‘Beginning of the end’ — Tsvangirai: Zanu-PF heads for big win

2013-08-02 00:00

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF claimed a “landslide” victory as the results of the first round of counting following the country’s elections on Wednesday were posted outside polling stations yesterday.

At the same time, the MDC-T appeared to have conceded that his party has lost as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in a very brief press conference yesterday told journalists the elections were “illegal, illegitimate, unfree and unfair” because of alleged large-scale vote-rigging.

In early results announced last night, Zanu-PF seemed to be headed for a runaway victory while the MDC-T managed to hang on to a few constituencies in its Bulawayo stronghold.

Observers pointed out that the results of constituency and presidential elections could differ.

Several MDC-T ministers have lost their parliamentary seats in MDC-T strongholds, including Education Minister David Coltart, party secretary-general and Finance Minister Tendai Biti, and Minister in the Presidency Jameson Timba.

Zanu-PF supporters were celebrating wins early yesterday morning in a constituency in the Harare suburb of Mbare by kicking a soccer ball and shouting political victory slogans, while riot police and soldiers were spotted deployed in Harare and in front of the MDC-T’s headquarters in Nelson Mandela Avenue.

AFP reported yesterday that an unnamed senior Zanu-PF member said, “we have won all of them, including the presidential and parliamentary”.

When asked on what basis Zanu-PF was making the claims, youth minister Saviour Kasukuwere told Media24 that results were posted outside polling stations.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission at midday yesterday said it had “received reports that counting has been completed at polling station level and collation has commenced at ward and constituency level”.

Ballots are verified at these levels before going to provincial level to be processed. Presidential results are sent through to national level and are expected to be announced in Harare by Monday.

According to Zimbabwe’s electoral laws, it is illegal to announce elections results before the official announcement is made, and Mugabe over the weekend threatened to have Tsvangirai arrested should he do that.

Media24 understands from a ZEC official that this is to prevent conflict, especially if the unverified results were incorrect.

The official said stories about Zanu-PF members claiming victory did not amount to an announcement of the results. “They didn’t do it on the record or in a press conference. That would be illegal,” he said.

Tsvangirai’s MDC-T earlier said they would do their own count from the results posted outside the polling stations and announce the outcome based on this to prevent rigging.

Tsvangirai, who is yet to address party supporters about the MDC-T’s position, appeared to concede defeat as he told the press conference that these elections were “the beginning of the end. Zanu-PF may have this pyrrhic victory as they would like to claim. But I want to assure you that the resolution of the Zimbab­wean crisis has never been so close.”

He said the elections didn’t meet the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and international standards for a credible, legitimate, free and fair election.

Mission leader of the electoral commissions forum of the South African Development Community (SADC), advocate Notemba Tjipueja, said yesterday that the MDC-T had not come to them with any complaints.

In a preliminary statement, she said the mission “commends ZEC, all political parties, candidates and the people of Zimbabwe for a peaceful, credible and efficient electoral process, which was conducive for the people of Zimbabwe to freely participate in the 2014 harmonised elections”.

SADC will speak out on the elections today.

Before the polls, Mugabe called for a peaceful election, and Wednesday’s polls went off largely without violence.

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