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Mugabe's ZANU-PF Launches Zimbabwe Runoff Campaign


Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, which was outpolled by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the March 29 elections, has begun campaigning for the runoff presidential election it hopes to win. As Peta Thornycroft reports from Harare, ZANU-PF says many people did not vote for the 84-year-old Mugabe in the first round, because they believed there was no threat to him.

ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since 1980 in the recent elections. Its information spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira said that many members were complacent and believed both ZANU-PF and presidential candidate Robert Mugabe would win, as in the past.

Both were defeated. Mugabe was outpolled by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai but Tsvangirai failed to win more than 50 percent so there will be a second round of voting.

ZANU-PF has formed a runoff campaign team, made up of legislators who have to go back to their constituencies and persuade voters to support Mugabe in the runoff.

ZANU-PF also has the support of the Zimbabwe Election Commission which mysteriously delayed results of all four elections, particularly the presidential poll for five weeks. The results of local government elections have still not been published and the MDC councilors are not allowed to take up their positions in the various cities where they won.

The country's electoral law requires the presidential runoff to take place by May 23, but ZANU-PF has made it clear it wants a delay, and the Commission has indicated to some media there will be one.

ZANU-PF is blaming the MDC for post election violence spreading through many parts of the country.

Many polling agents, teachers who were seconded as election presiding officers, and independent observers are being beaten and arrested throughout the country according to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

The MDC says more than 50 of its supporters were arrested in Bulawayo Tuesday. Some members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise have also been arrested in the same city. Hundreds of MDC supporters, office staff and activists were arrested over the last two weeks.

Several journalists were questioned by police Monday.

Independent doctors and researches say the injured in hospitals claim they were attacked by uniformed members of Zimbabwe's security services who punished them for voting for the MDC.

MDC supporters in many parts of the country, including those in hospital who say they have been beaten for their political views, have told journalists that they will turn out again and vote for Morgan Tsvangirai in the runoff no matter how bad the violence gets.

Former information minister and now independent parliamentarian, Jonathan Moyo said negotiations for either a government of national unity or a transitional authority have collapsed. He said this means there is no alternative to a runoff election which he predicted Tsvangirai would easily win, regardless of the violence.

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