President Robert Mugabe’s party claims the veteran leader has won the hard-fought Zimbabwe election over his long-time rival, but local observers charge that the vote was seriously flawed. “We have romped (to victory) in a very emphatic manner.
We have defeated the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change),” a top member of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party said on Thursday. He said Mugabe had trounced three-time challenger Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Wednesday’s vote and that the ZANU-PF had retaken many parliamentary seats in urban areas, where support for the MDC was believed to be strong.
There was no immediate confirmation from election authorities about the claim, and no official results have yet been issued from the presidential and parliamentary vote. And local observers cited a slew of flaws that called into question the victory claim, after the MDC charged that Mugabe’s allies had been engaged in vote-rigging.
“The election is seriously compromised,” said Solomon Zwana, the chairman of Zimbabwe Election Support Network. “Up to a million voters were disenfranchised.” Regional observers from the African Union had said the process had been “orderly and fair” while the United States said it was too early to make a full judgment.
“outcome of this election is illegitimate,” Tsvangirai said on Thursday, and “does not reflect the will of the people of Zimbabwe”. “The shoddy manner in which it has been conducted and the consequent illegitimacy of the result will plunge this country in a crisis,” he said in Harare. Tsvangirai said he had conveyed his concerns to the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). “The message we have given is that this is not a credible election.”
Turnout was reported to be high nationwide after queues of Zimbabweans lined up for hours to vote in the first election since bloody polls in 2008 that led to the creation of an uneasy government alliance between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. The 89-year-old Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader, is seeking a seventh term, but Tsvangirai has voiced hope the election will usher in a new era for the troubled southern African nation.
Final results had been expected within five days of the election and police warned on Wednesday that anyone trying to release unofficial figures ahead of time risked being arrested. Mugabe had even threatened to arrest Tsvangirai if he tried to declare an early victory.