The Last Kicks of a Dying Horse

What a dramatic two days this has been. With voting over in the allotted 12 hours, counting has taken another 72 hours and in some cases the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is still verifying the vote results. In a dramatic development the political masters in Zanu PF tried to force ZEC to declare Mugabe the winner with 53 per cent of the vote and a Zanu PF majority of 115 seats.

This information was sent to us by elements in Zanu PF and we made the plan public at a press conference at 10.00 hrs today. But once again the ZEC has come up trumps - they refused to gerrymander the results and are slowly releasing the final results to the public. This appears to be an effort to give the Zanu PF people a chance to 'clean house' in advance of what will be a fairly rapid transfer of power once the final figures for the Presidential election are announced.

It would seem that the last minute desperate measures to frustrate a MDC victory was made late yesterday and last night but has faded by this morning. The best indication of that is that the heavy police presence evident last night has faded and there are no police or army units on the street today.

So at last it looks as if the ZEC will eventually announce that Morgan Tsvangirai has won this election - I personally expect the final ZEC tally to be 58 per cent for Morgan Tsvangirai, 27 per cent for Mugabe and 15 per cent for Simba Makoni. I also expect that the final tally in terms of the Parliamentary seats will be 115 for MDC, 12 for the Mutambara group, 8 independents and 75 for Zanu PF. It is clear that many of the Zanu PF seats were in fact rigged in their favor but ZEC is accepting this as it was what I call 'micro rigging' - in the sense that they manipulated the numbers of people voting.

There were many ways in which they could do this - threats against the population - 'vote Zanu PF or else', multiple voting in remote areas where there was insufficient supervision, the postal ballot and moving people into key constituencies. We will have to look at all of these and decide which we will take to court once the dust has settled.

But there can be no doubt this was a huge upset. Zanu seems to have been dislodged by a variety of factors. They gerrymandered the electoral districts giving the rural vote (their traditional source of power) a 2 to 1 advantage over the urban voter. Then they gerrymandered the voter's roll and the distribution of polling stations. These measures were overcome by two essential elements - a very high turn out of the voters in urban areas (30 per cent of the voters roll but probably 65 per cent of the actual number of registered voters that are still here) and a very low turn out in rural districts (15 per cent or less). They also underestimated the Makoni factor and he did much better than expected.

This was a referendum on Mugabe's leadership and even with all the rigging and gerrymandering, he is now just so unpopular that he could not be rescued. I doubt if he got 10 per cent of the vote, nationwide. What we have witnessed in the last 24 hours are the last kicks of a dying dynasty. I wonder what is going on right now behind those closed doors!

Eddie Cross
31st March 2008