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Mugabe Announces Date for Zimbabwe Senate Elections

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has set a date for elections to the newly reintroduced senate.

Zimbabweans will go to their second national poll this year on November 26 according to the state controlled daily newspaper, The Herald. In March the ruling Zanu-PF party won the disputed parliamentary elections.

At stake this time are 50 senatorial seats. The second chamber, which was abolished more than 10 years ago, was reintroduced last month after a constitutional amendment. In addition to the contested seats, traditional chiefs, most of whom support the ruling party will get 10 seats. Mr. Mugabe will appoint a further six senators.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC has not yet decided on whether to participate in the election. The MDC opposed the reintroduction of the senate but the ruling party which enjoys a two-thirds majority in parliament pushed the amendment through.

Media reports suggest a division within the MDC over whether or not to take part in the upcoming poll. Those opposed to participation say the party should not legitimize Mr. Mugabe's regime by taking part in flawed elections. They point to the party's experience in the three national elections it has contested since 2000. Those elections were characterized by allegations of vote rigging and violence by the ruling party.

Some analysts say the opposition party's indecisiveness cost it in the March elections. The MDC lost 16 of the 57 seats it won in 2000.