Sunday, June 29, 2008

Zimbabwe Elections Bulletin: It's a Landslide for Mugabe; President Sworn In and Leaves for African Union Summit in Egypt

It’s a landslide!

Herald Reporter

ZANU-PF candidate in the presidential election run-off President Mugabe yesterday romped to a landslide victory against MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Cde Mugabe won 2 150 269 votes against Tsvangirai’s paltry 233 000 votes, earning himself another mandate to lead the nation for the next five years.

Announcing the results yesterday, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chief elections officer Mr Lovemore Sekeramayi said there were 131 481 spoiled papers.

Mr Sekeramayi declared Cde Mugabe the duly elected President of the Republic of Zimbabwe for the next five years.

Last Friday’s run-off percentage was 42,37 compared to 42,7 percent in the March 29 harmonised elections.

Commenting on voter turnout, ZEC deputy chief elections officer (operations) Mr Utloile Silaigwana said the percentage was almost identical to the one for the harmonised polls.

"We realise that almost the same number of voters who cast their votes in March voted in this election,’’ he said.

In the March election, President Mugabe received 1 079 730 votes (43,2 percent of the valid votes) compared to Tsvangirai’s 1 195 562 votes (47,9 percent of the valid vote).

The ruling party also triumphed in two of the three House of Assembly by-elections, Zanu-PF won Redcliff and Gwanda South constituencies while MDC-T took Pelandaba-Mpopoma.

In the Gwanda South by-election, Zanu-PF’s candidate Cde Orders Mlilo won with 7 860 votes against MDC-T’s Mr Nephat Mdlongwa who garnered 1 198 votes with the MDC candidate, Ms Evelyn Ndlovu, polling 676 votes. A total of 204 ballot papers were spoiled while the percentage poll was 40,67 percent.

Zanu-PF also won in Redcliff with its candidate Cde Sheunesu Muza garnering 6 661 votes against MDC-T’s Aaron Chinhara’s 3 189 and MDC candidate — a Mr Pezuru — polling 210 votes. There were 235 spoilt ballot papers while the percentage poll was 41,18 percent.

MDC-T candidate Mr Samuel Khumalo won Pelandaba-Mpopoma constituency, garnering 3 795 votes while Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu of Zanu-PF and Mr Dhumani Gwetu of the MDC got 1 565 and 646 respectively with the United People’s Party and PUMA getting 60 and 16 votes.

Three independents also contested the by-election in the constituency in which 104 ballot papers were spoiled while the percentage poll was 22,38 percent.

President sworn in, appeals for unity

Herald Reporter

PRESIDENT Mugabe was yesterday sworn in as Head of State following his massive victory in last Friday’s presidential election run-off.

Speaking after taking the Oath of Office and Loyalty at State House, President Mugabe said it was now imperative for the nation to look forward to the future with a sense of unity and reiterated his call for comprehensive inter-party dialogue.

"The elections have come and gone. Our challenge today and in the years ahead is to move forward in unity, regardless of our diverse political affiliations, united by the sense of a common vision and destiny for a prosperous Zimbabwe.

"Indeed, it is my hope that sooner rather than later, we shall, as diverse political parties, hold consultations towards such serious dialogue as will minimise our differences and enhance the area of unity and co-operation," Cde Mugabe said after being sworn in by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.

The latest call for unity comes amid reports from well-placed insiders that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was yesterday trying to seek audience with President Mugabe before the latter left for an African Union summit in Egypt.

In his victory speech, President Mugabe paid tribute to his South African counterpart, Mr Thabo Mbeki, for the role he played in the inter-party dialogue that led to the harmonised elections and the run-off.

"We are grateful to Sadc, and the role of statesmanship played by President Thabo Mbeki, the Sadc-appointed mediator of the inter-party dialogue between Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations. Zimbabwe is indebted to his untiring efforts to promote harmony and peace.

"Indeed, this last election saw certain constitutional amendments he facilitated in the inter-party dialogue getting their first application.

"I also wish to acknowledge the support we received from many African states, members of the Non-Aligned Movement, allies and friends in the United Nations Security Council and other progressive movements and thank them for their unwavering solidarity with us as we continue to face the vicious onslaught by Britain and its allies," he said.

"Today, we are able to say all constitutional requirements with regard to the elections have been fulfilled. Thus, we are delighted to celebrate this day, delighted also that we stuck to the letter of our Constitution and electoral laws.

"On behalf of my party, Zanu-PF, and all progressive Zimbabweans; on behalf of my family and, indeed, on my own behalf, I am honoured and humbled by the faith and confidence our people have, once more, reposed in me.

"I am, indeed, grateful to the people of our great country for their brave and unyielding stand in defence of their sovereignty, their resources and destiny."

President Mugabe said the outcome of the poll had shamed the country’s detractors and had dealt a huge blow to "incorrigible racism".

