ZIMBABWE
Parliamentary Chamber: Parliament

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2000

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Chamber:
  Parliament


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  24 June 2000
25 June 2000


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the popularly chosen seats in Parliament two months after the normal expiry of the members' term of office


Background and outcome of elections:

  The strong challenge posed to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which was formed in September 1999 made the 24-25 June 2000 parliamentary elections the most closely contested since independence from Britain since 1980. Although Zimbabwe has never been a one-party State, the ZANU-PF has ruled the country since 1980.

In February 2000, the ZANU-PF had suffered the first defeat in the country's history, in a constitutional referendum in which the government polled 45 per cent of the votes as against 55 per cent for the opposition. The opposition rejected the draft Constitution which would have increased President Robert Mugabe's executive powers, allowing him to dissolve Cabinet and Parliament and rule by decree.

In political violence during the period between the constitutional referendum and the general elections, 30 lives were lost (including those of many opposition activists). Over 100 were injured, and at least 6500 were displaced and substantial damage was caused to property.

On 16 May, President Mugabe announced the date of the elections, dismissing speculation that he might cancel the polls (initially scheduled for April). This slight postponement was intended to allow sufficient time for adequate preparation.

The electoral campaign was launched on 7 April, a day after the outgoing Parliament, dominated by the ZANU-PF, approved a bill empowering the government to seize hundreds of white-owned farms without paying compensation. Under its land reform programme, the Government wanted white farmers - who owned more than 70 per cent of the country's arable land - to give up half of their land holdings for redistribution to landless peasants. Opponents of the President accused him of using the land issue to secure support among the rural poor, straining race relations and plunging Zimbabwe into a crisis.

The electoral campaign focused on political violence: the MDC complained that it could campaign safely only in 25 out of 120 constituencies. Another main subject of the campaign was the disastrous economic situation, including a dire shortage of foreign exchange and extremely high inflation.

Many international observers were denied accreditation to monitor the elections. An American observer group was pulled out of Zimbabwe after describing the election as the worst it had ever seen. UN observers also withdrew from the country.

Unlike past parliamentary elections which had been characterised by voter apathy, more than five million people registered to vote and a total of 566 candidates stood for the election, the first in which the ruling ZANU-PF party was opposed in all 120 constituencies.

Despite months of fierce pre-election violence, on the day of the elections, Zimbabweans voted peacefully, but the head of the European Union observers described the contest as seriously flawed.

Results showed that the ZANU-PF had gained a narrow victory while suffering serious losses. It won 62 of the 120 directly elected seats, while the MDC won 57. The remaining seat went to an independent candidate. Under the Constitution, President Mugabe can appoint 20 members of the 150-member parliament and 10 more MPs are elected by traditional chiefs.

Nearly a month after the elections, on 18 July 2000, the newly elected members of Parliament were sworn in. They elected as Speaker, by secret ballot, the former Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, the government's candidate for the post.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (24 June 2000): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 5 049 815
Voters 2 490 556 (49 %)

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
ZANU-PF 62
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) 57
Independents 1

Comments:
  The other 30 seats: 20 appointed by the Head of State and 10 traditional chiefs

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 136
Women: 14
Percent of women: 9.33 %


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Copyright 2000 Inter-Parliamentary Union