Sunday, June 29, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Bulletin: President Mugabe Wins Landslide Victory Over Western-backed Opposition Party

Mugabe wins Zimbabwe's run-off elections

Zimbabwe's one-man election has been branded a farce by many

Robert Mugabe has won Zimbabwe's presidential run-off election, in which he was the only candidate.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission announced the results of the largely discredited poll on Sunday.

The results also showed a large number of spoiled ballots.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980, is now set to be inaugurated for a sixth term as president.

The vetran leader invited Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader who pulled out of the election, to attend his inauguration, in what the government said was a gesture of "political engagement".

"This has been done in the spirit of the president's wish to reach out, a spirit to engage with the opposition as he has already indicated," George Charamba, a government spokesman, said.

"It is a major step towards political engagement."

Tsvangirai rejected the invitation.

"I'm told they phoned him [Tsvangirai] but he will obviously not attend," Nelson Chamisa, chief spokesman for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party, said.

"How can the party give its blessing to something it has rejected?"

One-man election

Tsvangirai won the first round of Zimbabwe's election on March 29, falling just short of the 50 per cent threshold needed to avoid a run-off.

But Mugabe stood unopposed in the second round run-off which took place Friday after Tsvangirai boycotted the poll complaining of violence and intimidation towards his supporters.

Zimbabwe's one-man presidential election was branded a farce by many and prompted calls for the African Union to shun Mugabe at its meeting on Monday.

In Egypt, the African Union's Peace and Security Council (PSC) was set to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe in a closed-door session prior to Monday's AU summit.

El-Ghassim Wane, the AU commission spokesman, said Zimbabwe was not on the agenda of the PSC meeting but that it would certainly be raised.

"The agenda includes an opportunity for each member state to put forward a subject they are interested in for discussion, so you can imagine that Zimbabwe will be mentioned," he said.

Mugabe criticised

International criticism of Mugabe has grown since the election and African nations have also begun to condemn the Zimbabwean leader.

A group of African politicians who observed the election called the atmosphere in Zimbabwe during Friday's vote as "tense, hostile and volatile" and called for a new round of polling.

Human Rights Watch said it had documented numerous incidents of voters being coerced into taking part in the run-off election and of others being attacked after polling was completed.

The US-based group also called on African leaders to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe's government and refuse to recognise the legitimacy of Mugabe's victory.

The United States and a number of European powers pushed for a UN security council resolution that would have stated the results "could have no credibility or legitimacy", but South Africa blocked the move, arguing the Security Council was not in the business of certifying elections.

The council instead merely issued an oral statement expressing "deep regret" that the election went ahead after widespread calls for it to be shelved.

Afterwards Tsvangirai accused of Thabo Mbeki, the South African president and Zimbabwe mediator, of lobbying for Mugabe to be recognised as a legitimate head of state.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Mugabe claims 'sweeping victory'

Robert Mugabe has said he is heading for a "sweeping victory" in Zimbabwe's unopposed run-off presidential poll.

Officials have scheduled his inauguration for 1300 GMT on Sunday, even though official results are yet to be published.

He was the only candidate after the opposition boycotted the vote amid reports of violence and intimidation.

African observers of the poll have called for fresh elections to be held, saying the vote was not free or fair.

Crucial reaction

"The returns show that we are winning convincingly, that we have won in all the 26 constituencies in Harare, an MDC stronghold where we won in only one constituency in March. That is the trend," Mr Mugabe said in footage broadcast on state television.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), announced he was pulling out of the election last Sunday.

But his name remained on ballot papers after Zimbabwe's electoral authorities refused to accept his decision.

Mr Mugabe had invited Mr Tsvangirai to witness his inauguration in a gesture of "engagement", Mr Mugabe's spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

But Mr Tsvangirai rejected the invitation and described the inauguration as "meaningless", the news agency reported.

The BBC's Peter Biles, in Johannesburg, says that having attempted to consolidate his position with the ceremony, Mr Mugabe is expected to fly to Egypt to attend an African Union summit which opens on Monday.

The reaction of Zimbabwe's neighbours in southern Africa will be crucial, our correspondent says.

An observer team from the Pan-African Parliament on Sunday called on regional grouping Sadc and the African Union to facilitate talks between the government and opposition.

International outrage

Earlier, the former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, urged the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe - by force if necessary.

He said he would support the deployment of a UN force to restore peace in the country.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme, Archbishop Tutu also said that African Union leaders should refuse to recognise Robert Mugabe as legitimate president of Zimbabwe.

"If you were to have a unanimous voice, saying quite clearly to Mr Mugabe... you are illegitimate and we will not recognise your administration in any shape or form - I think that would be a very, very powerful signal and would really strengthen the hand of the international community."

There has also been international outrage at events in Zimbabwe.

