Tsvangirai vows to challenge poll result

Furious opposition leader vows to fight on after results show Mugabe winning 61pc of the vote

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 4:06am

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will challenge an election victory by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party that it rejects as a fraud.

"We are going to go to court, we are going to go to the AU (African Union), we are going to go to the SADC (Southern African Development Community)," MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai angrily declared.

Official results announced yesterday reported that Mugabe garnered 61 per cent of the vote, against the 34 per cent won by Tsvangirai.

Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said: "Our opponents don't know what hit them."

The MDC leader, who has been serving as prime minister in a fractious unity government under Mugabe, said his party totally rejected the results from Wednesday's election. Zanu-PF won 158 of the 210 seats in parliament, giving it a two-thirds majority that enables it to make amendments to the new constitution and existing laws.

"We did not lose this election. It is in the imagination of Zanu-PF that they won," Tsvangirai said, adding that his party would present evidence in court to back its allegations that the vote was a "monumental fraud" engineered by Zanu-PF.

"I thought this election was going to resolve this political crisis. It has not. It has plunged the country back to where it was," Tsvangirai said.

Africa's oldest leader, 89-year-old Mugabe, has governed the former British colony, previously known as Rhodesia, since independence in 1980. It has rich reserves of chrome, platinum, coal, gold and diamonds.

Voting on Wednesday passed off peacefully and received broad approval from African observers.

Tsvangirai has already called on the African Union and SADC to investigate the vote. But he faces an uphill struggle to convince the regional bodies, as their observers have already publicly endorsed the election as free and peaceful, while acknowledging minor problems.

Western observers were kept out by Harare, and independent domestic monitors have described the vote as deeply flawed by registration problems that may have disenfranchised up to a million people. This includes the lack of availability of an updated voters' roll, as required by law.

Adding to the controversy surrounding the election, one member of Zimbabwe's nine-member Electoral Commission, Mkhululi Nyathi, has resigned since the vote, citing doubts about the integrity of the results.

"While throughout the whole process I retained some measure of hope that the integrity of the whole process could be salvaged along the way, this was not to be, hence my considered decision to resign," he said.

The European Union said yesterday it was concerned about alleged irregularities and a lack of transparency, its strongest criticism so far of the poll.

The EU's verdict will be crucial to deciding whether it continues to ease sanctions on the southern African country.

Harare barber Right Chirombe said there was no basis to the claims the poll was rigged.

"In 2008 we voted in anger, but this time we knew what we were doing, having experienced the two leaders - we now know who has the qualities to be a leader," Chirombe said.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse