(Last Updated on August 2, 2013 by Editor)
ZIMBAWE – President Robert Mugabe’s party took a lead in early results for Zimbabwe’s parliament after a general election that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai described as a “sham.”
The electoral commission said late yesterday that Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front won 52 of the 210 elected seats in parliament to 10 for Tsvangirai’s Movement
for Democratic Change. No presidential election results were released.
Tsvangirai, 61, alleged widespread rigging in the July 28 vote and said his Movement for Democratic Change regarded the elections as “null and void.” Saviour Kasukuwere, a Zanu-PF politburo member, called the vote free and fair and said the results “are smelling very good” for his party.
Mugabe, 89, who’s ruled the southern African nation since independence from the U.K. in 1980, could remain in office until the age of 94 if he’s declared winner. Tsvangirai said thousands
of people were turned away from polling stations because they weren’t on the electoral roll, voters were bussed to cast ballots outside their home areas and the election process was controlled by the security forces.
“It’s pretty clear there was mass disenfranchisement, especially for people in the urban areas,” Piers Pigou, a researcher at the International Crisis Group, said yesterday by phone from Johannesburg. “Zanu-PF was very well organized and they resuscitated their patronage networks with great success.”
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a local monitoring group that fielded 7,000 observers, called the vote “seriously compromised” because of a “systematic effort to disenfranchise” as many as 1 million urban voters.
The MDC also complained that the electoral commission didn’t give it access to the voters’ roll.
“The critical test is whether voting tabulation is done in a transparent manner,” U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Marie Harf said yesterday of the election in Zimbabwe.
The rejection of the vote by Tsvangirai followed a campaign largely free of the violence that marred the last Mugabe-Tsvangirai contest in 2008.
That year Tsvangirai led the first round of the election before he pulled out of a run-off saying about 200 of his supporters had been killed. The MDC beat Zanu-PF in the parliamentary ballot. The 15-nation Southern African Development Community negotiated a power-sharing agreement in 2009, leaving left Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai as prime minister.
Kasukuwere, who’s the minister for indigenization, as Mugabe’s program to increase the holdings of black Zimbabweans in the economy is known, called the election “a resounding stamp of approval for our policies” during a telephone interview yesterday.
Mugabe and ZANU-PF have forced mining companies such as Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. (IMP) and Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS) to cede a majority share of their local assets to black Zimbabweans or the government. The southern African nation has the world’s second-biggest platinum and chrome reserves as well as deposits of diamonds, gold and coal. Tsvangirai has promised
to repeal the measure.
“If it turns out that Zanu-PF takes it, the country will continue to stumble along as it has over the past 12 months,” Christie Viljoen, an economist at NKC Independent Economists in
Paarl, South Africa, said by phone. “People are still interested but not committing money because of the whole indigenization process. The economy isn’t going to improve.”
Early unofficial results showed ZANU-PF winning in former MDC strongholds such as Mbare, a township in Harare.
“Mugabe knows what is right and what is wrong,” Durai Nekati, a 35-year-old who sells spare parts for cars in Mbare, said as he saw ZANU-PF pull ahead in the vote count at his polling station in the Harare township where the MDC prevailed in 2008. “I’m very happy that my party has won the battle.”
The electoral commission said on July 13 that it would announce results of the presidential vote by Aug. 5. The process took about a month in 2008.
“My first time to vote and it has been stolen from me,” said Twotone Sarudzai, an 18-year-old a sweet potato and firewood seller in Harare’s Strathaven suburb. “No sane person would ever believe Zanu-PF could win, let alone get any seat in Harare. This is so rotten they should be able to smell it as far as Cairo.”
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Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe
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Morgan Tsvangirai Challenges Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe
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