The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Mugabe may boost size of parliament
Sun Apr 3, 2005 9:10 PM BST

By Manoah Esipisu

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, flexing his new
political powers, says he will use his party's huge new parliamentary
majority to change the constitution to raise the number of legislative

Mugabe did not provide details but such a move could enable him to tighten
his already firm grip on power if he was to appoint the additional members

African observers endorsed Thursday's disputed poll, countering critics from
outside the continent who accused Mugabe of rigging the vote to cling to

"At the moment it's 150 (the number of parliamentary seats), but I think we
can bring it up to about 200 or any other number that's agreed," Mugabe said
in a televised interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation

Mugabe's ZANU-PF party scored a massive win on Thursday, taking the
two-thirds majority it needs to push through constitutional changes at will.

ZANU-PF won 78 of the 120 contested seats but Mugabe also gets to appoint 30
additional members to the 150-seat legislature.

Mugabe, 81, also said the constitution may be changed to create a dual
legislature with a senate.

The African Union (AU), the 13-member regional Southern African Development
Community (SADC) and government delegations from Zambia, Mozambique and
Malawi joined economic powerhouse South Africa in saying the poll was free,
credible and reflected the will of the people.

The opposition rejected the result and joined Western governments in
denouncing it as a fraud, saying Mugabe had stolen his third election in
five years.

The European Union called the election "phoney" and the United States
attacked its credibility, saying the process was unfairly tilted in favour
of the government.

But Africa's observers appeared satisfied.

"We are saying that this election was free," said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
head of the SADC observer mission and South Africa's energy and minerals
development minister.

"The process was credible. It reflects the will of the people of Zimbabwe,"
Mlambo-Ngcuka told a news conference.

Harare refused to invite U.S., British or Australian observers or groups
such as the Commonwealth and European Union, arguing they had prejudged the
poll because they were hostile to Mugabe's government.

Observers from the 53-member AU, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique said
separately that they agreed with SADC's assessment, saying decreased
violence compared to parliamentary and presidential elections in 2000 and
2002 showed Zimbabwe had made political progress.


Mlambo-Ngcuka said not all conditions for the poll were fair and the state
media did not give as much access to the opposition as required under
regional election guidelines that Zimbabwe pledged to honour.

But she said this did not change the fact that on election day voters made
their choices freely.

SADC was guided in its overall assessment of the vote by the fact that the
MDC had chosen to participate, indicating the party believed it had a fair
chance of victory, she said.

Zimbabwe's official media on Sunday declared the election a success and
questioned the validity of criticism.

"If the farcical Iraqi elections can be termed free and fair, one would have
to be disappointingly dishonest to question the overall integrity of
Zimbabwe's 2005 parliamentary elections," the official Sunday Mail newspaper
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      Zimbabwe's muted opposition
            By Alastair Leithead
            BBC News, Johannesburg

      The British believe the Zimbabwe election result was "fundamentally
flawed," the US says it was "seriously tainted", the opposition party calls
it "massive fraud" and independent monitors say it has failed to meet
regional guidelines for free and fair elections.

      These guidelines were put in place by one of the few international
opinions President Robert Mugabe seems to listen to, the Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC).

      And SADC observers describe the election result as "peaceful, credible
and well organised... reflecting the will of the people".

      Their election observers, one of the few delegations invited into the
country, were concerned by the 10% of voters turned away at the polling
stations and the bias of the state media towards the ruling Zanu-PF party.

      They even noted that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was
claiming the figures did not add up and there was suspicion over 32 of the
120 seats contested - more than a quarter of all constituencies.

      But in the end they delivered their statement of approval anyway,
because the MDC could not present them with evidence in time.

      The courts can deal with any complaints, they said, as there is a
procedure for appealing against the results.

      But the MDC says it will not take the legal route. The appeals lodged
after the last election have still not been processed by the courts.

      So what can the MDC do now?


      The party only took part in the elections begrudgingly, after saying
the intimidation and restrictions meant this election would not be free and
fair however peaceful it was on polling day.

      It is the build-up to the poll that the independent Zimbabwe Election
Support Network highlights as the problem.

      "Although there were no incidents of direct violence... the
pre-election period was not in line with the SADC principles and
guidelines," Chairman Reginald Matchaba-Hove said.

      "Intimidation and the politicisation of food distribution were used to
persuade citizens to vote for the ruling party."

      The group cited the example of Manyame constituency, where the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said 14,812 people had cast their votes at the
close of polling.

      "The figure then suddenly catapulted to 23,760 as the results were
announced... and the same applies to a number of other cases, so we urge the
commission to seriously look into these discrepancies as they have serious
implications for the credibility of the electoral process," Mr Matchaba-Hove

      What now?

      The MDC is currently assembling the evidence, but the SADC endorsement
of the election - along with that of South Africa - means there is very
little the opposition can do.

      Morgan Tsvangirai's leadership is being questioned.

      When he addressed the press as results were coming in on Friday, he
offered no clear path - having accused the government of "fraudulently...
betraying the people".

      And there still seems little direction to the MDC's response.

      Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman said the party had asked its president to
"pursue a programme of political alternatives" - which seems to mean he has
not decided what to do yet.

      "I can tell you what he has ruled out," William Bango said.

      "A legal challenge and an armed struggle - but we are not closing the
door on mass demonstrations or protests."

      Bad joke

      It is hardly the call for the people to take to the streets peacefully
that the outspoken Archbishop Pius Ncube was encouraging.

      The African Union observer mission was slightly more cautious about
the election result - but President Mugabe now has all the cards, with a
two-thirds majority.

      He has made it clear he intends to change the constitution - most
probably to introduce a second chamber, or senate. Perhaps he will even
remove the need for the presidential election in 2007.

      It is all part of the retirement plan, no doubt, even if President
Mugabe did joke that he could stay in power until he is 100.

      With the support he is getting from southern African countries, and
the lack of options the opposition has to challenge the election result, it
is a joke poor, hungry and unemployed Zimbabweans suffering under an
appalling economic crisis could well take seriously.

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Washington Post

Zimbabwe's Enabler
South Africa Falls Short As Monitor of Democracy

By Sebastian Mallaby
Monday, April 4, 2005; Page A21

Thursday's election in Zimbabwe was not merely stolen. It was stolen with
the complicity -- no, practically the encouragement -- of Africa's most
influential democrat. If you think too long about this democrat, moreover,
you reach a bleak conclusion. For all the recent democratic strides in
Africa, the continental leadership that was supposed to reinforce this
progress is not up to the challenge.

