Mugabe party 'fails in recount'

Opposition MDC says parliamentary victory over ruling Zanu-PF has been confirmed.

    Mugabe has controlled Zimbabwe since
    independence 28 years ago [AFP]

    Earlier, the Reuters news agency reported that after 14 constituencies had been recounted it was impossible for Zanu-PF to regain its majority.

    Zanu-PF has held a parliamentary majority since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980.

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    Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa in Harare said that Zanu-PF candidates had increased their winning majority in some seats, results that could benefit Mugabe in the presidential vote.

    "Basically this outcome could affect the presidential results, whenever those will be announced," she said.

    "Even though it looks as though the MDC has returned a majority in parliament the interesting thing to watch is the figures some of the Zanu-PF candidates are winning by now. These figures could translate into more voters for the presidential election."

    Presidential poll

    The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced on Saturday that a partial recount of ballots in the presidential election should be completed by Monday, after which the result will be announced.
    George Chiweshe, the ZEC chairman, said: "We trust that by Monday, April 28, this process will have been concluded ... leading to the announcement of the result of the presidential election."
    Chiweshe also said that presidential candidates or their representatives are expected to meet next week to verify the results the ZEC will have gathered at each polling station.

    He said: "I don't know whether they are going to bring the same figures and everybody is going to agree from the word go, or whether they will [bring] various figures which need to be looked into and  checked and argued about."   

    "But I can't say exactly when the results will be coming."

    The presidential vote was held parallel to the parliamentary poll on March 29.

    Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, has said that he won the presidential election outright and has accused Mugabe of delaying results to rig a victory.

    George Charamba, a spokesman for Mugabe, told Al Jazeera that was nothing to suggest that the election commission would not accurately report the results of the presidential election.

    "Either you have faith in the system or you don't. And if you don't have you have to have a very good reason for not having it," he said.

    He also said that it was good for the country that the commission had confirmed the original results after the partial recount.

    "Remember we are building democracy, we are building institutions in a new system of voting that we have never had in this country," he said.

    Opposition arrests

    The latest blow to Mugabe's hopes of retaining his 28-year grip on power came after a crackdown on the opposition.

    The police said on Saturday that 215 people were detained during a raid on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) headquarters the previous day.

    Police carrying batons raided the MDC offices
    in the capital Harare [AFP]

    "Police rounded up 215 people at Harvest House," the state-controlled Herald newspaper quoted Wayne Bvudzijena, police spokesman, as saying.

    The detainees "will be screened against participation in politically motivated criminal activities around the country," he said.

    Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary-general, told Al Jazeera on Friday that the raid by about 250 riot police carrying batons was part of a "violent crackdown" against the opposition.
    He said that many people at the office were refugees fleeing from violence and torture in the countryside.

    The MDC said that police took computers and equipment during Friday's raid. Noel Kututwa, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), said they were looking for "subversive material likely to overthrow the government using unconstitutional means".
    The offices of the ZESN were also raided and Kututwa said police wanted to arrest him and Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, his deputy.

    US criticised

    The ruling party also criticised Jendayi Frazer, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, for declaring Tsvangirai the winner and calling on Mugabe to step down.

    "Frazer has no moral or legal authority
    to make unfounded announcements on our domestic processes"

    Patrick Chinamasa, justice minister

    "Frazer has no moral or legal authority to make unfounded announcements on our domestic processes," Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, said.

    "It is no secret the US and Britain have poured in large sums of money behind the MDC's sustained demonisation campaign that seeks to render the country ungovernable."

    Ebrahim Fakir, a senior researcher at the centre for policy studies in Johannesburg, said that the US declaration was "unfortunate".

    "It is unfortunate because it gives some credence and some legitimacy to the fact Mugabe has been going around saying their other powers that seek to intervene [in Zimbabwe]." he said. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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