HARARE: President Robert Mugabe won a landslide victory in Zimbabwe’s disputed election, officials results showed on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), as opponents vowed to challenge the poll which the United States (US) said was not “credible.”
Mugabe, 89, appeared poised to extend his 33-year rule with a seventh term in office after trouncing his long-standing political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, in Wednesday’s election.
Official results showed Mugabe won 61 percent of the presidential vote and a super-majority in parliament, routing Tsvangirai who trailed heavily with 34 percent.
But 61-year-old Tsvangirai, who has unsuccessfully tried to unseat Mugabe three times, condemned the vote as “fraudulent and stolen.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile issued a statement describing the election as “deeply flawed.”
“The United States does not believe that the results announced today represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” Kerry said.
Tsvangirai vowed to challenge the result in court and said his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would boycott government institutions.
“We will not join government,” he said. “We will go to court.”
“The fraudulent and stolen election has plunged Zimbabwe into a constitutional, political and economic crisis.”
Tsvangirai defended the MDC’s decision to enter into an uneasy power-sharing government with Mugabe, who has had him arrested, beaten and charged with treason.
“Our participation rescued this country. Schools had closed, hospitals had closed. We were using the Zimbabwe dollar which was worthless, there were no goods in the shops, everyone was desperate,” he said.
But furious at the alleged scale of rigging this time round, Tsvangirai said the days of cohabitation were over.
The MDC now has until Wednesday to present evidence of fraud to the high court, but finding a smoking gun may prove difficult.
Tsvangirai said he would submit a dossier of “all irregularities and all the illegalities” to the influential 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) and called for an urgent summit.
Kerry said there had been irregularities in the provision and composition of the voters roll, adding: “The parties had unequal access to state media. The security sector did not safeguard the electoral process on an even-handed basis.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague added his own “grave concerns” over the conduct of the vote in the former colony.
The European Union, which had been moving toward easing long-standing sanctions, expressed concern about “incomplete participation, as well as the identified weaknesses in the electoral process and a lack of transparency.”
But Emmerson Mnangagwa, defense minister and a key Mugabe lieutenant, hit back at these accusations and argued the result was a game-changer.
“The West will now have to climb down, they must find a ladder and climb down . . . A democratic election has taken place in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s neighbors have given the vote qualified approval.
The SADC, which engineered the power-sharing government, said it was “free and peaceful.”