Zimbabwe opposition calls for strike after court setback

April 15th, 2008 - 1:11 am ICT by admin  

Johannesburg/Harare, April 14 (DPA) Zimbabwe’s main opposition Monday called for an indefinite nationwide strike after the high court dismissed its urgent application for an order forcing the state-controlled Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to release the results of the March 29 elections. Zimbabweans have been waiting 16 days to know the outcome of the presidential election, in which Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims to have defeated long-time President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe’s party claims neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai won outright and that a runoff will be needed to decide the winner.

MDC vice-president Thokozani Khupe made the call for Zimbabweans to as of Tuesday “stay in and speak out against the arrogance of the ZEC” at a press conference in Harare following the court ruling.

“It is (the dismissal of the court application) a way of buying time to release the results. We are calling for a stay-away nationwide from Tuesday until the results have been released,” Khupe said.

“Voting alone was not enough, people want results,” she added.

High Court Judge Tendai Uchena dismissed the urgent application brought by the MDC more than a week ago, quashing hopes of any imminent end to the tense election watch. He gave no reason for his decision.

The MDC accuses Mugabe of withholding the results to manipulate the outcome and said it will go back to court Tuesday to oppose the ZEC’s announced plans for a vote recount on April 19.

“We have been receiving information that ballot boxes are being kept by Zanu-PF and they have been stuffing some more ballots papers. The initial custody of these ballot boxes cannot be traced,” Khupe said. “Recounting will be invalidating the will of the people. Recount is totally unacceptable,” she added.

Opposition strikes have been ineffective in the past because around four out of five Zimbabweans are unemployed.

On Sunday, an emergency meeting of Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) ended with a call for the ZEC to release the results “expeditiously”.

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