Zimbabwe’s opposition leader has accused the ruling party of trying to steal Thursday’s parliamentary elections. Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change, said “disgusting, massive fraud” had been committed and that Zimbabweans should “defend their vote.”
His remarks echo that of Pius Ncube, the Catholic archbishop who has called for uprisings similar to those seen in Ukraine. Ncube has been the most remarkable defender of freedom in this wretched country, and is the non-political champion of protest.
So far the opposition has won 31 of the 39 seats to be counted, but all of those were in urban areas. Of a total of 120 contested seats, the many rural constituencies where independent verification of voting is impossible will favor the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) party. And with stories flooding in of dead people on the roll and over 10 percent of MDC voters being turned away in some places for not being on the register, it looks as though the lack of violence has not stopped mass rigging from taking place.
ZANU PF agents are acting in defiance of the country’s electoral law and every norm of free and democratic elections. The opposition MDC’s election agents have been illegally detained at numerous polling stations in order to prevent them from communicating exit-poll results that presiding officers should have communicated, but didn’t, immediately on the completion of the count.
ZANU PF has not only committed a massive fraud; they have also violated in most blatant fashion the electoral laws they themselves crafted. And as legal means to change the government are failing, it is interesting to see clear signs of a mobilization of the people–as called for by Pius Ncube.
Despite the massive police presence across the country–and in full knowledge that the army is being held on high alert to put down any popular uprising–the call has gone out for people to take to the streets in protest against yet another rigged election.
Can the people of Zimbabwe emulate those of Ukraine? If they do, and are beaten back by Mugabe’s army, will anyone act? Will the good words of Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice be backed up by action, such as the removal of all aid to the region if its leaders condone the election, and immediate pressure on U.N. Security Council for a resolution to intervene militarily to prevent possible political slaughter by the army?
–Roger Bate is a resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute.