Mugabe "in shock" over scope of loss

The results of the election in Zimbabwe shocked dictator Robert Mugabe so badly that he opted not to declare outright victory for fear of a rebellion.  Instead, his aides have convinced Mugabe to slowly roll out rigged numbers that appear at first to favor the opposition MDC but that later put Mugabe’s ZanuPF in control.  However, the MDC has already collected evidence for that event:

A crisis meeting of Robert Mugabe’s security cabinet decided to block the opposition from taking power after what appears to have been a comprehensive victory in Zimbabwe’s elections but was divided between using a military takeover to annul the vote and falsifying the results.

Diplomatic and Zimbabwean sources who heard first-hand accounts of the Joint Operations Command meeting of senior military and intelligence officers and top party officials on Sunday night said Mugabe favoured immediately declaring himself president again but was persuaded to use the country’s electoral commission to keep the opposition from power. ….

If the government does attempt to fix the result it will not go unchallenged. The election commission will have to substantially alter a large number of polling booth returns in order to overturn Tsvangirai’s significant lead. But the MDC has photographed results declarations pinned to the doors of more than 8,000 polling stations. If the numbers announced by the election commission are different, the party says it will have indisputable evidence of fraud.

“Unlike previous elections no one can privatise the result as it is posted outside the stations,” said the MDC’s secretary general, Tendai Biti. “This country stands on a precipice. We still express our great misgivings about [the election commission’s] failure to announce the results. It raises tension among the people that is fertilising an atmosphere of suspicion.”

The MDC saw one election disappear into the corruption of the Mugabe government in 2005.  This time, they took no chances with his election commission.  The photographs of the ballot-station declarations will provide plenty of embarrassment for Mugabe when his numbers bear no relation to the local counts, and the anger over vote rigging will erupt in demonstrations — and probably worse.

Will the military remain with Mugabe?  The MDC has tried reaching out to senior commanders, including a well-respected former army chief who is currently out of favor with Mugabe’s clique.  They hope that Solomon Mujuru can convince current military leadership to either back the actual results of the election, or at least not interfere on Mugabe’s behalf with an MDC seizure of power.

The international community needs to increase its pressure on the situation as well.  The West has no influence with Mugabe, but it does on his African associates.   South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki has  been one of Mugabes’ closest allies, to the shame of Mbeki’s own nation.  Britain and the US should make clear to Mbeki his responsibility in convincing Mugabe to abide by the actual will of his people and depart forthwith.