Mugabe's solo victory gives democracy a hollow ring
Monday 18 March 1996
Harare - Apathy and Robert Mugabe appeared to be the winners yesterday in a presidential election plagued by confusion and claims of corruption.
President Mugabe was struggling to attract a voter mandate to counter complaints that he has turned a once-promising democracy into a dictatorship. But he was none the less poised to extend his 16-year rule for another six-year term after his two challengers pulled out at the last minute. Election officials said 1.2 million voters - about 25 per cent of the electorate - cast their ballots by 1pm on the second and last day of polling. A final tally was not available when polling stations closed, but officials said voting generally appeared lighter than on Saturday. The rate of polling yesterday was likely to give an overall vote of about 30 per cent, the lowest since independence in 1980.
It would be the first time since the end of white rule that turn-out dipped below 50 per cent. In the early years of black rule, it was common for 80 per cent of voters to go to the polls, and in the last presidential vote, in 1990, more than half the 4.9 million voters went.
This year, Zimbabweans seemed to feel there was no reason to go through the charade of voting when Mr Mugabe had no challengers.
Even before Bishop Abel Muzorewa and the Rev Ndabaningi Sithole announced their withdrawals, the opposition's lack of organisation and resources and the ruling party's hold on government funds and the media made it difficult for voters to see any alternative to Mr Mugabe.
Earlier yesterday, his ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party urged supporters to go to the polls.
Election officials said Bishop Muzorewa and Mr Sithole raised concerns too late to have their names taken off ballots, but both distanced themselves from a contest they said was corrupt and called on their supporters not to vote.
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
- 5 SAG Awards: Fake applause track interrupts Reese Witherspoon
Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
Asteroid narrowly scrapes past Earth: how to watch the closest space rock for decades as it flies by
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...
£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...
£15000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading supplie...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is proud to b...