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Zimbabwean parliamentary election, 2008

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Title: Zimbabwean parliamentary election, 2008  
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Subject: History of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe, Elections in Zimbabwe, Joice Mujuru, Jonathan Moyo, Stan Mudenge, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, White people in Zimbabwe, Mutare West, Herbert Murerwa
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Zimbabwean parliamentary election, 2008

Zimbabwean parliamentary election, 2008
width="Template:Str number/trim" colspan=4 |
2005 ←
29 March 2008
→ 2013
width="Template:Str number/trim" colspan=4 |

width="Template:Str number/trim" colspan = 4 style="text-align: center" | All 210 seats in the House of Assembly
and 60 (of the 93) seats in the Senate
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Morgan Tsvangirai Robert Mugabe Arthur Mutambara
Last election HoA: 27
Senate: 0
HoA: 78
Senate: 43
HoA: 14 seats
Senate: 7
Seats won HoA: 100
Senate: 24
HoA: 99
Senate: 30
HoA: 10
Senate: 6
Seat change HoA: Increase73
Senate: Increase24
HoA: Increase21
Senate: Decrease13
HoA: Decrease4
Senate: Decrease1
Popular vote HoA: 1,041,176
Senate: 1,035,872
HoA: 1,110,649
Senate: 1,104,362
HoA: 202,259
Senate: 160,895
Percentage HoA: 42.88%
Senate: 43.29%
HoA: 45.94%
Senate: 46.15%
HoA: 8.39%
Senate: 6.72%
width="Template:Str number/trim" style="text-align: center" colspan=4 |

width="Template:Str number/trim" colspan=4 style="text-align: center" | Results for the members of House of Assembly of Zimbabwe.
width="Template:Str number/trim" colspan=4 |
Prime Minister before election


Prime Minister-designate

Morgan Tsvangirai

Template:Politics sidebar title
Template:Politics sidebar below

A parliamentary election was held in Zimbabwe on 29 March 2008 to elect members to both the House of Assembly and the Senate of the Zimbabwean parliament.[1] The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) lost its majority in the House of Assembly for the first time since independence in 1980, as the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change won most of the seats;[2] a month after the election, the MDC factions merged.[3][4] A presidential election was held on the same day as the parliamentary election.[1]

Due to the deaths of three candidates during the election campaign,[5][6] the elections in those three constituencies were postponed, with by-elections to be held later.[6][7] One of the candidates in one of the constituencies where the election was deferred has filed a court application; he states that the by-election should have been called within two weeks of the original date.[8] It was announced later that the by-elections would be held together with the second round of the presidential election on 27 June 2008.[9]


With the last parliamentary election having been held in 2005, the subsequent election was due to be held by 2010,[10] but after an abortive plan to delay the 2008 presidential election to 2010, it was decided to instead bring the parliamentary election forward by two years so that it could be held concurrently with the 2008 presidential election.[11]

The House of Assembly has been expanded from 150 to 210 members, all elected, in the 2008 election, while the Senate now comprises 93 seats, 60 of which are directly elected (six from each province). There are 29 constituencies in Harare, 28 in Midlands, 26 in Manicaland, 18 in Mashonaland Central, 23 in Mashonaland East, 22 in Mashonaland West, 26 in Masvingo, 13 in Matabeleland North, and 13 in Matabeleland South, and 12 in Bulawayo. Unlike in past elections, when constituency voter rolls were used, ward voter rolls were used in the 2008 election. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission delimited 1,958 wards.[12]

On 25 January 2008, the specific date of the election was announced as 29 March. A spokesman for the faction of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai denounced this as "an act of madness and arrogance",[13][14] while the leader of the other MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, said that a free and fair election could not be held under the existing conditions, calling for a new constitution to be adopted prior to the election.[14]

