Mugabe: I will step down if I lose Zimbabwe election


Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks during a rally marking his 88th birthday in Mutare on February 25, 2012 with a trademark attack on gays and foreigners at a rally of his supporters.


Jekesai Njikizana

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has said he will step down if he loses the presidential election on Wednesday.

"If you lose you must surrender," Mugabe said in response to a question by a BBC reporter at a press conference at State House in Harare the day before voting began.

Zimbabweans are heading to the polls to vote for president and parliament.

Mugabe, 89, leader of the Zanu-PF party, seems confident he will be returned to office to add to his 33-year rule. His main rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, 61, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, is opposing him for the third time.

The two men have been sharing power since 2009, following disputed election results.

While Mugabe assured reporters that there had been "no cheating," MDC officials said the voter rolls, released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission only Tuesday, look suspicious.

"You cannot have a voters' roll given to you less than 24 hours before an election," Jameson Timba of the MDC told the BBC's Focus on Africa program.

"The voters' roll in itself is in total shambles," he said. "You'll find that a person is registered twice — same name, same date of birth, same physical address and a slight change is made to that person's ID number."

The BBC's Farayi Mungazi in Harare said that he had seen the voter rolls and confirmed that it includes the names of thousands of dead people and duplicate names with different addresses.

"There's been little violence which itself is suspicious because it means some other plan is being made to win," Pleasance Matibenga, 30, a male nurse in Harare, told Bloomberg News. "You won't find anyone at ease or confident until all this is over. This country is never-ending stress and uncertainty."

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