Harare – President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party has sealed its victory in polls for Zimbabwe’s new Senate, winning at least 21 out of 31 seats up for grabs in elections marked by apathy and a split opposition, results said on Monday.
ZANU PF was guaranteed a f
urther 35 of the 66 seats on the new Senate thanks to an opposition boycott in many constituencies and electoral laws that reserve seats for Mugabe loyalists such as tribal chiefs.
Official figures from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on Monday showed ZANU PF winning 21 seats out of the 27 counted so far after Saturday’s election.
Results from the four remaining constituencies were expected later on Monday.
The election was hit by voter apathy, with observers saying turn-out could end up at about 15 percent of the 3.2 million registered voters in Zimbabwe, which is struggling through its fifth year of political and economic crisis.
A faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which split into two rival camps over a call to boycott the Senate elections, won at least six seats.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who had called for a vote boycott to protest at what he said was a deeply flawed electoral process, said on Sunday that most voters had vindicated his position by staying away from the polls.
ZANU PF used its parliamentary majority this year to push through creation of the new Senate, which will have the power to approve or reject laws passed by the lower house and which critics say will entrench Mugabe’s hold over the country.
Meanwhile, the MDC has suspended Tsvangirai pending a disciplinary hearing on misconduct charges, Zimbabwean newspapers reported. In a letter dated November 24, MDC Vice President Gibson Sibanda accused Tsvangirai of violating the party’s constitution by, among other things, calling for a poll boycott. But Tsvangirai dismissed the suspension, saying only the party’s congress has the power to suspend him . – Reuters/staff writer