US President George Bush on Saturday instructed US officials to come up with new sanctions against Zimbabwe, and said the US would press for strong action by the UN.

'Tents set up for ceremony'

Mr Mugabe was said to have won by a wide margin, but international observers have reported many spoilt ballots, which in some areas could outnumber votes cast.

Earlier, officials said the count was complete, but later reports said results from rural areas were still trickling in.

The state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper in Harare said President Mugabe was "a man on an assignment" and that "assignment is yet to be completed; hence his continued stay in office".

Reports said tents had already been erected in his State House residence for the ceremony to confirm his sixth term of office.

Systematic violence

In interviews published in British newspapers on Sunday, Mr Tsvangirai said he would push for negotiations with Mr Mugabe on a new constitution and fresh elections.

"We have the power to control parliament, and that is recognised even by Mugabe's Zanu-PF... We must force a transitional agreement for a set time-frame and work towards a new constitution for Zimbabwe," he told the Mail on Sunday.

"I am confident we can achieve that if international pressure keeps up," he added.

In a separate interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Tsvangirai said it was possible that Mr Mugabe could remain as a ceremonial head of state.

"I don't think it's inconceivable for such an arrangement to include him, depending, of course, on the details of what is being proposed and what are the arrangements," he said.

Mr Mugabe came second to Mr Tsvangirai in the first round of the presidential vote in March.

Since then, the MDC says some 86 of its supporters have been killed and 200,000 forced from their homes by militias loyal to Zanu-PF.

The government blames the MDC for the violence.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/06/29 12:25:51 GMT

President pays tribute to voters

From Roselyne Sachiti in CHIKOMBA
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday paid tribute to Zimbabweans who voted for Zanu-PF in the just ended presidential election run-off saying he was pleased to note that most people from opposition MDC strongholds had turned against the British sponsored party.

He was speaking at the burial of the First Lady's grandmother, Mbuya Elina Ranga, who died at the Prison Staff Clinic in Dune village, Chikomba on Wednesday.

Cde Mugabe said he was particularly happy that the ruling party had reclaimed a large number of votes in Budiriro and Epworth suburbs in Harare, which were regarded as opposition strongholds.

"Mavhoti ese amakaita arikubuda shudhu, Harare yose tainge takadyiwa 25 out of 26 kunze kwe Harare South yava Nyanhongo. Today I was looking at votes from Budiriro and it has become number one for voting for Zanu-PF."

He said indications from observers that he had met yesterday were that the election had been conducted in a peaceful manner.

The President said the manner in which people voted on Friday was a clear indication of their commitment to Zanu-PF.

"It all came from your commitment. You knew you did not want to fight the opposition using your fist but wanted to vote for your party, which is Zanu- PF," he told mourners.

He said besides availing buses for easy and affordable movement of people, the Government was also setting up people's shops to ensure that communities would afford to buy basic goods.

He explained that the shops would be set up at most growth points around the country.

He said he was now happy to rest after a hectic work schedule during the past three and half weeks when he travelled around the country on his campaign trail.

"While going around we were looking at whether we are still united after some people turned their backs on us and voted for a party whose origins we do not know.

"Vanosimbirira kuti isu tikapinda tinodzosa nyika , ndicho chaunoti chinangwa changu che MDC," he said.

The President explained that some people could have been bribed to vote for the opposition during the March 29 harmonised elections while others might have done so because of food shortages and price hikes.

"Asi zvingabva zvakurwadza kusvika iwe pakuti ndasiya musha wangu ndoenda kune uyo andipa shuga, munhu wemurume ukarwadziwa woti ndoenda kuna avo vandipa shuga wototitorai mukadzi wangu.

"Ndinotenda kuti imi hamuna kutendeuka makamira nesu," said the President.

Speaking on the life of Mbuya Ranga, Cde Mugabe expressed gratitude to her saying she was a pillar in the family who brought up her children well.

"You should be thankful if your grandmother lasts long like Gogo Ranga because you will be given someone who binds your life and that's where you get your life history," explained the President.

Mbuya Ranga had eight children, 41 grandchildren, 55 great grand children and two great great grand children.

The First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe also took time to donate groceries worth trillions of dollars saying it was in memory of her grandmother who had a gift of giving.

She also donated ploughs, harrows and Zanu-PF party regalia to supporters who had thronged the homestead to mourn.

Voice of Zim reaches global audience

Sunday Mail Reporter

VOICE of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe's world radio station, appears to be reaching all parts of the globe judging by the correspondence it is receiving from countries as far apart as Brazil and India.

The station, which broadcasts on shortwave in the 60 metre (evenings) and 49 metre (daytime) bands, is also providing Zimbabweans in Binga and other outlying areas that cannot receive FM broadcasts, with a radio service.

Voice of Zimbabwe station manager Shadreck Mupeni last week said letters have been received from as far afield as Brazil, Japan, India, Australia, Poland and Greece.