The bankrupt democrat in question is Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president.
For the past few years, he's been promising a pan-African Renaissance, a new
era in which Africans would take charge of their own problems. Mbeki led the
creation of the grandly titled New Partnership for Africa's Development,
which commits members to the rule of law and other principles of good
government; he's the driving force behind the peer-review mechanism that's
supposed to police compliance with those pledges. The New Partnership's
principles are quoted frequently by Africa sympathizers who advocate more
foreign assistance, and they've boosted Mbeki's profile marvelously. Mbeki
has become a fixture at the rich countries' annual Group of Eight summits.
He has been treated by George Bush and Tony Blair as a player. He has felt
emboldened to advance South Africa as a candidate for a permanent seat on
the U.N. Security Council.

But do Mbeki's New Partnership principles mean anything? In the run-up to
Zimbabwe's election, when the regime's thugs were denying food to suspected
opposition sympathizers, Mbeki actually undercut the international pressure
for a fair contest. He expressed a serene confidence that the election would
be free and fair. He allowed his labor minister, who was serving as the head
of the South African observer mission in Zimbabwe, to dismiss the regime's
critics as "a problem and a nuisance." He quarreled with the Bush
administration's description of Zimbabwe as an outpost of repression. He did
everything, in other words, to signal that mass fraud would be acceptable.

And so Zimbabwe's thugs obliged him. Before the election, they arranged for
ballot boxes made out of see-through plastic and a voter's roll stuffed with
fictitious names. When polling day came, about a tenth of the voters were
turned away from election stations for mysterious reasons. One constituency,
in which 14,812 people voted according to election officials, was announced
the next day to have awarded more than 15,000 votes to the president's
nephew. In this way, the regime won a famous victory -- and with it the
power to change whatever's left of Zimbabwe's constitution.

If South Africa, which could strangle its smaller neighbor's economy by
switching off its electricity, had been tougher beforehand, this fraud might
have been forestalled. If Mbeki had protested after the election, events
also might have been different. Some brave Zimbabweans called for an African
version of Ukraine's Orange Revolution. But as one opposition politician
said wistfully, regional conditions provided no encouragement. Ukraine
benefited from proxi- mity to pro-democratic Europe. But Zimbabwe's
democratic neighbor sent the opposite signal. After the election was stolen,
the head of the South African observer mission heaped praise on the process,
declaring that the outcome reflected "the free will of the people of
Zimbabwe" and that "the political climate was conducive for elections to
take place."

Zimbabwe isn't the only place where Mbeki has been disappointing. On New
Year's Day he visited Sudan and addressed that country's government. If ever
there was an opportunity for some peer-to-peer truth-telling, surely this
was it: Sudan's Arab leaders are engaged in the systematic killing of ethnic
Africans in the western province of Darfur. But Mbeki spoke understandingly
of "the challenges facing the government," and reserved his toughest
comments for the easy scapegoat of imperialism. "When these eminent
representatives of British colonialism were not in Sudan, they were in South
Africa, and vice versa, doing terrible things wherever they went," he

Mbeki is undoubtedly an able man -- thoughtful in conversation, workaholic
in habit, a wizard in the dark arts of backroom politics. But he is a tragic
figure: He personifies the flaw that his own New Partnership is intended to
inhibit. Open and accountable government is desirable because it exposes
leaders to criticism, obliges them to listen and so reduces the risk of
blatantly bad policy. But Mbeki, who leads a democratic government but one
without electable opponents, is no more willing to accept criticism than to
dish it out. He surrounds himself with yes men and spits viciously at
critics. He lacks the humility to admit errors, even when the consequences
are plain for all to see.

Mbeki's error on Zimbabwe is almost as terrible as his earlier one on AIDS,
when he opposed anti-retroviral treatment. Zimbabwe is the poster child for
the emphasis on governance in the New Partnership for Africa's Development;
it shows how bad government can take a promising society and ruin it. A
country that was once a breadbasket for the region now depends on food aid;
a country that once took in migrants now exports desperate people by the
million. And yet Mbeki, the mastermind and guiding light of the New
Partnership, will not speak out against this tragedy.
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Cape Times

      SA mission split over poll finding

      Zimbabwe election row
      April 4, 2005

      By Beauregard Tromp and Chiara Carter

      Harare: A major row has broken out among political parties in the SA
parliamentary observer mission to Zimbabwe over the mission's assessment of
Thursday's parliamentary elections.

      "The mission unanimously agreed that the elections were credible,
legitimate, free and fair and conformed to the SADC elections guidelines,"
ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, the head of the mission, said in a statement
issued in Harare on Saturday.

      But the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front and Independent Democrats
all disagreed with this "unanimous" verdict, saying the election had been
anything but free and fair.

      Meanwhile, in its reports on the election released yesterday the SADC
observer mission declared the elections free, but not fair.

      Southern African Development Community observer mission leader,
Minerals and Energy Minister Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said the election was
peaceful and credible.

      "The fact that in the end when a person entered a polling station it
was one person, one vote, and it was secret is the classical international
standard to measure the freeness of any elections.

      "In general we came to the conclusion that the election does reflect
the will of the people of Zimbabwe," she added.

      The African Union (AU) observer team yesterday also issued a cautious
approval of the elections, but stopped short of endorsing the results.

      Team head, Kwagwo Asari-Gyan, said that at the "point of ballot" the
poll was conducted in a "peaceful and orderly manner", but would not comment
on whether it was free and fair, saying the AU team could not comment on
this as it had not witnessed the full electoral process.

      He expressed concern at reports alleging the number of voters who
actually cast ballots did not tally with the final vote count in several

      Goniwe said the SA parliamentary mission had resolved to ask
parliament to "severely reprimand" the DA's Roy Jankielson and the ID's
Vincent Gorte for making unauthorised statements on their own in Zimbabwe
about the elections - in violation of the mission rules - and to make them
reimburse their expenses.

      The DA has rejected the Zimbabwean elections as being neither free nor
fair, and accused the South African government of deciding in advance to
endorse the elections at a cost to the country's international credibility.

