Election appears to bring Zimbabwe closer to single-party rule

The massive vote accorded the ZANU-PF party of Prime Minister Robert Mugabe has prompted him to take a much harder line on opposition parties. It also appears to have moved Zimbabwe closer to being a one-party state. Mr. Mugabe took a total of 76 percent of the vote, a considerable 13 percent increase over his party's share in the elections in 1980 when Zimbabwe became independent.

His chief opposition, the ZAPU party of Joshua Nkomo, maintained its hold on the western provinces of Matabeleland, winning all 15 seats there.

At a press conference last weekend, Mugabe said ZAPU would not be allowed the privilege of engaging in Zimbabwe's democratic process. ``ZAPU will be stopped,'' he said.

Mugabe holds ZAPU responsible for the guerrilla unrest that has forced periodic deployments of troops into Mata-beleland.

Mugabe said it was a ``must'' for the country to be run as a one-party state within this term of government, whether or not the opposition parties objected. In the past Mugabe has always said a single-party state would be achieved only by consent.

Zimbabwe's Constitution, drafted by the British in 1979, guarantees freedom of political association until 1990. It is not clear how Mugabe would get around this provision, should he try to implement single-party rule before then.

Zimbabwe's Constitution also guarantees the country's white minority 20 seats, out of a total of 100, in Parliament. Mugabe said this requirement was ``intolerable,'' and he could not wait for the statutory period to elapse. The constitutional provision for white seats can be changed only if all members of Parliament approve. After 1987 the requirement drops to 70 percent of Parliament.

Mugage said if the change could not be done with the support required, ``We will make the amendments with the support of those who want the amendments made.''

He was also firm about the prospects of whites who have not adapted to the circumstances in a country ``where the African sets the pace.'' The racists, he said, ``must leave the country.''

Prior to the black vote, whites strongly supported the party of Ian Smith, the Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe.

The white vote seemed to signal a conservative drift among whites. Mr. Smith ruled the country prior to independence when it was called Rhodesia.

Those who were not racists, Mugabe said, would have nothing to fear. ``We will work with those whites who want to work with us.''

There are reports that the rank and file of the victorious party have begun to turn against supporters of opposition parties, with reports of evictions, beatings, and stonings.

An analysis of the vote in Matabeleland -- the stronghold of Mr. Nkomo and his ZAPU party -- shows a marginal swing of up to 5 percent to Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

The United African National Council, which won three seats in 1980, saw its share of the vote quartered to just over 60,000. The UANC won no seats.

Excluding ZAPU, the opposition vote amounted to less than 3 percent of the total votes cast. ZANU-PF lost one seat, in Chipinge.

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