Zimbabwe could be plunged back to pariah status after the United
States followed the European Union and Britain in criticising the
“flawed” re-election of President Robert Mugabe, saying the result was
tainted by “substantial electoral irregularities”.
presidential election with 61 per cent of the vote. His Zanu-PF party
also won 142 seats in the 210-seat parliament, securing the two-thirds
majority needed to change the constitution. Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), which took 34 per cent of the vote, said the elections were
‘’fraudulent and stolen’’ and promised to take legal action.
Secretary of State John Kerry echoed Mr Tsvangirai’s concerns. “The
United States does not believe that the results announced today
represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,”
Mr Kerry said.
Australia joined chorus of disapproval, with Foreign Minister Bob Carr calling for a re-run of the election.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s only leader since independence in 1980, has overseen
brutal attacks on opponents, property seizures, economic devastation
and international isolation, notably through wide-ranging sanctions
against the regime. But, since forming a power-sharing government with
Zanu-PF in 2009, Mr Tsvangirai is credited with helping steer the
country back to global respectability, resulting in some of the
sanctions being eased.
While there are no threats yet to
re-impose sanctions, Mr Mugabe and his incoming administration are
unlikely to be welcomed in the West.
were barred from monitoring the polls but observer missions from the
African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
both gave qualified approval to the elections. One influential report
by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), a local observer group
with 7,000 monitors, says the electoral rolls were doctored,
disenfranchising up to a million people.
also being asked in the wake of newspaper reports that Mr Mugabe rigged
the elections using hundreds of millions of dollars siphoned from the
country’s diamond industry. Rumours were rife for years of shady deals
between the Chinese mining companies and ZANU-PF officials, and The
Sunday Times claims to have seen secret documents allegedly showing the
party using the money to hire an Israel-based firm to rig the electoral
The mounting criticism about the election is also
expected to affect the country’s fragile economic recovery, with the
incoming administration likely to take a harder line on foreign
investors. Mugabe’s indigenisation policy aimed at seizing majority
stakes in foreign firms has been partly held back by Mr Tsvangirai, but
the ZANU-PF victory could mean a roll out of new measures – and an
exodus of foreign business.