Pretoria, August 4, 2013— South African President Jacob Zuma congratulated Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe on his re-election, urging opposition groups Sunday to accept the results of “the successful harmonised elections.”
Zuma’s stance appears to be at odds with the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, all of whom have called into question Wednesday’s presidential and primary polls.
Zimbabwe’s election commission said 89-year-old Mugabe won 61% of the vote, besting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s 34%, to lead the nation for another five years. Mugabe has been the only leader an independent Zimbabwe has ever known.
Tsvangirai, 61, called the balloting “a fraudulent and a stolen election” — and said he plans to mount a court challenge.
Will of the people?
In his statement Sunday, Zuma said all parties should accept the election’s results because “election observers reported it to be an expression of the will of the people.”
Election observers and foreign officials raised doubts Saturday about the way the election was conducted, though some of them noted it was peaceful — in contrast to the last election, in 2008, where post-vote violence left at last 200 people dead and thousands injured.
There are an estimated 3 million Zimbabwean refugees who fled to neighbouring South Africa at the height on the economic and political meltdown in 2008.
Zuma took over from his predecessor Thabo Mbeki as SADC mediator to solve the Zimbabwean political impasse which led to the formation of the government of national unity in 2009 between Zanu (PF) and Tsvangirai’s MDC.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a statement Saturday, criticized “the culmination of a deeply flawed process.”
“In light of substantial irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe the results announced today represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” Kerry said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, meanwhile, commended the peaceful nature of the vote, but expressed concern over how it was conducted.
The reported irregularities “call into serious question the credibility of the election,” Hague said.
On Sunday, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr called for a do-over.
“These appear to have disenfranchised large numbers of voters and raised doubts about the credibility of the election results,” he said in a statement.
“Given our doubts about the results, Australia calls for a re-run of the elections based on a verified and agreed voters roll.”
With his controversial win, Mugabe is set to see his time in power extended to 38 years.
(Source: CNN, Harare, Zimbabwe)