      In a statement issued yesterday, DA leader Tony Leon said while the
actual election itself had been more peaceful and orderly than the previous
elections, Zimbabweans had been denied freedom of expression and freedom of

      "The playing field was vertical, with Zanu-PF assured victory from the
start," Leon said.

      The DA leader said the Zimbabwean government failed to meet the
requirements of the SADC Protocol, and that reports from DA public
representatives in various observer missions suggested the elections were
"conducted in a climate of intimidation and repression that prevented the
people from expressing their will freely".

      "The observers themselves were subjected to extreme pressure, with ANC
leaders threatening to abandon DA representatives to the whims of the
Zimbabwean security forces. One DA observer, party chairperson Joe Seremane,
was prevented from entering the country after the SADC Parliamentary Forum
was barred by the Zimbabwean government," Leon said.

      He added that the DA representative to the SADC Electoral Observation
Mission (SEOM), reported "the ANC commandeered it and sidelined other
governments and parties, when in fact the SEOM should have been led by
Mauritius as SADC chair".

      "It is clear that the South African government and the ANC went to
Zimbabwe with the aim of declaring the election as "free and fair", come
what may, and with their report already pre-certified by President Thabo
Mbeki," Leon said.

      "Quite why President Mbeki has squandered South Africa's hard-earned
place in the world in defence of the pitiless dictatorship across the
Limpopo, is difficult to fathom."

      In his statement of endorsement, Goniwe did not mention the Freedom
Front's Willie Spies, a member of the mission, who had issued a statement on
Friday that the elections had not complied with the SADC election

      They fell short in several areas, he said, including the unequal
access of parties to the state media, the incomplete participation of all
citizens and the partiality of the judiciary and electoral authorities.

      Spies said although the election campaign had been peaceful, this was
just a minimum condition for elections which overall could not be described
as free and fair.

      Jankielson said at the weekend: "If I had known the mission would be
meeting to discuss a statement on the elections, I would have stayed for
that. But Goniwe did not inform me. I don't know how he could make a
statement like that without consulting all the members of the delegation."

      He said he "absolutely disagreed" with Goniwe's assessment of the
elections. The major flaws in the legal and constitutional environment and
five years of violence, torture and intimidation against the opposition
could not be ignored.

      Goniwe's statement said: "There was unhindered, calm and peaceful
campaigning and voting by the parties and electorate respectively; parties
campaigned with reasonable confidence to win the election." - Foreign

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The Mercury

      Voters not convinced MDC could really offer a new beginning
      April 4, 2005

      By Moshoeshoe Monare

      The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was unprepared, ill-equipped,
disorganised and lacked basic tactical strategy during the parliamentary
elections, which contributed to their humiliating defeat.

      The Zimbabwean opposition party had relied heavily on sympathy from
the foes of the ruling Zanu-PF party in Britain, some European Union
countries, the United States, the international media, and diplomatic

      Four months before the elections, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had
still not decided whether to enter the race.

      Campaigning, strategising and the approach to the elections were
reluctantly and hastily planned without calculating the symmetry of the
political topography in Zimbabwe.

      The MDC believed the untested doctrine that the internal divisions in
the ruling party would produce results in their favour.

      While criticising Zanu-PF's bullying tactics days before the
elections, Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC chief spokesman, was complacent about
victory, saying "the people of Zimbabwe wanted change" and that they were
tired of Zanu-PF's repressive and nefarious rule.

      However, the results were not about the masses punishing the MDC, but
about the opposition's inability to convince the people that their message
related to their short-term, immediate needs.

      Before the elections, Eldred Masunungura, head of political and
administrative studies at the University of Zimbabwe, said people were
unconvinced that the MDC would provide a new beginning.

      He said the electorate perceived the opposition to be
      a dwarf against the ruthless Zanu-PF machinery.

      The people conceded that their lives would remain stagnant in poverty
and repression, and thus stayed away from the polling stations.

      That was the feeling of Chris Lloyd, a middle-class Borrowdale
resident, and Nancy Dodo, a taxi driver in the city centre, who felt that
voting was a waste of time.

      This apathy and indifference worked perfectly in Zanu-PF's favour,
because the low turnout meant that only the ruling party die-hards braved
the morning drizzle to make that important political cross.

      On the ground, the MDC was either failing to penetrate, or was refused
access to, previously no-go zones in the Mashonaland provinces, where Zanu's
base was solid.

      MDC's Secretary-General, Welshman Ncube, complained on the eve of the
elections of not-so-widespread intimidation in Mashonaland. The party's
president, Tsvangirai, also cited this as a reason for an uneven playing

      This, and other factors, such as access to the media and the
legislative framework that made it difficult for the MDC to compete fairly,
were key reasons why the elections could not be perceived as fair.

      Lovemore Madhuku, Chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly,
rightly maintained that Zimbabwe needed constitutional and political reforms
that would not necessarily be effected through elections.

      He argued that the process of conducting the elections was flawed, and
the polls themselves, were not a solution.

      Entering the elections in Zimbabwe was basically legitimising and
legalising the Mugabe government.

      The regime was duly formed within the constitutional principles and
international law tenets which give a government moral authority to rule.

      But sources said pressure from SADC also played a major role in
forcing the MDC to test their popularity in the polls.

      To ordinary Zimbabweans and Zanu-PF supporters, the MDC's complaint
about the uneven landscape and flawed system made them look like the
disappointed fox that craved the grapes, or a perennial whinger.

      Questioned about this perceived blunder, Tsvangirai told reporters
that the people had mandated the MDC to enter the elections.

      "They believed that it was right to fight the system from within
parliament," he said.

      But the MDC's performance in parliament over the past five years had
not been impressive, and Zimbabwe's presidential democracy also rendered
anyone winning parliamentary elections ineffective because they could not
form a government.

      To have tried their luck in a flawed landscape was an indication of a
lack of leadership innovation, guidance and counsel.

      However, Tsvangirai maintained that the defeat in the three elections
since 2000 could not be attributed to him.

      He said that if the organisation was not happy with his leadership, it
would be up to them to review it.

      For the Zimbabwean political situation to change drastically, a change
of leadership in both the Zanu-PF and MDC are vital.

