
frustration surrounding the elections is trickling down to
common Mozambicans. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) At the April 22 roundtable, the South Africa-based
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) strongly
refuted SADC's claim that the March 29 elections in Zimbabwe
were free and fair. EISA explained to participants that
despite being denied accreditation to observe the voting,
they conducted mid and short-term observations of the
electoral process, two weeks and one week respectively before
the election. EISA concluded that the Zimbabwean government
had violated several of SADC's 10 guidelines on free and fair
elections. For example, the voter registration process was
conducted by a government body, accreditations to local
observers were issued by the Justice Ministry only two days
prior to the election, demarcation of the 210 new
constituencies was conducted using criteria generally
advantageous to ZANU-PF, and voter registration staff was
government employees. EISA also criticized the fact that
news bulletins and reports focused solely on ZANU-PF and that
members of the police force were allowed inside polling
stations (ostensibly to assist the disabled).

3. (U) Influential independent journalist and former director
of the Mozambican chapter of the Media Institute of Southern
Africa Salamao Moyana urged a break from the "African habit"
of blaming external factors for internal problems. He
specifically argued that the crisis in Zimbabwe was a
Zimbabwean problem that had nothing to do with Great Britain
or land issues. He criticized SADC's quiet diplomacy noting
that the principle of win-win dialogue should not be applied
to an electoral process, where there must be a winner.
Moyana noted that SADC was against accession to power by use
of force and reminded participants that in the past SADC had
sent forces to restore peace in Lesotho after its military
attempted to overthrow an elected government. Moyana urged
participants to go beyond rhetoric and organize a protest
march to the Zimbabwean High Commission (who was also present
at the roundtable). For his comments, he received a long
standing ovation.

4. (U) Some civil society members questioned whether Mugabe
had not unilaterally closed the chapter on the elections and
begun to resume his normal duties as if nothing abnormal was
occurring, particularly after recently presiding over the
celebrations marking the anniversary of Zimbabwe's
independence. Other participants drew a parallel to upcoming
elections in Mozambique and pondered the implications of a
RENAMO victory over FRELIMO. Participants expressed serious
macro-level concerns at the new trend emerging in African
politics: instead of ensuring that the winner take power,
international mediators advocate power sharing as a means of
resolving electoral disputes. The discussion moved to Kenya,
where the prevailing conclusion was that the international
community was more interested in a political accommodation
that avoided war than upholding the democratic electoral
process. One director of a Mozambican NGO questioned, "If
elections are beginning not to matter anymore why hold them
in the first place?"

5. (SBU) COMMENT: After three weeks without a resolution to
the Zimbabwean elections, Mozambican civil society is
becoming more openly critical. Far from being partisan
supporters of Tsvangirai or the MDC, civil society appears
genuinely concerned about the broader state of democracy in
Mozambique and in the region as a whole. Talk of
similarities between Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique may be
premature, but it seems clear that certain sectors of
Mozambican society are no longer buying the GRM's "wait and
see" strategy. END COMMENT.
Chapman

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