Mugabe in biggest battle after losing parliament
By Muchena Zigomo 1 hour, 47 minutes ago
HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe is fighting
to survive the biggest crisis of his 28-year rule
after losing control of Zimbabwe's parliament for the
first time since taking power after independence.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said
Mugabe had also been defeated in a presidential
election last Saturday and should concede defeat.
Mugabe's aides angrily dismissed the MDC claim,
hinting the opposition could be punished for
publishing its own tallies despite warnings this would
be regarded as an attempted coup.
But a state-owned newspaper and projections by
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party conceded that he had
failed to win a majority for the first time in 28
Mugabe, known for his fierce and defiant rhetoric, has
not been seen in public since voting, despite
speculation he would make a television address on
Harare's U.N. ambassador said Mugabe had no intention
of living outside Zimbabwe.
Asked by BBC television if he would go to another
country to spend his retirement, Boniface Chidyausiku
"Robert Mugabe is Zimbabwean. Born, bred in Zimbabwe.
He has lived his life to work for Zimbabwe. Why should
he choose another country?"
In final results of the election for parliament's
lower house, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
won 99 seats. Mugabe's ZANU-PF won 97 seats and a
breakaway MDC faction won 10. One independent
candidate won a seat. The outcome of senate vote will
be issued next.
No official results have emerged in the presidential
But all the signs are that Mugabe, a liberation war
leader still respected in Africa, is in the worst
trouble of his rule after facing an unprecedented
challenge in the elections.
Widely blamed for economic collapse of his once
prosperous nation, Mugabe has faced growing discontent
with the world's highest inflation rate of more than
100,000 percent, a virtually worthless currency and
severe food and fuel shortages.
The opposition and international observers said Mugabe
rigged the last presidential election in 2002. But
some analysts say discontent over daily hardships is
too great for him to fix the result this time without
risking major unrest.
The mainstream MDC faction said its leader Morgan
Tsvangirai had won 50.3 percent of the presidential
vote and Mugabe 43.8 percent according to its own
CALL FOR PATIENCE
Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper said ZANU-PF and
the MDC's Tsvangirai faction had agreed that their
candidates or chief election agents would be present
at the start of the presidential vote count once
results come in from provinces.
"We therefore would like to urge the nation to remain
patient as we go through this meticulous verification
process," the newspaper's Web site quoted Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission chief elections officer Lovemore
Sekeramayi as saying.
Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's former information minister
and an independent parliament member, said authorities
were not coping with defeat and chiefs of security
forces, who have said they would not accept an
opposition victory, were anxious.
"You have generals who unwisely, or rather foolishly,
told the world that they would only salute one
candidate, who happened to have lost the election," he
MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti said Tsvangirai had
an absolute majority, enough for outright victory, but
he would accept a second round runoff against Mugabe
Analysts said the president was likely to be
humiliated in a runoff and the parliamentary vote
defeat would remove some of his power of patronage --
a plank of his long and iron rule.
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga said in a
telephone interview with Sky television : "No one is
panicking around President Mugabe. The army is very
solidly behind our president, the police force as
Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, said the MDC was
in contempt of the law by announcing results. "You are
drifting in very dangerous territory and I hope the
MDC is prepared for the consequences," he said.
The government appears to have been preparing the
population for a runoff by revealing its own
projections showing a second round would be required
in the statutory three weeks after last Saturday's
Both Tsvangirai and the government have dismissed
widespread speculation that the MDC was negotiating
with ZANU-PF for a managed exit for Mugabe, who has
ruled uninterrupted since independence from Britain in
Mugabe was unlikely to make a negotiated exit but go
down fighting in the second round, analysts said.
"He is not the type that quietly walks away into the
sunset," a senior Western diplomat said in Harare.
(Additional reporting by Nelson Banya, Cris Chinaka,
MacDonald Dzirutwe, Stella Mapenzauswa and Cris
Chinaka, Kate Kelland in London; Writing by Barry
Moody; Editing by Michael Georgy)
(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say
on the top issues, visit: http://africa.reuters.com)