      Zimbabwe could continue to cope beyond the current crisis under
Zanu-PF, minus Mugabe, as an alternative way out, in the face of a
struggling MDC and the fragmented civil society organisations. - Mercury
Foreign Service

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The Telegraph

Zimbabwe voters 'were gripped by terror'
By Peta Thornycroft
(Filed: 04/04/2005)

The largest group of observers at the Zimbabwe election said yesterday that
it was conducted in 'a climate of fear'.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), which deployed observers to
two thirds of 8,200 polling stations, issued a report contradicting South
African groups that have given Mr Mugabe's landslide a clean bill of health.

"Zimbabwe's electoral climate has been shrouded in fear from the 2000
parliamentary elections... Zimbabweans have come to associate elections with
physical violence," according to Dr Reginald Matchaba-Hove, the chairman of

ZESN is a long-established non-governmental organisation that has monitored
most of Zimbabwe's national and local government polls in the last decade.

It sent observers into the field several months ago, and had 6,000 on duty
on election day itself. In comparison with the South African groups, which
are glaringly ignorant of Zimbabwe's electoral laws and were determined not
to recognise that intimidation has long roots, ZESN, which employs only
Zimbabweans, saw it all.

The report said: "Traditional leaders threatened their subjects with
eviction and sometimes unspecified action should they fail to vote for the
ruling party.

"Opposition parties were not free to campaign in certain parts of the
country as some of these areas were no go areas.

"Intimidation included the politicisation of food distribution."

It also said that Zanu PF "monopolised access to both the print and
electronic media".

It welcomed the "peaceful" day of voting and reduced violence ahead of the
poll, but said that "fundamental" rights of freedom of assembly were
restricted by security and media laws introduced by Mr Mugabe after the MDC
entered the political scene five years ago.

All traditional observer groups, such as the European Union and the
Commonwealth, were barred from the elections.

Zimbabwe's only television station reminded its viewers who had won last
week's general election by showing President Robert Mugabe's supporters
carrying a mock coffin through the streets of Bulawayo.

On it was a large name tag: "PT Nyathi," standing for Paul Themba Nyathi,
who resisted both white minority rule and Mr Mugabe's regime, and is the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change's spokesman.

Mr Nyathi lost his seat in the Matabeleland province of southern Zimbabwe
after his constituency boundaries were radically altered two months ago.

The image on the state-controlled television channel from Bulawayo,
Matabeleland's capital, was accompanied by triumphal whoops from Mr Mugabe's
few supporters in the city.

Mr Nyathi has shrugged off his defeat, saying he has no idea whether the
result was rigged or not. He said: "The new boundaries of the constituency
included people who have known nothing but terror all their lives, from
Rhodesia through to the massacres in Matabeleland in the 1980s and now
because they are as thin as broomsticks and are in urgent need of food."

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The Mercury

      New doubt over Zim poll result
      April 4, 2005

      By Mercury Foreign Service

      Harare: Incredulity mounted yesterday over Zanu-PF's two-thirds
majority win in the Zimbabwe elections and its endorsement by African
observer missions, especially those dominated by South African political

      The opposition Movement for Democratic Change ended some vacillation
about its future actions by calling for fresh elections under a new
constitution, while in South Africa, a major row broke out among SA
parliamentarians after the DA distanced itself from the SA government
mission's findings.

      Journalists and Zimbabwe human rights officials burst into laughter
when the leader of the SADC observer group fielded questions about
Zimbabwe's state media which gave Zanu-PF nearly 90% of air-time on both
radio and television.

      "It could have been better," said South African Minerals Minister
Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka.

      Meanwhile, the first of Mugabe's hand-picked observer missions began
to get cold feet in the chorus of endorsements. The African Union's observer
team admitted it was unable to witness the full electoral process. A
statement issued by team head Kwagwo Asari-Gyan said that at the "point of
ballot", Thursday's vote had been conducted in a "peaceful and orderly

      Media reports

      However, he stopped short of declaring that the AU team's verdict was
free and fair. He expressed concern at media reports that the number of
voters who had actually cast ballots did not tally with the final vote count
in several constituencies.

      The independent Standard newspaper published evidence of major
discrepancies between the total number of votes cast in each constituency,
broadcast before the vote count had been completed, and the results of the
counting the next day.

      Meanwhile, a row has broken out among political parties in the SA
parliamentary observer mission over its assessment of the elections.

      "The mission unanimously agreed the elections were credible,
legitimate, free and fair and confirmed to the SADC elections guidelines,"
said ANC Chief Whip Mbulelo Goniwe, the head of the mission.

      But the DA, Freedom Front and Independent Democrats all said the
election had been anything but free and fair. DA leader Tony Leon said while
the election itself had been more peaceful than previously, Zimbabweans had
been denied freedom of expression and assembly.

      "The playing field was vertical, with Zanu-PF assured of victory from
the start," Leon said. - Mercury Foreign Service
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Cape Times

      Woeful life of poverty and unemployment is the bleak outlook for
      April 4, 2005

      By Cris Chinaka

      Harare: A crushing election victory has tightened President Robert
Mugabe's grip on power but is likely only to aggravate his personal
isolation and Zimbabwe's ruinous crisis, analysts say.

      Mugabe, 81, and in power since independence from Britain in 1980,
vowed before the poll that his Zanu-PF party would "bury" both the
opposition MDC and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom he paints as his
chief enemy.

      He will see the result as a sweeping vindication. Zanu-PF easily
exceeded the two-thirds majority Mugabe aimed at and which gives the party
the power to change the constitution.

      But political analysts said a chorus of condemnation of the poll from
the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) and Western powers has further
dented Mugabe's international credibility.

      "Mugabe might crow and shout about his supposed victory but nobody in
important international quarters believes he won fairly," said one Western

      "I think what is worse is that with more power, Mugabe is likely to
become more arrogant and everyone is expecting him to use it to suppress the
opposition..." he said.

      "I think Zimbabwe could actually be worse off with this victory."

      Zanu-PF has used its previous simple majority in parliament to
introduce tough media and security laws that have hobbled the opposition.
Analysts say with a two-thirds majority, there are worries of a much tougher

      "Mugabe's major problem now is that many people, here at home and
governments abroad, don't trust him," said human rights lawyer Jacob Mafume.

      "On his part he has become very suspicious of some of the big Western
powers, including Britain and the United States, to the extent that it is
difficult for him to mend strained relations and to repeal some of the
undemocratic laws on our statute books," Mafume added.

