British govt rigged 1980 polls: Dabengwa

HARARE - Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa has blamed the British government and apartheid ruled South Africa for rigging the first ever elections under universal suffrage in 1980 to favour President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

Dabengwa said the British Conservative party connived with other Western countries and the South Africans to award poll victory to Zanu PF as a strategy to reward a party they viewed as able to safeguard their interests.

Zapu won 20 seats against Zanu PF’s 57 in the maiden polls supervised by the British government.

“Those elections were rigged in Zanu PF’s favour and were not free or fair. They were marred by violence and threats because Zanu PF created no-go areas where no other party could campaign.

“The British taught Zanu PF that if the party was to win any elections they have to resort to violence. That has now become the party’s culture since then,” Dabengwa told journalists at a press meeting in Bulawayo on Friday.

Dabengwa said Zapu could have created its own no-go area in a vast swathe of land it dominated during the war for independence but the late Joshua Nkomo’s magnanimity in persuading his Zapu colleagues to accept the poll results saved Zimbabwe from plunging into civil war on the basis of rigged elections.

 He said two decades of intransigence by Mugabe and his ruling elite compelled him to quit the party and respond to his former Zapu colleagues’ pleas to revive Zapu as its leader. - Nyasha Chingono

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