White election casts shadow as blacks vote in Zimbabwe

Ian Smith's triumph in the white portion of the Zimbabwe elections last week has cast a shadow over the second, black set of elections. The country's 2.9 million blacks began voting yesterday and will continue today. The Zimbabwe Constitution, drawn up before independence in 1980, reserved 20 seats for whites, 80 for the black majority.

Until last Thursday, when Mr. Smith and his party, the Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe, took 15 ``white'' seats, the tenor of the campaign in the two separate votes was comparatively relaxed.

But now Prime Minister Robert Mugabe has expressed anger at whites' decision to continue with Smith, who was the leader of the white minority government when Zimbabwe was known as Rhodesia.

When white members of Parliament defected from Smith's party in 1982, Mr. Mugabe indicated he thought white opinion had changed, assured by the government's slow pace toward socialism.

But some sources think antagonism may have revived. The outcome of the white elections is viewed by Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) as a deliberate snub to concessions granted whites since independence.

Under the headline, ``Betrayed,'' the Herald, Zimbabwe's main daily newspaper, commented that the gulf between blacks and whites which Mugabe had tried to narrow had widened. The paper said the result of lastThursday's white vote could be compared with the renaissance of Nazism and facism in Europe.

Last year Smith's party lost two of three by-elections in rural areas and could not raise a candidate for the third. Now two of those constituencies are back in his Conservative Alliance.

During his campaign, Smith said the white community was ``awakening from its lethargy.'' His message was one of hope of weakening the rule of Mugabe's ZANU party through an alliance in Parliament with the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) led by Joshua Nkomo. Together they could block plans to reduce white representation in Parliament and introduce a one-party state.

Nkomo's ZAPU represents the most serious challenge to Mugabe. Both Nkomo and Mugabe joined forces in fighting for Zimbabwe's independence. But today they are fierce rivals.

A key aim of Mugabe is to try and reduce the 20 seats Nkomo's party now has in Parliament. In the long term Mugabe has said he wants to eliminate political opposition parties in Zimbabwe.

Within the ruling party there is some dissatisfaction. Many in the lower echelons of ZANU are not happy with the one-party state idea and Mugabe's socialist notions.

Urban areas are heavily affected by unemployment, inflation, housing shortages, and overcrowded health and educational facilities.

But the grass-roots structure of Mugabe's ZANU is regarded by sources here as able to overcome these drawbacks.

Observers predict at best a series of close contests in Zimbabwe's urban areas in the east of the country, with ZANU having the definite edge over the United African National Council of Bishop Abel Muzorewa. Mr. Muzorewa served as prime minister for 10 months in 1979 when the country was known as Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

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