Sokwanele : 1 April 2008
These next 23 results bring the total constituencies declared by the ZEC to 89 out of 210 constituencies.
We have also provided here a slightly updated graph (from our earlier mailing a couple of hours ago) showing PVT results taken from the independent website www.zimelectionresults.com. PVT - or Parallel Vote Tabulation - involves observation of the voting and counting of ballots at the polling stations, and independent tabulation of these results, parallel to those results released by the formal election authorities (ZEC). Full details for PVT and ZEC declarations, at the point of sending this message, are available on our website.
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Mail and Guardian
Chris McGreal | Harare, Zimbabwe
31 March 2008 09:35
Robert Mugabe on Monday was desperately trying to cling to
power, despite his clear defeat in Zimbabwe's presidential election, by
blocking the electoral commission from releasing official results and
threatening to treat an opposition claim of victory as a coup.
In the first results from parliamentary elections, Mugabe's
Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) took
three seats each, but they were relatively insignificant compared to the
presidential vote, where Mugabe is facing a stark repudiation as voters
blame him for bringing economic ruin to Zimbabwe.
In an early-morning broadcast on radio and television, the
deputy chief elections officer, Utoile Silaigwana, declared the first
parliamentary results and went off the air saying "We'll be back with you
when we have more results."
The MDC said that what it regards as the overwhelming win by its
candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, is "under threat" despite growing support from
foreign monitors for its claim of victory. The party also said it had
"security concerns" after a police raid on its election offices on Sunday.
Tsvangirai made no public appearances, apparently out of concern for his
Mugabe's spokesperson, George Charamba, warned Tsvangirai not to
declare himself president because that "is called a coup d'état and we all
know how coups are handled".
Sources close to the MDC said the party leadership had put out
feelers to the military and elements of the ruling Zanu-PF to try to arrange
a peaceful transfer of power.
Independent monitoring groups said returns posted at about
two-thirds of polling stations gave Tsvangirai 55% of the vote, to Mugabe's
36%. The monitors said there was no way for the president to win the
election legitimately. He had even lost in his home territory of
Mashonaland, as well as other former strongholds.
A third presidential candidate, Simba Makoni, a former finance
minister who broke with Mugabe, took about 9%.
Zanu-PF also appears to have suffered losses in the
parliamentary election with at least nine members of its politburo losing
their seats, including the vice-president, Joice Mujuru, and the defence,
information and education ministers.
The MDC's secretary general, Tendai Biti, said the party was
increasingly alarmed at the refusal of the state-run Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) to issue any results. "It appears the regime is at a loss
how to respond ... We are really concerned by this assault on democracy. The
primary point of an election is a result. We think there is a constitutional
threat to those results," he said.
The commission has in the past begun issuing results as soon as
they are posted at polling stations, and collated them by constituency for
release within hours of the vote.
The ZEC's chairperson, George Chiweshe, declined to explain why
he was still not issuing results more than 24 hours after the polls closed.
"This is a complicated election and we will release the results when we have
them," he said.
Opposition supporters in some towns, including Bulawayo, Mutare
and Masvingo, publicly celebrated but generally Zimbabweans were cautious,
not quite believing that Mugabe will leave office after 28 years in power.
With more than 50% of the vote, Tsvangirai would avoid a run-off
election although his proportion might yet fall below the threshold as many
of the remaining results are from rural areas where Mugabe traditionally has
Biti warned there was still scope for fraud. He said his party
was encountering new irregularities, including the sudden appearance of
additional ballot boxes at polling stations where the count had been
He also said MDC election agents had been prevented from
attending the count at several polling stations where the results then
showed Zanu-PF doing significantly better than in surrounding areas.
South African monitors said they believed the opposition had won
but would hold off on a public statement until the official results were
announced. The Pan-African Parliament observer mission warned against
further delays in issuing the results.
A British Foreign Office minister, Mark Malloch-Brown, said it
was "quite likely" that Mugabe had lost despite "massive pre-election day
cheating". - guardian.co.uk © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008
By Peter Clottey
01 April 2008
Zimbabwe’s opposition parties are reportedly accusing incumbent President
Robert Mugabe’s government of a calculated plot to declare Mugabe winner of
last Saturday’s elections. The opposition says it will happen today, when
Mugabe declares himself duly elected. But government supporters dismiss the
allegations as false and contemptible. The opposition claim follows what
Mugabe opponents say is a deliberate attempt to release election results
slowly in order to thwart any opposition upset.