Many of them are from listeners who have expressed an interest in visiting Zimbabwe, with some of them asking the station to broadcast programmes and advertisements about the country's tourist attractions.

"Many of them have indicated that they would like to visit Zimbabwe in 2010, when World Cup soccer comes to South Africa and have asked to be put in touch with local tourism contacts," said Mupeni.

"The letters received recently have all been positive. They have confirmed the signal quality is good.

"Some have requested programming details and made suggestions for programmes the writers would like to hear, particularly in relation to tourism, Zimbabwean culture and the main activities that take place in Zimbabwe."

Mupeni said letters had also been received from people in Binga and Mutoko, making suggestions on some of the music they would like to hear on the station during the day.

Voice of Zimbabwe began broadcasting to the world from Gweru on May 25 2007.

It is Zimbabwe's first international broadcast station and currently broadcasts news and news analysis programmes from 6pm to 9pm. From June 30, it will be broadcasting a repeat of these programmes from 6am to 9am.

During the rest of the day and evening the station broadcasts local music, which has turned out to be a boon for Zimbabweans not only in Binga and Mutoko but anywhere else, if they have a radio that receives shortwave transmissions.

"Our news-based discussion programmes are popular among our listeners, judging by the feedback we have been receiving. Particularly popular is a programme called "Let's Talk About It". We would like to offer our listeners more such programmes," Mupeni said.

The station targets a world audience to provide those living outside the country with factual information and informed discussions to counter some of the propaganda that they are subjected to by major English language foreign broadcasters.

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation acting chief executive Happison Muchechetere, who spearheaded the launch of the station, said: "The news analysis offered on Voice of Zimbabwe, although aimed at an international audience, may interest local people as well.

"Voice of Zimbabwe gives Zimbabweans living abroad and anyone abroad with an interest in Zimbabwe the opportunity to hear what is really happening in Zimbabwe and to listen to news analyses from a Zimbabwean perspective.

"There is so much distortion of news on Zimbabwe, misinformation and downright propaganda that it is easy not only for foreigners but Zimbabweans living abroad as well to develop a completely unreal perception of what really is happening in Zimbabwe."

Anti-Zim western media hysterical

Deputy News Editor

AS Zimbabweans exercised their sovereign right to vote, the anti-Zimbabwe Western media heightened its frenzy.

Threats and condemnations were issued. First with the threats was MDC leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai who gave a 24-hour ultimatum that he would not agree to talks if the run-off went ahead. The run off went ahead. And yesterday he was still pressing for talks.

Ironically, while still holed up in the Dutch embassy on claims that his life is under threat, Mr Tsvangirai twice managed to "sneak" out of his hideout to his Strathaven home and hold Press conferences and also left the embassy several times to hold other meetings.

Even former South African president, Mr Nelson Mandela, had to be dragged from his retirement to London just to say something in condemnation of Zimbabwe.

The "little man" (to borrow from President Robert's description of the man), again from South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu weighed in with his call for an international peace-keeping force to prevent bloodshed.

Speaking to Australian television, Archbishop Tutu said the force would comprise Africans with non-Africans providing logistical support.

Ironically the "little man" never called for an international peace keeping force when South Africa was plunged into bloodshed by xenophobia in May.

When it became apparent that the run-off election was going ahead, the despair became apparent. The threats were then extended to western businesses in Zimbabwe.

They too, would not budge. Barclays maintained that they would continue doing business here. Anglo-American who are heavily investing in platinum mining in Shurugwi also stood their ground.

Every little stone has been used to build the western case. Then it became the German Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's turn when he spoke on behalf of the G8 foreign affairs ministers.

He said further sanctions against Zimbabwe would be discussed through the United Nations Security Council next week.

And all along the rich western nations have denied that they had imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe that are causing untold suffering among the common people.

The German statement further linked with the US announcement that further sanctions were being mooted.

"This was linked with an announcement by the United States, who are currently presiding over the Security Council, that starting next week, this coming Monday, further sanctions will be discussed there," Steinmeier told reporters in Kyoto Japan.

As the western media's frustration deepened after South African President Thabo Mbeki failed to condemn President Mugabe, archival documents were quickly dusted and resurrected.

A discussion document purportedly penned by President Mbeki in 2001 was leaked to the Mail and Guardian to fit in snugly with the agenda of condemnation.

In it, President Mbeki is said to have criticised President Mugabe for the land reforms and that he could not afford quarrels with white businesses.

The Africa Union foreign affairs ministers in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt preparing for the heads of states have not been spared from whipping up emotions against the sovereign state of Zimbabwe.

Fortunately level heads exist in the AU and the African Union Commission chairman Mr Jean Ping blocked any discussion of Zimbabwe until the heads of states meet tomorrow.

The western media even claimed there was violence on the election date with people being forced to vote.

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