      Many Western powers said both the presidential vote and the last major
parliamentary elections in 2000 were rigged, and have publicly or quietly
frozen economic aid.

      The condemnation of the latest poll from the European Union, United
States, Britain and others was equally harsh.

      "The independent press was muzzled; freedom of expression was
constrained; food was used as a weapon to sway hungry voters; and millions
of Zimbabweans who have been forced by the nation's economic collapse to
emigrate were disenfranchised," said US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

      But some analysts say sanctions and the isolation of Mugabe have
robbed the world of critical forums to engage him constructively and have
paradoxically reduced the pressure to make democratic reforms.

      Analysts said the election would also worsen a crisis that has ruined
the once-prosperous nation and for which Mugabe is blamed.

      Mugabe said his government would rebuild the economy through
controversial land reforms, a consolidated economic policy and vigorous
implementation of state plans.

      International donors and multilateral institutions have halted lending
and foreign currency balance of payment support to Zimbabwe.

      In an editorial on Friday, the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper said
Mugabe had "fixed the electoral system to ensure his party's retention of
power" but could not solve the country's pressing economic problems.

      "After all the excitement has evaporated... Zimbabweans will be going
back to their woeful lives of poverty, unemployment, food shortages and all
the other ills associated with this dying regime that won't let go despite
its manifest inability to solve a single one of the country's problems." -

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The Independent (UK)

Richard Dowden: What now of Blair's Africa vision after Zimbabwe?
It is hard to find a single current African leader who is willing to
criticise Mugabe
04 April 2005

Suddenly the upbeat "let's celebrate Africa" mood and Blair's grand plans to
save the continent have hit reality; African politics. In Zimbabwe, the
overwhelming victory of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in Friday's
parliamentary elections is a stark reminder that Africa's politics have
their own particular dynamics.

For Zimbabwe it is the worst possible result. The next election there will
be the presidential one in 2008 and between now and then the country will
remain in limbo; its economy in ruins, its people wracked by HIV/Aids and
its government shunned by Western donors. But the collapse of Zimbabwe is a
minor setback to the Afro-optimism and Blair's commitment to change Africa.

The really serious blow is the reaction of the rest of the continent. The
official South African observer mission declared the result "the will of the
people" on Saturday even while other observers were trying to check out
allegations of massive fraud. The other African observer missions will
almost certainly say that there were"'irregularities" but that the election
was basically free and fair, a vast improve- ment on 2000.

Africa does not support Western policy towards Zimbabwe. In fact many
African politicians regard it as a "tiff" between Zimbabwe and Britain
caused by British concern for its own "kith and kin" there; the white
farmers. Even President Ben Mkapa of Tanzania, hand-picked by Tony Blair to
serve on his Africa Commission, says that what has happened to Zimbabwe is
"the price of transformation". It is hard to find a single current African
leader who is willing to criticise him.

All this bodes badly for the New Deal for Africa laid out by Blair's
Commission for Africa under which rich countries level the playing field for
trade, raise massive funds for development and write off Africa's debts
while in return African rulers commit themselves to good government and
monitoring each other's behaviour. The African Union's Peer Review
Mechanism, made up of Africa's great and good, is supposed to police the
continent's governments on everything from human rights to economic
management. This deal is in jeopardy.

British government policy has hit a brick wall. Well might the Foreign
Office ponder how this small agricultural country in southern Africa has
produced only two leaders in 50 years, Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe, who have
both given the finger to the rest of the world. The diplomats must now work
out how Mugabe turned near-defeat five years ago - 61 seats to 58 - into a
78-41 victory on Friday while the economy had declined by about 50 per cent.
There are factors: 3 million of Zimbabwe's 11.8 million people have fled the
country. The voters' roll and the results were almost cer- tainly fixed. But
that cannot explain all.

Many voted for Mugabe simply because he is president - a common political
view in rural Africa. Others have a tribal one-of-us mentality. Some may
have also been afraid - even though this election was far less violent than
2000. Many may have feared that if they did not vote for Zanu-PF, they would
not get food aid. But the opinion polls showed that outside Zimbabwe's towns
Mugabe's popularity had gone up in the past year. Singing the liberation
struggle battle hymns against whites and Britain, and handing out seized
land and food aid, worked.

As Jack Straw and others pick over the wreckage of British policy they will
be forced to admit ruefully that it contributed to Mugabe's success. Trying
to browbeat Mugabe with threats and condemnation played straight into his
hands as he turned every insult back on his accusers, supercharged with
anti-colonial rhetoric. British support for the opposition candidate and
regime change also boosted Mugabe making Morgan Tsvangirai look like a
British puppet. The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq was another gift proving
that Britain still acted in an imperial way.

Britain can take some heart from Mugabe's own difficulties created by his
very success. He has secured the two thirds majority in parliament needed to
change the constitution so in theory he can install the successor of his
choice on his own terms. In practice, his government is increasingly drawn
from his own family and members of his Zezuru people, alienating other Shona
clans such as the powerful Karanga.

Britain has been forced to learn that the only way it can influence
Zimbabwe's future is through other African allies, particularly South
Africa. As in the days of rebel Rhodesia, South Africa holds the key. But
Blair and President Thabo Mbeki fell out over Zimbabwe at the Commonwealth
Summit in 2003. Since then Mbeki has shown little sign of changing his mind
and announced before the election that he was confident it would comply with
regional standards. If Britain is going to go the diplomatic route it will
be a long walk.

In the meantime the British sherpas carrying Africa to the top of the agenda
at the G8 summit at Glen- eagles in July will find their route littered with
prickly obstacles marked "Made in Zimbabwe".

The writer is Director of the Royal African Society
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Zim Online

Robert Mugabe's victory: Its implications for Zimbabwe.
Monday 4 April 2005

  HARARE - President Robert Mugabe might crow and shout about his ''overwhelming
victory'' in the just ended parliamentary plebiscite , but its disputed
outcome will only worsen Zimbabwe's isolation and exacerbate the country's
economic and political crisis, analysts say.
      Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party won 78 seats against 41 for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and one for independent
candidate, disgraced former Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan

      ZANU PF is now guaranteed a two thirds majority in the 150 member
parliament because Mugabe is constitutionally empowered to appoint an extra
30 members. The MDC has rejected the poll outcome alleging massive electoral

      The European Union, United States, Germany, Australia and Britain have
condemned the election as having been neither free nor fair although African
observers have given it the thumbs up.

