Zimbabwe opposition leader: I won
By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer Tue Apr 1, 4:48
HARARE, Zimbabwe - The main opposition leader insisted
Tuesday he has won Zimbabwe's presidential election
outright and denied persistent reports he was
negotiating to ease out President Robert Mugabe, who
has led the country from liberation to ruin.
In his first public comments since Saturday's
election, Morgan Tsvangirai said he was waiting for an
official announcement of the results from the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission before he would enter any talks
A businessman close to the state electoral commission
and a lawyer close to the opposition said earlier the
two men's aides were negotiating a graceful exit for
Mugabe, the country's leader of 28 years. Both sources
spoke on condition of anonymity because of the
sensitivity of the issue. Several diplomats said they
had heard similar reports of secret negotiations but
could not confirm talks were under way.
"There are no discussions," Tsvangirai said. "Let's
wait for ZEC to complete its work, then we can discuss
the circumstances that will affect the people."
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga also denied
it, telling the British Broadcasting Corp. "There are
no negotiations whatsoever, because we are waiting for
the presidential results, so why do we need to hold
any secret talks?"
Tensions rose as people stayed away from work to await
results. A senior police officer, Wayne Bvudzijena,
went on state radio to say: "Our forces are more than
ready to deal with perpetrators of violence."
Paramilitary police have stepped up patrols in Harare
and Bulawayo, the second-largest city, and several
roadblocks have been set up at strategic entries to
the capital. The opposition has most of its support in
Tsvangirai said he had won more than the 50 percent
simple majority needed for victory. Mugabe has made no
statement about the election.
The businessman said Mugabe has been told he is far
behind Tsvangirai in preliminary results and that he
might have to face a runoff. He said the prospect was
too humiliating for the 84-year-old Mugabe, and that
was why the president was considering ceding power in
this Montana-sized country in southern Africa.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a coalition of
38 Zimbabwe civil society organizations, said its
random representative sample of polling stations
showed Tsvangirai won just over 49 percent of the vote
and Mugabe 42 percent. Simba Makoni, a former Mugabe
loyalist, trailed at about 8 percent.
In Washington, Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the
National Security Council, said "it's clear the people
of Zimbabwe have voted for change. It's time for the
Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to confirm the results
we have all seen from the local polling stations and
At his news conference, Tsvangirai spoke as if he
already had been declared president:
"For years we have trod a journey of hunger, pain,
torture and brutality," he said. "Today we face a new
challenge of governing and rehabilitating our beloved
country, the challenge of giving birth to a new
Zimbabwe founded on restoration not retribution, on
love not war."
As Zimbabweans wait for the returns, "our country is
on a precipice, on a cliff edge," said Tsvangirai,
head of the Movement for Democratic Change.
The situation remained fragile and could deteriorate
without a Mugabe resignation.
Martin Rupiya, a military analyst at South Africa's
Institute for Strategic Studies and a former
lieutenant-colonel in the Zimbabwe army, said he had
heard of the military's involvement in negotiations
for Mugabe to step down.
The election result "has compelled the military, the
hawkish wing and the other moderate, to begin to
reconsider accommodating the opposition," he said.
"Because of the nature of the wins they have been
forced to reassess."
Political analyst John Makumbe said he had learned
from military sources that they would respect the
results of the elections. The day before the
elections, security chiefs had warned they would not
serve anybody but Mugabe and would not tolerate an
The electoral commission has released results for 182
of the 210 parliamentary seats giving Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change 92 seats, including
five for a breakaway faction, to 90 for Mugabe's
ruling party. At least six Cabinet ministers have lost
their seats, according to the official results.
The commission has offered no results in the
Zimbabweans still fear that Mugabe may declare himself
winner, as he has in previous elections that observers
said were marked by rigging, violence and
Should he consider stepping down, he would have to
weigh the concerns of those who have profited from his
patronage, a group that includes top military leaders,
party officials and business people. They receive
mining concessions, construction contracts and
preferential licenses to run transport companies and
Marwick Khumalo, head of the Pan-African Parliament
observer mission, told South African radio that
leading members of Mugabe's party were contemplating
defeat with trepidation.
"I was talking to some of the bigwigs in the ruling
party and they also are concerned about the
possibility of a change of guard," he said. "ZANU-PF
has actually been institutionalized in the lives of
Zimbabweans, so it is not easy for anyone within the
sphere of the ruling party to accept that 'Maybe we
might be defeated or might have been defeated.'"
At independence, Mugabe was hailed for his policies of
racial reconciliation and development that brought
education and health to millions who had been denied
those services under colonial rule. Zimbabwe's economy
thrived on exports of food, minerals and tobacco.
The unraveling began when Mugabe ordered the
often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial
farms, ostensibly to return them to the landless black
majority. Instead, Mugabe replaced a white elite with
a black one, giving the farms to relatives, friends
and cronies who allowed cultivated fields to be taken
over by weeds.
Today, a third of the population depends on imported
food handouts. Another third has fled the country as
economic and political refugees, and 80 percent is
jobless. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 years to
35, and shortages of food, medicine, water,
electricity and fuel are chronic.
The economy is in dramatically worse shape than in
past elections. Former Mugabe loyalist and Finance
Secretary Simba Makoni, who finished a distant third
according to the independent projection, drew open
support from other leaders in the ruling party,
bringing divisions among the elite into the open.