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ZEC : 176 constituencies announced, and the results are still neck and neck

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY

Sokwanele : 2 April 2008

With the announcement of these next fifteen seats, the ZEC has brought the total announced to 176 constituencies. Zanu PF are now leading by one seat (with a total of 86) and MDC Tsvangirai are behind by one seat, with a total of 85. MDC Mutambara still have 5 seats.


Buhera North
ZPF 7511 / MDC MT 6835 /

Chimanimani West
MDC MT 8558 / ZPF 7107 /

Chitungwiza South
MDC MT 6243 / ZPF 4597 / MDC AM 660 / IND 110 / ZPPDP 92 / ZDP 32 /

Chivi South
ZPF 7778 / MDC MT 4234 / UPP 408 / IND 379 /

Glen Norah
MDC MT 7030 / ZPF 1139 / MDC AM 757 / IND 235 / ZPPDP 29 /

Glen View South
MDC MT 9158 / ZPF 1273 / IND 233 / ZDP 43 / UPP 0 / MDC AM 0 / VP 0 /

Guruve South
ZPF 9284 / MDC MT 4298 / UPP 350 /

Harare Central
MDC MT 5944 / ZPF 1705 / MDC AM 624 / IND 373 / CDP 81 / ZIYA 7 / IND 0 /

Headlands
ZPF 7257 / MDC MT 4235 / IND 1291 /

Highfield East
MDC MT 8216 / ZPF 1756 / MDC AM 1233 / IND 249 / ZDP 41 / ZPPDP 34 /

Masvingo Urban
MDC MT 9162 / ZPF 4135 / MDC AM 544 / MDC AM 440 / IND 390 / UPP 161 /

Mutare North
ZPF 9158 / MDC MT 7054 / IND 518 /

Mutoko East
ZPF 7328 / MDC MT 5238 /

Mwenezi East
ZPF 9696 / MDC MT 2477 / IND 588 /

Zengeza West
MDC MT 7987 / ZPF 2666 / MDC AM 1045 / UPP 105 / IND 0 /

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As Zimbabwe waits tension rises higher

Business Day

02 April 2008

Brian Latham and Antony Sguazzin

Bloomberg

HARARE — The normally bustling streets of Harare were empty amid fears of
opposition protests or a police crackdown that may follow, people in the
capital city said yesterday.

With results from 131 of Zimbabwe’s 210 constituencies announced, the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had won 67 parliament seats
while President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union (PF) trailed
slightly with 64 last night.

Some observers said the “one-each” trend beggared belief. No results have
been released for municipal, senatorial or presidential elections.

The MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, claims to have won a majority in
parliament and the presidential race.

United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon joined the UK, US and European
Union urging “utmost transparency in the vote-counting so that Zimbabweans
could have full confidence in the results”.

“No one knows anything,” the streets are quiet and roadblocks have been set
up on many roads,” Mary Sargeant, an advertising manager who has lived in
Harare for 30 years, said in an interview yesterday. “The silence is
deafening and the speculation rife.”

In a petition to the Southern African Development Community and the African
Union, a coalition of 18 rights organisations, including the pro-opposition
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, urged
them to push for speedier results and expressed fear that the delay was part
of efforts to fix the outcome in favour of Zanu (PF).

Public dissatisfaction has grown with Mugabe’s rule after a decade of
recession and the world’s highest inflation rate of 100580%. He won
elections in 2000, 2002 and 2005 with the help of violence and
irregularities, according to European Union observers and others who
monitored those polls.

Mugabe is competing against Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni, a former finance
minister who is running as an independent after breaking with the ruling
party.

A run-off election would be held within three weeks if none of the
presidential candidates obtains more than 50%.

A tally posted on the internet by nongovernmental groups showed Tsvangirai
obtained 51% of the presidential vote, Mugabe 42% and Makoni 7%.

It gave the MDC 99 out of the 210 parliamentary seats, Zanu-(PF) 77 and
independents and the splinter group of the MDC, 10, with results for the
remaining 24 seats not yet collated.

The groups say they base their count on results posted outside polling
stations, as is required before they are sent to the central government.

Mugabe may accept that his party has been defeated, John Makumbe, a
political analyst, said in Harare.

“The service chiefs from the army and the police are talking to Tsvangirai
in an effort to create some sort of transitional structures,” Makumbe said,
without identifying the source of this information.

Noel Kututwa, chairman of the independent Zimbabwe Electoral Support
Network, said a sample it conducted of 435 polling stations, covering 5% of
the population, showed Tsvangirai winning 49% of the presidential vote,
Mugabe 41% and Makoni 8%.

Bloomberg News was not able to verify the MDC’s claim of victory
independently.

“What the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is doing now is simply buying time,”
said Marian Tupy, an Africa specialist at the Washington-based Cato
Institute.

The government hasn’t “decided what to do: to declare a state of emergency,
to simply steal the election, or to postpone the day of reckoning by
allowing a second round”.

Many of the seats obtained by Zanu (PF) in the parliamentary polls are in
rural areas and the north of the country where Mugabe comes from.

“Tensions are rising as people wonder why these delays are necessary,
particularly given that some results have been posted outside polling
stations,” Michelle Gavin, an analyst at the Washington-based Council on
Foreign Relations, said on Monday. “It looks to Zimbabweans like this should
be a simple process.”

Marwick Khumalo, an observer from the Pan-African Parliament, said Zanu (PF)
was “concerned about the possibility of a change of guard”. He also said the
commission had most, if not all, the results.

Responding to reports yesterday, Tsvangirai’s spokesman George Sibotshiwe
said he knew “nothing about meetings between Tsvangirai and service chiefs”.

Nathan Shamuyarira, a spokesman for Zanu (PF), did not take calls. Wayne
Bvudzijena, a police spokesman, said yesterday that while people could
celebrate, violence would not be tolerated.

Tupy and other analysts said Zimbabwe is unlikely to experience the sort of
ethnic fighting that followed the disputed December 27 vote in Kenya, which
left 1500 people dead and 300000 displaced.

Makoni, Tsvangirai and Mugabe are from the dominant ethnic group but despite
intra-Mashona power wrangles, any violence would probably be between the
state security apparatus and the public, they said.


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Deal averts Zim civil war

IOL

††††April 02 2008 at 06:46AM

By Fiona Forde and Moshoeshoe Monare

A behind-the-scenes negotiated settlement has averted a military coup
in Zimbabwe and paved the way for a runoff between Robert Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai later this month.

According to multiple reliable sources, both within the armed forces
and the opposition MDC, Tsvangirai has won 48 percent of the presidential
vote, while the incumbent president has taken 43 percent.

The Movement for Democratic Change has also secured the seats of 100
MPs and the ruling Zanu-PF 98, according to figures due to be released by
the state-run electoral commission late on Tuesday night.

In the absence of the required majority of 50 percent plus 1, the two
rivals are likely to meet each other in a second round towards the end this
month.

However, it was not without 11th-hour, delicate diplomatic manoeuvring
on all fronts to ensure hardline members of the armed forces were brought on
board.

"It has been touch and go for the past 24 hours," one source told The
Star on Tuesday night, adding that "there were two chiefs who were fully
prepared to stage a coup", while Mugabe and many of his right-hand men were
prepared to negotiate what one source terms "a gracious exit" for the
long-standing president.

The two hardliners in question were Air Force Marshal Perence Shiri,
who is closely associated with the Matabeleland massacre of the 1980s, and
the Defence Force Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, a Zanu-PF
loyalist.

Throughout Tuesday, it was the security chiefs of the country's five
armed forces and not Mugabe who held the keys to the outcome. While his
close associates foresaw and accepted defeat, the armed forces were divided.

Shiri and Chiwenga met opposition from Army Commander Philip Sibanda;
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri; the Intelligence Chief, retired
major-general Happyton Bonyongwe; and the Director of Prisons, retired
brigadier Paradzai Zimondi, who feared the worst in the event of a military
clampdown.

"The other three armed chiefs were adamant this was not the way to
go," a second source said, "because if they did, they knew it would lead to
Western intervention, which they did not want."

It is understood that Shiri and Chiwenga feared a future government
without a Zanu-PF component. To allay their fears, The Star understands that
Simba Makoni has been accepted on all fronts as the man who would fill that
void, "in a very senior position and possibly as prime minister", a role
abolished when Mugabe was elected president in 1987.

The other binding feature of Tuesday's agreement was an assurance that
Mugabe would be allowed to live out his remaining days in the country of his
birth and would not fear prosecution.

"They won't touch him," one source, close to the MDC, confirmed. "He
will live here freely."

In recent days there had been unfounded rumours that the ageing
dictator had fled the country, while he was holed up in Harare's State
House, contemplating his future. However, unconfirmed reports suggest his
second wife, Grace, and his children left in the aftermath of the election
and are now in Malaysia, a haven Mugabe established in recent years and
where he is believed to be hoarding his vast wealth.