      While the poll outcome has entrenched Mugabe's grip on power, the
chorus of condemnation about his manner of victory from important
international quarters is only likely to worsen Zimbabwe's isolation,
analysts say. More targeted European and American sanctions are likely to
follow Mugabe's victory, says University of Zimbabwe head of political and
administrative studies Eldred Masunungure.

      Masunungure says European nations may even contemplate stiffening and
broadening the sanctions and he sees no reprieve for the Zimbabwean
government. Zimbabwe's isolation from important international quarters in
turn means more suffering for the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.

      "Some of the EU countries and indeed America will contemplate
stiffening and broadening the sanctions unless there is a fundamental policy
shift by the government. There has to be a serious paradigm shift and Mugabe
must make a serious conscious decision to change his domestic and foreign
policies if he is to expect a reprieve from the international community,"
says Masunungure.

      He says Mugabe has to make a public statement that repressive
legislation such as the controversial Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and many other
controversial bills will either be repealed or amended. This would indicate
to the world that he is ready to be accepted into the global family.

      South African President Thabo Mbeki's stance on Zimbabwe will also
remain crucial in any efforts to rehabilitate Mugabe, Masunungure says.

      Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku believes the election
results will make ZANU PF more arrogant and will cause more conflict between
government on one hand and civil society and the opposition on the other.

      Madhuku also sees Mugabe wanting to use his majority not to advance
the cause of democratisation but to reward cronies. Mugabe has said he will
change the constitution to introduce an upper house of parliament, the

      "It affords Mugabe an opportunity to reward patronage through the
senate. It makes them more arrogant to effect any constitutional changes
alone without involving the people," says Madhuku.
      Madhuku's fears are confirmed by ZANU PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira
who says several constitutional amendments are now on the cards following
ZANU PF's 'landslide'.

      "Constitutional amendments are long overdue. We need to amend to allow
for the establishment of a senate, and we also need to abolish the
constitutional provision for the president to appoint members. This will be
replaced by elective members of the assembly. Details will be worked out by
the parliamentarians," says Shamuyarira.

      He also reiterates Mugabe's promise to cooperate with the MDC,
provided the opposition "recognizes and respects the government".

      "This is an important statement of reconciliation and we hope the MDC
will respect that," he says.

      Many doubt the sincerity of Mugabe's pledge to work with the
opposition in view of his new majority in parliament empowering ZANU PF to
unilaterally change the constitution.

      He has previously ruled out dialogue with the opposition even when the
MDC still had a significant presence in parliament and hence more influence.

      Crisis of Zimbabwe Coalition chairman Brian Kagoro says nothing is
likely to change and Mugabe's isolation is likely to continue to the
detriment of the economy. Kagoro does not believe Mugabe's promises to
dialogue with the MDC count for anything.

      ''Mugabe has said he wants to talk to the MDC but on his own terms.
That will in fact change nothing as this will not be honest dialogue,'' says

      Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza says the ruling party's 'landslide' is
a massive responsibility which solicits for a massive response to the
mandate given by the people. "We are likely to see a return of the draft
constitution which was rejected a few years ago. But above all it means ZANU
PF has a lot on their hands to respond to," Mandaza says.

      Economists remain pessimistic about the economic environment in
Zimbabwe and believe the ZANU PF majority puts more uncertainty on business.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Luxon Zembe says
industry is waiting to see how ZANU PF will use the absolute power it has

      "The key point for business is what the government will do with that
power in terms of renewing business confidence and regularizing relations
with the international community. Everybody is waiting to see how they will
use the power and this poses more uncertainty on industry," says Zembe.

      He says business is concerned that if ZANU PF abuses its power, this
will not help in creating a conducive environment for potential investors.

      "Their response to this mandate must be economy driven and not power
driven. We hope it will not entrench more arrogance on ZANU PF," says Zembe.

      He also hopes that ZANU PF will adopt policies that will enable the
economy to grow and alleviate the country's 70 percent unemployment.

      Shamuyarira dismisses the MDC's allegations of election fraud and is
confident the European Union and America will lift sanctions against the

      "They (EU and US) will remove the sanctions as we have always
encouraged them to do because of the way we ran our elections. It was a free
and fair election run in a transparent manner and we hope they will respond
in the same way," he says.

      MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube insists ZANU PF did not win the
election given the "anomalies that were before all". He fears ZANU PF will
abuse its majority in parliament hence exacerbating the Zimbabwe crisis.

      "ZANU PF will rewrite the constitution without consulting anybody and
this is dangerous for the nation. They will also appoint geriatrics in the
senate as a way to pay them back for years of loyalty," he says. The MDC
claims it won 94 seats instead of 42 and has alleged electoral fraud in more
than 30 constituencies.

      Ncube is not hopeful about the 2008 presidential elections either.

      "You cannot perform any differently in a dictatorship. But this does
not mean the MDC will give it on a silver platter. "We will engage in
various forms of pressure for them to open democratic space but I cannot
release details now."

      Analysts are unanimous that the conclusion of the parliamentary poll
will not see the resumption of suspended aid to Zimbabwe.

      Diplomats interviewed by ZimOnline say they do not believe Mugabe won
fairly and insist their countries are not in any hurry to engage him.

      ''We fear that he will become more arrogant with his two thirds
majority and engage in acts of repression that will not be helpful in
improving relations with his government,'' says one diplomat.

      All this means there is no reprieve for the people of Zimbabwe and the
country's economic and political crisis is far from being resolved.

      But Mugabe begs to differ. He says in an interview with the South
African Broadcasting Corporation economic recovery is on path and his
government will reduce inflation from three to two digit levels by year end.

