Eager to vote, Zimbabweans began lining up before dawn on Saturday for elections that present President Robert Mugabe with the toughest political challenge of his 28 years in power. The house of a ruling Zanu-PF parliamentary candidate in Bulawayo was reportedly bombed earlier in the day, shattering its windows.
Zimbabweans began voting on Saturday in the most crucial election since independence from Britain in 1980, with veteran President Robert Mugabe facing the biggest challenge of his 28-year-rule. Some voters slept at the polling stations while others began queuing before dawn. Voting began just after 7am and was scheduled to end 12 hours later.
To Robert Mugabe, Saturday's presidential election in Zimbabwe is not so much a vote as war. From his campaign slogan -- Get Behind the Fist -- to speeches invoking the liberation war against white rule, the president of Zimbabwe has defined his campaign to extend his 28-year rule as the final struggle against British imperialism.
Zimbabwe's security forces were placed on full alert on Friday to head off possible violence at this weekend's elections as President Robert Mugabe's opponents feared the outcome had already been fixed. With state media predicting a Mugabe win, human rights groups said there was no way the electoral process could be said to reflect the will of the people.
Zimbabwe state media predicted on Friday a crushing victory for President Robert Mugabe in weekend elections as his two main challengers made fresh allegations that the result may be rigged. Citing an eve of poll survey by university researchers, the Herald said Mugabe was set to win 57% of the votes.
If Saturday's election in Zimbabwe was really free and fair, Robert Mugabe would surely be packed off to his luxurious retirement home in Harare. It is a measure of how little faith Zimbabweans have in the electoral process that both Mugabe and the opposition are gearing up instead for a post-election showdown.
Zimbabwe's main opposition leader pledged on Wednesday to revamp the country's crumbling economy by introducing a new currency within six months if he wrests the presidency from Robert Mugabe in weekend elections. "The economy is dead," Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, told thousands of supporters in Murewa.
South Africa has steadfastly refused to join in the chorus of criticism of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe despite paying an ever higher price for the crisis across its northern border. As Zimbabwe goes to the polls this weekend, analysts believe South African President Thabo Mbeki may feel little enthusiasm towards Mugabe but will never embarrass his fellow leader.
Zimbabwe police on Tuesday arrested opposition officials and a pilot delivering campaign material for Saturday's general election at a small airport just outside Harare. An opposition parliamentary candidate representing Morgan Tsvangirai's faction of the Movement for Democratic Change was among those arrested.
President Robert Mugabe says an opposition win in Saturday's tightly contested polls would be "the greatest curse" for Zimbabwe. Mugabe, who is battling for his political survival, called on opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters to "come home" to his ruling Zanu-PF, the government-mouthpiece Herald reported on Tuesday.
Zimbabweans go to the polls on Saturday hoping for an end to a chronic economic crisis that has condemned millions to grinding poverty and prompted the exodus of up to a third of the population. The joint presidential, legislative and local council polls come at a time when the country's inflation rate has breached the 100Â 000% mark.
President Robert Mugabe on Sunday vowed that his main political rival would never rule Zimbabwe, as the opposition raised concerns that the governing party would rig the March 29 ballot. Meanwhile, opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai drew the biggest crowd so far in the election campaign.
President Robert Mugabe made a defiant campaign speech on Saturday a week ahead of perhaps his toughest election battle, saying Zimbabwe's main opposition party will never rule during his lifetime. Mugabe also threatened to expel companies from former colonial ruler Britain after the March 29 polls.
A rights group on Friday urged Zimbabwe's security forces to defy commanders who have vowed they would support only President Robert Mugabe to rule the country after next week's poll. "Go against the orders of your commanders, lay down your arms and rally behind the people of Zimbabwe to foster reconstruction and development," said the National Constitutional Assembly.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has used massive bribery, grossly-biased state media and inflammatory language to ensure he wins next week's polls and the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) grouping has not been able to stop him, a local rights body said on Thursday.
Zimbabwe's main opposition leader and presidential candidate in the March 29 general elections said on Thursday that the voters' register is filled with tens of thousands of ghost voters. Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), also said that the voters' roll was in a shambles and threatened to pull out of the elections.
President Robert Mugabe's supporters have used violence to intimidate opponents in the run-up to next week's Zimbabwe election, undermining chances of a fair poll, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday. Mugabe faces the strongest challenge to his 28-year rule in presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections on March 29.
Millions who fled Zimbabwe amid its economic collapse blame President Robert Mugabe, but their inability to vote in elections this month may boost his chances to stay in power. Opposition figures, who pose Mugabe's biggest electoral challenge yet, have urged them to return to be entitled to vote in the March 29 polls, but few are likely to.
Zimbabwe's election body has no legal powers to stop security chiefs from threatening to reject an opposition victory in this month's poll, a senior official said on Tuesday. Analysts say President Robert Mugabe faces the strongest challenge to his 28-year rule in presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections on March 29.