By Don Gwara:
A Zimbabwean politician who once served as the country’s finance minister on Thursday called for a fresh election that will reflect the “free will” of the people and rejected the results of last week’s poll that handed a landslide victory to President Robert Mugabe.
Simba Makoni, leader of the Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD) party that shared five percent of the vote, said that the July 31 general election had been fraudulent, joining with the leader of the MDC-T, Morgan Tsvangirai, who has said he will challenge the result in court.
“We reject the results announced by ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) as not free, not fair, not credible and not legitimate,” Mr Makoni told reporters.
“These results do not reflect the expression of the free will of the people of Zimbabwe,” said Mr Makoni, a former ZANU-PF politburo member who won 8 percent of the vote in the 2008 elections.
He called on the regional bodies, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU), to pressure Mr Mugabe for another election.
Both organisations sent observer missions to monitor the vote and said that they had detected irregularities that threw the fairness of the vote into question. However, both accepted the official result — giving 61 percent to Mr Mugabe’s ZANU-PF and a two-thirds majority of parliament — largely because the election was peaceful, contrary to expectations.
“We must continue to implore those leaders to remain focused on what is right and not what is easy and I sense they have taken the easy route in preference to the correct route,” Mr Makoni said.
“They may find it expedient because they are tired of Zimbabwe and we all know that. Our neighbours are tired of us. There is Zimbabwe fatigue around the region. They may be reading that accepting this result means Zimbabwe is stable and peaceful, but I think it is a risky conclusion.”
Mr Makoni supported the presidential bid of Morgan Tsvangirai, whose party drew 34 percent of the vote.
He said he will now work with other political parties “to establish national and regional consensus on the need for fresh elections conducted under conditions that guarantee the exercise of the free will of the sovereign people of Zimbabwe”.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the body in charge of the electoral process, on Thursday said that 305,000 voters were turned away on voting day, while 205,000 were “assisted” in casting their vote. A total of 3.5 million people voted.
Mr Makoni cited the “assisted” voting figures as evidence of intimidation, saying “there were widespread reports of voters seeking assistance either on account illiteracy or poor sight”.
“Given the high level of literacy in Zimbabwe and the low level of assisted voters in 2008 (elections) it is disingenuous to suggest that Zimbabweans are less literate in 2013 than they were in 2008,” he said.
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