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Zimbabwe needs democracy

        The New York Times
        Monday, April 4, 2005

Once again, Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front has managed to bully its way to victory. In legislative elections last
week, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change scored big in urban
areas, where election monitors were plentiful, but Mugabe's party roared
back in rural areas, where election monitors were scarce.
No one believed Mugabe's claim that these elections would be democratic,
except maybe his chief apologist, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who actually
had the gall to announce that he was confident Zimbabwe's elections would be
Did Mbeki not notice all of the news reports about Mugabe's party's
withholding bags of cornmeal - bought and paid for, mind you - from
opponents in the country's drought-stricken regions?
Or maybe he hasn't had time to take note of Mugabe's cynical attempt to
starve his people into submission: Last year, Mugabe ordered international
food donors to stop general feeding programs, a move that seemed intended to
control food stocks before the election. "Why foist this food upon us?" he
told Sky News of Britain. "We have enough."
It's the Zimbabwean people who have had enough - of Mugabe. On Friday, the
country's top Catholic prelate called for a peaceful uprising against Mugabe
if the voting itself turns out to have been rigged, as is likely despite a
stamp of approval from Mugabe's chosen monitoring group from the South
African Development Community. And the opposition party leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, hinted that his party might stage street protests.
That's a welcome idea. If people power can force democracy in Ukraine and
Georgia, why not in Africa? After all, Zimbabweans have South Africa right
next door for a role model. Mbeki cannot have entirely forgotten what it's
like to be on the wrong side of an iron fist.

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The Times

            Democratic drought
            Zimbabwe's plight should stir other African leaders to action

            Robert Mugabe is a problem that many have wished would simply go
away. But this weekend's election result shows that the 81-year-old dictator
is far from fading, with possibly his most fraudulent election victory yet.
So shameless was the vote-rigging that in many areas the broadcast result
differed by thousands from the total numbers of people recorded as having
voted. Democracy is not the only casualty. In a country where around half
the people now go hungry as a result of his policies, Mr Mugabe has surely
set his country on a path to eventual violence.
            The choices now facing the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and its courageous leader Morgan Tsvangirai are bleak indeed.
The MDC has already ruled out mounting further legal challenges: the high
court has still not concluded hearings on its application challenging the
2002 election result. Mr Tsvangirai has continued to reject calls for armed
struggle, saying his party is committed to peaceful means. It would be a
brave group indeed which would openly confront the thugs of Zanu-PF. This is
not a regime that is likely to be moved by any Ukraine-style protest. And
the MDC has very limited resources. It has no independent radio or TV
stations, in a country where the media have been ruthlessly muzzled. Nor,
faced with a Public Order Security Act which bars free assembly, does it
have any sympathetic neighbouring states which can provide bases.

            This is one of the most shameful aspects of the current
situation. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, the powerhouse in the
region, pronounced the latest Zimbabwean elections as free and fair even
before they had taken place. On Saturday his Government then repeated the
line to puzzled journalists, just as it had done after the elections three
years ago. The 11-country observer mission from the Southern African
Development Community concluded that the elections "reflected the will of
the people", despite finding that around 10 per cent of Zimbabweans were
turned away from the polls.

            It should by now be dawning on Western leaders that Mr Mbeki's
strategy of "quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe has in practice been one of
blinkered complicity in the abuses of the Mugabe regime. His refusal to
listen to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other citizens on this subject is
jeopardising his country's reputation as a champion of democracy and human
rights in Africa.

            It also makes a mockery of the grand plans for the continent
espoused by Tony Blair's Africa Commission and the New Partnership for
Africa's Development (Nepad), which links increased aid to political and
economic reform. As long as Africa's leaders refuse to condemn the Mugabe
regime, Western donors will surely feel that talk of good governance lacks

            Another five years is too long to wait for the millions who are
hungry and oppressed. Mr Mugabe treats all opposition with contempt. Other
African leaders must now take the lead.
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The Telegraph, Calcutta

      Gwynne Dyer
      When Mugabe became president a quarter-century ago, after a long
guerilla war led by Zanu-PF had finally overthrown the white minority
regime, he inherited a country with a decent infrastructure and rich
agricultural resources.

      Zimbabwe did fairly well despite Mugabe. It was impossible to defend
the fact that white farmers owned most of the good land in the country, but
they did grow enough to feed everybody with plenty left over for export. A
property-owning and even factory-owning black middle class appeared in the
cities, though too many of them owed their prosperity to their political

      Old tricks

      I went back to Zimbabwe in 1995 for the first time since the end of
the liberation war, and the contrast with South Africa was stunning. It was
only one year since the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa, and I
had just come from the rural northern Transvaal, hardly the richest part of
the country - but across the river, in Zimbabwe, was a different world.
Nobody was starving and most of the kids were getting at least a few years
of school, but despite a 15-year head-start on South Africa as a
post-colonial, non-racist society, Zimbabwe's black majority were hugely
poorer than their counterparts in South Africa.

      Then, in order to secure Zanu-PF's hold on power forever, Mugabe held
a referendum in 1999 to change the constitution and turn Zimbabwe into a
one-party state. That gave everybody an opportunity to say no, so they said
it loud and clear, and Mugabe has been running scared ever since. He's a bit
old to learn new tricks, so that mainly means confronting the local whites,
blaming everything that goes wrong on the "colonialists" and "imperialists",
and beating up, jailing, starving or killing those Zimbabweans who defy

      In a mess

      The land reform that should have begun 20 years ago, with compensation
for white farmers who were gradually bought out and training and financial
assistance for black farmers who were given a piece of the huge farms, was
done by violence, without compensation, in less than 2 years. Huge amounts
of land have simply fallen out of production, so production of maize, the
staple food crop, has fallen by almost half. Not only are there no exports
to bring in foreign exchange; one-quarter of Zimbabweans are slowly

      Last year, Mugabe stopped international aid organizations from
distributing food in Zimbabwe. He probably did it more out of pride than
malice, but the effect has been to make everybody in famine-stricken areas
totally reliant on buying food from the government-controlled Grain
Marketing Board. And in many areas where support for the opposition was
strong, the GMB only sold food to Zanu-PF members.