Results so far released by the electoral commission put the main opposition
Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of
Mugabe, with independent Simba Makoni trailing as a distant third. Bucani
Ncube is the director of Logistics for the Bulawayo Project, a
non-governmental organization. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that there is
an uneasy calm in the country.
“The latest development is that there is still confusion. There is still
uncertainty over the election results. Of course we have received the
parliamentary results. Senatorial results. But we have not heard anything
about the much-awaited results of the presidential,” Ncube said.
Ncube cites unconfirmed reports as suggesting that incumbent President
Mugabe will be declared the winner of Saturday’s vote.
“I feel that later in the afternoon or in the evening, President Mugabe
might declare himself the winner because it is clear from the reports that
are coming from the province, and from the constituencies and from the MDC,
saying that they have the Zimbabwe Support Network, it was clear that the
opposition is leading, and the opposition is winning this election. But we
don’t think Mugabe will announce the results of which he is defeated. So, we
feel that Mugabe will cook the results and declare himself the winner,” he
Ncube said thousands of Zimbabweans will feel let down if Mugabe wins the
“The ordinary Zimbabweans would be disappointed. They will lose hope in the
electoral system, and they will lose faith in the whole process of the
elections. And this is very dangerous because we fear that this can even
provoke the ordinary people because people are very angry and hungry. And
people can do anything. But we hope that we will not be in the Kenya
situation,” Ncube said.
He denied a lack of unity among opposition parties had a negative impact on
the chances of the opposition in last Saturday’s elections.
“I don’t believe in that school of thought because the results that we have
received show that there is only one strong opposition, which is MDC, led by
Morgan Tsvangirai. The party has gained inroads in the rural Mashonaland,
which used to be a stronghold of ZANU-PF. And we have seen how the other MDC
(led by Arthur Mutambara) has failed to win any seats. They are losing seats
from their top leadership, so I really do not think it could have done
anything. And talking about Simba Makoni, I don’t see how the MDC’s
Tsvangirai could have formed any alliance because as far as I’m concerned,
Makoni does not have a political party. So I don’t see any contribution that
could have changed any results,” he pointed out.
Riot police in armored carriers reportedly were deployed in two of Harare's
restive townships last night amid long delays in issuing election results,
further elevating tensions. Meanwhile the United States government has urged
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to put aside partisan sympathies and
ensure all votes were counted fairly and properly.
By Sebastien Berger and Byron Dziva in Harare and David Blair
Last Updated: 1:49am BST 01/04/2008
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has won the first round
of the country's presidential polls, according to the first reliable
projection by independent monitors.
Using results from 435 polling stations, the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network said the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] was
expected to win 49.4 per cent of the vote, beating president Robert Mugabe,
who had taken 41.8 per cent.
An outright first round win would require 51 per cent.
Noel Kututwa, the chairman of the network, said it was too early to
say whether there would be a second round as there was a 2.4 per cent margin
of error in his calculations.
"This effectively means that at the top end it is possible for Morgan
Tsvangirai to get 51.8 per cent. I will leave any interpretation to you on
that," he said.
Zimbabwe's official Electoral Commission was under intense pressure
last night after fuelling public suspicion about rigging by failing to
release the crucial result of the presidential race.
It instead announced a series of partial results for the separate
parliamentary poll, which by last night showed Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and
Mr Tsvangirai's MDC neck and neck on 30 seats each out of 210.
No hard conclusions could be drawn from the trickle of official
announcements, save that the Electoral Commission was clearly working to a
Opposition activists alleged that the commission's slow declaration of
results was intended to create the impression of a close-run race, before
Zanu-PF would move ahead as later results were announced.
Tendai Biti, the secretary general of the MDC, said the country
"stands on a precipice". He said the failure to announce all results "only
goes to raise tension among the people that is fertilising an atmosphere of
Speculation about Mr Mugabe, who has not been seen in public since
polling day on Saturday, was rife in Harare, the capital.
Intelligence sources suggested that the 84-year-old leader had
accepted he cannot be declared the outright victor of the presidential
election amid such a groundswell of support for the opposition.
