Robert Mugabe appears to have suffered a landslide loss in Zimbabwe, but that may not stop him from seizing his opponents and keeping his grip on power. While the opposition MDC celebrated sweeping victories all across the starving nation, Mugabe warned that any declarations of victory amounted to a “coup”. His security services would react swiftly to any such action, Mugabe promised:

Zimbabwe’s main opposition party has claimed an overwhelming victory in the country’s general election, prompting a warning from President Robert Mugabe’s camp that the early declaration amounted to an attempted coup.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) defied a ban on pre-empting poll results to say it had secured nearly all parliamentary seats in the two biggest cities, and was the certain winner of the election. …

George Charamba, Mr Mugabe’s spokesman, said the party would treat any announcement by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai that he was now the rightful president as tantamount to a coup.

“He (Mr Tsvangirai) announces results, declares himself and the MDC winner and then what? Declare himself president of Zimbabwe? It is called a coup d’etat and we all know how coups are handled,” he said.

We know how elections get handled in Zimbabwe. Regardless of actual outcome, Mugabe wins. The MDC waited for Mugabe’s government to announce the results the last time elections were held and watched as Mugabe stole them. This time, they vowed not to let Mugabe do it to them again. They announced the results themselves in an attempt to force Mugabe to explain disparities from the first moment.

Mugabe had other methods in place as well. Government forces turned away large numbers of people from the polls, claiming identification mismatches as a means to depress turnout. It didn’t work; Zimbabweans swarmed to the voting booth, enraged by 150,000% inflation and the utter collapse of their once-vibrant agricultural sector. Even his own home village of Zvimba has had enough of Mugabe, now that the economic crisis has hit there and the freebies have stopped arriving.

Mugabe will likely attempt to use his security forces to block the MDC from taking their seats in Parliament and ending his presidency. They may follow his lead, but even his goons have to see the writing on the wall. The longer they prop Mugabe in power, the more of them will go up against the wall when he dies or the Zimbabwean people rip him from office. This result shows that the nation has enough anger and frustration to start a massive, grass-roots uprising if they see another election get stolen — and maybe Mugabe’s friends would do best to start considering a golden parachute now rather than later.