Back to Index, Back to Special Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
Mugabe wins again in Zimbabwe, leaving rival greatly weakened
Polygreen, The New York Times
August 03, 2013
View this article
New York Times
Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since it threw off white rule in 1980,
won another term on Saturday as the official results were announced
for last week’s hotly disputed election, defeating
his main challenger with 61 percent of the vote and roaring
back to secure his grip on power after having to share it for the
past five years.
The Zimbabwe Election
Commission announced the results moments after the challenger, Morgan
Tsvangirai, denounced the voting, saying it had been rigged.
and stolen election has plunged Zimbabwe into a constitutional,
political and economic crisis,” Mr. Tsvangirai, who won 33
percent of the vote, said in a news conference at his house. He
demanded that a new election be held so that Zimbabweans could “freely
and fairly elect a government of their choice” a step that
a spokesman for Mr. Mugabe’s party, Zanu-PF, quickly rejected.
Secretary of State John
Kerry also cast doubt on the validity of the election in a statement
on Saturday. “In light of substantial electoral irregularities
reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does
not believe that the results announced today represent a credible
expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” Mr. Kerry
But regional election
observers suggested that any flaws were not serious enough to invalidate
was a stunning comeback for Mr. Mugabe. After the disputed
2008 election, in which he won fewer votes than Mr. Tsvangirai
did, he was forced into forming a unity government. This time, Mr.
Mugabe’s party won more than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament,
giving it a supermajority that can make changes to the country’s
Constitution without votes from other parties.
The election was also
a vivid illustration of how Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for
Democratic Change, or MDC, has been outmaneuvered and outfoxed at
every turn by Mr. Mugabe, 89, a wily survivor who endured colonial
rule, a brutal guerrilla war and multiple attempts to unseat him
during his 33 years as Zimbabwe’s leader.
“The party has
been to blame for Zanu’s success across the board,”
said Stephen Chan, a professor at SOAS, the School of Oriental and
African Studies at the University of London, who has written a biography
of Mr. Mugabe. After the 2008 vote, the MDC agreed to work with
Mr. Mugabe’s party, but did not become an equal partner.
“What they got
was a compromise deal that was almost worse than being in opposition,”
Mr. Chan said.
One of the party’s
biggest missteps came in June, after Mr. Mugabe unilaterally declared
that an election must be held by the end of July, just six weeks
later, usurping Parliament. The MDC’s leaders were prepared
to tell the heads of state who had gathered for the meeting of the
Southern African Development Community, a regional trade bloc, that
the party would boycott the election.
But the regional leaders
at the meeting persuaded Mr. Mugabe to agree to ask the country’s
constitutional court for a two-week extension, and his main challenger
for the presidency, Mr. Tsvangirai, agreed to go ahead with the
election, according to Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC’s spokesman.
The courts refused to
extend the deadline, and a messy, rushed election was held on Wednesday.
expect the Zimbabwean courts and Mr. Mugabe to go against the resolution
of SADC,” Mr. Mwonzora said.
It would turn out to
be just one of a long list of miscalculations that have left the
MDC., the most credible threat to Mr. Mugabe’s long rule,
with not quite a third of the seats in Parliament and few options
to contest the election results.
Mr. Tsvangirai plans
to go to court, but the higher courts in Zimbabwe are filled with
Mr. Mugabe’s loyal appointees.
results were a far cry from
the 2008 vote, in which neither man won a majority. Mr. Tsvangirai
then refused to participate in a runoff because of attacks that
had killed hundreds of his supporters.
The two men formed an
uneasy unity government after the regional trade bloc, SADC, intervened.
That government, which left Mr. Mugabe in place as president and
installed Mr. Tsvangirai as prime minister, was supposed to last
only 18 months.
Instead it stretched
on for nearly five years, during which time the economy stabilized
with the introduction of the United States dollar as the national
currency, and a new Constitution was written and passed in a referendum.
But major overhauls of
the armed forces and the police were left undone, and the MDC’s
leaders were tarnished by allegations of corruption and an abiding
perception, fairly or not, that they had grown comfortable with
the trappings of power.
Top Zanu-PF officials
crowed over the size of their victory, dismissing the challenger’s
claims that the vote was rigged.
“They are a confused
lot,” said Saviour Kasukuwere, a senior Zanu-PF minister,
of the challengers. “They are not strategic. They are just
a bunch of chancers. Their mantra was ‘Mugabe must go.’
But what else did they offer the people?”
The voting last week
was peaceful, but plagued with problems. The parties did not get
a copy of the voters’ roll until the day before the vote,
raising fears of fraud. Earlier versions had vastly underrepresented
young urban voters, a major blow to the MDC, whose base is among
young city dwellers.
Election observers also
noted that far too many extra ballots had been printed and that
too many voters had been reported as needing assistance. Mr. Tsvangirai
said that at one constituency where 17,000 people had voted, 10,000
had been assisted, a high rate of people needing help in a country
with one of Africa’s highest literacy rates.
Almost twice as many
people voted in this election as in 2008, and according to the figures
released by the election commission, Mr. Mugabe benefited most from
the swell of new voters. His total number of votes doubled, while
Mr. Tsvangirai’s level of support remained the same.
Job Sikala, a leader
of one of the breakaway factions of the MDC that boycotted the vote,
said Mr. Tsvangirai and his allies had been naïve to expect
that the election would be fair.
“We noticed that
the political playing field was tilted on behalf of Zanu-PF,”
Mr. Sikala said. “We knew in advance what the result would
Indeed, by agreeing
to enter into a power-sharing
government after the 2008 election, which was marred by political
violence, the MDC helped rescue Zanu-PF from its own excesses, Mr.
Sikala said, echoing the views of many analysts.
“The day they joined
the inclusive government they resuscitated a decomposing, dead donkey,”
Mr. Sikala said. “They gave Zanu time and legitimacy to regroup,
re-energize and reorganize. Now they are back on top, and Tsvangirai
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.