Members of his inner circle were said to have confronted him at his
residence on Sunday night to suggest that rigging the election to the extent
needed was no longer feasible given the inroads Mr Tsvangirai had made in
Zimbabwe's rural heartlands.
Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai could now be officially announced as first
and second respectively, but with neither taking the 51 per cent needed to
win the presidency in the first round.
A second ballot would have to take place within 21 days of Saturday's
vote. There is a third candidate, the independent Simba Makoni.
In a cafe in central Harare yesterday, a businessman listened to the
results on his mobile phone, relaying them to rapt customers.
Beside him, a colleague greeted every opposition victory by grinning
broadly and waving her hand in the open-palmed salute of the MDC. Some of
the listeners suspected that the neck-and-neck tally was an attempt by the
Electoral Commission to give the appearance of a tight contest.
The businessman, though, insisted over and over again that, despite
past evidence, "they cannot" rig the election.
"We already know the result," he said. "It is on the internet in
America and South Africa. Tsvangirai got 58 per cent, Mugabe 30-something,
and Simba Makoni five per cent."
He added that Mr Mugabe "already knows. He was very quiet when he
voted on Saturday. This means something. This time they are ready to accept
But others were pessimistic. A money-changer declared: "They are
Outwardly, Harare appeared normal. No troops or riot police patrolled
streets. Instead of gathering around radios, the vast majority went about
the daily business of survival. The largest groups were in long queues
outside banks, as people tried to obtain a few near-worthless banknotes.
"We don't know what is happening," said one man. "The people were
celebrating yesterday but today they are not celebrating anything, because
they think they have been robbed.
"I just voted and I'm expecting something. I wouldn't want that to be
stolen from me."
Mr Kututwa described the mood as "apprehension mixed with excitement".
"A number of Zimbabweans believe the opposition has won, but the
results coming in dribs and drabs gives the impression that the vote could
be tampered with," he said.
Mr Kututwa highlighted one constituency, Uzumba, where Zanu-PF won
with a turnout of 54 per cent - far higher than the 40 or so per cent seen
elsewhere and probably caused by padding the voters' roll.
"This is where we have had the highest turnout," he said. "It's a
remote constituency up near the Mozambique border and no one really knows
what goes on up there.
"The difference is outrageous, it's something like 11,000 votes. That
clearly creates problems."
If Mr Mugabe is eventually declared the winner, years of anger and
frustration could erupt.
"There will be revolt," said the money-changer. "We will go on the
streets. We are ready for the riot."
But the regime has a proven ability to crush protests.
One passionate MDC supporter said if Mr Tsvangirai were defeated he
would simply "give up" and there would be no taking to the streets.
"We will be shot. It will be total failure," he said.
THREE members of the Young Communist League’s Zimbabwean election observer
team have returned early because of surveillance by Zimbabwe’s Central
Intelligence Officers (CIO).
In a statement on Monday, the league said three members returned and one
member, based in Bulawayo, had been interrogated by the CIO.
“This shows the level of intimidation that is still prevalent in Zimbabwe,”
the statement said.
However, the league said it was pleased the Zimbabwe government had allowed
its delegation to enter and leave the country without any major
The league said it had found that conditions for a free and fair election
were not evident.
It also noted that people had voted in areas where they did not live and
that the country’s electoral commission was run by senior leaders of
The league said there was a fear of rigging the presidential vote as
electoral results displayed outside various polling stations showed that the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had won the election in all four
categories of polling.
“The remaining result for the presidential contest is reported to be in
favour of Morgan Tswangirai,” it said. “There is fear of rigging the
presidential leg, thus the delay of the announcement of the results.
“And there is the fear about the army and police staging a coup if the
opposition takes the presidency.”
The YCL therefore called for the immediate deployment of SADC and United
Nations peace keeping forces to avert any attempt towards “sinking” Zimbabwe
“This should serve as a post-election process undertaken by all the parties
involved in the elections and all the countries in the region,” the league
said. — Sapa
WHEN our children learn the history of post-colonial Africa, they will be
confronted with a case history: Zimbabwe.
They will learn how the bread basket of Africa descended into chaos, with
the highest inflation rate in the world.