Prior to the election being held, ZANU-PF won two seats where it was unopposed: the House of Assembly seat from Muzarabani South, won by Edward Raradza, and the Senate seat from Rushinga, won by Damien Mumvuri.[15] Three candidates of the MDC faction led by Mutambara died prior to the election, resulting in the elections for those seats being delayed. Glory Makwati, a candidate in the Gwanda South constituency, died in late February; this was followed on 29 February by the death of Milton Gwetu, the MP for Mpopoma, who was running for re-election.[16] On 13 March, Abednico Malinga, another MP of the MDC Mutambara faction who was standing as a candidate, died in a car crash. He had represented Silobela constituency in the House of Assembly and was running in 2008 as a candidate in Redcliff constituency.[5]

Observers from the European Union or the United States were not admitted, but Zimbabwe invited 47 observer teams, including observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union, China, Russia, and Iran. On 11 March, the arrival of the first 50 observers from SADC was reported. SADC had already conducted a preliminary mission in February, in which its team looked at constituencies, their boundaries, and the number of candidates, and used that information to determine the number of observers that would be necessary.[17]

There were about 5.9 million voters registered at the time of the election[18] and there were to be about 11,000 polling stations,[18][19] compared to about 4,000 polling stations in the 2005 parliamentary election.[19] According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, it planned to deploy 107,690 polling officers to oversee voting. 779 candidates ran for 210 House of Assembly seats, while 197 candidates ran for the 60 elected Senate seats.[18]

A survey, conducted by the University of Zimbabwe and reported by The Herald on 28 March, predicted that ZANU-PF would win 137 House of Assembly seats and 41 Senate seats, that the MDC faction led by Tsvangirai would win 53 House of Assembly seats and 13 Senate seats, and that the MDC faction led by Mutambara would win 18 House of Assembly seats and six Senate seats. The survey was based on the views of 10,322 participants, and all of the country's wards were represented in the survey.[20]

Election day and aftermath

Voting began at 7 am on 29 March[21] and continued for 12 hours, with polling stations closing at 7 pm, although voters who were still in line at that point were allowed to continue voting.[22] Turnout was reported to be somewhat low, and according to police the voting was for the most part calm and peaceful,[23] although the home of Judith Mkwanda, the ZANU-PF candidate for Bulawayo's Emakhandeni constituency, was bombed.[24]

According to the MDC candidate for Makoni South, Pishai Muchauraya, ballot papers in wards 29 and 30 of Makoni South, which is strongly pro-MDC, ran out after two hours of voting. Muchauraya said that 300 people had voted by that point, with another 1,000 still waiting.[25]

Following the election, MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti claimed on 30 March that the Tsvangirai MDC faction had won all 12 of the House of Assembly seats from Bulawayo and five out of six Senate seats from Bulawayo, saying that the remaining Senate seat had gone to David Coltart of the Mutambara MDC faction. He also claimed an overwhelming victory for the MDC in Harare, along with victories in other parts of the country, such as Manicaland, Masvingo, and Mashonaland West.[26]

In Chitungwiza, a dormitory town of Harare, clashes occurred between supporters of MDC candidates from the rival factions on 30 March. This came after supporters of Marvellous Khumalo claimed victory over Job Sikhala, began celebrating, and engaged in provocations towards Sikhala. Five people were reported injured, and Klumalo and Sikhala were both arrested, along with 13 MDC activists.[27]

On 31 March, after a significant delay, the Electoral Commission announced results for the first six seats. The first to be announced was an MDC victory in Chegutu West constituency, followed by five others; three of the first six seats were won by ZANU-PF and three by the MDC.[28] Later in the day, 18 additional seats were declared, also split evenly between the parties, leaving both ZANU-PF and the MDC with a total of 12. In one of these seats, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was defeated in the Makoni Central constituency.[29][30] Later in the day, additional results were released, leaving Tsvangirai's MDC with 30 seats, ZANU-PF with 31 seats, and Mutambara's MDC with five seats.[31]

By 1 April, results for 131 seats had been released: ZANU-PF had 64 seats, the MDC (Tsvangirai) had 62 seats, and the MDC (Mutambara) had 5 seats.[32] Biti, claiming victory for the MDC, said on 2 April that the MDC had won 110 seats (99 for the Tsvangirai faction and 11 for the Mutambara faction) and that ZANU-PF had won 96.[33]

