Will Mugabe Stand In Runoff Vote?

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Will Mugabe stand again if there is re-run of the presidential polls? How are his supporters going to react to his defeat? Will the military which had served Mugabe so well accept his defeat?

[Zimbabwe Elections]



The ruling Zanu PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s wing of MDC opposition are still bumper-to-bumper as the official announcement of the March 29 Zimbabwe parliamentary poll results is nearing to an end.

As at I PM (Zimbabwe time, April 2, 2008), the latest official figures of parliamentary election results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission stood as follows: Ruling ZANU-PF 93; Opposition MDC 91; and, the breakaway MDC faction, 5.

There are a total of 210 constituencies. But only 206 seats were contested. ZANU-PF won one seat uncontested and three MDC candidates died in the build up to the poll.

Presidential results of the March 29 Zimbabwe vote, have not been released. But as reported by The Black Star yesterday, sources say Tsvangirai is seen garnering 48.5% to President Robert Mugabe’s 43%, suggesting a likely runoff.

Political observers predict that the parliamentary results would be evenly spread when the final results are announced while for the presidential race, they say they would no clear winner.

According to Zimbabwean law, a winner of a presidential election must garner at least 51 percent of the total vote.

Meanwhile, a University of Zimbabwe political analyst, Dr Joseph Kurebwa was quoted by the Zimbabwe Herald saying that chances of post-election violence like what happened in Kenya are slim because the Zimbabwean situation is different from the scenario in the East
African country.

Dr. Kurebwa said the two countries also experienced different scenarios ahead of their polls. "There are two different scenarios between Zimbabwe and Kenya. The first is that Zimbabweans have already experienced election-related violence.

More than 1, 500 people were killed in post-election violence in Kenya after President Mwai Kibaki was announced winner ahead of opposition leader Mr. Raila Odinga.

"The majority of people in Zimbabwe would not want any poll-related violence as they still have, fresh in their minds, the memories of the liberation struggle, disturbances in the Midlands/Matabeleland region after independence and political violence of 2002.

"Violence has had a direct impact on every one in Zimbabwe and people would think twice before they engage in any acts of violence," he told the Zimbabwe Herald.

A total of seven of Mugabe's ministers have lost their seats to the opposition MDC Tsvangirai party.

"It’s a very close race, and the result will be equally close,” Prof. Jonathan Moyo, a political scientist who regained his Tsholotsho seat as an independent told an on-line newspaper. “The fact many did not foresee before this election is that Tsvangirai has made significant inroads in traditional Zanu PF strongholds. The national mood is clearly with
him, but whether or not that translates to victory depends on how Mugabe plays the power of incumbency.”

Harare is buzzing with rumors that Mugabe is secretly negotiating for an exit package. Tsvangirai and the government have denied the claims. There are so many answered questions as Zimbabwe awaits anxiously for the presidential results.

Will Mugabe stand again if there is re-run of the presidential polls? How are his supporters going to react to his defeat? Will the military which had served Mugabe so well accept his defeat? Will it not be honorable for Mugabe to step down rather face Tsvangirai in a run-off?

On Tsvangirai: Will he accept defeat if say results show that Mugabe has won? Is he not going to call for the Kenyan style of post-election violence? What are his supporters going to do if he loses? How will Mugabe react to demonstrations by Tsvangirai's voters?

The Zimbabwe situation is causing sleepless nights even for its giant neighbor South Africa and the international community. How are they going to react to Mugabe's victory claims or Tsvangirai's defeat/victory when the results are out.

The situation is calm but tense and Zimbabweans, diplomats and all of Zimbabwe's neighbors are jittery.


Tsiko is The Black Star News's Southern Africa correspondent based in Harare.

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