They will learn that about four million Zimbabweans fled hunger and
They will learn about a kleptocracy that lined its pockets while the poor
This will not be a history lesson. It will be a dissection of a massacre.
By the elections of March 29, 2008, our children will read, the average life
expectancy of a Zimbabwean woman was 34 years and that of a man, 37.
Television footage of that day will show women with babies on their backs
crawling under barbed-wire fencing into South Africa in the hope of finding
food, safety and a life for their children.
Election day 2008 will be a slice of tragic history.
Our children will learn that, in a country with one of the highest literacy
rates in the developing world and blessed with a vibrant press for more than
two decades, only two daily newspapers inside Zimbabwe reported on these
Both were owned by the state and neither published a single positive story
about the opposition in the run-up to elections.
On that day, election observers from Europe and the US were banned from the
country. Only SADC observers were allowed in.
Our children will learn that during the previous election the South African
observers were beaten up by police.
And that those bandaged heroes declared as free and fair an election
universally condemned as rigged.
Election day 2008 will be remembered for the fact that broadcasters such as
Sky News filed their stories from Beit Bridge in South Africa because they
were banned from entering Zimbabwe. Independent stations such as South
Africa’s e.tv were also banned.
Our children will learn that police inside the polling booths “assisted”
Zimbabweans to vote. They will read that these same police had, for 10
years, put a stop to any kind of democratic activity by the opposition or
They will learn that, only a year before these elections, the same police
officers destroyed the homes of thousands in President Robert Mugabe’s
inhumane “Operation Murambatsvina”.
Our children will learn that these same police beat opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to within an inch of his life only a year earlier, forcing him to
seek medical treatment in South Africa.
At this point our children will ask the teacher (perhaps a Zimbabwean who is
a naturalised South African): “But what did our parents do? What did South
Africa say when all this was happening?”
And our children will learn that for nine years the president of South
Africa pursued a senseless, immoral policy of “quiet diplomacy”.
In essence, the policy meant that South Africa chose to be friends with
Mugabe, aiding and abetting the dictator while desperate Zimbabweans fled
torture and imprisonment.
They will learn that Nelson Mandela, the iconic first president of the new
and democratic South Africa, spoke out about leaders who clung to power at
the expense of their people and was told to shut up; that Archbishop
emeritus Desmond Tutu spoke up and was vilified by the dictator Mugabe, the
South African presidency and its acolytes.
And they will learn that most South Africans expressed neither outrage nor
shame at what was happening just across their border; that they went about
their business without a care.
Our children will learn that a good man, Father Paul Verryn, gave refuge to
hundreds of Zimbabweans in his church in central Johannesburg.
And they will learn that police raided the church and arrested refugee
children as young as five months old.
By the time our children ask what South Africans did about this outrage,
Zimbabwe will be just another African country paying off massive debt to the
World Bank when it could have been a beacon of peace, prosperity and hope.
The silence of your parents, the history books will say, was deafening.
Justice Malala is a columnist and political analyst on our sister paper, The
March 31, 2008, 12:30
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party has conceded defeat in Bulawayo with the
opposition MDC making a clean sweep in the province. Official results of the
weekend's poll are however still being being verified by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC).
In other developments, Zimbabwe's justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, lost
his seat today, and first election results showed the opposition level with
President Robert Mugabe's party, but delays to most results fuelled
opposition suspicions of rigging.
Results of the parliamentary election began trickling in today, 36 hours
after polls closed but no official details were available on the
presidential vote, in which Mugabe faces his most formidable political
challenge after 28 years in power. The latest results showed the opposition
MDC and Mugabe's Zanu-PF running neck-and-neck.
They have 12 seats each from a total parliament of 210 constituencies,
according to figures issued by the electoral commission. Riot police
appeared on the streets of the capital overnight and this morning, people
waited anxiously, to learn the official results.
New York Times
By HEIDI HOLLAND
Published: April 1, 2008
WHILE Zimbabwe’s opposition party is claiming victory in its effort to
unseat President Robert G. Mugabe, it would be a mistake to count him out.
And if Mr. Mugabe prevails, it would be a mistake to continue to isolate
him, as Western governments have done for the last decade.
Mr. Mugabe is bad, but he could get worse.
