Zimbabwe election recount gives 1 seat to Mugabe's party

The first results from Zimbabwe's election recount gave a disputed parliamentary seat to President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

The first results from Zimbabwe's election recount gave a disputed parliamentary seat to President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

A recount of 23 parliamentary ridings started on the weekend, weeks after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party was declared the winner. It was the first time in Mugabe's 28-year rule that his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party lost power.

President Robert Mugabe has been in power for 28 years.

The recount in Goromonzi concluded Tuesday with just a one-vote difference from the original count from the poll that gave the seat to Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, the state-run Herald newspaper said. Officials found no errors in the vote for the upper house, or Senate.

Results from the country's presidential vote, which also took place on Mar. 29, have yet to be released. The opposition says its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, won that vote.

Opposition leaders have dismissed the parliamentary recount as a blatant attempt by the ruling party to hold on to power and called for an immediate release of the presidential results.

Call for unity government

Also Wednesday, an opinion column in the state-run Herald newspaper called on regional leaders to negotiate a unity government to deal with Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says his party won the parliamentary vote. ((Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press))

Written by ZANU-PF supporter Dr. Obediah Mazombwe, the column says regional leaders, along with "the progressive international community," could bring together key players: Mugabe's party, the opposition, former colonial ruler Britain and the United States.

"The situation in Zimbabwe is dire, but all is not lost. Whilst the ruling party must stop behaving like a wounded buffalo, the opposition must stop its hysterics and lapses into delusion," he said in the paper, considered a government mouthpiece.

"The West, particularly the Anglo-American establishment, should stop insisting that President Mugabe and ZANU-PF cannot be part of a future prosperous Zimbabwe," Mazombwe said.

Tough talk from Zuma

In his toughest comments yet on the crisis, South African ruling party leader Jacob Zuma called for more African involvement in Zimbabwe's crisis.

"I imagine that the leaders in Africa should really move in to unlock this logjam," Zuma told Reuters on Tuesday.

"Concretely, this means African countries should identify some people to go in there, probably talk to both parties, call them and ask them what the problem is, as well as the electoral commission."

South African President Thabo Mbeki has advocated the use of "quiet diplomacy" to solve Zimbabwe's problems.

Some of Zimbabwe's maritime neighbours are blocking a Chinese ship filled with arms for Zimbabwe to unload in their ports. Union, church and human rights leaders across southern Africa advocated the move, saying the arms would be used against Mugabe's opponents.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said it had urged countries in southern Africa — notably South Africa, Mozambique, Angola and Namibia — not to allow the ship to dock or unload. It also asked the Chinese government to recall the vessel and not to make further weapons shipments to Zimbabwe until the postelection crisis is resolved.

China said Tuesday the weapons might be returned home.

With files from the Associated Press