Counting the votes from the country’s one-man presidential election has been finished in Zimbabwe. The opposition and many in the international community have dubbed this election a sham as president Mugabe (photo) was the only candidate.
On Saturday, the opposition Movemant for Democratic Change (MDC) said that Robert Mugabe, the incumbent president, being sure to win, he was only kept in power by force and with help from the South African president, Thabo Mbeki.
Last week, Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC’s leader, boycotted Friday’s poll after a wave of deadly attacks aiming at his supporters, and suffered a major blow overnight, when South Africa blocked a move at the UN to declare the election illegitimate.
The MDC claimed nearly 90 of its supporters had been killed in attacks by pro-Mugabe thugs and some 200,000 voters disenfranchised after being driven from their homes.
A resolution that would have stated the results “could have no credibility or legitimacy” had been pushed by the United States and its European allies, but South Africa argued the Security Council was not in the business of certifying elections.
Instead, an oral statement was merely issued by the council, expressing “deep regret” that the election went ahead widespread calls for it to be shelved.
On Saturday, US president repeated that the Zimbabwean run-off vote was a sham. George W. Bush also said he had directed that sanctions be drawn up against the ‘illegitimate” government of Zimbabwe.
“Given the Mugabe regime’s blatant disregard for the Zimbabwean people’s democratic will and human rights, I am instructing the secretaries of state and treasury to develop sanctions against this illegitimate government of Zimbabwe and those who support it”, Bush said in a statement.
The US might introduce a UN resolution calling for sanctions against Zimbabwe, said Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state.
But on Saturday, African foreign ministers meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh said that getting Mr Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s opposition to talk will have better results than punitive measures.
For the southern African country, the route of sanctions may not be helpful, said Moses Watangula, the Kenyan foreign minister.
Ralph Black, the MDC’s representative in the United States, told Al Jazeera that a government of national unity may diffuse the current crisis.
“They must agree to form a government of national unity”, he said.
‘Select and share power’
“The two parties must come together to select and share power, but we believe Mugabe must not be part of a unity government – this is because the destruction of Zimbabwe’s democratic institutions lies squarely at his feet.”
Briggs Bomba, a Zimbabwe activist for Africa Action, a non-profit organisation, also told Al Jazeera the strategy the MDC is using has not been effective.
“What the MDC could have done was to mobilise mass popular support inside the country”, he said.
“If Zanu-PF supporters, government officials, and the police, saw massive support for the MDC, and saw the people rally in large numbers in support for a change of political direction in the country, they themselves will be forced to re-think their roles as enforcing the policies of Robert Mugabe.”On March 29, Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of the election, falling just short of the 50 per cent threshold needed to avoid a run-off.
Amid widespread reports that the electorate was being coerced into voting for Mugabe, Tsvangirai advised followers on Friday against futile gestures of defiance in what he derided as an “exercise in mass intimidation”.
On Saturday, the official newspaper, The Herald, reporter that the turnout was “massive” in the election, though it provided no figures.