“My granny was a heathen,” Mr. Mugabe muttered from behind his big wooden
desk at his office in Harare, the capital. It was not the sort of comment I
had expected to hear from the 84-year-old dictator, but during our 2 ½-hour
interview late last year, some of my assumptions about the most enigmatic
figure in modern Africa were crumbling.
As soon as I entered the room I realized that the awkward man wearing a
finely stitched white shirt and an elegant dark suit was apprehensive of me,
just as I was of him. Mr. Mugabe stared hard, and then cleared his throat
nervously. I had expected to meet someone exuding power — an older version
of the steely freedom fighter I encountered over a secret dinner at my home
30 years ago.
Instead I saw a mild and diminished figure, his rumbling but faint voice
often barely audible, his head at times lolling forward self-consciously as
if he wanted to hide away. As the interview progressed, he slumped and then
slid down like a gangly teenager in his threadbare swivel chair, his long
limbs dangling. What I eventually realized from Mr. Mugabe’s earnest efforts
to justify his actions to me was that he is more vulnerable than his
outlandish public posturing suggests.
Certainly, Mr. Mugabe is no feeble recluse — we have seen him campaigning
with sudden bursts of vigor at staged rallies before busloads of supporters
of the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front —
yet he almost never grants interviews to journalists. To obtain mine took
two years of requests, the persistent intervention of Mr. Mugabe’s priest
and then a five-week wait in Harare.
Early on I had assumed that he was too busy to spare the time. Only later
did it dawn on me that he might be fearful of the independent press.
That fear is understandable. Zimbabwe’s once booming economy is in tatters.
Inflation has soared to fantastical levels, unemployment is near universal,
starvation looms. And Mr. Mugabe, for all his protestations about the wicked
West and for all the sycophantic comments from the yes-men who surround him,
must know that he is to blame.
So why talk about his heathen grandmother? I wanted to understand the Robert
Mugabe who had been obscured amid the chaos and misrule. The one described
by his classmates as shy, bookish, a loner deeply attached to his mother and
resentful of his absent father. The one who was at first remarkably
forgiving of white landowners when he came to power in 1980. (For instance,
Mr. Mugabe allowed his predecessor, Ian Smith, who led the white minority
government that ran Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known, to live on in Harare
without harassment, even when Mr. Smith embarked on a campaign against him.)
But bitterness had clearly welled up within him. When I first met him at
that dinner in 1975, he seemed to be a considerate man, asking after the
health of my toddler son even as he fled into exile to a neighboring country
shortly afterward. By the end of 2007, as we sat together again after 28
years of his rule, he exuded the air of a lost and angry man.
Why? Part of the answer came to me in our interview, as Mr. Mugabe expressed
almost tearful regret at his inability to socialize with the queen of
England. He feels that the West — and Britain in particular — has failed to
recognize his “suffering and sacrifice.” As someone who by his own
estimation is part British, this rejection has taken on the intensity of a
Much of the quarrel centers on the vexed issue of land redistribution. As
part of the pact that created Zimbabwe’s independence, Britain promised
financial aid to help the young country redistribute land from white farmers
When this money was misused, the British government under Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher began to withhold it. Mrs. Thatcher’s successor, John
Major, agreed to restore the money. But before he could do so, his
successor, Tony Blair, reversed course, taking the aid off the table, where
it remains today. It is this grievance against Britain for short-changing
him on the land redistribution issue that Mr. Mugabe craves understanding.
I left Mr. Mugabe’s office with an uneasy sense of the futility of the West’s
punitive diplomacy toward him. It was my feeling that he was going to stop
at nothing to prove that he had been wronged. Indeed, he told me that he was
prepared to sacrifice the welfare of his country to prove his case against
That a precariously balanced individual like Mr. Mugabe is in charge of a
country and willing to destroy it to score points against an enemy is a
tragedy in itself. That he has an arguably justifiable complaint against a
major Western power — namely the repudiation of the land reform pledge — is
doubtless an embarrassment in the West. But that Britain and others choose
to shun Mr. Mugabe rather than attempt to settle these differences is quite
The West needs to change its approach to Mr. Mugabe. Years of isolation and
ineffective sanctions, with which he has fueled his propaganda campaign,
have only driven Mr. Mugabe downward. More of the same will backfire. A
strategy of engagement — whether Mr. Mugabe wins re-election and stays in
office or whether he achieves his ends through fraudulent means and needs to
be talked out of power — is the only viable option.
