Zimbabwe’s prime minister and opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has dismissed the country’s election as a “huge farce”, after president Robert Mugabe’s party said it expected a landslide win.
Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe prepares to cast his vote in Highfields, outside Harare.
(Reuters: Siphiwe Sibeko)
The first official announcement of the country’s national assembly elections showed 25 of the 28 seats released so far going to Mr Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party.
Zimbabwean election observers said the vote this week had been “seriously compromised,” citing a slew of problems.
“Up to a million voters were disenfranchised,” Solomon Zwana, the chairman of Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), said.
Roy Bennett, a senior member of Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party, called for a campaign of passive resistance to protest against the ballot.
But senior ZANU-PF member Paul Mangwana said the opposition knew it had lost the election, and accused it of clutching at straws.
He warned that Zimbabwe was “not Egypt or Libya” and said the state had the security machinery to deal with any troublemakers.
Presidential hopeful Mr Tsvangirai described the election as a sham and warned the country faced a serious crisis.
“It’s a sham election that does not reflect the will of the people. In our view this election is null and void,” he said.
“This election has been a huge farce.
“The shoddy manner in which it has been conducted and the consequent illegitimacy of the result will plunge this country into a serious crisis.
“He [Mr Mugabe] doesn’t believe in the right of the people to choose. He doesn’t believe that he can actually be voted out of office.”
News agencies AFP and Reuters both reported that senior officials in Mr Mugabe’s party had claimed victory in the presidential and parliamentary elections.
“We’ve taken this election. We’ve buried the MDC (Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change). We never had any doubt that we were going to win,” one ZANU-PF source told Reuters.
Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party has called an emergency meeting to consider its next move.
Releasing unofficial results early in Zimbabwe is illegal, and police had said they would arrest anybody who made premature claims about the result.
Election authorities were due to announce full results within five days.
Claims ‘ghost’ voters inflated Mugabe’s support
Wednesday’s voting was peaceful, but early claims from the competing parties raised fears of a repeat of violence that marred a 2008 election.
Persistent doubts about the reliability of the voters’ roll have led to allegations that many of Mr Tsvangirai’s supporters were stricken from the list, while Mr Mugabe’s support was inflated by “ghost” and duplicate voters.
Unofficial results appear to show that Mr Mugabe did surprisingly well in urban areas, where he normally falls flat.
“Although the pre-election period was calm and peaceful, there are many other critical factors that can undermine the credibility of the entire electoral process,” the ZESN, which deployed 7,000 observers across the country, said.
Riot police took up positions outside ZANU-PF headquarters in central Harare and other key locations in the capital, while MDC offices appeared to be deserted.
Mr Tsvangirai won the first round of voting in the 2008 election, but was forced out of the race after 200 of his supporters were killed and thousands more injured in suspected state-backed attacks.
He entered into an uneasy power sharing agreement with Mr Mugabe in 2009.
Topics: elections, electoral-fraud, corruption, zimbabwe