Nearly complete results for the House of Assembly on 2 April showed ZANU-PF losing its parliamentary majority: the MDC (Tsvangirai) had 96 seats, ZANU-PF had 94 seats, the MDC (Mutambara) had nine seats, and one seat was won by an independent, Jonathan Moyo. Aside from Chinamasa, six other ministers were defeated: Joseph Made, Oppah Muchingura, Mike Nyambuya, Amos Midzi, Chen Chimutengwende, and Chris Mushohwe.[34]

Shortly afterwards, final results for the House of Assembly showed the MDC (Tsvangirai) with 99 seats, ZANU-PF with 97 seats, the MDC (Mutambara) with ten seats, and one independent. Despite the MDC (Tsvangirai)'s lead in seats, ZANU-PF was credited with the lead in the popular vote, receiving 45.94% against 42.88% for the MDC (Tsvangirai), 8.39% for the MDC (Mutambara), and 2.79% for minor parties and independent candidates. ZANU-PF won an absolute majority of the popular vote in five provinces: Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands, and Masvingo. In Masvingo, although the party won 52.01% of the vote, it took only 12 of the 26 seats, while the MDC (Tsvangirai) won 41.61% of the vote and took 14 seats. The MDC (Tsvangirai) won an absolute majority in Harare and Manicaland. In Bulawayo, the MDC (Tsvangirai) won all 12 seats with 47% of the vote; it also led in Matabeleland North with about 37% of the vote. ZANU-PF won the most votes in Matabeleland South, but won only three seats; the MDC (Mutambara) won seven and the MDC (Tsvangirai) won two. ZANU-PF's loss of seats was attributed primarily to major loss of support in Manicaland and moderate loss of support in Masvingo, with support for the respective parties being considered relatively unchanged in the rest of the country. The tendency for ZANU-PF candidates to win large majorities in their strongholds, while the MDC won many of its strongholds more narrowly, was deemed a factor in the disparity between ZANU-PF's lead in the popular vote and the MDC (Tsvangirai)'s lead in the number of seats.[35]

Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga acknowledged ZANU-PF's defeat, saying that "a very tight race" had been anticipated, that ZANU-PF respected the wishes of the people, and that "there is no panic here".[36] The Herald, describing the result as a "photo-finish", stressed that no party held an absolute majority.[35]

On 3 April, the Electoral Commission said that the announcement of Senate results was being delayed because of "logistical problems".[37] Late on the same day, the Electoral Commission released the first Senate results: five seats for ZANU-PF and five for the MDC.[38] On 4 April, ZANU-PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa said that ZANU-PF intended to contest the results of 16 House of Assembly seats. Describing the election as the worst he had ever seen, Mutasa alleged that some Electoral Commission officials had taken bribes to manipulate the results in favour of the MDC and said that some had confessed to this. He also alleged that some Electoral Commission officials had instructed voters to vote for opposition candidates.[39]

Final Senate results were released on 5 April, showing the MDC and ZANU-PF with 30 seats each.[40]


Chinamasa said on 9 April that the Electoral Commission had accepted ZANU-PF's requests for recounts in five constituencies, but rejected the requests for seven constituencies; the Electoral Commission had not yet reached a decision regarding the party's requests for nine other constituencies.[41] The MDC filed a petition on 11 April seeking to prevent a recount; however, on 13 April, the Electoral Commission announced that there would be a full recount of both parliamentary and presidential votes in 23 constituencies.[42] The recount was to occur on 19 April, and the presence of party representatives and electoral observers would be permitted.[42] The recount was requested by ZANU-PF in 21 of these constituencies and by the MDC (Tsvangirai) in two of them.[43] According to Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe, there were "reasonable grounds for believing that the votes were miscounted and that the miscount would affect the results of this election". MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said that the MDC would challenge the recount, alleging that it was "designed to reverse the will of the people".[44]

