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Saturday's Zimbabwe Senate Elections Attract Little Enthusiasm

There is little enthusiasm for Senate elections in Zimbabwe Saturday. Analysts say either voter apathy or a boycott campaign by one faction of the main opposition may be to blame.

There are no election posters in the capital, Harare, for either the ruling ZANU-PF's candidates or those standing for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Some political analysts blame the lack of campaigning on a faction of the opposition party that says voting in this election is pointless.

Tendai Biti, is a founder member of the MDC, and a member of parliament. He has actively campaigned for a boycott of the election.

"The constitutional, legal, political, social framework militates against a free and fair election in Zimbabwe,” explained Mr. Biti. “It is impossible to have a free and fair election in Zimbabwe, and it is about time we stood up against a system of a predetermined result. ZANU-PF needs this election. ZANU-PF needed to thump the MDC, and say to the international community, your opposition is finished."

Mr. Biti said that after election day, the MDC would have to find out whether it still exists as a political party and will have to rebuild its structures.

"We have to provide the leadership that is required, that we have not been able to provide for one reason or another, and Zimbabweans themselves have to accept they are their only liberators. We have to go the confrontational route," he added.

However, Mr. Biti said he did not support violence as a means of defeating the ZANU-PF.

Political analysts say that the MDC, which came close to defeating President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF when it fought its first election in 2000, is splintering over long-standing disagreements, which came to a head over voting in the election for a new Senate body.

Trudy Stevenson, like Mr Biti, is a founding MDC member and an elected legislator, and is working hard supporting candidates in Harare who will stand for election to the Senate on Saturday.

"As a party, we voted to participate in this election. I am doing my duty, in so far as I can to support the resolution. The party was formed precisely to contest power through democratic elections," said Ms. Stevenson.

Ms. Stevenson said the MDC has to defend the seats it won in two parliamentary elections. The pro-participation faction of the MDC is only contesting 26 out of 50 elected senate seats.

Mr. Mugabe can appoint six additional senators and 10 traditional chiefs, giving the ruling ZANU-PF an automatic majority, regardless of the outcome of Saturday's poll.

The senate was created by a controversial amendment to Zimbabwe's constitution in March.