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Next Step for MDC

Opposition party says it intends to use its seats in parliament to expose government "nonsense".
By IWPR Srdan

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, will take up the 41 parliamentary seats it won in the country's recent elections, in spite of its protests that the vote was rigged.

In an interview with IWPR, MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said his party rejects its overall defeat in the election, which he said was "engineered by widespread fraud".

But the MDC's successful MPs, elected mainly in urban areas, won their seats fair and square, he said, and the party would build on these successes to publicise what he described as the ZANU PF government's corruption, mismanagement and misrule.

"We intend to use the seats in parliament to expose government nonsense... in whatever way possible," said Ncube, who himself won the Bulawayo East constituency for the MDC.

He said the MDC would not appeal to Zimbabwe's courts as the main way of challenging the results, but would intensify its protests in other ways. He declined to expand on how this might be done but promised that the strategy would soon become clear.

In the wake of parliamentary elections in 2000 in which the MDC won 57 seats, the party contested ZANU PF victories in a further 30 seats. The appeals are still stuck in the supreme court, which President Robert Mugabe has packed with judges personally loyal to him and the ruling party.

Immediately after the results of the latest parliamentary election were announced on April 2, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai urged people to "defend their vote", which he said could include some form of mass action.

But Ncube said the party's resort to Zimbabwe's judiciary would be more limited this time round.

"We are going to go to the courts to challenge certain selected glaring [results]," he told IWPR. "Our lawyers are currently working on the papers. Unlike in 2000, when we challenged almost all of the seats we lost, this time we are selecting just a few and these will be enough to expose Zanu PF's rigging."

Constituencies likely to be challenged are Manyame and Mhondoro in Mashonaland West; Harare South, Goromonzi and Marondera East in Mashonaland East; and Chivi North in Masvingo, whose final declared results did not tally with the numbers of voters counted at polling stations.

In Manyame, for example, President Mugabe's nephew Patrick Zhuwao reportedly received 15,448 votes, beating the MDC candidate Suka Hilda Mafudze who apparently secured just 8,312. But the combined total of these results suggests 23,760 people voted in the constituency, nearly 10,000 more than the actual figure announced as having completed ballots at the polling stations.

A senior MDC official said the party might now push for full international sanctions against Zimbabwe as opposed to the targeted sanctions on senior government and party officials currently enforced mainly by the European Union, United States, Canada and Australia.

The official declined to be named - calling for sanctions against Zimbabwe might be counted as treason, an offence punishable by hanging.

Marceline Ndoro is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Harare.

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