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Vol 41 No 14

Published 7th July 2000


Zimbabwe

ZANU-PF's Pyrrhic victory

At a cost of 30 lives and the forced removal of more then 6,000 farmworkers, the ruling party has scraped home

Another eighteen months of economic stagnation and high-tension politics lie ahead after the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front squeaked to victory in the 24-25 June parliamentary elections. The Movement for Democratic Change 's winning of 57 seats against ZANU-PF 's 63 seats was impressive, given the violence and intimidation against opposition supporters, but it does not promise an early end to the power struggle. The MDC is planning to contest the results in at least 10 constituencies. Battle lines are being drawn for local elections due in August, when the MDC is again set to sweep the board in the towns and cities, and for the presidential elections due before April 2002. The MDC, just nine months old, is winning votes through courage and gusto - and most of all because it isn 't ZANU-PF. Compared to the ageing and often intemperate stalwarts of ZANU-PF, the MDC is an attractive youthful party, full of trades unionists, human rights activists and academics who have somehow managed to win some business support. It is a coalition formula that went terribly wrong with Frederick Chiluba 's Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in Zambia, but for now the MDC is ZANU-PF 's nightmare: a credible, well organised opposition party, which is capable of exploiting the ruling party 's economic mismanagement and corruption. Until the presidential polls and the exit of President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabweans can expect an extended election campaign punctuated by desperate discussions with creditors and the International Monetary Fund, as well as new battles over constitutional reform between ZANU-PF and its opponents. For now the ZANU-PF leadership and its sponsored 'war veterans ' want to maintain the occupation of white farms - both as a negotiating tool and as a political symbol. Alongside the occupations is the government 's insistence that the latest 841 designated farms be handed over for resettlement.

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