On 14 April, an MDC lawyer said that the party had filed "about 60 applications to the Electoral Court" regarding seats in the House of Assembly, requesting that "the declarations of the results be set aside." The MDC alleged fraud, intimidation, and interference with electoral officers, saying that ZANU-PF had bought votes and that its own votes had been undercounted.[45] On 18 April, High Court Judge Antonia Guvava dismissed the MDC's application to stop the recount that was requested by ZANU-PF, ruling that the application was without merit and requiring the MDC to pay court costs.[46]

Lynette Karenyi, a candidate of the MDC (Tsvangirai) who was elected as MP for Chimanimani West, was arrested and appeared in court on 15 April, where she pleaded not guilty to forging the signatures of four people on the nomination papers that she submitted to the Electoral Court in February.[47]

By 18 April, seven Electoral Commission officials had been arrested and had appeared in court. One official was charged with manipulating results for the Mazoe South House of Assembly seat, which was won by ZANU-PF's Margaret Zinyemba, in an attempt to make the MDC's Modern Chitenga the winner.[48]

The recount of votes in 23 constituencies began on 19 April, with party representatives and foreign electoral observers present. It was initially expected to take three days, but due to delays on the first day at some polling stations, Utoile Silaigwana, the Electoral Commission's deputy chief elections officer, said on 20 April that it might take longer. Silaigwana attributed the delays to lengthy "initial consultations" and to polling agents arriving late. According to Silaigwana, the recount was "not a small exercise and we want to ensure that there are no mistakes this time around"; he said that it was going well and that there had been no complaints from either of the parties. However, MDC spokesman Chamisa denounced the process as "flawed and criminal", saying that it was a "circus" and that the government was "playing games with the people".[49]

Dianne Kohbler-Barnard, a South African Member of Parliament and SADC observer in the election, said on 21 April that the recount was "fatally flawed"; she said that she had seen evidence of tampering with the ballot boxes, along with other problems, and that she believed the recount was being used to rig the results.[50]

The first recount result, for Goromonzi West, was announced on 22 April; the constituency's initial result, which showed a victory for ZANU-PF in both the House of Assembly and Senate votes, had been contested by the MDC. The recount showed ZANU-PF keeping the seats it had won in the initial count: the recount for the House of Assembly seat showed ZANU-PF gaining one vote, leaving ZANU-PF with 6,194 votes and the MDC with 5,931 votes, while in the recount for the Senate seat the results were exactly the same as in the initial count.[51] In the recount for the Zaka West House of Assembly seat and the Zaka Senate seat, which was initiated by ZANU-PF, it was announced on 23 April that the MDC had retained both seats with no changes in the vote tally.[52] All parties expressed satisfaction with the process, and the MDC provincial chairman for Masvingo, Wilstaff Stemele, expressed confidence that the party would also retain the other seats involved in the recount.[53] Silaigwana said on the same day that "recounting in all the remaining constituencies is about 75 percent complete except in Silobela and Masvingo Central", and he anticipated that full results would be ready by the forthcoming weekend (26–27 April).[54]

The recount was completed in Zvimba North on 23 April.[54] Results on 25 April showed ZANU-PF candidate Ignatius Chombo, who had won in the initial count for Zvimba North, retaining the seat with an increased margin: he gained 155 votes, while MDC (Tsvangirai) candidate Ernest Mudimu gained 13 votes and MDC (Mutambara) candidate Shelton Magama lost 28 votes. Some ballots that had not been included in the initial count were found and included in the recount total. Meanwhile, recount results for the Zvimba Senate seat showed the winner of the initial count, ZANU-PF candidate Virginia Muchenje, retaining the seat; her total increased by 261 votes, while MDC (Tsvangirai) candidate Fidelis Chiramba's total increased by 295.[55]

During the recount in Gutu, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, who was the ZANU-PF candidate for the Gutu Senate seat but lost to the MDC's Empire Makamure, told other ZANU-PF candidates on 23 April that they needed to "accept the reality" that the MDC had won, and he stressed that the importance of preserving peace. He blamed Mugabe for the ZANU-PF candidates' defeat, saying that the people of Masvingo had rejected Mugabe and that the parliamentary candidates suffered as collateral damage.[56]

