Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Second-Round Ballot Looks Increasingly Likely

Mugabe said to be resigned to run-off election as ZANU-PF and main opposition party head for hung parliament.
By Hativagone Mushonga
Zimbabwe looks as if it is heading for a run-off presidential election between the incumbent Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, despite claims by the latter that he has won.

According to two sources – a senior politburo member in the ruling ZANU-PF party and an insider in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, ZEC – neither of the main candidates has surpassed the required 50 per cent of the vote.

The constitution stipulates that no candidate gets 51 per cent of the total vote, a second round must be called within 21 days involving the two top contenders.

The ZANU-PF source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IWPR that the results that ZEC will announce are an accurate reflection of how the voting went in this historic election, which many predicted would see an end to Mugabe’s 28-year rule.

The source said party leaders had initially believed that Mugabe would secure 52 per cent, adding that the indications were that he could achieve that figure.

However, the politburo member admitted that when the first returns came in, there were concerns that Tsvangirai, who leads the larger of two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, would win outright.

But he said later returns showed Mugabe closing the gap, and the by the time all the results were gathered in, it emerged that neither man had 50 per cent.

Tsvangirai has told journalists that data collected by the MDC suggested that he was going to get more than 50 per cent, with predictions that he would achieve 57 per cent.

Referring to these claims, the ZANU-PF source said, “The fact that we have called them [MDC] to verify the figure is because what has been collected from the polling stations – these are from results posted outside all polling stations – show that Tsvangirai has not even reached the 50 per cent mark.”

He continued, “I challenge them to produce figures at their polling stations that show that he has more than 50 per cent. I am sure you will find that they will not dispute the results with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, because they are the correct figures and I hope they will be honest enough to admit that. Whatever figures they might have might not be from all polling stations.”

A ZEC member based at the National Collation Centre where the final count is taking place dismissed reports of vote rigging and challenged the MDC to dispute any of the official figures that had been released to date.

“The truth of the matter is that Tsvangirai did not get 50 per cent of the total votes cast and MDC is not being honest about what they are telling people,” said the ZEC official, who did not want to be named. “What they probably need to do is to quantify the results they have. They should tell people what percentage of the polling stations they are basing their victory on.”

In the legislative election held the same day as the presidential ballot, ZEC results currently show Tsvangirai’s MDC and ZANU-PF tied at 92 each of the 210 seats in the House of Assembly, the lower chamber of parliament. The smaller MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara has won five seats, mainly in the Matabeleland South province.

By mid-morning on April 2, only 18 constituency results were outstanding, and the indications were that the two main parties might find themselves with 99 seats each.

A senior MDC official admitted to IWPR that the figures they collected had, in some instances, not included all the polling stations in a given constituency.

“I have warned that it was dangerous to do so because one polling station can actually sway a result. We have tended to declare ourselves winners in some areas where we would have been leading in maybe 85 to 90 per cent of total polling stations,” said the party official, who did not want to be identified. “We have been proven wrong when the final results come, and in those cases we don’t even dispute the final results.”

The politburo member said Mugabe would accept a run-off, contrary to speculation that he would not countenance this. Meanwhile, the MDC is saying a second round is unacceptable as it is certain it has won the election hands down.

In an apparent first official admission that Mugabe has not won outright, the pro-government newspaper The Herald reported on April 2 that Mugabe and Tsvangirai were likely to have to contest a second round, while their parties were heading for a tie in the parliamentary election.

Hativagone Mushonga is the pseudonym of a reporter in Zimbabwe.

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