Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Mugabe stops poll results going public

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 safety,

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 support.

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 completed.

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 Â

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Chris Mcgreal
Guest Author

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

‘People feel they have a stake in SAA’ — Gidon...

Interest in the beleaguered national carrier, which has received billions of rands in public funding, means criticism is inevitable

Soweto teacher dismissed for the alleged repeated rape of a...

The learner was 13 when the alleged rapes started, and they continued for two years until she asked to be moved to another school

More top stories

ANC committed to paying staff salaries, but employees are not...

ANC staffers picketed outside Luthuli House on Tuesday after months of problems with salary payments

Kanalelo Boloetsi: Taking on Lesotho’s cellphone giants, and winning

A man who took on cellphone data regulators over out-of-bundle rates is featured in this edition of a series on human rights defenders in the SADC region

Iqbal Sharma’s brother-in-law granted bail in Free State farming case

Dinesh Patel appeared on the same charges that have seen Sharma denied bail and the prosecuting authority seek the extradition of the Gupta brothers

Two-million new J&J jabs to come within two weeks, says...

Johnson & Johnson plans to replace our two-million unusable vaccines by July. The vaccines are unsuitable for use and must be destroyed, while the country’s vaccination programme is behind schedule
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×