Under Zimbabwean electoral law, a period of 21 days must pass before a
runoff can take place, "and that gives Morgan (Tsvangirai) the time to bring
them all on board without problems".

It is widely perceived that Mugabe would not fare well in a second
round and the likelihood of the 84-year-old stepping down in the meantime is
also a possibility.

This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on April
02, 2008


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Mugabe Losing Support of Elites

Washington Post

Political Resolution Sought After Leader's Apparent Loss at Polls
By Craig Timberg and Darlington Majonga
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, April 2, 2008; Page A01

HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 1 -- Some members of Zimbabwe's jittery ruling elite
have concluded that President Robert Mugabe must step down after apparently
losing an election last weekend and have begun reaching out to opposition
leaders to resolve the four-day-old political standoff, according to ruling
party members, diplomats and political observers here.

Mugabe, 84, has made no public appearance since Saturday, when he pledged
not to rig the results and to abide by the vote totals. But behind the
scenes, his future is the subject of wrenching discussions inside his ruling
party, the sources said.

Though the sources said that unofficial contacts between ruling party and
opposition members were underway, opposition leaders repeatedly and
vehemently denied that there were any discussions, or that there would be
any deal with Mugabe before the election results were officially published.

The presidential election has so far yielded no official results, and on
Tuesday the electoral commission, controlled by Mugabe allies, urged
patience. But a growing list of indicators, including a rigorous statistical
model based on a sampling of publicly posted vote tallies, now points to a
victory by longtime opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, showing he got
something near 50 percent of the vote, over Mugabe's roughly 42 percent. An
independent candidate got 8 percent.

A Mugabe loss, if confirmed, would end 28 years of unbroken rule in which he
took the nation to the pinnacle of African progress before plunging it into
one of the continent's worst political and economic crises.

The outpouring of voter rejection Saturday appears to have overwhelmed the
many political advantages Mugabe enjoyed, including nearly total control
over the flow of information and voter rolls that systematically excluded
many of his most fervent detractors.

"It's clear that [Mugabe] has lost the vote," said Dumisani Muleya, a
political reporter at the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper. In interviews,
several senior advisers to Mugabe had told him that "they're trying to find
some way to resolve this issue."

Perhaps the most important group in the discussions is the leadership of
Mugabe's historically loyal security apparatus. The "securocrats," including
top members of the police, military and intelligence service, reportedly are
split over whether to act to keep Mugabe in power or to urge him to accept
defeat.

A retired general, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the air force
chief has refused to back military action to protect Mugabe, while the
police force is steadfast behind him.

Among the immediate questions is whether Zimbabwe will conduct a runoff, as
required by the constitution if no candidate tops the 50 percent mark.
Tsvangirai asserted at a news conference Tuesday night that he had passed
that point in the first round, making a runoff unnecessary. But the
independent monitoring group that analyzed the posted vote tallies projected
his victory as falling barely short of a majority.

Mugabe is said to be reluctant to engage in a second round of voting, which
could lead to a wider margin of defeat by consolidating opposition to his
rule, according to sources and news reports.

Discussions in the ruling camp were said to be turning Tuesday to the vast
list of decisions that a Tsvangirai government would quickly face. Among
them: Would he pursue legal action against Mugabe for possible crimes
against humanity? Would he purge a military built more to battle Mugabe's
enemies than outside forces? Would he reverse the land seizures that began
in 2000 and return commercial farms to their previous owners, most of them
white?

A ruling party businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a
Tsvangirai victory might be accepted if he agreed not to take away farms
that Mugabe had doled out, to peasants as well as political cronies. "If he
gives this land back to the whites, then we have a problem with him," the
businessman said.

Analyst John Makumbe, a longtime Mugabe critic, said anxiety within the
ruling party was running high. "They are not really unified," he said,
predicting that Mugabe's departure was imminent. "They know they cannot make
it. They know he cannot survive a second round" of voting.
The political stalemate has captivated Zimbabweans, especially in Harare,
the capital, where a blizzard of rumors dominated an anxious day of waiting.

The president's fall would be exceeded, in terms of historic importance
here, only by the end of white supremacist rule in 1980, when the nation was
called Rhodesia and faced a tenacious guerrilla force led by Mugabe. He has
ruled the country ever since.

Tsvangirai, 56, a former trade unionist with a gregarious brand of charisma
but limited formal education, has vowed to enact a broad renewal plan to
stabilize the currency, curb 100,000 percent inflation and provide free
primary education as well as widespread access to antiretroviral drugs to
combat one of the world's worst AIDS epidemics.

Opposition party officials have repeatedly refused to answer questions about
elements of any possible political deal to ease Mugabe from office.

Tsvangirai also said at his news conference that the parliamentary results
released so far by the electoral commission appear to be in line with those
posted at polling stations and collected by the opposition party.

"President Mugabe said that he's an honest man and he doesn't believe in
cheating," Tsvangirai said. "I hope when the vote is announced that it is an
honest vote."


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Deal 'may let Robert Mugabe flee to safe haven and dodge prosecution'

The Scotsman

By Jane Fields
THE end of Robert Mugabe's reign looked to be drawing near last night as
senior aides tried to negotiate a "safe haven" deal for the 84-year-old
dictator in South Africa, following his likely defeat by Morgan Tsvangirai
in last weekend's presidential polls.

Mr Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron grip since 1980, has been
told he is trailing the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader in
preliminary results sources said.

It emerged yesterday that the president's right-hand man, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, flew to Pretoria on Monday to discuss plans for a safe haven,
which would see Mr Mugabe immune from prosecution at The Hague.

Another option for Mr Mugabe may be to fly to Malaysia.

Last night, in his first public appearance since the election, Mr Tsvangirai
said his party was not involved in the deal.

At a news conference, the MDC leader insisted: "Let me inform you there is
no way the MDC will enter into any deal before the electoral commission has
announced the results.

"Let's wait for the election commission to complete its work, then we can
discuss the circumstances that will affect the people," he said.

He added: "Robert Mugabe has said he's an honest man. I hope that when the
results are announced, it's a true reflection of the vote and there's no
reason to investigate fraud."

Mr Tsvangirai also urged the electoral commission "to proceed with haste,
and I think two and a half days is not haste at all." His party will release
its own complete tallies today. Mr Mugabe has been warned he could provoke a
Kenya-style uprising if he declared himself the winner of the polls.

It has also emerged that, as the full scale of Mr Mugabe's defeat became
clear to observers, Zimbabwe's security chiefs ordered the country's
electoral commission to announce parliamentary results so it looked as if
the MDC and Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF were closely matched. Since Monday,
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has had to stage-manage
announcements, broadcasting small batches of results every four or five
hours.

By last night, authorities had announced results for 140 out of 210
constituencies. The two factions of the MDC had taken a total of 72 seats
with 68 for Zanu-PF.

The MDC believes Mr Tsvangirai has won between 55 and 56 per cent of the
vote on the back of widespread discontent with Mr Mugabe's disastrous
28-year rule.

However, analysts have warned that Mr Mugabe may yet find a way to cling to
power. In a clear sign of unease, the former guerrilla leader has not been
seen in public since Saturday.

Concerns have also been raised that Mr Mugabe could grab the presidency and
dissolve parliament by presidential decree – possible according to
Zimbabwe's constitution.

Zimbabwe's master vote-rigger is down but not out

ROBERT Mugabe, who rigged Zimbabwean election results in his favour three
times between 2000 and 2005, is facing the biggest challenge yet to his
vote-juggling skills following the presidential and parliamentary elections.

The problem facing Mr Mugabe is that the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has so obviously, by nearly every informed account, won both
polls by huge majorities.

However, no-one should discount the 84-year-old's skill.

The huge delay in the release of the results indicates Mr Mugabe and his top
party and military aides are shocked by the scale of the defeat. But it is
equally certain they are working on a surprise that will, at least, maintain
for them a degree of power and rule out prosecution for crimes against
humanity.

The few people, beyond his immediate circle, who are reasonably close to Mr
Mugabe believe he is emotionally incapable of admitting defeat.

However, one whisper in Harare is that he is preparing to do so and will
accept a safe exile, probably in Malaysia, where he has stashed most of his
considerable wealth. For a man who has said: "Let me be Hitler tenfold," who
has boasted of his "degrees in violence" and has warned he will only be
taken from power in a coffin, this is the least likely scenario.

Another whisper is he is preparing to share power with MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai. This is not impossible, but Mr Tsvangirai would need to be at
his most naive to accept such an arrangement. That leaves fixing the
election in favour of himself and the ruling ZANU-PF party.

The slow fix, in which Mr Tsvangirai's vote would be declared at just under
50 per cent, would involve a run-off presidential election between the MDC
leader and Mr Mugabe. This would give Mr Mugabe, his military chiefs and
ruling party bigwigs plenty of time to manipulate the poll.