      If you fall afoul of Zanu-PF in today's Zimbabwe, do not expect the
police or the courts to help you. And don't expect parliament to help you,
either: well over half of Zimbabweans would have probably voted against
Mugabe and his cronies in a genuinely free election, but an estimated
two-thirds of the electorate have taken the safer course and cast their
ballots for Zanu-PF candidates in the election. And so it will go until
Mugabe is removed either by death or by his own colleagues. Zimbabwe would
probably be a lot happier place if he had died in, say, 1981.
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The Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Mugabe dismisses successor reports

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Apr-04

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has dismissed reports that members of his politburo
have been meeting to choose his successor.
"There is no issue of succession debate going on," said President Mugabe.
President Mugabe said this on Saturday while addressing journalists and
foreign observers to the 6th parliamentary elections who had gathered at
State House as a finale to the event, which saw Zanu PF scooping a
two-thirds majority.
This further doused wild speculations, which started circulating last year,
about intensive in-house talks and consultations within the ruling Zanu PF
party to choose the President's successor.
The reports alleged that Emmerson Mnangagwa, seen as the heir-apparent,
would prevail against a growing list of aspirants.
But hopes of Mnangagwa's presidential ambitions are feared to have been
relegated to play second fiddle to Joyce Mujuru, whose ascendancy to the
presidium as vice-president in December 2004 has tipped the scales in her
The resurgence of the succession debate, which was almost buried last year
at President Mugabe's decree after factions began to emerge in the wake of a
green-light to "freely discuss" the issue, comes on the back of fresh snoops
by foreign journalists who continue to make news about President Mugabe's
age and duration in power.
President Mugabe, who turned 81 in February this year, however, said
jokingly: "(I will retire) when I'm a century old".
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The Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

11 arrested in Chipinge after violence flares up

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Apr-04

AT least 11 people were arrested when Zanu PF and Zanu supporters clashed at
Checheche Business Centre in Chipinge South constituency on Saturday, police
in Manicaland said yesterday.
Provincial spokesperson Joshua Tigere said the suspects would appear in
court soon charged with political violence.  He added that scores of people
had also been injured, some seriously, during the nasty incident.
He said: "We have arrested 11 people. Eight are supporters of Zanu (Ndonga)
while three are Zanu PF supporters."
Some 13 people were left injured as politically-motivated violence flared in
the constituency, which for 25 years had been the bastion of Zanu, the home
district of its late founder, the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole.
The three critically injured were taken to Chiredzi hospital while the
remainder were discharged after treatment at St Peters Hospital.
Losing MP Wilson Kumbula, said soon after Enock Porusingazi was proclaimed
winner for Chipinge South constituency, Zanu PF supporters went around town
The Zanu leader has represented his party in the last parliament for the
constituency the Ndau-dominated party had jealously hung on to since
independence in 1980.  He said the supporters who were singing and chanting
Zanu PF slogans, carried a mock coffin, which they later dumped at one of
his business premises.
He also claimed that when the rowdy gang threatened to attack him, Zanu
supporters defended him - leading to the scuffle between the two sets of
"I called the police but at first they were reluctant to assist. I, however,
insisted by reminding them that we have been promised a nonviolent
post-election period, hence they should come to address the issue," insisted
He said since police were dragging their feet to come to the scene, he fired
two shots in the air to warn the rowdy opposing group.
Manicaland police spokesperson, Joshua Tigere, confirmed the incident.
He, however, blamed the fracas on Zanu people, saying they are the ones who
in fact had attacked triumphant Zanu PF supporters for "provoking us".
Tigere could, however, not provide the names of the victims of the political
skirmishes, saying he was out of office when The Daily Mirror contacted him
This year's general elections were marked by minimal cases of
politically-motivated violence, both post- and pre-election period, compared
to previous polls.
Police were working flat-out arresting those caught on the wrong side of the
law while political parties also preached the gospel of violence-free
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The Daily News, Zimbabwe

Over half of electorate did not vote

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Apr-04

MORE than half of the registered voters around the country did not
participate in the just ended sixth parliamentary elections held last
Thursday, The Daily Mirror has established.
Most constituencies in urban areas recorded a percentage poll of below 50
percent, while a slightly higher voter turnout was experienced in rural
Topping the list of constituencies with low voter turnout were Matabeleland,
followed by Harare metropolitan.
Makokoba recorded a paltry percentage poll of 33.18 per cent, Pumula 33.6
percent , Bulawayo South 36 percent, while Mkoba in Gweru had 39 percent.
Although President Robert Mugabe says the elections were free and fair, the
MDC are not content with the results and alleged massive rigging by Zanu PF,
in power for 25 years.
MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said the belief that rural areas were
Zanu PF strongholds was not valid, adding that there was no going back on
the part of the main opposition which had already rejected the results.
 He expressed concern over the low percentage poll, saying: "We are
concerned about the lower turn- out.. People in urban areas are beginning to
lose faith in democracy," adding that the more informed urbanites would
eventually lose hope.
Unlike the newly established Manyame that recorded the highest percentage
poll of 50 percent in Harare, Glenview scored 41.70 percent, Chitungwiza
(40.77) and Glen Norah (43.49 percent).
In contrast, Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe recorded 61.42 percent, Mutoko South
(58.33 percent), Shamva (58.87 percent), Mudzi West (55.39 percent) and
Sanyati (52.75 percent.)
Out of the country's 120 constituencies, Harare, Masvingo and Manicand had
the highest number of constituencies, where 8 250 polling stations had been
created to ensure everyone gets the chance to vote in the one day that was
set aside for voting.
The battleground mainly pitted the ruling Zanu PF and the MDC.
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Pretoria News

      You have won; now step down
      April 4, 2005

      By Philani Mgwaba

      The fact that President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has won the
parliamentary election in Zimbabwe - which most people predicted he would -
will unfortunately not solve the many problems facing the people of that

      Mugabe supporters will soon find out that their party's victory at the
elections - achieved by strong-arm tactics including intimidation of the
opposition, muzzling of the Press and other extra-legal means - will not
translate into jobs and food for the hungry.

      The fact is that Mugabe himself is the problem. As long as he is in
charge there is no prospect that the foreign investment needed to lift
Zimbabwe out of economic ruin will flow into that country.

      Mugabe inherited from the white minority government of Ian Smith an
economy which, while not benefiting the black majority, was quite
sophisticated by the standards of developing countries.

      In the past 25 years he has presided over the collapse of the economy,
and many people are worse off today than they were six years ago.

      It is our hope that, having achieved the landslide at the polls which
he predicted, Mugabe will feel secure that he will not face possible
prosecution by an opposition party attaining government and will step down
in favour of another man who will stand a better chance of rehabilitating
the country.

      Regarding the observer missions (including South Africa's) which
monitored the elections, we are extremely disappointed that they failed to
condemn an electoral process that was rigged in favour of the ruling party.

      There may not have been overt violence or a flouting of the law as
such in these elections, but that does not make them free and fair or
reflecting the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

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