PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is likely to be forced into a second round of voting after next monthâ€™s elections due to the dynamic challenge he is facing from former Finance Minister Simba Makoni.
This could result in an eventual defeat of Mugabe if he fails to win 51% of the vote in the first round â€” which is needed for him to be declared outright winner â€” during the election on March 29. In terms of the Electoral Act, where two or more candidates for president are nominated and no outright winner emerges after the poll, a second round follows within 21 days.
If the final two candidates are split evenly following the vote, parliament has to sit as an electoral college to choose the winner.
It is generally held Mugabe is unlikely to win 51% of the vote, a situation that would force him to enter into a risky run-off with either Makoni or MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
If Mugabe were to be forced into a run-off, it would almost certainly give his rival â€” either Makoni or Tsvangirai â€” unstoppable momentum.
The law was amended in 2005 in the hope Mugabe would retire at the end of his current term in March and the new provision would thus not apply to him.
Previously, a candidate could become president without getting a clear majority in the election.
In neighbouring Zambia, President Levy Mwanawasa was re-elected with 27% of the vote. The remainder was shared among other candidates.
In Kenya former President Daniel Arap Moi defeated the fragmented opposition by getting more votes than they won individually, although together they won a majority of the popular vote. â€” Staff Writer.