But the way parliamentary election results are oozing out suggest a late
spurt of votes for ZANU-PF from rural areas will secure a narrow majority in
parliament. In which case, why delay fixing of the presidential vote?

Mr Mugabe will go for the quick fix. He will then step down in the next five
years, secure in the knowledge that he can live without fear of prosecution.
A new ZANU-PF leadership will then try to repair the damage he has inflicted
on his country: it will be a prolonged job.

• Fred Bridgland launched and edited for the past three years the Zimbabwe
Report of the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

Last Updated: 01 April 2008 11:40 PM


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A rescue package for the stricken of Zimbabwe

Financial Times

By Michael Holman

Published: April 1 2008 19:21 | Last updated: April 1 2008 19:21

If bravery shaped reality, Zimbabwe would be starting a new era. In the face
of thuggery and in defiance of years of state intimidation, the country’s
opposition has swept the election board. But it would be premature to
celebrate the political demise – and foolish to underestimate the resolve –
of the 84-year-old Robert Mugabe, the man who has led Zimbabwe from
independence in 1980 and who has since delivered it into the abyss.

In the days ahead we shall learn whether Zimbabwe is poised to return to
democracy or whether it is in the throes of a slow-motion coup, as heavily
manipulated “official” results are delivered to a disbelieving public, with
the security forces ready to intervene.

It was always likely to be thus.

Hopes that Mr Mugabe would accept defeat at last Saturday’s poll have been
fuelled by a form of wishful thinking that defies both human nature and
political gravity. It seemed improbable that a man who has flouted democracy
for so long would respect the verdict of the ballot box and that he would
not contrive to rig the official outcome.

As the realisation sinks in that the president is likely to fight from his
bunker rather than accept defeat, there will be the usual cries that
“something must be done”. But what, precisely? Any talk of expanding the
ineffectual targeted sanctions against the regime borders on the absurd: the
country is already in a state of economic collapse. What is more, sanctions
seldom work – as Rhodesia itself showed. It took a guerrilla war to secure
its transition to Zimbabwe.

Others will call for military intervention. But who will take on the task?
To suggest the African Union, unable to cope with Darfur, is risible. South
Africa? Hazardous. Remember that President Thabo Mbeki and Mr Mugabe are not
“comrades in arms” – their guerrillas fought each other during Zimbabwe’s
liberation war and there are old scores to settle.

Furthermore, the record shows that interference in Africa, whether by
outsiders or Africans, has usually been disastrous, whatever the motive –
ideological (the US in Zaire, the Soviet Union in Ethiopia), humanitarian
(the US in Somalia) or well-intentioned (Tanzania in Idi Amin’s Uganda).

So what can be done?

If you lack a stick, then use a carrot. As Zimbabweans prepare for a final
heave, their bravery needs to be supplemented by hope: hope that stems from
evidence that their future will be marked by a rapid improvement in their
wretched circumstances.

Of course, long-term recovery measures must be decided by Zimbabweans
themselves; but short-term relief can be assembled in days. Preparation
should take the form of an emergency aid conference, convened irrespective
of the outcome of the current crisis, ready to be implemented when democracy
returns. Donors would be asked to make public commitments to funding or
supplying Zimbabwe’s desperate needs: fertiliser for agriculture, raw
materials and spare parts for industry, medicines for clinics, fuel for
transport.

On the agenda would also be ways to kick-start the country’s hard-hit
tourist industry, once a leading foreign exchange earner and an important
employer. Perhaps this could take the form of a one-off offer to foreign
visitors of a holiday, at cost, in one of Zimbabwe’s many game parks.

Britain’s Department for International Development should invest the £30m
(€38m) it has earmarked for an orderly land reform programme in a commercial
farming centre, located on the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border, where
dispossessed farmers might regroup to use their expertise.

Meanwhile, newspapers could lead an appeal for books; magazines and academic
journals could provide free subscription to the country’s schools and
universities and libraries.

This package of measures would be published and made available to every
Zimbabwean, telling them what the future holds. Who better to co-ordinate
the programme than the Commonwealth, that near-moribund association of
50-odd countries, linked by a history of association with Britain? It was a
Commonwealth summit in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, in 1979 that helped lay
foundations for Zimbabwe’s inde≠pendence elections the following year.

The organisation has allowed Zimbabwe to drop off its agenda, using Mr
Mugabe’s withdrawal from membership in 2003 as an excuse for shameful
neglect. Let the Commonwealth lead the exercise that could redeem its
failure and offer help as well as hope to the brave people of Zimbabwe.

Two birds, one stone.


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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Only Required to Tabulate Presidential Results

VOA

By Carole Gombakomba
Washington
01 April 2008

Legal experts say the laborious procedure that the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission has been following since the country's elections Saturday is not
required by law.

These experts say the results of races for the house, senate and local
councils should be announced at the constituency level, and that the only
result which the commission is legally bound to tabulate is the outcome of
the presidential election.

Human rights lawyer Irene Petras, vice chairwoman of the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for
Zimbabwe that the commission should be concentrating on the presidential
results.


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Zimbabwe suspense grows as results expected

Yahoo News

by Susan Njanji Tue Apr 1, 9:13 PM ET

HARARE (AFP) - The final results of Zimbabwe's parliamentary election were
set to be announced Wednesday amid growing clamour for the outcome of a
simultaneous contest which could see Robert Mugabe ousted as president.

A source at the electoral commission, which has so far declared results from
175 of the 210 parliamentary constituencies, said the final seats should be
declared Wednesday as well as the make-up of the largely ceremonial senate.
So far the opposition has a slight lead over Mugabe's ruling party, with 90
seats to the Zimbabwe African National Union -- Patriotic Front's tally of
85.

"We are expecting to mop up on the remaining MPs. Then we hope the
senatorial results will not take us too much time and then we'll go into the
presidential election," the source told AFP.

However he refused to commit himself to any timeline on the more crucial
presidential contest despite calls from the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai to speed up the process.

"I want to urge the electoral authorities to proceed with haste," said
Tsvangirai at a press conference on Tuesday night.

However Tsvangirai, who is convinced that he has toppled Mugabe from power
after 28 years at the helm of the former British colony, also called for
patience among his supporters.

"The people of Zimbabwe have waited for this for so long and I think they
can wait longer," he said.

During the briefing, his first public appearance since casting his ballot on
Saturday, Tsvangirai deflected suggestions his party and ZANU-PF were
already in discussions about an exit strategy for the president.

"We want to know who has won what before we can talk of any negotiations,"
he said.

The unprecedented hold-up to the presidential result has prompted fevered
speculation the delay is to either fix the outcome on Mugabe's behalf or
come up with a dignified way for the country's leader since independence to
depart.

A senior ZANU-PF member told AFP that Mugabe had already agreed in principle
to stand aside in favour of Tsvangirai, a man whom the president last month
insisted would never rule in his lifetime.

The ruling party source said it now appeared Tsvangirai had won around 48
percent of the vote -- not enough for an outright majority -- but Mugabe did
not want to suffer the indignity of a second round run-off later this month.

The only significant stumbling block, the source added, was the reluctance
of his army chief of staff Constantine Chiwenga to sanction his exit.

"There is only one person still blocking him, the army chief of staff."

The official word from the Mugabe camp was that talk of negotiations was
mischief-making.

"The parliamentary election results are still being announced and the
presidential election results are still pending and we wonder where all the
talk on talks is coming from," deputy information minister Bright Matonga
told AFP.

Meanwhile a senior European diplomat in Harare expected Mugabe, who has
ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, would go
quietly.

"Everything indicates that Mugabe will leave power smoothly," said the
source.

European governments and the US have been urging the electoral commission to
end the hold-up on the presidential vote.

"We're very concerned about (the hold-up), and believe that further delays
in releasing these results are not helpful," State Department deputy
spokesman Tom Casey told reporters.

In a petition to the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC)
and the African Union, which both monitored the elections, a coalition of 18
rights organisations urged them to push for speedier results.

"We ... have found it necessary to send this urgent petition to your
excellencies in order to save our country from potentially sinking into
complete anarchy if election results are manipulated," the petition said.


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Zimbabwe blogs: 'Mugabe must go. He must go now'

Independent, UK

Forget the official media in Zimbabwe: the blogs are the place to find the
mood of the nation

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

"I need to scream. I can't stand it anymore. I've been waiting, waiting for
a press conference from the opposition and have just heard that they have
pulled back. I'm going mad. Talk oscillates between deep fear that the delay
is rigging, and the other talk is that big secret negotiations are being
held. The former doesn't surprise me, the latter, however, bothers me ...
what are they saying, is what I want to know!? What compromises are you
making behind The People's back? Which of our dreams are you trading against
our fears? Our voices and views are written on the walls and tents of
polling stations everywhere. What else do we need to say?!! Aaaaaargh... !
OK... breathe, just breathe... Nah, screaming's better at this stage...
Aaaaraaghh!!!"

