HARARE (AFP) – Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe looked set to extend his 33-year rule after winning a thumping parliamentary majority in disputed polls, prompting opposition fury and calls for calm from regional power brokers Friday.
Full results have yet to be announced, but 89-year-old Mugabe was reportedly already preparing for his seventh inauguration after his camp claimed a shock landslide win that has left the opposition reeling.
With 186 of 210 constituencies counted after Wednesday’s poll, Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party already has a commanding lead, officially garnering 137 seats in parliament.
But a ZANU-PF politburo member told AFP the party had in fact surpassed the 140 seats needed to amend the constitution.
“We have already gone beyond two-thirds. It’s a super majority,” the top party official said on condition of anonymity.
An official announcement is expected on Saturday.
“Our opponents don’t know what hit them,” party spokesman Rugare Gumbo earlier told AFP. “The president might likely get 70 to 75 percent.”
Mugabe’s opponent and longtime foe Morgan Tsvangirai has described the vote as a “sham” and a “huge fraud.”
He now faces the political battle of his life.
His Movement for Democratic Change has vowed not recognise the results, or the new government, amid rapidly escalating tensions.
In a bid to head off rising anger, the 15-member southern African bloc SADC implored “all Zimbabweans to exercise restraint, patience and calm.”
The bloc described the vote as “free and peaceful” but refused to echo the African Union’s declaration that it was fair.
“We have said this election is free, indeed very free,” said top SADC election observer Bernard Membe. “We did not say it was fair… we didn’t want to jump to a conclusion at this point in time.”
Membe met with Mugabe on Friday to “wish him good luck as he is preparing himself for the inauguration,” he later told journalists.
He said he would try to convince Tsvangirai to concede defeat.
SADC negotiated the creation of a power-sharing government in the wake of 2008′s bloody poll.
With 600 observers on the ground, its verdict and next steps will be closely watched by western nations barred from monitoring the poll themselves.
Foreign diplomats have expressed deep misgivings about a poll they have described privately as non-violent but fundamentally flawed.
The independent Zimbabwe Election Support Network reported up to one million voters were prevented from voting in Tsvangirai strongholds.
But there is also an acknowledgement that options are limited.
“SADC and the AU, the international community want to move forward,” said Jakkie Cilliers, director of South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies.
“There is no way that they are going to depose ZANU-PF or Mugabe. It’s going to happen through domestic resistance or upheaval or some type of palace coup eventually.”
Already there are calls for mass protests, and warnings that may prompt a bloodbath.
Top leaders from Tsvangirai’s MDC began a two-day meeting Friday to decide their response and are expected to make a full statement Saturday.
Ahead of the meeting, top MDC official Roy Bennett called for a passive resistance campaign, urging people to “just bring the country to a standstill.”
Meanwhile Mugabe’s allies were planning what to do with ZANU-PF’s parliamentary majority.
Source: PM News
Your Opinion Counts. Be sure To Leave A Comment, If You Have Any.
Please Like, Share or Tweet. Your Support Is Appreciated.