Zimbabwe, 2018

The Zimbabwe election results were finally announced. Presumably to the surprise of few, the incumbent President Mnangagwa of ZANU-PF has “won” and the party will have a two-thirds majority of the assembly (elected by FPTP and with high malapportionment).

Amazingly, Mnangagwa won just enough to not require a runoff! Yes, I am being cynical.

The official results apparently show ZANU-PF getting more votes for assembly than for presidency. That would be unusual for a major party in a presidential system, but here’s assuming that the gap was even greater than officially reported. Either that, or the assembly election was even more rigged than the presidential.

Also unusual–and for me a strong indicator that things were being cooked–is that the assembly result was released days before the presidential. I do not have actual records on these things, but I believe such a sequence is highly unusual. Usually they either come out together, or the presidential result gets announced first.

Another indicator of fraud is that the reported turnout went down between an earlier announcement and the final one. It is not hard to imagine that sufficient opposition votes were discarded to ensure Mnangagwa had over 50%.

Not much more to say, really. But if you want to have your say, here’s the space.

I highly recommend this post at On Elections:

Zimbabwe: another doubtful and deadly election result

Zimbabwe elections

Zimbabwe holds its legislative and first-round presidential elections today. The election is almost certainly rigged. If the documents obtained by the Mail (see story, 31 July) are authentic, dictator Robert Mugabe’s strategy this time has been to make it difficult for Movement for Democratic Change voters to cast ballots in the first place, while padding his own ZANU-PF party’s rolls with dead and exiled “voters”. This strategy is contrast to 2008, when MDC leader Morgan Tsvangarai may actually have trounced Mugabe, but the response from the latter was to unleash the goons. While Mugabe conceded he had not won in the first round, Tsvangarai withdrew from the runoff, citing the violence against his party members.

Still, surprises can occur. Moreover, if the documents the Mail received are genuine, the fact that someone leaked them might imply high-level dissent with the attempt to prolong the age-89 dictator’s rule.

Mugabe and Tsvangarai have been in a mostly dysfunctional “unity” government arrangement since shortly after the 2008 disputed elections.

PR in Zimbabwe?

According to the Zimbabwe Independent:

AMENDMENTS to the Electoral Act by President Robert Mugabe using Statutory Instrument 85 of 2013 shows the party-list system of proportional representation will be used in allocation of seats in the senate, national assembly and provincial councils…

Mugabe invoked the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act to make sweeping changes to the Electoral Act two weeks ago despite that parliament was still sitting.

The article goes on to explain the system, though not necessarily clearly. It seems that the FPTP system remains the basis of the upcoming elections, and that the list seats are additional. They might only be newly reserved seats for women, but I don’t find the article clear on these points.

Zimbabwe ‘unity’

Update: Robert Elgie has analyzed (and linked to) the text of the amendment referred to below, and concluded “Neither the Cabinet nor the Council of Ministers is responsible to the legislature. So, constitutionally, Zimbabwe remains a presidential system.

Now that the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangarai (Movement for Democratic Change) has been sworn in to the newly created post of prime minister, alongside the president, Robert Mugabe (Zanu-PF), a key question is what the constitutional status of the PM is.

The Zimbabwean
has some information on the agreements reached in January, (citing an MDC source):

The parties shall endeavour to cause Parliament to pass the Constitutional Amendment 19 by 5 February 2009.
The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Ministers shall be sworn in by 11 February 2009:
The Ministers and Deputy Ministers shall be sworn in on 13 February 2009, which will conclude the process of the formation of the inclusive government.
The Joint-Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), provided for in the Global Political Agreement, shall be activated immediately. The first meeting of JOMIC shall be convened by the facilitator on 30 January 2009 and shall, among other things, elect the chairpersons;
The allocation of ministerial portfolios endorsed by the SADC Extraordinary Summit held on 9 November 2008 shall be reviewed six (6) months after the inauguration of the inclusive government.

There is much more, but the really crucial constitutional question is what is in the detailed provisions of Amendment 19 (which was actually not passed till after the PM was sworn in). Does it give the parliamentary majority (held by the opposition to Mugabe) the exclusive authority to remove the prime minister and cabinet? Or is the prime minister subject also to the “confidence” of the president? If the answer is the former, the system is premier-presidential. If the latter, president-parliamentary. This is about more than nomenclature; it is about whether the president could unilaterally dismiss the the prime minister.

On these points, the provisions are unclear to me. However, one noteworthy clause of the amendment reportedly

makes it clear that when a person (usually the President) must act “in consultation with” another (usually the Prime Minister) it means with the agreement of the person to be consulted.


The Council of Ministers is meant to ensure the Prime Minister controls government policy work.

(Source for these last two quotes is a different article in The Zimbabwean.)

But if there is no provision for parliamentary confidence, it is not semi-presidential, and if there is no provision for exclusive parliamentary confidence, the president remains in the constitutional driver’s seat.

Zimbabwe: Boycott of second round

The Zimbabwean opposition has announced it will not take part in a presidential runoff, assuming there is one.

This is hardly a surprise, given (relatively) independent claims that the opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangarai, actually won outright in the first round. Even if, as other independent sources suggest, Tsvangarai came up just short of 50%, it is difficult to plan for a runoff when the electoral commission has not even released “cooked” results of the first round (on 29 March).

Smart move? Dumb move? We do not talk much about election boycotts here at F&V.