Contributor to http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe

"Welcome to Rumour City! With results still only trickling out of the
Zimbabwe EC, the rumour machine has been working overtime in Zimbabwe. With
scarcely any facts to go on, imaginations are running riot."

Moses Moyo on http://www.zimbabwetoday.co.uk/

"I am so happy to see change is finally coming to my country. I have worked
for 10 years. I think after change we will have a rainbow Zimbabwe made up
of tolerance and I pray for a prosperous Zimbabwe... Sehambile!!!! (He is
gone)."

Contributor to http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe

"Please God, one day we can look back and tell the grandkids about these
dark hours and laugh. The dream is so close we can taste it; but the regime
continues to wield the upper hand. Sitting by the radio and listening to the
inane dead BC (Zimbabwean television) programming. This whole afternoon they
have not given one result."

Contributor to http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe

"It would be a welcome breath of fresh air for Zimbabwe to have its first
post-independence government without Mugabe and Zanu-PF at the helm. But it
is not in the country's interests for the MDC's win to be the electoral
"massacre" of Zanu-PF that the opposition party's official Tendai Biti
boasted about soon after the end of voting ... Before Tsvangirai and the MDC
mutate into power-drunk monster, which will happen within their first 12
months in power, we need to have a Zanu-PF that is poised to be a strong
opposition party, to revive a rude, irreverent independent media, to start
rebuilding an independent judiciary and to have various strong, non-partisan
citizen political interest groups."

Contributor to http://zimreview.wordpress.com/

"Victory is in the air. But so is uncertainty... The Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission is announcing results at the pace of a wheelchair-less cripple
making their way down a power-cut... corridor."

Comrade Fatso on http://comradefatso.vox.com

"Blaring from the speakers of a public address system with the din reaching
more than five streets is music which is likely to earn the man spinning the
discs a beating from the thought police. He plays Hugh Masekela where he
exhorts by name African despots – including our very own – to cede power and
retire peacefully; he plays Mbongeni Ngema's "Freedom Is Coming Tomorrow"...
Imbibers enjoy the beer and music despite their circumstances, and for them
hope lies in both the music and deep in their hearts that a better Zimbabwe
is nigh."

Marko Phiri on http://www.kubatanablogs.net/kubatana

†"We have tried the democratic route more than three times now and the
election has been stolen. We have tried the courts, and up to now Tsvangirai
does not have a verdict for an election of 2002. We have no choice but to...
exercise people power. [Kenya opposition leader Raila] Odinga asserted
himself and the world... listened. If Tsvangirai thinks the international
community is going to give us independence then he will remain in opposition
forever. Let's reclaim State House, it's unoccupied anyway!!!"

Anonymous on http://www.kubatanablogs.net/kubatana

"Zimbabwe cannot move on with Mugabe at the helm; Mugabe must go, and he
must go now before he plunges our beloved country into chaos and bloodshed.
Zanu-PF may want to take comfort in the knowledge that they have rigged
before and there was no uprising and South Africa and others looked away.
That was then, this time the people of Zimbabwe will defend their vote; the
prospect of another disastrous five years with Mugabe and Zanu-PF is
motivation enough to take the struggle to the next level, on the streets.
What Zimbabwe needs is a new leader with fresh ideas, not the look-east
nonsense and diet of starvation that we have known with Mugabe."

Dewa Mavhinga on http://www.kubatanablogs.net/kubatana

"I went to the supermarket today to peruse the empty shelves. What fun.
While there, I decided to run an informal survey. I asked nine people what
they would do if Bob gets in. Six answered they would leave the country; one
said she would follow me wherever I went; and only one said he would march
on State House. I wonder if the six who are leaving have already cut their
hole in the fence and what area of crime they will be forced to enter in
their unwelcome destinations? Update: OK... I can't do even small sums.
Maybe I should get a job for Zanu-PF?"

Contributor to http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe


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Peter Godwin: The desperate throes of a master election-rigger

Independent, UK

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

As Zimbabwe's elections hang in the balance, it's instructive to look at
Robert Mugabe's master map of electoral manipulation. There are three
distinct stages to how he rigs the poll.

Stage one is the skewing of the democratic environment. He has always done
this. Even in the very first post-civil war elections in 1980, that brought
him to power with an overwhelming mandate. Instead of moving all his
guerrillas into assembly points, as agreed under the Lancaster House peace
deal, he instructed a large number to stay among the rural electorate and
warn them to vote for him, or else 'aluta continua' – the war continues.

Now Mugabe uses the traditional tribal chiefs to control the rural
electorate. He pays them large salaries and gives them luxury SUVs, on
condition they instruct their followers to vote for him. Mugabe also
increased the number of rural polling stations, ostensibly, to cut the
distance rural voters have to travel to cast their ballots, but actually, to
impose greater scrutiny on how they vote. That way, instead of there being
dozens of villages in the catchment Mugabe's men can now identify opposition
votes with particular villages and threaten them with dire consequences.

Those consequences often revolve around food: in Zimbabwe hunger is the
dictator's ally, it is easily manipulated. With so many rural Zimbabweans
dependent on food aid, Mugabe threatens to cut food deliveries from areas
that don't vote for his ruling Zanu-PF party (the government-run grain
marketing board has a monopoly on all grain deliveries.)

To ameliorate the effects of hyperinflation, now way over 100,000 per cent,
Mugabe gave teachers, soldiers, policemen and civil servants huge salary
increases, in the run up to these elections. For these elections he also
gerrymandered parliamentary constituencies, giving more seats to the
northern rural constituencies, his traditional bastion, and taking seats
away from the cities and from the south, both opposition strongholds. Mugabe
also used the police and the Central Intelligence Agency to harass and
intimidate the opposition, and he denied the opposition fair access to the
media – especially to radio and TV, which are already state-controlled.

Finally, for stage one, in the week before the election, the heads of the
security forces appeared on state media to tell the nation that none of them
would allow any candidate, other than Robert Mugabe, to rule Zimbabwe – in
effect, threatening a pre-emptive coup to keep Mugabe in power if he lost
the vote.

The second stage takes place at the ballot box itself. The voter's roles are
bloated with "ghost voters," thousands registered to a single shanty, or to
bogus addresses. Voters rolls weren't made freely available to the
opposition to check. Many legitimate voters (in known opposition areas)
found their names had been taken off the rolls, and were unable to vote. As
were the Zimbabweans in the growing diaspora, who are not allowed postal
votes. Almost 70 per cent of Zimbabweans between the ages of 18 and 60 now
live and work outside the country, most of whom support the opposition.

In the last two elections these two stages of rigging have been enough to
get the "right" result for Mugabe. But in last Saturday's poll, the swing
towards the opposition was so great that these tactics did not, by
themselves, prevail. And so the Zimbabwe Election Commission (run by a
former army officer and usually reliably pro-Mugabe) was faced with stage
three rigging.

Theoretically this is relatively simple. At the central counting station,
figures are massaged to give the desired outcome. But in these latest
elections, it wasn't so simple. For one thing, they were, for the first time
"harmonised" elections – four different elections in one. Voters filled in
ballots for parliament, senate and local wards, as well as president. And
what really hamstrung Mugabe this time, was a provision in the new electoral
laws that results (of all four counts) be posted on walls on the 9,000
polling stations.

In the past, when rigging stages one and two worked well, this wouldn't
really have mattered. But now suddenly it does. Opposition representatives
went around photographing the posted results, and collating them. Mugabe's
men were able to chase opposition observers away from polling stations in
his heartlands, and it is for these that Mugabe is able to manufacture
fictitious results, to swing the overall results of the presidential
contest. But the Mugabe machine is not what it was. The logistics are
creaking, and the once monolithic party is now faction-ridden and beset by
internal succession feuds, undermining its rigging operation, perhaps
fatally.

Peter Godwin is the author of 'When a Crocodile Eats the Sun', on the
collapse of Zimbabwe


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Robert Mugabe's exit a chance for Zimbabwe

The Telegraph

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 02/04/2008

It appears that Robert Mugabe was so heavily defeated in the weekend
elections in Zimbabwe that he is undecided as to whether the effort of
rigging the result is actually worth the candle.

Unconfirmed reports emerging from Harare late yesterday even suggested
the 84-year-old despot may be negotiating an exit strategy.

It would be foolhardy to write the man off, but, even if he manages to
cling to office, his days are beginning to look numbered. His departure
would be the cause of immense rejoicing, but would also present the most
formidable challenge to Zimbabwe and the wider world.

Ideally, Mugabe would face trial. He has wrecked his once prosperous
country, though that is not a criminal offence under international law. In
the 1980s, his Fifth Brigade slaughtered 20,000 Ndebele civilians in
Matabeleland - and that almost certainly is.

Satisfying though it would be to see Mugabe in handcuffs answering
charges of genocide, such a precondition should not stand in the way of an
early departure. If immunity from prosecution were the price for his leaving
peacefully, it is one worth paying - no matter how distasteful the prospect.

As for the rebuilding of Zimbabwe, the international community will
face a stern test. As the former colonial power, Britain will be expected to
take responsibility for leading the recovery operation.

With the disaster of our unpreparedness for a post-Saddam Iraq still
being played out, we trust that a clear and fully thought-through
post-Mugabe blueprint is in place in the Foreign Office and Department for
International Development.

Both the EU and America will be required to do the heavy lifting on
the humanitarian front, for this is a country teetering on the brink of
disaster. This would have the additional benefit of squeezing out the
Chinese, who have shamelessly propped up Mugabe for years.

The restoration of the economy will prove the longer-term challenge.
With inflation currently standing at more than 100,000 per cent, the IMF and
World Bank must act swiftly to stabilise the currency.

Thereafter, economic reconstruction will revolve around commercial
agriculture, which means restoring farms to the white owners dispossessed
under Mugabe's catastrophic land ownership laws. Zimbabwe has the capacity
to feed the whole of southern Africa, while its mineral wealth is largely
unexploited.

And even Mugabe has not managed to destroy the country's rather good
infrastructure. But all, ultimately, is dependent on a successor regime that
can steer the country away from its corrupt and self-destructive past and
allow it to fulfil its potential.


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Mugabe ready to step down: party

Dawn

HARARE, April 1: Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe is ready to step down after
he accepted he failed to win the country’s presidential election, a senior
source in his ruling party and diplomats said on Tuesday.

An official in Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party said the president was prepared to
step down after 28 years in power but was still trying to win agreement from
the army’s chief of staff Constantine Chiwenga.

Three European diplomats meanwhile said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
was ready to deliver a press conference to confirm the news.

“He is prepared to step down because he doesn’t want to embarrass himself by
going to a run-off,” the ZANU-PF source said on condition of anonymity.

“There is only one person still blocking him, the army chief of staff.”
Senior diplomats in the capital Harare meanwhile confirmed that a deal had
been done for Mugabe to step aside in favour of opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai.

“Everything indicates that Mugabe will leave power smoothly,” said one of
the sources.

A second European diplomat said that Tsvangirai had called a press
conference for later in the evening.

“It (the press conference) indicates at least that Tsvangirai feels secure
and that he has something to say.” Various sources had earlier confirmed
that senior members of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party and
aides to Mugabe had been holding negotiations about an exit strategy since
Monday.

The talks opened after it became clear that Mugabe, who has ruled the former
British colony since independence in 1980, had been beaten in the
first-round of the presidential election which was held simultaneously with
parliamentary elections on Saturday.

The ruling party source said it now appeared that Tsvangirai had won around
48 percent of the vote — not enough for an outright majority — but that
Mugabe did not want to suffer the indignity of going through a second round
run-off with Tsvangirai later this month.

The MDC is confident that it has won both the presidential and parliamentary
elections and is already slightly ahead of ZANU-PF in the legislative count
with two-thirds of the results declared.

However there has still been no official results from the presidential
contest, prompting MDC accusations that the authorities were desperately
trying to cook up a way to keep Mugabe in power.

While there has so far been no significant violence in the aftermath of the
poll, news that Mugabe was ready to step down came after a coalition of
rights groups warned the country was teetering on the brink of anarchy.

In a petition to the regional 14-member Southern African Development
Community and the African Union, a coalition of 18 rights organisations
urged them to exert pressure for the rapid announcement of the presidential
result.

“We... have found it necessary to send this urgent petition to your
excellencies in order to save our country from potentially sinking into
complete anarchy if election results are manipulated,” the petition said.

The elections were held as Zimbabwe grapples with an inflation rate of over
100,000 percent and widespread shortages of even basic foodstuffs such as
bread and cooking oil.

The 84-year-old Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader, has blamed the economic woes
on the European Union and the United States, which imposed sanctions on his
inner circle after he was accused of rigging his 2002 re-election.—AFP


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No presidential candidate likely to get 50 percent: state media

africasia

†02/04/2008 05:31 HARARE, April 2 (AFP)

A run-off is likely in Zimbabwe's presidential elections with none of the
candidates in last weekend's polls expected to garner more than 50 percent
of the vote, a state daily said Wednesday.

"The pattern of results in the presidential election show that none of the
candidates will garner more than 50 percent of the votes, forcing a re-run,"
said The Herald newspaper, quoting analysts.


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Zimbabwe Opposition Says It’s Ready to Win Possible Election Run-Off

VOA

By Peter Clottey
Washington, D.C.
02 April 2008

Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by
Morgan Tsvangirai says it is prepared to defeat incumbent President Robert
Mugabe in a possible election run-off. The opposition party says although
election results so far released indicate it is ahead of the ruling ZANU-PF
party, it fears the rest of the results could be rigged in favor of
President Mugabe.

The latest presidential results released by Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission
(ZEC) put the MDC in first place, 49 percent to 42 percent for ZANU-PF, and
independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni following at a distant third
with about 8 percent.

From the capital, Harare, MDC spokesman Tendai Biti tells reporter Peter
Clottey that he believes the opposition will win any possible run-off.

“As far as we are concerned from the collection and coalition of results we
ourselves have gathered, we have won 55 percent of the votes after the 210
seats are counted. That means that there wouldn’t be a run-off. But however,
election results are still coming in and results are being doctored,
particularly in Mashonaland central, so there is a possibility of the
election being rigged. But even if it’s rigged I think the worst-case
scenario is a run-off,” Biti pointed out.

He said the opposition party is ready to defeat incumbent Mugabe under any
circumstances.

“We took him on last weekend, and we beat him. So we will beat him in the
air, we will beat him in the water. We will beat him in the sea, we will
beat in the bed, and we will beat him in the sky,” he said.

Biti said the MDC would welcome with open arms any of the other opposition
parties ahead of a possible run-off to present a united front against the
ruling ZANU-PF party.

“The fact of the matter is everyone who stood against Mugabe, any party
other than the ZANU-PF, stands for change and democracy in Zimbabwe. So I
can’t see any reason why people should not get together to fight Robert
Mugabe. The number one problem in Zimbabwe is Robert Mugabe† and the system
that he has created. We are tired of it. There are no jobs. There is no
food. People are dying, and people are hungry,” Biti noted.

He said it is true that President Mugabe will not hand over power to the
opposition easily.

“That is very correct. He has not handed power easily over the last 28
years. He was beaten in 2002, and he was beaten in 2005. Right now the
election took place on Saturday. It is now Wednesday, and he has not
announced the results. So, yes, he is a dictator, and he will not hand over
power easily. That is a fact,” he said.

Biti said the opposition party aims to rebuild the country and to restore
its political and economic clout in the South Africa sub-region.

“The aim of the MDC is to rehabilitate our country, and to give jobs and to
provide for the people and to bring back respect to our people,” Biti said.

Meanwhile, the leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the Mugabe
government are reportedly denying speculation that they were in talks to
arrange Mugabe’s resignation after last weekend's election.


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Endgame in Zimbabwe as Robert Mugabe nears exit

The Times
April 2, 2008

Catherine Philp in Harare and Jonathan Clayton in Johannesburg
The ruinous reign of Robert Mugabe was drawing to a close last night as
aides worked to secure him a facesaving exit after defeat at the polls.

Talks began after Mr Mugabe’s closest cohorts gathered at State House to
inform him that he had not only failed to win an outright victory in the
weekend’s presidential election, but was beaten into second place by his
challenger.

Late last night Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, refused to declare victory but told reporters that he had
achieved “above the constitutional requirement” to avoid a run-off.

He vowed to wait for the Election Commission to announce official results
before declaring victory, raising suspicions that a deal with Mr Mugabe was
already in place.

Mr Tsvangirai dismissed the delay as irrelevant, suggesting that he no
longer feared vote rigging. “The people of Zimbabwe have waited this long.
They can wait far, far longer,” he said.
South Africa was leading the behind-the-scenes negotiations on a
power-sharing deal in which a member of Mr Mugabe’s ruling Zanu (PF) party
would assume a vice-presidential position. Such a deal would also ensure
that Mr Mugabe retained immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed
during his authoritarian rule.

“It is over for Mugabe. No one is now talking about him staying on, just
somehow finding a graceful exit,” a diplomat said.

Even Mr Mugabe’s own colleagues admitted that the regime was witnessing its
final moments. “He [Mugabe] is prepared to step down because he doesn’t want
to embarrass himself by going to a run-off,” a Zanu (PF) official said.
“There is only one person still blocking him — the army chief of staff.”

On Saturday Mr Mugabe had dismissed talk of a second round, saying that such
a move was unheard of in Zimbabwe. “We knock each other out in the first
round,” he said. But his defeat was testing his pride. “He considers this to
be a huge insult, he is a proud man and needs an exit strategy,” a source
close to the talks said.

