News / Africa

    Zimbabwe Riot Police Deploy on Eve of Tight Election

    A Zimbabwean opposition party Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) supporter holds a party newsletter at an election rally, about 90 km (56 miles) east of the capital Harare, July 23, 2013.
    A Zimbabwean opposition party Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) supporter holds a party newsletter at an election rally, about 90 km (56 miles) east of the capital Harare, July 23, 2013.
    Reuters
    Heavily armed riot police deployed in potential election flashpoints in Zimbabwe on Tuesday on the eve of a poll showdown between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that remains too close to call.
     
    State radio said thousands of officers had been sent to the central Midlands province, while trucks of police carrying automatic rifles and grenade launchers patrolled in the restive Harare townships of Highfield and Mbare.
     
    The run-down districts of the capital are hotbeds of support for Tsvangirai and were at the center of several weeks of post-election violence in 2008, in which 200 people linked to his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were killed.
     
    Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe (at L) and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (at R). Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 31.Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe (at L) and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (at R). Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 31.
    x
    Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe (at L) and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (at R). Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 31.
    Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe (at L) and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (at R). Zimbabwe will hold general elections on July 31.
    This year's presidential and parliamentary race brings the curtain down on four years of fractious unity government. It has been marked by allegations of threats and intimidation by security forces but there have been no reports of violence.
     
    With no reliable opinion polls, it is hard to tell whether 61-year-old Tsvangirai will succeed in his third attempt to unseat his 89-year-old rival, who has run the southern African nation since independence from Britain in 1980.
     
    Both the MDC and Mugabe's ZANU-PF party predict landslide victories. However, it is possible neither leading candidate will emerge an outright winner, triggering a Sept. 11 run-off. That is a nightmare scenario for many of Zimbabwe's 13 million people who remember the 2008 violence.
     
    Western election observers have been barred, leaving the task of independent oversight to 500 regional and 7,000 domestic monitors. The final results must be released within five days but may come sooner.
     
    In an editorial in the domestic News Day newspaper and the Washington Post, Tsvangirai urged African monitors not to give the vote a seal of approval merely because they do not witness any bloodshed.
     
    “Mugabe is the world's oldest leader and one of its longest-ruling dictators. He is fixing this election in a more sophisticated fashion than previous ZANU-PF campaigns of beatings, killings and intimidation,” the prime minister wrote.
     
    “Mugabe's election-stealing antics have been documented throughout Zimbabwe and beyond. Yet the international community seems apathetic; perhaps Mugabe has been stealing elections for so long the world just rolls its eyes and moves on.”
     
    Rallying supporters he calls “soldiers,” Mugabe has termed the election a “do or die” contest, suggesting he recognizes that his historical legacy is at stake.
     
    Protracted crisis 'likely'
     
    Given irregularities and problems that have dogged the election process so far, including failure to publish an updated voters' roll, the result is highly likely to be contested, raising the prospect of another long political stalemate.
     
    In 2008, South Africa and other countries in the region brokered a unity government between Mugabe and Tsvangirai to break a deadlock caused by the MDC's withdrawal from a second-round runoff because of the violence and killings.
     
    “A return to protracted political crisis, and possibly extensive violence, is likely,” the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based political risk think-tank, said in a report issued on Monday entitled “Mugabe's Last Stand”.
     
    It also criticized the chaotic organization of the election.
     
    Around a third of 63,000 police officers and civil servants allowed to vote two weeks early were unable to cast their ballots because voting materials did not turn up on time.
     
    The existing list of the 6.3 million registered voters has also attracted criticism from the MDC and analysts.
     
    In a study comparing the list to a 2012 census, the Research and Advocacy Group, a non-governmental organization, said young people - the main support base for Tsvangirai - were under-represented, while old people - more likely to be ZANU-PF supporters - were curiously numerous on the roll.
     
    In particular, it cited the presence of more than 116,000 people aged over 100 and said that in almost a third of constituencies there were more registered voters than residents.
     
    The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has rejected charges the voters' register is a shambles and has accused critics of seeking to discredit the election out of political interests.
     
    But the alleged irregularities, combined with openly partisan security forces and biased state media clearly backing Mugabe's ZANU-PF, have intensified doubts in Western capitals about declaring the elections free and far.
     
    That verdict is crucial to the lifting of Western sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle, a move that would allow Harare to normalize relations with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and access the huge amounts of investment needed to rebuild its dilapidated economy.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora