Election: Initial Thoughts
Although final official results have yet to be announced, it is all but certain that President Robert Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) have taken a landslide victory in Zimbabwe's presidential and parliamentary election held on July 31. The m ain opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party has dismissed the poll as a sham due to alleged large-scale rigging of the process.
The MDC-T cited the unavailability of the electoral roll until the day before the poll; the production of eight million ballot papers when there were only six million voters; the turning away of many voters ; voters casting ballots in constituencies where they were not registered; and the fact that large numbers of voters were 'assisted' in the voting booth as major flaws which meant that the process did not reflect the will of the people. Although observation missions from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have stated that the election was not perfect and that they shared some of the concerns of the MDC, the bodies' overall assessment appears to be that these issues did n ot alter the outcome. The observers have not released a final report , but it appears likely that they will give the election a clean bill of health. Below we highlight our initial thoughts on the likely implications of the election result for Zimbabwe's political and economic future.
Contestation Will Not Be Successful: The MDC-T has said that it plans to contest the election in the courts. However, there is little chanc e that this will be successful. For one thing, the MDC-T's allegations are likely to be diff icult to prove in court and they will not find much sympathy from Constitutional Court judges who were appointed by , and remain aligned to , Mugabe. Furthermore, endorsement of the elections by the AU and SADC will take the sting out of the MDC-T's rigging claims.