According to Western diplomats the man tipped to become the vice-president
to secure Mr Mugabe’s safe retirement is Dumiso Dabengwa, the Zanu (PF)
former Home Affairs Minister, who defected from the party five weeks ago.

He was part of a group of senior politburo members who, after years of
discontent with Mr Mugabe’s rule, decided to mount their own challenge.
Having failed to replace him as the party’s candidate, they chose a
colleague, Simba Makoni, the former Finance Minister, to stand against the
President. Mr Makoni’s entry into the presidential race peeled votes away
from the ageing leader, splitting the Zanu (PF) vote to Mr Tsvangirai’s
advantage.

At the same time, growing desperation over the country’s freefalling economy
and population decline energised the population to get out and vote for the
opposition.

Mr Mugabe’s rule began to unravel on Sunday as the MDC began releasing
results that it had collected from individual polling stations, indicating
the scale of its lead. Security chiefs then met members of the Election
Commission. When they were told that President Mugabe was heading for
defeat, the security chiefs ordered them to trickle out the results one by
one, announcing one each to the ruling party and the MDC and leaving hours
between announcements.

The delay caused alarm across the globe, with Britain, the US and the
European Union insisting that the results be released immediately.

Yesterday afternoon the ruling party leaked its own projections that handed
Mr Tsvangirai victory. MDC members spent the day speaking to the Zanu (PF)
politburo to convince them that they must accept the results, offering
incentives such as immunity or government positions to do so.

Diplomats said that nothing would be made official until a deal was
finalised. Mr Dabengwa, who met The Times in Matabeleland last week, denied
the reports that he was to become vice-president. But diplomats said that he
was the ideal candidate for the job. Mr Dabengwa told The Times that he did
not support putting Mr Mugabe on trial for the alleged human rights abuses
of the past, noting that Ian Smith, the white Rhodesian former leader, had
been allowed to go quietly after Zimbabwe won its independence from Britain
in 1980.


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Harare tense but calm: Aussie envoys

The Australian

Mark Dodd | April 02, 2008

THE situation in Zimbabwe remains tense but calm with no indications so far
of any violence, Australian High Commission officials in Harare have told
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

Mr Smith said he had spoken overnight to British Foreign Secretary David
Miliband on the Zimbabwe situation after calls yesterday with his African
counterparts.

But it was still difficult - even for diplomats - to get a true assessment
of what was happening in Zimbabwe following the March 29 election.

Official election results so far have Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) level-pegging Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF Party, both
holding 85 seats with results for another 35 seats yet to be declared.

“It is also the case that not just our mission but other missions - the
United States and the United Kingdom are also having difficulty in getting a
clear picture of events as they emerge,” Mr Smith said.

“It's important to monitor events as they unfold and not to get too far
ahead of ourselves.

“Everyone remains very concerned - very very concerned that Mr Mugabe by
fair means or foul may well try and steal this election.”

It was quite clear that the opposition had done very well so far and that Mr
Tsvangirai - despite all the difficult circumstances he had faced during the
election process had also done very well, he said.

The figures indicated Mr Mugabe had failed in his bid to secure the
two-thirds majority vote required to change the country's constitution.

There were no indications so far Zimbabwe's military were going to intervene
in support of Mr Mugabe but this could not be ruled out later.

“Whether that is the eventual outcome, time will tell,” Mr Smith said.

“We certainly hope there is no military intervention.”

The international community should continue to pressure the Mugabe regime to
ensure it respected the ballot result, Mr Smith said, adding that Australia
was standing by to offer significant aid in the event of Zimbabwe's return
to the democratic fold.


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Australia ready to help Zimbabwe

news.com.au

By staff writers and wires

April 02, 2008 11:53am

AUSTRALIA is ready to help any new government in Zimbabwe committed to
respecting the will of its people, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says.

Mr Smith said today he had spoken to his counterparts overseas, including
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

He told Mr Miliband overnight that Australia would seek to help a new
Zimbabwe government if one was formed.

"We want to see an orderly and peaceful outcome to the election," Mr Smith
said.

"We want the election result to be verified and the will of the people
respected. If there is a transition to a new government, then the Australian
Government will work closely and carefully with any new government which
seeks to respect the will of the Zimbabwean people."

Australia would be happy to work with a government that did not oppress its
people.

Mr Smith said he would speak to the foreign ministers of South Africa,
Zambia and Tanzania later.

He said it was apparent long-time Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe had tried
to "steal" the election.

"Obviously what it occurring here is, on the part of the opposition, an
attempt to ensure the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people is respected
and to seek to effect an orderly transition to a new government," Mr Smith
said.

"Obviously it's clear that Mr Mugabe, for some time, has been wanting to
resist that. His attempt to steal the election has largely been through a
delay in the election outcome rather than through military force or military
means."

It was up to the international community to pressure Mr Mugabe.

"What we now need to do is make the point crystal-clear that we want the
will of the Zimbabwean people to be respected.

"We want the election result published as quickly as possible and we want
all pressure placed on Mr Mugabe to prevent him from seeking to steal the
election."

Mr Smith said he had also spoken to Australia's high commissioner in
Zimbabwe.

"I'm told that things are calm, tense but calm, no indications at this stage
of any violence."

- With AAP


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End of days for 'Africa's Hitler'

National Post

Rumours of Mugabe's political demise swirl

Peter Goodspeed, Canwest News Service† Published: Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Has Zimbabwe's opposition succeeded in pushing Robert Mugabe out of power?
Africa's Hitler may finally be losing his nerve.

Tuesday night, Zimbabwe was abuzz with rumours that Robert Mugabe's security
henchmen are deep into negotiations with opposition leaders and South
African diplomats to push the 84-year-old President into a face-saving and
prosecution-free retirement.

As it becomes increasingly evident that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
may have won last Saturday's presidential election, some of his top advisors
are said to have made informal contacts with Mr. Mugabe's security officials
to discuss a transition of power.

Not that anyone connected with the deal is willing to be identified until a
bargain is signed, sealed and delivered.

In Zimbabwe, its not safe to assume Mr. Mugabe will or will not do anything.

But while there is no immediate indication Mr. Mugabe is preparing to step
down, the mere fact his henchmen considered a transition plan points to the
fact that his support within the ruling ZANU-PF party may be eroding
rapidly.

That wasn't the case five years ago, when Mr. Mugabe's opponents staged a
general strike to protest his tyrannical rule and the government's invasion
and seizure of white-owned farms.

Back then, when people first began talking of pushing Mr. Mugabe from power,
Zimbabwe's President threatened to lash out at his critics for even
considering the idea.

In 2003, Mr. Mugabe attended the state funeral of a thuggish cabinet
minister, Chenjerai Hunzvi, who led the war veterans group that spearheaded
the violent seizures of white-owned farms.

Speaking at the funeral, Mr. Mugabe noted that Mr. Hunzvi had adopted the
nickname "Hitler," because he admired the Nazi dictator's use of force and
despised the British. Then with all the sinister overtones his deep rumbling
teacher's voice could project, Mr. Mugabe added: "I am still the Hitler of
the time."

"This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for
his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights
over their resources.

"If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold," Mr. Mugabe added. "Ten
times, that is what we stand for."

Any vagueness in his meaning was swept away when police launched a violent
political crackdown the following day.

Dozens of opposition leaders were beaten and arrested and more than 250
government critics were injured by rampaging security forces.

That Mr. Mugabe should so publicly identify himself with Hitler was
indicative of both his arrogance and his desire to court controversy.

But it was also a shrewd analysis of his own political career.

Like Hitler, Mr. Mugabe swept to power in 1980 on a tide of popular support
and raw nationalist feeling.

Like Hitler, he promised to make his countrymen proud of their nation.

Like Hitler, he never hesitated to use violence, murder and mayhem to reach
his goals.

And Like Hitler, when his plans began to unravel, as he almost
single-handedly destroyed Zimbabwe's economy, Mr. Mugabe conjured up a
racial scapegoat -- white farmers -- to pin the blame on.

After 28 ruthless years in power, Mr. Mugabe has presided over the most
dramatic collapse of any country in history since Weimar Germany.

Now, as it becomes obvious his own people have turned against him and the
country could descend into civil war if he tries to declare himself the
winner of last week's election, Mr. Mugabe and his supporters are
considering their alternatives.

Suicide is not an option, unless Mr. Mugabe tries to cling to power by
force.

He is also said to regard participating in a second-round run-off election
three weeks from now as demeaning.

His only alternative may be to delay announcing the final results of
Saturday's vote while secretly negotiating a safe, comfortable retirement.

South Africa, which has long supported Mr. Mugabe in return for his
assistance to the African National Congress during the anti-apartheid
struggle, has a national interest in maintaining a stable Zimbabwe on its
northern border.

After years of hesitation, South African President Thabo Mbeki may now be
ready to step in and guarantee Mr. Mugabe a comfortable exile, perhaps
disguised as an indefinite form of medical treatment, in exchange for a
transitional power-sharing agreement between Zimbabwe's political parties.

Mr. Mugabe might opt to go to another neighbouring country, but his
movements are severely limited by existing international sanctions.

The threat of being charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for
his tyrannical rule may also give Mr. Mugabe pause to reflect on stepping
down.

His involvement in the 1983 killing of 20,000 people during a political
uprising in Matebeleland in southern Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe's deployment of
troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo's second civil war, which
resulted in the deaths of nearly 2 million people, could come back to haunt
him.

Mr. Mugabe's own supporters will also want to retain as much of the loot
they obtained from a Mugabe administration that was renowned for endemic
corruption.

But time is running out. Zimbabwe's voters are demanding to know the results
of an election they are sure will defeat Mr. Mugabe and, with the United
States and several European countries, are pressing Zimbabwe officials and
countries like South Africa to resolve the crisis quickly.

Tuesday's rumours of a pending retirement deal may have just been the
shuddering first movements of Zimbabwe's security forces reassessing their
own future, now that Africa's Hitler is hiding in his bunker.

National Post


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Mugabe will declare a rigged victory

The Telegraph

Posted by David Blair on 01 Apr 2008† at 11:01

What can we make of events in Zimbabwe? Voting took place on Saturday, yet
as of this morning, no results for the presidential poll had been disclosed.
Instead, the Election Commission has concentrated on the parliamentary
election which was held simultaneously, declaring 109 of the 210 seats so
far.

I think the gameplan is pretty clear. The Election Commission is not
releasing the results as and when they become available. Instead, it already
knows the outcome of these elections. The aim is to manage their disclosure
so as to head off popular unrest and prepare the ground for a Mugabe
victory.

So results showing Zanu-PF and the MDC will be dripped out, before Zanu-PF
gradually nose ahead.

Mugabe’s military leaders, forming the Joint Operations Command (JOC), met
him on Sunday night and came up with this plan. In today’s Guardian, Chris
McGreal has a clear and credible account of what transpired at this crucial
meeting.

“In the JOC meeting there were two options for Mugabe: to declare victory on
Sunday or declare martial law," said the diplomat. "They did not consider
conceding. We understand Mugabe nearly decided to declare victory. Cooler
heads prevailed. It was decided to use the [election commission] process of
drip, drip where you release results over a long period, giving the
opposition gains at first but as time wears on Zanu-PF pulls ahead.”

So the ground is being prepared for Mugabe to declare a (rigged) victory.
Zimbabwe’s tragedy continues.

Posted by David Blair on 01 Apr 2008 at 11:01


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Even in defeat, he is master of his fate

Independent, UK

By Basildon Peta in Johannesburg
Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Even though it appears that Robert Mugabe has been resoundingly defeated, he
is determined to dictate the terms of his departure.

If his chief opponent Morgan Tsvangirai does not concede defeat, then Mr
Mugabe will dig in his heels and remain ensconced in the state house. The
great uncertainty is whether the people of Zimbabwe will allow him to do
that this time round.

As the third day passed yesterday with no official word on the outcome of
the presidential election it seemed that the horse-trading was under way to
allow Mr Mugabe a dignified exit from power. After keeping mum for two days
Mr Tsvangirai finally spoke last night urging the authorities to "proceed
with haste" to announce the presidential result. He is the one who stands to
lose if the failure to announce the electoral outcome allows Mr Mugabe to
manipulate the vote.

The delay has fuelled Harare's rumour mill. One improbable theory was that
Mr Mugabe would be given a passage into exile, possibly to his home in
Malaysia. Knowing Mr Mugabe as I do I can safely say this is implausible. Mr
Mugabe will not simply allow himself to be humiliated in such a way. Yes, he
probably realises that the game is over. But he won't go in humiliation. It
seems his supporters in the army are urging him to dig in his heels.

The most probable scenario, as I see it, is that Mr Mugabe will try to force
the presidential election into a run-off. If that happens anything is
possible. He might still rig the outcome or as one of his officials whom I
spoke to yesterday suggested, he might give way for another candidate and
rig the election for him. The situation remains fuzzy.

If he is to get his way Mr Tsvangirai will have to make a lot of concessions
to the 84-year old-dictator. That means all talk of taking Mr Mugabe before
an international criminal court and prosecuting his cronies, with whom he
has destroyed Zimbabwe, will have to be dropped.

The worst-case scenario is Mr Mugabe's handpicked electoral commission
declaring him the victor in the presidential contest with a 51 per cent
margin, effectively nullifying Mr Tsvangirai's apparent victory. God forbid.
The consequences of that are too ghastly to contemplate.


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A wonder that Robert Mugabe could stay on

The Telegraph

By Sebastien Berger in Harare
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 02/04/2008

Worldstage

In any normal democracy where most people were unemployed, inflation
was running at over 100,000 per cent, and a third of the population needed
food aid, the government would be voted out by a landslide at the first
opportunity.

But Robert Mugabe has led Zimbabwe for 28 years, and, leaving aside
questions of the legitimacy of past elections, projections from last
weekend's ballot show him receiving more than 40 per cent of the vote.

It is a mark of Mr Mugabe's brilliance as a propagandist that he has
managed to persuade millions of people in his own country and across Africa
that it has been the EU's measures against him - an asset freeze and a visa
ban - that have somehow wrecked a once productive land, not his reckless
rule.

While the outside world waits for him to be toppled - unconfirmed
sources say talks have been taking place between Zanu-PF and the opposition
MDC with a view to the president stepping down - it is still possible to
find stalwart Mugabe supporters.

Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Jesuit who acts as the chaplain to Mr
Mugabe and his family, is one. The priest has known Mr Mugabe for decades,
from the time of the war against Ian Smith's regime, when he was an
international representative for him.

During the struggle, he would travel the country, free to do so as a
Catholic priest, gathering information for the guerrilla commander. Since
independence in 1980, he has given the blessing at every celebration of the
anniversary. He is resolute in his affirmation of what Mugabe has given the
nation.

"What has given birth to Zimbabwe is what matters," he said. "Identity
is not something to do with how much breakfast you eat or the house you
sleep in; it's to do with the dignity of oneself as a human being and
oneself as a nation.

"Zimbabweans will say we were liberated and became a people in 1980,"
he continues. "It does not mean that we do not see the inadequacies of
Zanu-PF or Mugabe. But that is not the issue. What is essential is what it
means to be a people. When people rally behind someone, for some that
individual is an autocrat, for some he is a demagogue, for some he is a
dictator, and for some, they say: 'He is my leader'."

This attitude is typical of nations across Africa, where independence
movements have gone on to govern for decades after throwing off the colonial
yoke. While many have turned themselves into one-party states, winning
freedom has also earned their leaders unwavering support from their people.
This is something that matters in Zimbabwe.

George Kaere is a successful businessman in Harare who perfectly
understands the loyalty Mugabe often inspires: "Zanu-PF fought for this
country, brought independence. Then it gave power to the people. We are the
beneficiaries of empowerment through land and through indigenisation."

He is a true believer, a member of the party since 1993. The
34-year-old is also a beneficiary of Zanu-PF's rule. He was working as a
safari guide in 2002 when he was allocated 50 acres of land in Shamva, 60
miles north-east of Harare, from a white-owned farm.

"At times, I feel sorry for them," he said of Zimbabwe's dispossessed
white farmers, "but most of them were arrogant. Land has been the cause of
conflict since Moses, Abraham and Joshua. Now everybody in Zimbabwe has got
land."

He has also been given about £15,000 worth of farming equipment and
soft loans over the years, which may explain his unswerving adherence to the
party line. He now grows maize and soybean on his farm, and employs six
people in his agricultural hardware shop and an upholstery business in the
capital.

"There's nothing that can stop me supporting Mugabe," he says. "I
think he has been the best leader in Africa in terms of defending the
sovereignty of his country and the interests of his people. Some African
leaders bow down to the West."

Echoing his leader, he blames Zimbabwe's economic woes on the West.
"This impasse between Britain and the government here, people sympathise
with Mugabe because of what is happening."

It seems that sympathy may be running out, however, as MDC remains
steady with Zanu-PF in the parliamentary elections, and in the presidential
election, opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai leads the race.

Mr Kaere disgrees, dismissing the MDC as "puppets of the West … Right
now they are just getting votes because people are frustrated."

But it seems Zimbabweans are so frustrated that their message may
finally be getting through - Robert Mugabe's reign must come to an end.
Would that it isn't a violent one.


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Zimbabwe Ponders Life After Mugabe

Time

Tuesday, Apr. 01, 2008 By ALEX PERRY

As recently as Monday, the idea of President Robert Mugabe voluntarily
giving up power after 28 years was unthinkable for all but the sunniest of
optimists. By Tuesday, there were persistent reports — though denied by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (M.D.C.) and the government — that
members of his regime, especially its security services, were negotiating a
handover of power and immunity from prosecution for the regime's crimes.
Three days after a general election whose results have yet to be announced,
the prospect of a peaceful exit by the country's longtime leader seems to be
growing. And that prompts the question: What would a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe be
like?