The belief that the situation in Zimbabwe cannot get worse has proved an
inadequate strategy for ending the country’s plight under Mr. Mugabe. More
important, the current Western standoff might in itself imperil Zimbabwe as
things go from bad to worse and as Zimbabwe’s president becomes a great deal
nastier. Every effort should be made internationally to set up a
conversation with the dictator.
Heidi Holland is the author, most recently, of “Dinner With Mugabe.”
01 April 2008
IN A country where there are very few certainties, the only thing
Zimbabweans know for sure is that their country will never be the same after
today , no matter who wins the elections.
Judging by reports from there, the next few days and weeks will challenge
not just that country, but also civil society and the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) region as a whole. The reaction from Zanu (PF)
and the armed forces to the possibility of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) winning not just the parliamentary elections but
also the presidential vote, puts Zimbabwe on the cusp of fundamental change.
It will have to address daunting challenges as it tries to recover from the
ravages of President Robert Mugabe’s madness of the past two decades. The
millions of Zimbabweans who have fled will now have to be convinced to
return to rebuild their devastated homeland. However, as news reports of one
MDC victory after another, particularly in former Zanu (PF) strongholds,
came trickling in yesterday, so too came the ominous threats from sections
of the Zimbabwe military, which have apparently threatened to declare Mugabe
the winner no matter what.
The threat of intervention from the armed forces has always loomed large
over the political process in Zimbabwe. This possibility often formed the
subtext of backroom discussions and negotiations between power brokers in
Zimbabwe and elsewhere about how important it was for the army to be
placated and accommodated in whatever settlement was eventually negotiated
between the MDC and the ruling party, lest the whole place go up in smoke.
But in reality the outcome of the elections — no matter how fraught and
imperfect, and no matter how the fallout is managed by the political elites
in Zimbabwe and the region — is the beginning, not the end, of the reform
This brings me to the point made by MDC economic adviser Eddie Cross, who
attempted to answer his own question about what made this election so
different from previous ballots. “What turned this election from a silent
surge of feeling in mid- ocean, into a tsunami?” Cross asked. “For a start,
it was the (President Thabo) Mbeki factor. Right from the start of 2007,
Mbeki played a crucial role in persuading his SADC colleagues to recognise
the MDC and to back reform of the electoral process. They forced Zanu (PF)
to come to the negotiating table and in nine months … got a number of
concessions agreed and implemented.
“Frustrated at the very end of the process, Mbeki then turned to (Simba)
Makoni and sent him in to joust with Mugabe. It was a clever and fatal move
and sunk the Mugabe ship in mid-ocean. But even Mbeki could not have
anticipated the size of the subsequent MDC victory,” he says.
Cross’s acknowledgement of the efforts not only of Mbeki, but also of the
SADC, underscores the correctness of Mbeki’s insistence that Zimbabweans
themselves had to drive the process of political reform if change was to be
It also means that the MDC has to grow up and cut its teeth on the
realpolitik that characterises postcolonial Africa if it is to become a
significant player, not just the crude replacement of a regime that no
longer has anything to offer its people.
The slow process of reform made possible by the concessions won on electoral
reform was therefore not a waste of time, as detractors have argued it was.
As Cross states, these reforms formed a crucial part of the overall
democratisation of Zimbabwe’s political landscape. Shifting the electoral
power from the registrar-general’s office to the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission provided much-needed democratic space, notwithstanding Mugabe’s
efforts to gerrymander the process.
The MDC also matured as a political force after a steep learning curve and
was forced to put organisational muscle into getting the support of
Zimbabweans. Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has finally come of age. Its real
challenge has only just begun.
a.. Brown is political editor.
With the help of its neighbors, a country could be rescued from autocracy.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008; Page A16
ZIMBABWE IS at a familiar tipping point. There is growing evidence that a
presidential and parliamentary election held Saturday was won by the
opposition -- mandating, at long last, the retirement of 84-year-old
President Robert Mugabe. But there's been a suspicious and prolonged delay
in the announcement of the voting results: By late yesterday the official
election commission had reported tallies from only 66 of 210 parliamentary
districts, and none from the presidential election. It seems pretty clear
that Mr. Mugabe, whose misrule has all but destroyed Zimbabwe during the
past decade, hopes to steal the election and enforce his decision with the
police and army.
