Mugabe promises to step down if he loses.

Mugabe promises to step down if he loses
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe said on Saturday he would step down if defeated in elections, rejecting for the umpteenth time opposition charges he was plotting to rig the ballot in order to retain power.

Mugabe, who cast his vote in his old home constituency of Highfield in the capital Harare, said he had no need to steal a vote he was anyway going to win by fair means. Besides, added the 84-year old Mugabe, he is an honest man whose conscience would never allow him to rest were he to cheat in the polls. We have never rejected any win by the MDC, be it in 1980, 85, 95 to this day. We are not in the habit of cheating, said Mugabe while addressing a huge group of journalists after casting his vote. He added: We have a sense of honesty. I cannot sleep with conscience if I have cheated elections. We will win because of the evident support that we have from the people. This time round like the last time, we are going to win. I rate my chances high and we will succeed and will conquer. Mugabe ruled out any runoff in the election saying that he was confident that his party would win comfortably in the first round of balloting as has been the case in the past. The elections for president, parliament and local councils are taking place amid an acute recession blamed on state mismanagement and seen in the world’s highest inflation of more than 100 000 percent, spiraling poverty, shortages of food and every basic commodity. The opposition has said Mugabe would have to rig in order to win in the face of a debilitating economic crisis that the World Bank has described as the worst in the world outside a war zone. Elsewhere in Harare, Mugabe’s two main challengers opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba Makoni also predicted victory as they voted earlier in the morning. “After a grueling campaign we have now come to the end but I want to assure you that the people’s victory is assured despite the regime’s attempts to subvert the people’s will through rigging machinery that has been unearthed, Tsvangirai said after finishing casting his vote at Avondale Primary School in Harare. Tsvangirai, accompanied by his wife Susan, downplayed threats by security forces who have vowed to crush post-election protests by the opposition in the event of a rigged ballot. Some of the military commanders have also said they would not salute anyone else except Mugabe in what has been taken as a threat to stage a coup in the veteran President loses today. Commenting on the sabre rattling by the military, Tsvangirai said: “I am not seeking the mandate of the security chiefs but of the people and I hope that all service chiefs and security personnel are constitutionally bound to observe the law. I hope that after I win, I’m going to engage the security chiefs as a process of stabilising our country.” Makoni, running as an independent after he was expelled from the ruling ZANU PF party for challenging Mugabe, also told reporters he expected to win the polls against his former ally. Meanwhile, ZimOnline in an earlier story incorrectly quoted Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe as having told journalists that turnout was high at most polling stations across the country. Chiweshe only said turnout was high at the particular polling station at David Livingstone school in Harare where he was voting. The ZEC chief later told ZimOnline that he was yet to receive reports of voter turnout across the country. However ZimOnline reporters who have been touring Harare and Bulawayo have witnessed a huge turnout with long queues at most polling stations

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