Zimbabwe's High Court declined to order the immediate release of results from the March 29 election, squashing an appeal from the opposition. The MDC, which claims victory, has confirmed its call for a general strike on Tuesday. (Story: P. Hall).
Zimbabwe’s High Court rejected on Monday an opposition appeal to force the government to release electoral results. Two weeks have passed since the March 29 polls but there is still no definitive result on who the African nation’s next president will be.
Suffering a major blow following the ruling, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, which claims it won both the presidential and parliamentary elections, has confirmed its call for a general strike throughout the country on Tuesday.
“I think it was fairly predictable in terms of the fact that the ruling party preempted in a way today’s judgment,” says France 24’s Alex Duval Smith, reporting from Cape Town, South Africa. “To prevent the High Court from ruling that the results should be recounted immediately, the ZANU-PF announced over the weekend that the result of 23 constituencies would be recounted this coming Saturday and in doing so it took the tool out of the High Court’s judgment. It would have been surprising for the High Court judge to then overrule the ruling party, especially in view of the climate in Zimbabwe at the moment.”
The ruling ZANU-PF party says neither President Robert Mugabe nor his rival won the necessary absolute majority and a run-off will be necessary.
A crucial week marked with Friday’s celebration of Independence Day
The coming week could be a turning point in the post-election battle as the opposition tries to put yet more pressure on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
The electoral body has ordered a recount in 23 of Zimbabwe’s 210 constituencies, which the MDC claims will help ZANU-PF overturn its defeat in the parliamentary poll also held on March 29.
“The opposition claims that the last weeks have given the government ample time to stuff the ballot boxes,” explains Duval Smith.
The MDC plans to launch a legal challenge on Tuesday without waiting for the recount results on Saturday. It has also called for an indefinite general strike on Tuesday.
“This is going to be a very interesting week because Friday will mark Independence Day,” says Duval Smith. Independence Day is traditionally followed by a long and detailed speech by President Mugabe.
Neighbouring countries fail to address “the crisis”
The government tried on Sunday to ease concerns the military might intervene to try to keep Mugabe in power.
"I believe everyone in the country is aware that there is no military junta," Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the Sunday Mail.
Tsvangirai, who says he is a prime target of government security and military forces, has said widespread violence could erupt unless other African states intervened.
But leaders of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), who gathered Saturday in Lusaka, Zambia, to discuss the election impasse, failed to come up with a solution after Mugabe decided to snub the meeting.
“The problem in this is that they do not want to admit that there’s a problem,” says Duval Smith. “ They had hours of discussion on whether to use the word ‘crisis’ in their final communiqué, just to give you an idea of how fearful they are of upsetting president Mugabe.”
Mugabe was not even mentioned in a four-page joint statement that called only for the result of the presidential poll to be delivered as "expeditiously" as possible.
Date created : 2008-04-14