Silaigwana said on 25 April that the candidates for Chiredzi North, Gutu Central, Gutu North, Gutu South, Buhera South, Lupane East, and Mberengwa South constituencies had all retained their seats in the recount. Of these, Chiredzi North and Mberengwa South had been won by ZANU-PF, Gutu Central, Gutu North, Gutu South, and Buhera South had been won by the MDC (Tsvangirai), and Lupane East had been won by the MDC (Mutambara).[43]

It has been claimed, based on the initial recounts, that the recount strategy of ZANU-PF has failed because neither side is gaining or losing seats.[57]

On 28 April 2008, Tsvangirai and Mutambara announced at a joint news conference in Johannesburg that the two MDC factions were reuniting, enabling the MDC to have a clear parliamentary majority.[3][4] Tsvangirai said that Mugabe could not remain President without a parliamentary majority.[4] On the same day, Silaigwana announced that the recounts for the final five constituencies had been completed, that the results were being collated and that they would be published on 29 April.[58]

Emmerson Mnangagwa, acting as President Mugabe's election agent, said on 2 May that ZANU-PF had filed petitions challenging the results of 53 constituencies won by the MDC;[59][60] similarly, the MDC has challenged the result in 52 seats.[61][62] Courts have six months to consider the appeals, and another six months for counterchallenges; however, lawyers said that the elected MPs could still be sworn in.[62] In order to handle the burden of considering so many petitions, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku appointed an additional 17 High Court judges to the Electoral Court on 29 April, with the appointments being effective until 29 April 2009; previously there had been only three judges on the Electoral Court.[61] Rita Makarau, the Judge President of the High Court, said on 9 May that the cases would have to be completed within six months and that any requests for it to be delayed beyond that would not be accepted.[63]

According to Chinamasa, speaking to the press in Harare on 11 May, the newly elected MPs would not be sworn in until after the second round of the presidential election.[64]

Reportedly, twenty ZANU-PF lawmakers have joined the opposition; if that is true, they will have to face by-elections, as crossing the floor automatically causes a by-election to be called for the respective constituency under Zimbabwean electoral law.[65]

In response to the delay in the sitting of the new Parliament, the MDC held a symbolic meeting of MDC MPs at a conference center in Harare on 30 May. Tsvangirai declared on this occasion that the MDC was the new ruling party and reaffirmed that the MDC factions would cooperate. He said that the MDC's legislative program would be "based on the return of fundamental freedoms to the people of Zimbabwe" and that the party intended to immediately abolish legislation that it considered repressive. A new "people-driven constitution" would follow within 18 months, according to Tsvangirai, and a "truth and justice commission" would be established. He also pledged that the party would introduce a new strategy to bring inflation under control and said that there would be measures to "compensate or reintegrate" farmers who lost their land as part of land reform.[66]

House of Assembly results

See also constituency results

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission finished the official counting late in the night of 2 April, four full days after the vote. This raised complaints from the opposition parties, which argued the government was trying to rig the vote, but in the end the opposition MDC (split between two factions) won a majority at the Assembly, with 109 of 210 seats, while the government ZANU-PF achieved 97. The single independent MP in the outgoing parliament, Jonathan Moyo, retained his seat for Tsholotsho North, narrowly beating contender Robert Ncube from the MDC-AM.

The split of the MDC between the two factions supporting Morgan Tsvangarai and Arthur Mutambara has hurt their combined electoral performance, as the election to the House of Assembly is based on the first past the post system. In order to reduce this risk, one of the two parties did not field candidates in constituencies considered particularly marginal. However, many seats were still carried by ZANU-PF because of the division of the opposition, as in the Mazowe South constituency, where the ruling party won the seat with 4109 votes but the combined vote of both MDC factions added up to 5453.

