Court To Rule On Zimbabwe Result
Court To Rule On Zimbabwe Result Website
A Zimbabwean High Court judge is set to rule on a petition by the opposition demanding the immediate release of the recent election results. The judge said he would first consider the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) argument that his court did not have jurisdiction in the case. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said he defeated President Robert Mugabe in the presidential election. No results have yet emerged from the 29 March presidential race. Ahead of the court ruling, Mr Mugabe called on the black population to ensure white farmers did not regain seized land, reports say. He said black Zimbabweans could not afford to "retreat in the battle for land", the Herald newspaper said. Several of Zimbabwe's few remaining white-owned farms were invaded over the weekend, farmers say, raising fears of renewed violence ahead of a possible run-off in the presidential election. While Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says he won outright, an independent monitoring group says he came first with 49% of the vote - meaning a run-off would be needed. Mr Tsvangirai says Mr Mugabe is "preparing a war on the people". The MDC leader is currently in South Africa. His spokesman said Mr Tsvangirai would be holding private meetings, and there were no plans to meet reporters. In an article published on Monday, the state-run Herald newspaper quoted Mr Mugabe as saying Zimbabwe's black population had to protect from white farmers the land for which thousands died during the independence war in the 1970s. "Land must remain in our hands. The land is ours, it must not be allowed to slip back into the hands of whites," he is quoted as saying. "We cannot afford to retreat in the battle for land." In 2000, there were 4,000 white farmers working on much of the best land in Zimbabwe. Just 300 now remain after a campaign of often violent land seizures initiated by the government's land resettlement programme. On Friday, war veterans' leader Jabulani Sibanda accused white farmers of reoccupying farms allocated to blacks, and of telling other black farmers to leave or else face the wrath of an "incoming MDC government". "Those white people trespassing on the small-scale and medium-scale farms should know that it is an invasion of our country," Mr Sibanda told reporters. "We will defend our sovereignty. We will be compelled to repel that invasion." The war veterans association was instrumental in the invasion of white-owned farms ahead of parliamentary elections in 2000. This turned many rural parts of the country into no-go areas for the opposition. A spokesman for Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party, Patrick Chinamasa, said the MDC had been "unleashing former white farmers on farms occupied by new farmers to reverse the land reform programme". But the chief of executive of the Commercial Farmers' Union, Hendrick Olivier, told the BBC that war veterans had invaded eight farms in the southern province of Masvingo since Saturday. State television said at least one farm had been seized. Mr Olivier said the invasions may have been a consequence of the statement made by Mr Sibanda and said his union had urged the authorities to stabilise the situation. High court decision On Sunday, after a hearing lasting almost four hours, High Court judge Tendai Uchena adjourned to consider whether the court has the authority to order the release of the delayed results of the presidential election. The Zanu-PF has asked the ZEC for a further delay in declaring the results because of what it called "errors and miscalculations" in their compilation. But the MDC has said the ruling party wants the delay to help Mr Mugabe find a way to cling to power. "It's ridiculous and absurd to talk of a recount before you know what the result is," Mr Tsvangirai said on Sunday. "What we know is that within 48 hours, you can ask for a recount at the voting station. In this case, the results have already been collected at all voting stations, so what kind of a recount are they talking about?" he asked. "It will not only be illegal, but it will be totally impractical to do so." The ZEC has declared the final results of the Senate election, which took place on the same day as the presidential poll. It said Zanu-PF had won 30 seats, with the combined opposition taking the same number. In the lower house, opposition parties took 109 seats, while the Zanu-PF won just 97 - the first time it has failed to win a majority since independence. Mr Mugabe came to power 28 years ago on a wave of optimism. But in recent years Zimbabwe has been plagued by the world's highest inflation, as well as acute food and fuel shortages, which correspondents say have driven many voters to back the opposition.