"Even without a majority for the Opposition Movement for Democratic Change, last weekend's elections will permanently change the nature of Zimbabwean politics", says Foreign Minister Phil Goff.
"After 20 years of being effectively a one-party state, the Zanu-PF Government now faces a credible Opposition.
"The Opposition which currently holds 57 out of 120 elected seats have the power to block changes to the Constitution. They have the numbers to demand greater accountability from the Government.
"They have the time and ability to acquire the parliamentary skills and administrative knowledge required to form a government in the future.
"The election results also make it less likely that Robert Mugabe will stand again for President when elections are due in 2002.
"Further, current election results cannot be regarded as final. The Opposition will likely challenge the results in at least 20 constituencies and further seats may fall to the Opposition.
"Notwithstanding the high turnout and absence of violence on the polling days, it is hard to argue that this election met the standards of being free and fair.
"In the months preceding the elections supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party clearly created a campaign of fear. At least 30 people were killed in pre-election violence.
"I am awaiting the report of New Zealand election observers, Chris Laidlaw and Trevor Richards for their assessments on the extent to which intimidation, incompetence or corruption may have affected the end result.
"The overall reports of election observers will influence Commonwealth countries in their decision as to whether the election outcome can be considered legitimate.
"Either way, the election results delivered by voters, has permanently undermined the concept of one party rule in Zimbabwe," Mr Goff concluded.
Contact: Paul Goldsmith 025 477 982