Zimbabwe : Massive wins for opposition in Bulawayo

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Morgan Tsvandirai MDC has sweeped all seats in Bulawayo, the second largest city according to early election returns.

from our correspondent in Harare

Only David Coltart (former Bulawayo South MP) of the othere MDC faction appeared set to be returned to parliament as a senator for Khumalo, with most heavyweights such as Professor Welshman Ncube and Gibson Sibanda down.

Counting in the 12 Bulawayo parliamentary constituencies and six senate seats was concluded by breakfast Sunday.

The MDC-Mutambara’s losses, however, appeared to be mitigated by projected wins in rural Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South – notably Tsholotsho North, Bulima, Gwanda North, Gwanda Central and Binga.

But Ncube and Sibanda’s loss will devastate the camp in a shock turn-around from what was generally predicted before voting began Saturday.

Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC declared victory in the early hours of Sunday in a national ballot which saw Zimbabweans queue to cast their ballots in local government, senatorial, parliamentary and presidential elections.

“It’s a historic moment for all of us. We have won this election, we have
won this election,” Tendai Biti, secretary general of the main opposition
Movemement for Democratic Change (MDC), told reporters, diplomats and observers at a briefing.

Officials results are expected through-out the day Sunday.

A senior official in the Mutambara faction, conceding defeat, said: “We have been wiped out. We are all speechless, stunned.”

The MDC split into two factions in October 2005, with Ncube and Sibanda
leading a break-away which took half the MDC’s parliamentary party. Efforts to unite the two factions have failed.

Ncube, in particular, staked his political career on this election by moving
from his previous constituency, Bulawayo North, to challenge Khupe in
Makokoba. Khupe is Tsvangirai’s deputy.

The opposition has accused Mugabe of employing election-rigging tactics to stay in power despite Zimbabwe’s economic woes and African observers say they detected fraud in Saturday’s ballot.

Biti said his party’s election agents had reported that early results posted at polling stations showed MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was projected to win 66 percent of the vote in the capital Harare, an opposition stronghold.

He said Tsvangirai had made significant inroads in Mugabe’s rural strongholds by leading in the southern province of Masvingo and Mashonaland Central Province, north of Harare, where the MDC has not won a parliamentary seat since 2000.

Tsvangirai’s winning trend had also extended to Mugabe’s home province of Mashonaland West, where the MDC had taken a rural parliamentary seat, said Biti.

But Makoni was leading in Zimbabwe’s southwestern Matabeleland South Province with 45 percent of the vote.

“This is just a sample of what we are getting from every province. In our
view we cannot possibly see a (reverse) of this trend,” said Biti.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it would start to announce official results later on Sunday.

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