Mugabe's party fails to win back parliament in Zimbabwe recount
Mugabe's party fails to win back parliament in
A senior official in the ruling ZANU-PF party says
many of the president's allies have given up hope of
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
5:41 PM PDT, April 26, 2008
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -- Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe saw his hold on power weaken Saturday as
his party failed to make any inroads in a recount of
parliamentary balloting and some loyalists expressed
pessimism about his chances in a presidential runoff.
The Zimbabwe Election Commission announced the results
of 18 of 23 parliamentary seats whose vote tallies are
being recounted, nearly a month after bitterly
disputed elections appeared to give the opposition the
edge over the 84-year-old president. The ruling
ZANU-PF party needed to take back nine seats to regain
control of parliament, but none of the 18 results were
"It's really a heavy blow," said a senior ZANU-PF
official and key Mugabe ally who spoke on condition of
anonymity. "Now that there is no change in the
recount, I believe that this now gives people second
Although some in Mugabe's inner circle appeared
determined to cling to power at all costs, the senior
official said many in the party saw no hope of victory
if a second round of voting was held in the
presidential election and had given up hope of
retaining power. Most saw as their best chance a
government of national unity.
Official results in the presidential vote might be
released Monday. Ruling party officials have already
conceded publicly that opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai garnered more votes than Mugabe in the
election. The opposition maintains that Tsvangirai won
outright with no need for a runoff, a position not
supported by independent electoral monitors.
Since the March 29 elections, hundreds of opposition
activists and supporters have been beaten and
seriously injured. Hundreds more have been arrested.
"I don't think anything will change the direction of
the presidential elections. This is what we are seeing
on the ground," the ZANU-PF official said, adding that
widespread hunger had made it almost impossible for
Mugabe to win. "If there's a rerun, whether or not
there will be violence, I don't think that will give
us the upper hand, whatever methods we are going to
use in campaigning."
But he warned that top military and security officials
remained deeply skeptical about Tsvangirai, and that
there was a real threat of a military coup or descent
into violent civil unrest.
"The only way to solve the problem without bloodshed
is that both parties must agree to form a government
of national unity. In the absence of that . . . rest
assured there will be serious violence in this
country. I don't know how things will end," he said.
The official said wavering support for Zimbabwe in the
Southern African Development Community, a regional
body, had also weakened resolve in the ruling party.
Southern African countries last week refused to allow
a Chinese ship with a cargo of weapons to unload and
transport the cargo to Zimbabwe, which is landlocked.
"The SADC community is now changing, and that is also
discouraging people," the official said. "People are
saying, 'Without the support of SADC, how can we fight
A retired army officer with close ties to the ruling
party said many ZANU-PF figures believed that the
campaign of violence against the opposition could not
save Mugabe and that he would lose more support in a
"More importantly, the situation with food is getting
worse and worse," the war veteran said. "The whole
political atmosphere is uncertain. It is so repressive
and so terrifying that people believe it cannot be
sustained for too long."
Jonathan Moyo, an independent lawmaker who was once
close to Mugabe, said the failure to win back control
of parliament had crushed the will of the ruling
party, but he said it was difficult to predict what
might come next.
"They have clearly lost control. What has happened has
shattered the confidence of the ruling party," he
said. "The majority of people in ZANU-PF are silent.
They have gone into hiding. There's a deafening
silence from the usual noisemakers in ZANU-PF.
"They're now thinking about the consequences of doing
and saying things. They are no longer sure that
ZANU-PF will prevail."
Moyo said there was now a broad consensus that the
best outcome was a negotiated transition, with Mugabe
Other possibilities were that a presidential runoff
could be held, or that Tsvangirai could boycott a
runoff and the authorities would then declare Mugabe
"And then we would have a political stalemate," Moyo
said, "because a Mugabe victory will not be accepted