Allegations of vote-rigging flowed in Zimbabwe on Thursday, with reports of fake registration cards, voters turned away from the polls and people appearing on voters’ lists four times with different IDs. Even before results were announced, the main opposition camp said longtime President Robert Mugabe stole the election, which his supporters denied. Either way, the country faces fresh political uncertainty. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the main challenger to Mugabe, said the elections on Wednesday were “null and void” due to violations in the voting process, and a poll monitoring group that is not affiliated with the state said the poll was compromised by a campaign to stop voters from casting ballots. In the first official results announced by the state election commission late Thursday, Mugabe’s party captured 28 of the 210 parliamentary seats, compared to three won by Tsvangirai’s party. Most of those results came from Mugabe’s rural strongholds. The elections had posed one of the biggest challenges to Mugabe’s 33-year grip on power on this former British colony, but claims by his opponents that the election was tainted and declarations of victory by the president’s supporters suggested his political career was far from over.
Mugabe’s party said Thursday it has withdrawn an unauthorized message on its Twitter feed claiming a resounding victory. The ZANU-PF party said it is awaiting the release of results by the state election commission, the only body allowed under the law to announce the outcome.
Tsvangirai boycotted a presidential run-off vote in 2008 to protest violence against supporters but said in the run-up this year he was confident Zimbabweans would vote for change, even in the most difficult conditions.
“The shoddy manner in which it has been conducted and the consequent illegitimacy of the result will plunge this country into a serious crisis,” Tsvangirai said of the election Wednesday.