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2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles
happened in the Presidential Election?
States in Transition Observatory, Idasa
May 12, 2008
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When the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission finally announced the results of the Presidential election,
quite apart from the relief that they were finally announced, there
were two predominant reactions. The first was a total lack of surprise
that Morgan Tsvangirai had beaten Robert Mugabe: all the indications
from every source, as well as the evident disbelief of Zanu PF and
the subsequent shenanigans of ZEC, were that this would be the case.
The second reaction was the lack of surprise that ZEC had not announced
Morgan Tsvangirai as the outright winner with an absolute majority.
It was clear
to all concerned that the results were known in detail by Monday,
31 March, and there have been a number of "leaks" to this
effect, all suggesting that Tsvangirai won outright. If the Electoral
Act had been followed to the letter, then Morgan Tsvangirai
would have been sworn in as President of Zimbabwe, and Robert Mugabe
would have had no further recourse except by election petition.
So, it was clear to all that a run off result had to be engineered,
and thence followed the farce of the recount, a wholly
unlawful recount according to the Electoral Act.
It was also clear to
all that there had to be a delay in order for a very shocked Zanu
PF to re-organise and decide what to do. Zanu PF had to prepare
for a run off as well as provide the grounds for a run off. After
a short hiatus, the strategy emerged, and a well-worn strategy it
was, quite apart from the delay in announcing results. (We will
return to the results later).
The first move
was to re-invent the "land" gambit, and, after announcing
that white farmers were rushing back to claim their farms, the "people"
began to invade the remaining 400 farms. By all accounts, these
invasions have been more
violent and intimidatory than those between 2000 and 2005, even
worse than 2000 or 2002. This was the public strategy, but it was
accompanied by an even more sinister strategy, one that had also
worked in 2000 and 2002, and this was the unleashing of the militia,
under military supervision - but more blatant military supervision
than has been the case previously. As in 2002, the violence had
the purpose of retribution for voting against Zanu PF, for, as in
2002, it was evident, but more so in 2008, that rural people had
voted against Zanu PF. But in 2008, it also has the purpose of driving
out any vestige of the MDC form the rural areas, and obviously handicapping
the MDC in any preparations for a run off.
Whilst all this was going
on, there was still the problem of engineering a re-run, and this
was much more problematic for the results published by ZEC for the
Senate, and the House of Assembly seemed valid and reliable according
to a number of independent estimates, including the MDC. ZEC did
not and has not announced the Local Government results, but Justice
Chiweshe has claimed that there is no need to as they were already
published at the Ward command centres. As an aside, this is highly
contradictory given that ZEC felt the need to publish all other
results, and to "scrupulously" ensure that the results
of the Senate, the House of Assembly, and the Presidency were correct.
Thus, a high
old farce ensued. The House of Assembly results were announced over
days and days, and eventually it emerged that MDC Tsvangirai had
a majority, and that the opposition had an absolute, but not a constitution
changing, majority. However, it was majority enough to suggest that
the former opposition would now become the government, or there
would be severe problems for Robert Mugabe, if he won the presidential
poll outright, and Zanu PF in governing as a minority government.
They would be unable to pass a Bill or even obtain the finance necessary
to govern without the total cooperation of the "opposition."
The farce then continued with the tedious announcement of the Senate
results, and it emerged that the two groups, Zanu PF and the MDC's,
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