Disputed Zimbabwe Poll Backed by Zuma as West Concerned

South African President Jacob Zuma accepted the result of Zimbabwe’s disputed election, dashing opposition hopes that regional powers may force a rerun of the ballot, which was criticized by western states. Stocks tumbled by the most since 2009.

President Robert Mugabe, 89, extended his 33-year rule with 61 percent of the vote and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front secured a two-thirds parliamentary majority. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who won 34 percent, called on the African Union and the 15-nation Southern African Development Community to back his demand for a rerun.

“It’s a done deal; South Africa and SADC are not going to change their stance on the elections,” Trevor Maisiri, a researcher for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said today in an interview in Harare, the capital. “They were supposed to accompany this process and make sure the political agreement is respected, so they’ve let Zimbabwe down.”

The July 31 vote ended a power-sharing government between Mugabe and Tsvangirai after a violent 2008 election produced a disputed outcome. South Africa has mediated between the two ever since on behalf of SADC. Tsvangirai said his Movement for Democratic Change will challenge the results in court and will supply the AU and SADC with a dossier of alleged fraud committed before and during the ballot.

People’s Will

“Zuma urges all political parties in Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the elections, as election observers reported it to be an expression of the will of the people,” the South African president’s office said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

The U.S. called the vote “deeply flawed,” while the U.K. said it had “grave concerns over the conduct of the election.”

The European Union said that while voting was “generally peaceful and orderly,” it was “concerned about alleged irregularities and reports of incomplete participation, as well as the identified weaknesses in the electoral process and a lack of transparency,” according to an Aug. 3 statement.

Zimbabwe’s benchmark stock index fell 11 percent today, . That’s the biggest one-day fall since Nov. 2, 2009. Most banks in the country have stopped issuing new loans because of concern over future economic policy, two chief executive officers of lenders said, declining to be identified because they didn’t want to offend the government.

Zanu-PF illegally bussed voters to polling stations, supplied them with ballot slips, used traditional leaders to sway voting and employed Zimbabwe’s security forces to control the vote, Tsvangirai said Aug. 3. Thousands of voters were turned away because they weren’t on the electoral roll or were told to vote far from where they lived, he said.

Vote Doubles

While votes for Tsvangirai slipped from 2008 to 1.17 million, Mugabe almost doubled his total to 2.11 million. Zanu-PF achieved a similar feat in several constituencies it won back from the MDC.

The AU and SADC sent 69 and 442 observers, respectively. Speaking before the release of the final results, the head of the AU observer mission, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, said the vote should stand as “the election is free” and “fairly credible.”

SADC’s final findings that will be ready within 30 days probably won’t reverse the group’s decision to endorse the vote, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe said in an interview. While the vote was “free and peaceful,” the regional body hasn’t determined if it was fair, he said.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which had almost 10 times as many observers as the AU and SADC, said the ballot was “seriously compromised” because as many as 1 million voters in the MDC’s urban strongholds were left off the electoral roll.

‘Highly Compromised’

The “credibility, legitimacy, free and fair conduct” of the election and its “reliability as the true expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe have been highly compromised,” a body of non-governmental groups from across the SADC that sent 150 observers to mainly rural areas said Aug. 2.

Zanu-PF won 160 parliamentary seats, compared with 49 for the MDC and one for an independent candidate, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. A further 60 are reserved for women and allocated by proportional representation.

“We are now going to implement our indigenization and empowerment policy as a guideline to guide and govern for the next five years,” Defense Minister Emerson Mnangagwa said Aug. 3.

Mugabe and Zanu-PF have forced mining companies such as Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Anglo American Platinum Ltd. to cede majority stakes in their local assets to black Zimbabweans or the government. The southern African nation has the world’s second-biggest platinum and chrome reserves, as well as diamond, gold and coal deposits. Tsvangirai has promised to repeal the measure.

With the necessary two-thirds majority to amend a constitution only passed in March, Zanu-PF’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Aug. 2 said the charter “will need cleaning up.”

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