October 9, 2004

Zanu-PF wins by-election in Masvingo district

President Mugabe's ruling party held onto a parliamentary seat, winning a by-election by default after the main opposition party boycotted to demand electoral reforms, election officials announced. Ruling Zanu-PF candidate Walter Mzembi was declared unopposed winner of the by-election in the Masvingo district of southern Zimbabwe, a seat left vacant after the death on August 22 of the ruling party's 69-year-old founder, Eddison Zvobgo.
Masvingo constituency registrar Ignatius Mushangwe declared Mzembi, 41, the winner after a second candidate from the little-known Zimbabwe Youths In Alliance party had failed to submit adequate poll nomination papers by the deadline, state radio reported. Mzembi's entry to the 150-seat parliament does not change the power balance. Zvobgo had held the seat for the ruling party since independence from Britain in 1980. It was the second election in a month that Zimbabwe's main opposition party has sat out in protest. In September, the ruling party won an unopposed seat in the Seke district after the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) announced it would boycott all future elections until the government reformed electoral laws, ended political violence and repealed repressive media and security laws. (Independent online, South Africa)

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