|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: World: Africa|
Sunday, 25 June, 2000, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Zimbabwe poll result warning
A senior member of the Zimbabwean Government says President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, Zanu-PF, will stay in power whether or not it wins the election.
With polls approaching a close, party chairman Mr John Nkomo said the country's constitutional system allowed the president to choose his cabinet as he saw fit.
Mr Nkomo denied that this would amount to a rejection of the democratic will of Zimbabweans in the event of an opposition majority.
And he said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not achieve the two-thirds majority it needed to block presidential decisions.
For a second day running long queues formed outside polling booths and voting has continued to run smoothly despite a campaign marred by violence.
Thirty people, mostly from the opposition MDC, were killed and there were reports of widespread intimidation.
The issue of land distribution in Zimbabwe has led to an increase in tension, with squatters occupying white-owned farms with the support of President Mugabe.
Turnout among Zimbabwe's five million voters was high on Saturday, which passed off with reports of some irregularities - but no serious incidents.
As polls opened again on Sunday in the capital, hundreds of people rushed to try to beat the queues and then resigned themselves to a long wait.
International observers say they continue to be pleased on the whole with the way the election is going.
Most observers have been allowed to remain with the ballot boxes overnight, narrowing the scope for fraud. First results are expected on Monday.
The president, who voted early on Saturday insisted that Zanu-PF party would see off the challenge from the newly-formed opposition MDC.
Mr Mugabe told reporters: "We are winning the elections. I hear that people are voting in their masses."
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai countered that he was confident of a majority but did not believe the election was fair.
Speaking on the BBC's Breakfast With Frost programme he said: "Given the violence it cannot be considered a free and fair poll."
But he added that he would work with Mr Mugabe. "The only route out of these elections is co-existence," he said.
A BBC correspondent says Zimbabweans are voting in numbers not seen since the independence elections of 1980.
Long queues stretched out from some polling stations, as people waited for up to three hours to vote. Many were mothers with babies strapped to their backs.
Some people were even reported to have slept outside to be sure of their place in the queue.
Election officials said many polling stations had been swamped by the demand.
The head of a network of local monitors, Kumbi Hodzi, said there had been isolated incidents of intimidation in rural constituencies, and some monitors had been prevented by Zanu-PF supporters from guarding ballot boxes on the night before the poll.
The MDC itself reported 50 incidents of harrassment and intimidation, including one in which it said farm workers were met at a polling station and taken to a camp to be "re-educated" before casting their votes.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, casting his vote in the town of Buhera, praised the high turnout.
He said people clearly wanted change, and were prepared to vote for it despite the intimidation they had suffered.
The country's last white prime minister, Ian Smith, was also among the early voters, casting his ballot at the Belgravia Sports Club in Harare.
He told reporters: "All I want to do is get rid of the present gangsters. We have only got a weekend to go, and then we will know whether we have saved our country or not."
Mr Mugabe will be hoping that his party's traditional supporters in rural areas will vote in sufficient numbers to outweigh the opposition's advantage in towns and cities.
Correspondents say the MDC has a realistic chance of winning a majority of the 120 parliamentary seats being contested.
But, as president, Mr Mugabe has a big advantage - he is allowed to pick another 30 MPs to make up the 150-seat parliament. Currently, only three seats are held by opposition MPs.
24 Jun 00 | Africa
High turnout in Zimbabwe poll
25 Jun 00 | Africa
Analysis: Prospects for change in Zimbabwe
24 Jun 00 | Africa
In pictures: Zimbabwe's patient voters
23 Jun 00 | Africa
Eyewitness: Dilemma of the fearful voter
21 Jun 00 | Africa
Tsvangirai courts the discontented
17 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
The politics of fear
23 Jun 00 | Africa
'Born free' generation seeks change
16 Jun 00 | Africa
Zimbabwe parties: Who's who?
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Top Africa stories now:
Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.
Links to more Africa stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy