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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Zimbabwe rivals look ahead
MDC supporters
Young urban voters are a new challenge for the government
By BBC News Online's Justin Pearce

Zimbabwe's ruling party and opposition are both sounding in more reconciliatory mood than they were before the election.

But both Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change are putting a high priority on pursuing their own political programmes rather than trying to forge an alliance.

Zanu-PF officials have said that the government's land reform programme, which dominated the election campaign, will be under discussion at the meeting.

In the weeks before the election, the government - having failed to secure a referendum mandate to seize land from white farmers - unilaterally changed the constitution to remove the obstacles to land reform.

The government had already issued a list of farms it indended to repossess, before being interrupted by the business of the election itself.

Robert Mugabe
Mugabe: Still popular with rural voters
With voting over, the government will want to demonstrate that it remains committed to the promised land programme, which it used to attract most of the vote from rural Zimbabwe.

But in the light of the huge gains by the MDC, there is speculation that the ruling party will have to grasp the difficult question of Mr Mugabe's political future.

Liability?

For 20 years, the name of Mugabe was inextricably linked to Zanu-PF and to Zimbabwe.

Now, following the loosening of Zanu-PF's hold on power, party officials are likely to be wondering whether Mr Mugabe has become a liability.

The party's dilemma concerns the polarisation in Zimbabwean society - between the opposition-supporting cities and the pro-government countryside - which the election results have revealed.

Mr Mugabe's authority rests on his status as a former liberation leader - and as such he is revered in the rural areas.

Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai: "Not the time for partisanship"
Yet for people in the cities, the history of the independence struggle is becoming less and less relevant in the face of unemployment, declining living standards, and fuel shortages.

There is already discontent within Zanu-PF, particularly regarding the president's handling of the economy.

The party is going to have to make a delicate choice between the needs of city and country as it confronts its future.

'Restore confidence'

Meanwhile, the MDC will be considering its new role in the mainstream of Zimbabwean politics as it moves off the streets and into parliament.

"The exceptional performance of the MDC will ensure healthy debate in parliament," leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in a statement.

"Our primary aim is to restore confidence in the country," he added.

"This is not the time for partisanship."

Mr Tsvangirai has already indicated that his party will not accept an offer of cabinet seats by the president.

But there is speculation that the MDC might seek to form strategic alliances with discontended Zanu-PF MPs to vote against the government on particular issues.

Challenging the outcome

The MDC wants to remain an independent political force at least until the 2002 presidential elections - which Mr Tsvangirai says he will contest.

The party's most immediate concern is with correcting, as best it can, the results of an election which observers saw as flawed.

"We believe that there are at least 20 seats that we will either ask for a recount or that we will take legal action about," Mr Tsvangirai said

He has also promised to file charges against Minister of State Security Sidney Sekeramayi, the Zanu-PF candidate in Marondera East, accusing him of intimidating opposition voters.


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28 Jun 00 | Africa
28 Jun 00 | Africa
27 Jun 00 | Africa
27 Jun 00 | UK Politics
26 Apr 00 | Africa
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