The results became complete, with all 210 seats assigned, after by-elections in the constituencies of Mpopoma, Redcliff, and Gwanda South were contested on 27 June 2008.[67] On 28 June 2008, the Zimbabwe Times reported that Samuel Sandla Khumalo won the constituency of Mpopomo for MDC-Tsvangirai by soundly defeating Minister of Information Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the ZANU-PF candidate. On 29 June 2008, the Voice of America reported that ZANU-PF was victorious in the by-elections in Redcliff and Gwanda South. As a result, the 2008 election ultimately resulted in the House of Assembly having 110 members of the combined MDC factions (100 for the MDC-T, 10 for the MDC-M), 99 members of ZANU-PF, and one independent.

e • d  Summary of the 29 March 2008 Zimbabwe House of Assembly election
Party Party leader # of
Seats Popular vote
2005 Dissolution Elected # %
   Movement for Democratic Change - Tsvangirai Morgan Tsvangirai 204 41 27 100 1,041,176 42.88
   Movement for Democratic Change - Mutambara Arthur Mutambara 151 - 14 10 202,259 8.39
   Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front Robert Mugabe 219 78 78 99 1,110,649 45.94
   United People's Party Daniel Shumba 49 - - 0 7,331 0.30
   Peace Action is Freedom for All Abel Ndlovu 6 - - 0 1,545 0.06
   Federal Democratic Union Paul Siwala 7 - - 0 1,315 0.05
   Zimbabwe Progressive People's Democratic Party Tafirenyika Mudavanhu 8 - - 0 1,047 0.04
   Zimbabwe African National Union – Ndonga Wilson Kumbila 2 - - 0 756 0.03
   Zimbabwe Development Party Kisinoti Mukwazhe 9 - - 0 608 0.03
   Patriotic Union of MaNdebeleland Leonard Nkala 7 - - 0 523 0.02
   Christian Democratic Party William Gwata 2 - - 0 233 0.01
   Zimbabwe African People's Union - Federal Party Sikhumbuzo Dube 1 - - 0 195 0.00
   ZURD Madechiwe Collias 1 - - 0 112 0.00
   Voice of the People/Vox Populi Moreprecision Muzadzi 2 - - 0 63 0.00
   Zimbabwe Youth in Alliance Moses Mutyasira 1 - - 0 7 0.00
   Independents 104 1 1 1 54,254 2.25
   Presidential appointees[68] - 20 20 - - -
   Ex-officio members (Chiefs)[68] - 10 10 - - -
Total 773 150 150 210 2,421,973 100%
Source: Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ()

Senate results

See also constituency results

Elected Senators

30 24 6

All Senators

57 24 12

e • d  Summary of the 15 March 2008 Council of Chiefs Executive Election, 29 March 2008 Zimbabwe Senate Election, 31 March 2009 Chiefs Representation Election, and 25 August 2008 and 26 August 2009 Presidential Appointments of Gubernatorial and Non-Constituent Senators
Party # of
Seats Popular vote for Elected Seats
2005 a b Total Diss. Elected a b c Total # %
   ZANU-PF 61 43 10 6 59 59 30 12 5 10 57 1,101,931 45.79
   MDC-T 61 - - - - 1 24 - - - 24 1,035,824 43.04
   MDC-M 36 7 - - 7 6 6 6 - - 12 206,807 8.59
   UPP 11 - - - - - 0 - - - 0 16,875 0.70
   ZANU–Ndonga 1 - - - - - 0 - - - 0 2,196 0.09
   ZAPU-FP 1 - - - - - 0 - - - 0 734 0.03
   PUMA 2 - - - - - 0 - - - 0 320 0.01
   FDU 1 - - - - - 0 - - - 0 303 0.01
   ZPPDP 2 - - - - - 0 - - - 0 124 0.00
   Independents 20 - - - - - 0 - - - 0 41,364 1.72
   Vacant 0 0
Total 196 50 10 6 66 66 60 18 5 10 93[69] 2,406,478 100%
Sources: Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (), Parliament of Zimbabwe Hansard, Zimbabwe Herald,,,, and
a - Ex-officio senators (chiefs), including the president and deputy president of the Council of Chiefs; b - Non-Constituent Senators directly appointed by the President; c - Provincial governors directly appointed by the President.

See also


  • Davoodi, Schoresch & Sow, Adama: EPU Research Papers: Issue 12/08, Stadtschlaining 2008

References and footnotes

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