Opposition challenges Mugabe win
Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, wants the elections declared null and void and for fresh elections to be held in 60 days, said lawyer Chris Mhike outside the courthouse in Harare.
Supporters of Mr Mugabe, a former rebel who tightly controls Zimbabwe, scoff at accusations of election fraud, and there seems little chance that the results will be overturned. The two men had been partners in an awkward coalition. Mr Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980.
Police officers backed by trucks with mounted water cannons are keeping watch over “Freedom Square,” the name given to an open field in Harare by Tsvangirai supporters who jubilantly rallied there in the tens of thousands before the July 31 election.
Since then they have fallen into disbelief and confusion as Mr Tsvangirai attributes his loss to vote-rigging. They are struggling for direction and, despite the idealistic nickname given to the deserted field where they once gathered, the chances of a popular uprising similar to those in the Mideast and North Africa are remote.
That leaves Zimbabwe where it was before, locked in tension, its divided population unable to reconcile, its economy unable to get moving as many investors keep their distance. These days, trucks of riot police and soldiers, along with a ring of road blocks on main highways, are a common sight in Harare, the capital.
More police, some in riot gear, were deployed outside Mr Tsvangirai’s headquarters as businesses prepared for a long holiday weekend honouring the guerrilla war that swept Mugabe to power. Knots of supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party have gathered outside its headquarters, though the party has not held any official celebrations. “The reality is people voted in peace and tranquility, the elections were free and fair and quite credible as far as we are concerned,” party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said.
Mr Mugabe’s office said an inauguration will happen after court challenges to the poll are resolved. Mr Mugabe will address Heroes’ holiday celebrations on Monday and Tuesday, hugely symbolic to his party because of its association with independence.
Thabani Nyoni, a civic activist, said many voters felt betrayed by regional and African election observers who have cited irregularities in voters’ lists and the conduct of polling but still commended the election for the absence of widespread violence and intimidation.
South African President Jacob Zuma, the chief mediator on Zimbabwe’s decade-old political and economic crisis, is among regional leaders who commended the poll for generally reflecting the will of voters without violence. Botswana, another neighbour of Zimbabwe, was a rare dissenter, saying there were serious problems.