Skip to main content

Zimbabwe opposition says vote a 'farce' as Mugabe's party claims win

By Faith Karimi and Nkepile Mabuse, CNN
August 1, 2013 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mugabe's party says there's "no doubt" he has won
  • His main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, declares the vote "null and void"
  • Tsvangirai alleges widespread fraud; Mugabe's party calls allegations "stupid"

Did you vote? Share your experiences.

(CNN) -- As Zimbabweans awaited presidential election results, the ruling party declared victory Thursday as the opposition dismissed the vote as a "huge farce."

Vote counting was under way in the election that pitted incumbent President Robert Mugabe against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for the third time.

Mugabe, 89, has been at the helm since 1980, the only president the nation has known since it gained independence from Britain. A win would extend his time in office to 38 years.

Even though the nation's electoral commission has not released any numbers, a ruling party official claimed victory.

"There is no doubt whatsoever that we have seen results everywhere in the country so far that ZANU-PF has won," said Didymus Mutasa, a party secretary.

Zimbabweans line up near a polling station in Harare to vote in a general election on July 31, 2013 as President Robert Mugabe seeks to extend power to a potential 38 years. Zimbabweans line up near a polling station in Harare to vote in a general election on July 31, 2013 as President Robert Mugabe seeks to extend power to a potential 38 years.
Zimbabwe votes for president
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
>
>>
Photos: Zimbabwe votes Photos: Zimbabwe votes
Zimbabweans head to the polls
Bitter rivals on ballot in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe crackdown ahead of elections

Tsvangirai's party called the vote "null and void," alleging widespread fraud.

"This has been a huge farce," Tsvangirai, 61, said at a news conference in the capital, Harare. "The credibility has been marred by administrative and legal violations which affect the legitimacy of its outcome."

He said irregularities included voter intimidation, unauthorized voter migration and lack of transparency in printing ballot boxes.

But Mutasa dismissed the fraud allegations.

"That is stupidity. If all the leaders were as stupid as Tsvangirai, the world would be a very sad place to live in," he said.

Opinion: Is Zimbabwe ready for elections?

End of coalition government

The election marks an end to an uneasy coalition government between the two leaders formed after violence marred the last poll. At least 200 people were killed and thousands were injured in post-election violence in 2008.

Regional leaders dismissed that election as a sham and pressured Mugabe to form a power-sharing agreement with Tsvangirai, which led to the tense coalition in 2009.

Rights groups have accused the government of intimidating and beating up opposition supporters, and interfering with the polls in the latest election.

But Mugabe has denied the accusations and extended a conciliatory message to his main rival.

"I've got my fair share of criticisms and also dealt back rights and lefts and uppercuts. But that's the game. Although we boxed each other, with Tsvangirai, it's not as hostile as before. It's all over now. We can now shake hands," Mugabe said.

Mugabe to West: Back off

The elections were held under a new constitution endorsed in a March referendum that limits the president to two five-year terms. Mugabe is allowed to seek another term because the rule does not apply retroactively.

Last week, he had a few words for critics of the election, especially the West.

Is time up for Zimbabwe's strongman?
Zimbabwe PM: People still believe in me
Zimbabwe's challenge: Confidence
2009: Amanpour interviews Mugabe

"Keep your pink nose out of our affairs, please," he said in response to criticisms from the United States on his push for elections without key reforms.

About 6.4 million voters in Zimbabwe -- half of the country's population -- were eligible to cast their ballots, according to the electoral commission. Long lines snaked at polling stations, an indication of high voter turnout.

Zimbabwe, seeking election funding, turns to neighboring countries

'Will this be the moment?'

Citizens say this year's election is crucial in more ways than one.

Despite the setbacks, it provides another shot at democracy.

"We are still a young country ... our democracy is still young," said Nigel Mugamu, who lives in Harare. "A lot of African countries have changed leadership at least once or twice. We haven't seen a new face. From that perspective, it's an exciting time. Will this be the moment it will happen?"

Hope after hyperinflation

Mugamu said a peaceful election will boost investment, a major concern for the nation, which has tense relations with its major donors.

This is the first poll since Zimbabwe battled hyperinflation that left investors jittery and led many to abandon the country's currency.

In 2009, the nation introduced a 100 trillion-dollar bill that was worth about $300 in U.S. currency. At the time, a loaf of bread cost about 300 billion Zimbabwean dollars.

The hyperinflation forced traders to insist on international currency to hedge against losses.

Big strides

Despite widespread poverty, the nation has made major strides in its economy since then, experts say.

Since then, the nation's gross domestic product "has grown by an average of over 7% and inflation has remained in the low single digits," the International Monetary Fund said last month. "Government revenues have more than doubled from 16% of GDP in 2009 to an estimated 36% of GDP in 2012, allowing the restoration of basic public services."

And as the nation returns from the brink of a crippled economy, Zimbabweans are hopeful.

"Whoever wins, the country needs to move forward," said Linda Mukusha, a Harare resident.

Journalist Columbus Mavhunga contributed from Harare, and‎ CNN's Brian Walker from Atlanta.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT