GWEN IFILL: For more on Zimbabwe's election, we turn to: Jeffrey Herbst, professor of International Affairs at Princeton University and author of State and Politics in Zimbabwe and Ray Choto, a writer for The Standard newspaper in Zimbabwe.
Three years ago, Mr. Choto was arrested and tortured by the Zimbabwean military for refusing to disclose a source. Ray Choto is now a Knight Foundation senior research fellow at Stanford University. Gentlemen, welcome.
Mr. Herbst, Professor Herbst, was this a democratic election?
JEFFREY HERBST, Princeton University: No, it was not a free and fair election.
There were significant irregularities during the election itself and just as important there were significant instances of intimidation and violence against the opposition in the three- to six-month run-up to the election making it impossible for the Zimbabwean people to express their views.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Choto, were you surprised by the outcome?
RAY CHOTO, The Standard Newspaper, Zimbabwe: Well, I was quite surprised, yes. The election was rigged, and everybody needs to understand that.
The Zimbabwean government itself does not respect the rule of law. And it has been involved in tampering with the law to make sure that the result of the election will be in its favor.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Choto, how much of your take on this is influenced by your experience with the government?
RAY CHOTO: Sorry. Can you come again?
GWEN IFILL: How much of your take, your interpretation of the election results is influenced your experience, your negative experience with Mr. Mugabe's government?
RAY CHOTO: Well, I mean, I see myself as a journalist. And as a journalist I have to see things in a very objective manner.
There is no argument here that the election was rigged especially if you look at the supplementary voters roll... which was prepared at the last minute which had more than 464,000 voters. Even again if you look at the margin, the defeat which Tsvangirai received. That's the same margin again.
One would want to think that Mugabe instructed the registrar general's office to come up with that supplementary voters' roll to make sure that when the result of the election is announced it will be in his favor.
GWEN IFILL: Professor Herbst, the election outcome aside for a moment, is President Mugabe popular in Zimbabwe in a way that he does not appear to be abroad?
JEFFREY HERBST: I don't think so, in fact. I think he is empowered today largely because he controls the police and the military as well as supporting a militia that keeps him in power.
If there were a truly free and fair election, I believe he would have been defeated today.
GWEN IFILL: What about his anti-colonialist rhetoric? He seems to make some sort of effect with voters by talking about how Zimbabwe should not go back to being a colony; it was Rhodesia once.
Does that ring a bell, does that have an effect?
JEFFREY HERBST: The inequalities that were inherited from the colonial period are still evident in Zimbabwe especially in land ownership.
However, a significant portion of the population, probably more than half, has been born during Zimbabwe's independence and have known only independent government.
So while I think all Zimbabweans are concerned about addressing inequalities, the notion that the country's troubles, which have worsened dramatically in the last five years, can be blamed on colonialism that ended in 1980 is not plausible.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Choto, even though Mr. Tsvangirai apparently did not win this election at least not in a way that he can claim the presidency, does his success, his strength, represent or signal any kind of emergence of a true opposition to Mr. Mugabe?
RAY CHOTO: Well, I mean, it has been established beyond any doubt that Tsvangirai has...is the only candidate to be in our presidential election since our independence in 1980.
It's unfortunate that... I mean he has tried his best to make sure that there is no violence, but the Mugabe regime has used the law, which is at his disposal, to make sure that it wins this election.
GWEN IFILL: Why the distinction between what African observers, which is to say Nigeria and South African election observers saw in this election and what they said today and what Western observers from the United States and other countries have said?
RAY CHOTO: Well, I mean, if I've heard you quite correctly, I mean South African observers and the Nigerian observers seem to support the outcome of this election.
GWEN IFILL: Right.
RAY CHOTO: That should be dismissed.
Democratic countries and democratic citizens from all the four corners of the world should reject this result because Zimbabweans were not given an opportunity to express themselves freely and to also participate in this political process.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Herbst, what do you make of that distinction, what the African observer said and what other observers saw?
JEFFREY HERBST: Well, that distinction just reflects vividly a split that has been going on for some time.
The Africans, including South Africa and Nigeria, desperately want to prevent the international community from being able to judge elections because they jealously guard their own sovereignty, given how weak they are domestically.
After all, two of the Nigerian observers were former heads of state who were not elected themselves. Clearly the Nigerian preferences are not solely for a democratically elected government.
The South Africans and the Nigerians are also desperately concerned about stability in a future Zimbabwe, and at least some of them -- although their governments have not spoken officially -- seem to have cast their lot with Mr. Mugabe.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Herbst, the U.S. and the European Union have both talked about imposing sanctions against Zimbabwe in the wake of these elections.
What kind of effect do you think that will have?
JEFFREY HERBST: I think they'll have next to no effect on the overall political order. The Mugabe regime has already done far more damage to the country's economic prospects than outsiders could possibly do.
They've self-sanctioned themselves. They made a set of calculations about staying in power where they understood that they would be facing at least selective sanctions if they went ahead with the election. They decided to go ahead anyhow.
So I think they've made a very clear statement that they're not particularly impressed with the sticks that the international community has arrayed against them.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Choto, the same question to you: What do you think about the potential effect of international sanctions?
RAY CHOTO: Well, I mean the sanctions, especially if they are targeted on certain individuals, that's fine. I mean I am opposed to sanctions, which would be targeted at the country as a whole, because I mean the people who are fighting against the Mugabe regime trying to make sure that it does respect the rule of law will be punished at the end of the day.
Therefore, the selective use of these sanctions, the smart sanctions, I think is the best way forward to go.
GWEN IFILL: Mr. Choto, I'm so sorry, what exactly is this about?
Is this really about President Mugabe, or is it about a larger issue that's at work here in the future of Zimbabwe?
RAY CHOTO: Well I mean, Mugabe is a liability. There's no way we can run away from this reality. People no longer want him. He has been in power since 1980.
He no longer has any ideas that can bring about some positive changes. He has killed the economy. I mean, his ministers and government officials are corrupt. And the country's just bleeding and people are tired of him -- therefore this calls for political change.
GWEN IFILL: Professor Herbst, what do you think about that? Does this mean something for the whole future of southern Africa or is this very specific to President Mugabe and his role?
JEFFREY HERBST: I think it would be a real mistake to view this as just an issue about Robert Mugabe.
He will soon leave the political scene one way or another, and it should be remembered that his party, the ruling party Zanu, will still be in power. Zanu has a number of other leaders who, I think, favor the same policies that Mugabe has instituted.
Therefore, even if the Mugabe problem were resolved immediately, there's still the problem of a corrupt and somewhat brutal ruling party, which has to be disengaged from the state.
Also, if Zimbabwe continues to be destabilized, if the economy continues to deteriorate, the neighbors, especially South Africa, will be affected by Zimbabweans fleeing their country in hope of a better life.
GWEN IFILL: Jeffrey Herbst and Ray Choto, thank you both for joining us.