So deep is the socio-economic crisis over which Mugabe has presided that the
84-year-old's departure would not, in itself, fix Zimbabwe. But it would be
an important first step. With Mugabe gone and a new, less repressive and
autocratic regime in the offing — either one formed by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, or a multi-party national unity government —
the international community, and particularly institutions such as the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund, would likely renew their
engagement with Zimbabwe.
Several years of 80% unemployment and raging inflation (now 100,000%) has
left Zimbabwe's short-term infrastructure gutted, amid desperate shortages
of everything from telephone wires to stocks of fuel and food — as well as a
viable currency. So rapid has been Zimbabwe's decline, however, that much of
its more permanent infrastructure — roads, buildings, and the education
system — remains intact. While getting Zimbabwe back on its feet would
require a comprehensive program to repair the lighter infrastructure and
replace the Zimbabwe dollar, at least temporarily, with a more stable
foreign currency, results could be seen fairly quickly. Zimbabwe does not
need the kind of major infrastructural overhaul required in other African
countries, such as Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo. That may be
why at least one investment fund, LonZim, run by the Lonrho group, announced
last November that it was looking to raise more than �70 million to invest
in Zimbabwe.

The other question surrounding Mugabe's possible exit is: What would it do
for Africa? Answer: Possibly even more than it will do for Zimbabwe. Mugabe
is one of the last African Big Men, from the generation of leaders who won
independence from white or colonial rule in Africa, but who, once in power,
often applied the same standards of rapacious authoritarianism. That era is
coming to an end. Mobutu Sese Seko is gone from the Congo; Uganda's Idi Amin
went long ago. Autocratic regimes remain in place in Equatorial Guinea and
Sudan, but democracy is becoming the norm in much of Africa — and with it,
not coincidentally, has come peace. (The recent violence in Kenya, while
horrifying, can also be read as a refusal by the population to accept their
rulers' tyranny.) Mugabe's departure would signal the closing of an era not
just for a country, but for a continent. Any immunity deal he managed to
negotiate might frustrate human rights advocates who want to hold Mugabe to
account for abuses during his rule — particularly the massacre of tens of
thousands of villagers in the opposition stronghold of Matabeleland during
the 1980s — via the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But immunity
deals don't always hold. The arrest and trial in The Hague of former
Liberian President Charles Taylor, even after he was promised immunity as
part of the deal that eased him into exile in Nigeria, is obviously weighing
on the discussions between Mugabe's regime and the opposition, mediated by
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki.

Words like "momentous" and "historic" are being used by international
journalists to describe the events in Zimbabwe. And that may not be
hyperbole. If the reports prove true that Mugabe is on his way out, Zimbabwe
may well be about to experience nothing short of a rebirth.


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Post-Election Uncertainties Exacerbate Food Shortages In Zimbabwe

VOA

By Jonga Kandemiiri
Washington
01 April 2008

Shortages of the Zimbabwean staple maize meal, bread and sugar have worsened
in the immediate aftermath of the country's elections, with lines growing
outside bakeries and grain milling establishments as consumers wait in hope
of deliveries.

But such essential commodities are mostly found these days on the parallel
market at nominally staggering prices - Z$400 million (US$7) for a 10-kilo
bag of maize meal and Z$20 million for a loaf of bread. Inflation is running
well over 100,000%.

Sources familiar with the marketplace said one reason food has become more
scarce is that the government has stopped distributing food as pre-election
largesse.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce President Marah Hativagone told
reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the situation
might take a while to improve because many businesses are waiting for the
political picture to clear.

Results of the March 29 presidential and general elections have not yet
officially been released, but most parliamentary and local election winners
have been established.


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DA MP warns of final straw for Zimbabweans

Business Day

: 02 April 2008

Wilson Johwa

Political Correspondent

DEMOCRATIC Alliance (DA) MP Dianne Kohler Barnard says she fears that
subversion of election results in Zimbabwe could be the last straw. People
could lose hope of escaping the hardship prevailing there.

Kohler Barnard, part of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
election observer mission to Zimbabwe, returned to SA yesterday after
refusing to sign the mission’s report proclaiming the electoral environment
a “credible reflection of the will of the people of Zimbabwe”.

“The people have such hope,” she said. “I fear if victory was snatched from
them in (the) face of overwhelming evidence that they won this election … I
fear they will finally crack.

“I think they are a very peaceful people, but I think this will be the final
straw, and I am very fearful of Zimbabwe in three days’ time.”

But Kohler Barnard felt the proposal to send peacekeepers to Zimbabwe was
premature.

The African National Congress and the Young Communist League urged
deployment of troops to Zimbabwe to avert a Kenya-type situation.

She said endorsing the SADC observer mission’s proclamation would have made
a mockery of SADC’s 13 election principles. Only two were adhered to. “The
rest were blatantly ignored,” said Kohler Barnard, who also observed
Zimbabwe’s 2005 parliamentary election.

President Robert Mugabe had a near monopoly on television coverage.
Journalists got away with blatantly endorsing his candidacy, she said.

There was a peculiar emptiness about Zimbabwe, particularly with farms no
longer in use. “The country has reverted to bush. They will have to start
from scratch,” she said.

Food was in such short supply that fat people were rare.

She criticised the make-up of SA’s observer team, saying it was composed
mainly of public servants instead of politicians, who were better placed to
monitor elections. Most group members were naive and unable or unwilling to
see through the showmanship.

There were too many polling stations in the rural areas, leaving polling
officers there to “twiddle their thumbs”. But it was different in urban
areas where, despite long queues, many were determined to vote.

Counting in polling stations was “immaculate”, and in some polling stations
this was overseen by observers.

However, the involvement of observers ceased at the end of polling day when
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission took over.

Most observers were already making their way home after the expiry of their
mandate on Saturday.


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UK Zimbabweans look to future

BBC

†02:53 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Zimbabweans living in the UK are waiting for the outcome of the country's
elections with baited breath.

Who has won? Will Robert Mugabe stand down? And whoever wins, what can be
done to drag the country out of its economic downward spiral?

Alois Mbawara is National Co-ordinator for the Free Zimbabwe Youth Movement,
based in London. He's worried Zimbabwe's troubles could be about to get even
worse.

"We have been closely watching this and we are very concerned. The process
has not been going as we had hoped. It could turn into another situation
like Kenya."

Alois, who's 26, has lived in the UK for five years and was one of the
activists who took part in a Zimbabwe pro-democracy demonstration in London
on Saturday.

He called on intervention from the African Union and international
community.

"I don't think the Mugabe regime will accept defeat," he warned. "It is very
important that there are negotiations between the parties.

Others allow themselves some cautious optimism.

Georgina Godwin, a Zimbabwean journalist and broadcaster, used to have her
own TV and radio shows on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. She left in
2001 and faces arrest if she returns.
"I have been tearful for the past three days. My whole life has been focused
on this for the past eight years," she says.

"It's so huge and I can't believe once again we may be cheated out of it.

"It would be fantastic if the opposition win. It is time to rebuild, but one
of the problems is that so many of the people in power have so much to lose,
particularly financially.

"Everyone has been disappointed so many times before that one finds it
difficult to be hopeful - but I am hopeful."

Jennings Rukani is a Zimbabwean who has lived in Manchester for the past
nine years. He is desperate to go home.

"I love my country and my people and we want to see democracy prevail."

Jennings is chairman of the organisation representing the Zimbabwe
Independent candidate Simba Makoni in the UK.

"It is quite clear that Zanu-PF are trying to rig the elections. We want
democracy. If Morgan Tsvangirai has won, myself and my colleagues would
support him."

Jennings said he is finding it difficult to sleep because he feels so
passionate about the election results.

"A lot of people say if the election results are rigged the country will
explode. The Zimbabwe people are peace loving but their patience is being
tested to the limit. The anger that has been building up for the past 10
years is likely to explode."

Philip Chikwiramakomo hopes for more than just a change of president. He's
the co-ordinator of a UK-based charity, which raises funds for educational
projects in Zimbabwe.

"A change of president is not enough," he says.

"It would give a breathing space. But it is a first step, a foundation, it
doesn't mean the Zimbabwe people would be free.

"If change does come, stabilising the economy is essential - there is a lot
of starvation and suffering.

"It would be important to have a constitution that guarantees the rights of
each and every Zimbabwean regardless of their gender, races, sexuality or
tribe."

Stella Maravanyika, 65, was a human rights activist in Zimbabwe until 2000.
She left the country when her life was threatened, and she's now working
with Zimbabwean asylum seekers in London.

She said: "People were so optimistic, but Mugabe is playing around.

"And if the government doesn't change, then it would be very difficult for
any of the Zimbabwean people who are presently in the UK to ever go back
home again and live under a Mugabe government."

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