He thanked the millions who supported him throughout the campaign and expressed his sorrow that some had lost their lives and property prior to the elections despite the best efforts of law enforcement authorities who managed to preserve peace during voting.

"Finally, I wish to assure our people that, as Government, we shall remain very much people-oriented and, thus, proceed to fully empower them across the board, and sector by sector, as it takes effective measures to improve the economy and living standards.

"We shall remain cognisant of the bidding that comes from our conscience, that Zimbabwe shall never be a colony. Long live Zimbabwe," he said.

Government and party officials, service chiefs, traditional chiefs, members of the diplomatic corps and religious leaders thronged State House to witness the inauguration.

The swearing-in ceremony started with a 21-gun salute followed by a convocation by Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga in which he praised President Mugabe for his steadfast defence of the country’s heritage.

The Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Commissioner of Prisons

Paradzayi Zimondi pledged their loyalty to the Head of State and the country afterwards.

A Presidential Guard of Honour, as is the norm, promised to defend the country with their own blood.

In an interview with The Herald after the ceremony, Mr Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesperson for the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC formation, said it was time to put aside differences and work for the good of the people.

"I know there will be criticism because I attended this ceremony. But in times like this it is crucial to put the past behind us and show the spirit of constructive engagement and dialogue as the only way forward. Victory is sweet and defeat is bitter, but as leaders we must learn to accept both and work for the good of the people.

"So in a small way, we are sending our message that it is time for a new spirit to govern the manner in which we engage each other," he said.

President leaves for African Union summit

Herald Reporter

PRESIDENT Mugabe left Harare last night for Sharm El Sheikh Resort of Egypt to attend the African Union summit that begins today.

At his last campaign rally in Chitungwiza last Thursday, Cde Mugabe said he was prepared to face any of his AU counterparts disparaging Zimbabwe’s electoral conduct because some of their countries had worse elections record.

Some AU foreign ministers, preparing for the summit, tried to discuss the Zimbabwe issue on Friday but AU Commission chairperson Mr Jean Ping said the matter was best left to the heads of state.

The theme of the summit is "Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation".

According to a draft agenda on the AU website, the summit will consider a report of the first meeting of the committee of 12 leaders on the proposed AU government.

The meeting will also discuss the status of implementation of regional and continental integration.

Adoption of the single legal instrument on the merger of the Court of Justice and the African Court on Human and People’s Rights of the African Union will also come under discussion.

The summit will deliberate on the appointment of the Members of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and appointment of the judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Briefing journalists on the agenda of the summit, Mr Ping highlighted the issues of peace and security, human rights, governance and free, fair and democratic elections, which, he said, were imperative in enhancing the socio-economic and political integration of Africa.

Other issues include the integration of Nepad into the structures of the AU, Sino-African relations, Afro-Arab co-operation, consolidation and reinforcement of partnerships with the external world and shared values.

Mr Ping further emphasised the need to reinforce the AU Commission by improving on its financial and human resources to enable the institution to attain its goals.

Independent media betraying us

EDITOR — I really feel betrayed by the actions of the so-called independent media in our country.

In a way I also feel sorry for them, for they do not know the extent to which their actions have helped to advance the cause of Zimbabwe’s enemies.

They easily and readily expose themselves by misinforming lies, which they regurgitate from the international media, the Internet included.

At the rate at which they misinform the Zimbabwean public with the hope of using their reports as launch pads for the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe, they have risked losing credibility and relevance on a fast changing political landscape.

They have already been overtaken by events in the post-June 27 presidential poll where they decided to align with the Western media and the MDC-T leader’s careless remarks that the election was a one-man race and that it was a sham and that there was low turnout.

As a registered voter who exercised my democratic right to choose my next leader in a responsible manner, I did so without coercion from anyone.

I also voted in a free and peaceful environment.

I voted because I know that my vote is important for democracy to work.

The polling officers at the polling station I used were not only friendly but very helpful.

By casting my vote on June 27, I was also obeying the laws of the land because I don’t want to get into the trap of criticising when I would not have participated.

I did my part, and leave the rest to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as they are in charge of the management of elections.

By voting, I can also proudly say that I am operating under a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

In fact, I come from an area in Harare where throughout the campaign period, there was an atmosphere of tranquility with people moving freely, and associating normally.

People went to church including all night prayers.

Revellers in nightclubs enjoyed themselves till late.

Just like the March 29 election, the post-election environment has so far been very peaceful and normal.

Why then does the independent media agitate for an atmosphere of chaos and violence? Why do they thrive on finding fault, vilifying the Government, and in the end doing the same to the people?

They want a chaotic situation where people continue to suffer while they continue to feast on people’s misery.

Or is it now a question of sour grapes?

Where is their conscience, and where is their shame?

Godfrey Rukweza.

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