Mugabe's so-called victory does not stand scrutiny

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The Independent Online

Robert Mugabe may well claim his Zanu-PF party has romped home in Zimbabwe's general election, but outside the African continent the results have rightly been greeted with scepticism and derision. It is beyond suspicious that after so spectacularly mismanaging his country's affairs, Mugabe has been handed a bigger mandate than ever by Zimbabwe's electors. Conveniently, Zanu-PF now has a two-thirds majority in parliament that will enable the president to engineer the constitutional changes he has long sought, designed to keep his chosen successors in power for the foreseeable future.

The flaws in this election were flagrant. They entailed the inclusion of tens of thousands of "ghost voters" on the rolls, the intimidating presence of police and soldiers in polling stations, the banning of unbiased observers and the use of food aid as a bribe and threat to voters - an especially cruel trick in a country facing widespread starvation.

Morgan Tsvangirai's demoralised opposition appears in no mood to confront the security apparatus and take to the streets, so Zimbabwe is unlikely to see any repeat of the scenes in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. The outlook is, in short, fairly hopeless as Mugabe and his cronies strip their country bare. We must continue to protest against this regime and to deny its so-called elections any legitimacy.