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  • Zimbabwe's senate election denounced as 'political farce'
    Business Day (SA)
    November 25, 2005

    HARARE — Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe may tighten his grip on power in tomorrow’s vote for the senate he resurrected, with the opposition divided by a poll boycott and voters apathetic about an election that one observer has called a farce.

    Mugabe’s ruling Zanu (PF) this year used its parliamentary majority to create the new 66-seat body, which will approve or reject bills passed by the lower house.

    Critics say the senate will give the octogenarian leader another tool to cement his control over Zimbabwe, reward political supporters and seek to avert a split in his party in the face of deepening political and economic crises.

    Zanu (PF) goes into the vote virtually assured of victory, thanks to laws that guarantee seats for Mugabe’s loyalists and an opposition stayaway call that has seriously weakened his only real political challengers.

    “This election is, for all intents and purposes, turning into a process of formally endorsing Zanu (PF) candidates because the party has won the election before the vote,” said Eldred Masunungure, a leading analyst.

    “The general view is that this election is a farce,” said Masunungure, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

    Analysts say the vote will probably be marked by apathy among disillusioned voters burdened by inflation of more than 400% and shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency.

    Meanwhile, Harare dismissed the US announcement of targetted sanctions against Zimbabwe, released on Wednesday night. The government says the list of government officials facing travel restrictions and an asset freeze is “inconsequential”. Reuters, Dumisani Muleya

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