Yet history suggests that this is a moment when the combination of popular
pressure and international intervention could spell the end of an autocracy.
From the Philippines in 1986 to Ukraine in 2004, dictators have been undone
when they held elections, lost, then tried to fix the results. Mr. Mugabe
need look no farther than Kenya for an example of what could happen if he
tries to proclaim himself the winner of the presidential vote; a similar
maneuver by incumbent President Mwai Kibaki there in December led to violent
upheaval and forced him to accept a power-sharing agreement.
In Zimbabwe, the need for change is far more urgent. Mr. Mugabe has turned
what was once an African breadbasket into a starving land where store
shelves are empty, the annual inflation rate has reached 100,000 percent and
millions of refugees have fled to neighboring countries. Once widely admired
for leading the struggle against minority white rule, Mr. Mugabe has
resorted to systematic thuggery to preserve his 28-year-old hold on power.
As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sharply but correctly said Sunday,
his "regime is a disgrace to the people of Zimbabwe, and a disgrace to
southern Africa and to the continent of Africa as a whole."
Whether Mr. Mugabe succeeds in imposing a fraudulent election result will
depend on whether other governments in southern Africa accept Ms. Rice's
judgment -- and resolve, at last, to do something about the situation. For
years, South African President Thabo Mbeki and other leaders of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) have tolerated Mr. Mugabe's crimes; at
most they have gently nudged him to stop repressing his opposition and
accept modest reforms. (One of those changes may prove the dictator's
undoing; thanks to a law mandating that polling stations publicly post their
results, the opposition has collected tallies from more than half the
districts that show Mr. Mugabe losing to challenger Morgan Tsvangirai by a
margin of more than two to one.) If SADC members insist that Mr. Mugabe
release and accept the known results, and if they tell him that he will be
isolated if he uses force against peaceful opposition protests, they
probably can nudge their neighbor into a historic and desperately needed
change. If they tolerate another fraud and another entrenchment by Mr.
Mugabe, the disgrace will be theirs.
01 April 2008
HARARE — Embattled Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe appeared briefly in
public yesterday, only to ignore questions about the country’s most fiercely
contested election since independence and announce the planned construction
of a world-class cricket stadium to be the centrepiece of his country’s bid
to host the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
Brushing aside questions about the delayed announcement of election results,
Mugabe said a reconstructed Harare Sports Club ground would help the country
win the right to host the next ICC tournament up for grabs.
Speaking at a press conference at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare, the
84-year-old Mugabe, a self-confessed cricket lover, looked tired. He had not
been seen in public since casting his own ballot on Saturday.
Mugabe declined to answer questions about how he regarded his progress in
the polls, only saying he was looking forward to leading his ruling Zanu
(PF) party “on to the field” for its next innings in power, but hinted at a
more conciliatory tone as he talked about a “bridge building” tournament.
“We will show the world that there is more to our country than the lies they
peddle about us,” he said. “The great cricketing countries will come and we
will welcome them and we will beat them.”
An official said work on upgrading the Harare Sports Club, site of the
country’s first Test-level match against India in 1992, would begin as soon
as possible, at a cost of about $50m. The ground, buttressed by the
Presidential Palace and Royal Harare Golf Club in the centre of the city,
accommodates only 10000 spectators. This will be increased to 50000.
One stand at the renovated ground would be named after the disgraced former
South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje, Mugabe said. He did not say who
the other stands would be named after, nor did he give any further details
about the planned reconstruction.
Mugabe, in a 2000 interview with Johannesburg’s Star, after Cronje’s fall
from grace, said that Cronje was a “marvellous” captain, despite being
banned for life from cricket for his attempts to fix matches that saw him
take more than $100000 from bookmakers. Cronje died in a plane crash in June
“What a marvellous captain he was,” Mugabe was reported as saying. “What is
even more sad is that it wasn’t even much money. It’s a pity, a real pity."
The 2011 world cup will be hosted in Asia. Zimbabwe’s bid for the 2015
tournament could not immediately be confirmed with the Dubai-based
International Cricket Council.