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April 3, 2008
Mugabe in runoff election for President?
Even though the opposition MDC party has captured a majority in parliament based on election results from the weekend, something very strange is happening to the count for president.
No results have been issued.
If Mugabe didn't have a history of stealing elections, this development wouldn't be so worrisome:
A commission member indicated presidential results would be announced Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Incredible as it may seem. independent observers believe that roughly half the people voted for Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Given these conditions, it's a wonder he got any votes at all:
The commission said it still was receiving ballot boxes from the provinces, raising questions about where those votes had been since Saturday's elections, amid charges there was a plot to rig the results. Western election observers have accused Mugabe of stealing previous elections.
On Wednesday, official election returns showed Mugabe's ZANU-PF party had lost its parliamentary majority. The state-owned Herald newspaper, which reflects government and ruling party thinking, said Thursday the parliamentary race was a "photo finish" and stressed the split in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Tsvangirai loyalists won seats, as did members of a breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara.
Mugabe has overseen the destruction of a thriving economy. The unraveling began when he ordered the often-violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms, ostensibly to return them to the landless black majority. Instead, Mugabe replaced a white elite with a black one, giving the farms to relatives, friends and cronies who allowed cultivated fields to be taken over by weeds. The fact is, so many people rely on Mugabe to survive that voting for him despite the way he has ruined the country is simple common sense. They fear that if Mugabe leaves office, they will be unable to procure enough food and basic necessities for themselves or their family.
Today, a third of the population depends on imported food handouts. Another third has fled the country and 80 percent is jobless. Inflation is the highest in the world at more than 100,000 percent and people suffer crippling shortages of food, water, electricity, fuel and medicine. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 to 35 years.
If indeed, a runoff election is held, it would seem a foregone conclusion that Mugabe will find a way to steal it.