November 28, 2005

Zanu PF seals win in senate poll / US$10 million paid off to IMF

President Robert Mugabe's ruling party has sealed its victory in polls for the new Senate, winning at least 21 out of 31 seats in elections marked by voter apathy and a split opposition. The Zanu PF party was guaranteed a further 35 of the 66 seats on the new Senate thanks to an opposition boycott in many constituencies and electoral laws that reserve seats for Mugabe loyalists such as tribal chiefs. Official figures from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have shown Zanu PF winning 21 seats out of the 27 counted so far. The election was characterized by voter apathy, with observers saying turn-out could end up at about 15 percent of the 3.2 million registered voters in Zimbabwe.
A renegade faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which split into two rival camps over a call to boycott the Senate elections, won at least six seats. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who had called for a vote boycott to protest at what he said was a deeply flawed electoral process, said that most voters had vindicated his position by staying away from the polls. Zanu PF used its parliamentary majority this year to push through creation of the new Senate, which will have the power to approve or reject laws passed by the lower house and which critics say will entrench the President’s hold over the country.
In the meantime, Zimbabwe has paid off a further $10 million owed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and is on course to clear arrears with the global lender to avoid ejection from its ranks, the central bank governor said. The IMF executive board in September gave Zimbabwe a six-month reprieve to settle its arrears or risk being expelled. "We are making good our undertaking to the IMF to clear the GRA account by March next year," Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor of Zimbabwe said. "We now have $25 million outstanding in that account and we have between December and January to make good our commitment."
Zimbabwe owes a further $125 million under the Poverty Reduction and Facility Account, which brings its total arrears to $150 million. According to Gono, the country would pay off all its debt by December 2006. As the governor emphasised, the funds came from export earnings, inflows from expatriate Zimbabweans and locals working for foreign-owned organisations who were paid in foreign currency. (SABC News, South Africa)

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