April 1, 2005


Zimbabwe Opposition Expecting Fraud: Evidence of Voting Irregularities Mounts (Craig Timberg, April 1, 2005, Washington Post)

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai called on Zimbabweans to "defend their vote," as evidence mounted that widespread irregularities would deprive the party of its bid to gain a majority of parliamentary seats in Thursday's election.

He stopped short of calling for demonstrations, and the streets of Zimbabwe's major cities remained calm, but Tsvangirai left open the possibility of calling for protests. "Just wait," he told reporters.

Early results concentrated in the traditional urban strongholds of the opposition showed the Movement for Democratic Change getting 31 seats compared to eight for President Robert G. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), in power since the country became independent in 1980.

But opposition leaders said there is little chance their lead will hold as votes in rural areas are announced. Those areas, where Mugabe's aggressive program of land redistribution has earned him support, are traditionally held by ZANU-PF. According to human rights groups and other observers, the opportunity for rigging results is greatest in these same areas.

A bellwether district including southern Harare, the capital, went to the ruling party after its boundaries were extensively redrawn to include a rural area where many residents had been given land formerly owned by a white commercial farmer.

In previous elections, the opposition had won that seat and all others in Harare.

Voting Pattern Emerging Following Zimbabwe Poll (VOA News, 01 April 2005)
With about a third of the results of the Zimbabwean parliamentary result announced, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is reaffirming its popularity in urban areas.

The results of 39 of the 120 seats at stake in the Zimbabwean parliamentary election held Thursday are now known.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has won 31 of those seats mostly in its urban strongholds of Harare and Bulawayo.

Zanu-PF which lost all Harare seats in 2000 to the MDC has won one back in Harare South, a constituency that had its boundaries re-drawn to include an army barracks.

A nephew of President Robert Mugabe, Patrick Zhuwawo, won the new constituency of Manyame for Zanu-PF, which also includes an army barracks.

Funny how the Times says it's the farmers who made a difference while the VOA suggests it was soldiers, eh?

Mostly peaceful, but hardly fair (The Economist Global Agenda, Apr 1st 2005)

FIRST the good news: the parliamentary elections held in Zimbabwe on Thursday March 31st were mostly peaceful. However, they were neither free nor fair and are unlikely to bring much change to the troubled southern African country. President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party, ZANU-PF, did well in the rural areas, especially in the north. Surprisingly, it also picked up a seat in the capital, Harare. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) again collected most seats in urban areas. With results for 120 contested single-member constituencies likely to be declared by the weekend, there was no doubt who will control parliament. Mr Mugabe gets to nominate an extra 30 (unelected) parliamentarians for his ruling party, so ZANU will run the show even if the MDC picks up more elected seats. But Mr Mugabe’s ambition to control two-thirds of the seats—which would allow him to alter the constitution to his advantage—may have been foiled.

If the opposition is more popular in the cities then take to the streets.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 1, 2005 7:01 AM

Where's Jimmy? Shouldn't the Peanutman be there to bless the results?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 1, 2005 11:57 AM

Where's Bart? We need his his cutting, yet suave commentary on this election.

Posted by: Dave W. at April 1, 2005 1:32 PM