Mugabe’s party sweeps Senate poll

Sapa-DPA, Sapa-AFP
Mail & Guardian Online
November 28, 2005

President Robert Mugabe’s party in Zimbabwe has won all but seven seats in a controversial new Senate, crushing the challenge posed by a severely weakened opposition party, final results showed on Monday.

According to final results announced by the official electoral commission, the ruling party secured 43 seats in the 66-seat Upper House, while the main opposition party won seven.

“The final picture is as follows: [Zanu-PF] won 43 senatorial seats and the Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] has won seven senatorial seats,” Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi said in a radio and television broadcast.

With an additional 10 seats in the Senate reserved for traditional chiefs loyal to Mugabe, and six others to be appointed by the president, the results confirm the ruling party’s dominance of both Houses of Parliament.

The victory came as no surprise, as the MDC failed to field candidates in all constituencies following bruising internal squabbles about whether to boycott the elections.

Nineteen of the ruling party’s seats were won unopposed ahead of Saturday’s poll, which was marred by record low voter turnout.

An independent observer group and election watchdog, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network said less than 30% of the 3,2-million registered voters had bothered to cast ballots in Saturday’s poll, which it said represented a “protest vote by Zimbabweans against the status quo”.

MDC leader suspended

Meanwhile, the Movement for Democratic Change has suspended its own leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, from his position, according to internal party correspondence.

In a letter obtained by Agence France-Presse on Monday, MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda said a national disciplinary committee met last week and resolved to suspend Tsvangirai from his position as president with “immediate effect”.

Sibanda said the suspension is for misconduct charges, including violation of the party’s constitution.

“During your suspension, you shall not perform any functions of the office of the president of the MDC . . . you shall not hold, address or attend any meetings, rallies or functions whatsoever organised under the name of the MDC,” said Sibanda.

Tsvangirai has also been barred from visiting any of the party’s offices and ordered to surrender all party property in his possession.

In response, Tsvangirai said the “attempt to suspend” him from the party leadership is unfortunate.

“The MDC constitution allows nobody except [the party] congress to suspend or dismiss the president,” said Tsvangirai.

“Resorting to unconstitutional tactics that play in the hands of [the ruling] Zanu-PF reflects the desperate and immature state of mind gripping my erstwhile comrades.”

Categories: Africa, Odious Debts, Zimbabwe

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