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UPDATE 2-Counting delayed in crucial Zimbabwe vote

HARARE, June 26 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe officials said on Monday a huge turnout had seriously delayed the start of counting in crucial elections that threaten the 20-year rule of President Robert Mugabe's party.

To shouts of disbelief at a news conference, Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, a senior official in Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, said only one constituency had begun the count, more than 20 hours after polls closed.

"The rest of the constituencies are still carrying out verification and have not started counting.....the turnout is just too large, overwhelming ... nearly twice as much as we have experienced," Mudede said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is mounting a potent threat to hitherto unchallenged ZANU-PF rule, has accused the government of planning to rig the poll.

Shortly after 3 p.m. (1300 GMT) at a delayed news conference, Mudede said: "I am sorry to inform you that the turnout out of voters has been very large. Normally we start receiving results by 11 or 12 a.m. onwards but today it has not been possible. "

Before he spoke, police chief Augustine Chihuri issued a grave appeal for calm and warned against spreading false rumours.

"For those who do not accept the verdict, law enforcement agencies of the police will ensure that the people are forced to accept the outcome of the status quo.

"It is my appeal that everyone should be level-headed and should be mindful that as a country we need law and order and security of our country and citizens," Chihuri said.

Election officials had said on Sunday after the polls closed that the first results would be ready around midday on Monday.

SUSPENSE INCREASES

The delay increased suspense around the country where many Zimbabweans were glued to radios awaiting the result of the most important election in the country's independent history.

The turnout to elect 120 members of parliament looked like being one of the highest since independence, when ZANU-PF won a sweeping majority that it has not relinquished since.

The high turnout came despite what European observers said were intense levels of intimidation by ZANU-PF officials that made it virtually impossible for opposition candidates to campaign.

"The term 'free and fair elections' is not applicable in these elections," said Pierre Schori, head of the EU observers, the biggest group of foreign monitors.

"The level of violence and intimidation in the pre-election phase makes the term not applicable," the former Swedish government minister told a midnight news conference.

ZANU-PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, a close aide of Mugabe, told Reuters: "That is real garbage.

"They are biased and with this report they have confirmed that the EU's real mission is actually out to help those trying to overthrow President Mugabe and our party."

At least 30 people, mostly supporters of the MDC, have died in violence linked to the elections and invasions of hundreds of white-owned farms by pro-government militants since February.

NEW VIOLENCE

As counting started, news came in of a new incident.

Five MDC members were severely beaten by suspected ZANU-PF thugs on Saturday night in the Mataga area of central Zimbabwe.

"They were violently assaulted. People are really scared down there," human rights worker Val Ingham-Thorpe told Reuters after rushing three of the men to a Harare hospital on Monday. Mudondo Timomenda was burned on the buttocks and beaten on his feet, while Simbai Murigwa had suffered a large, deep burn on his shoulder. Alphayo Shoko's face was badly swollen after he was battered on the head, she said.
The other two MDC members were still missing, Ingham-Thorpe said, adding that there had been 120 violent incidents in the Mataga area in the run-up to the elections.

Schori said that while weekend voting itself was "highly positive", the level of pre-poll violence and a "lack of transparency" by the government-appointed election body meant the process was seriously flawed.

"ZANU-PF leaders seemed to sanction the use of violence and intimidation against political opponents and contributed significantly to the climate of fear so evident during the election campaign," Schori said.

Observers from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) said they had noted scattered incidents of intimidation and problems with voters' lists, but the team judged the poll free and fair.

"In view of all that transpired during the campaign, including the violence and acrimonious debate, the major challenge now facing the Zimbabwean people has to do with creating a national strategy and forging forward with their development in an atmosphere of peace and harmony," the OAU monitoring team said in a statement.

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June 26 2000 http://www.the-times.co.uk/news/pages/tim/2000/06/26/timfnffnf01002.html
WORLD NEWSFEATURES Copyright 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.

Daniel McGrory in Macheke talks to the family of the first farmer killed by the 'war veterans'  
Farmer's widow votes for justice
FOR a moment Maria Stephens was tempted to return at the weekend to Arizona farm, where her husband, David, was abducted and murdered barely two months ago.  
She had driven back to Virginia to vote and stared longingly at the dirt road leading to her tobacco plantation which the so-called war veterans have triumphantly turned into their headquarters.
A crudely painted sign at the roadside says: "This is a liberated area. Whites not welcome." The 39-year-old widow grits her teeth in frustration and steers her Land-Rover away, saying: "I'm not scared of them, but I have my four kids to think of and I mustn't take risks for their sake. But one day I'll go back."
Many of her neighbours had pleaded with her not to go back to vote in Macheke after her public outbursts accusing President Mugabe of having her husband's blood on his hands.  
She is unrepentant, and as she waited in the encouragingly long queue at the polling station in Craigie-Lea primary school Mrs Stephens said: "Look around. There is too much positive feeling here, too many opponents of Mugabe, for the gunmen to have the guts to do anything to me here".  
She is a testament to the resolve in Zimbabwe not to be bullied into submission any more. "We owe it to David and the others killed to make damn sure this cannot happen again," she said. "There is no point in me or anyone dwelling on the past. We have to go forward".  
Every few minutes a neighbouring farmer would appear along the red dirt track and embrace her, eagerly enquiring about her and the children. "What I hate most about living in exile is having to rely on the charity of others. We lost everything, so friends have been giving us clothes, furniture, the lot."  
Ironically, just days before he was killed, David Stephens had applied to emigrate to Australia in frustration that he could not change the way Zimbabweans - white and black - thought and acted.  
His widow is fiercely critical of the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) for not doing more to resolve the crisis, let alone thwart it before it degenerated into the vicious cycle of violence that has destroyed her family. "OK. So hindsight is easy, but David and I thought the CFU incompetent," she said.  
"Everyone forgets the first man to die in this campaign was not David but a black policeman doing his job and standing up to the so-called war veterans.  
"The CFU should have drawn attention to that, used its money to take care of his family, pledge to educate the officer's children. Instead they were hopeless. They said 'we need more facts about the incident' and 'we can't get involved'. We are involved, for God's sake.
"The CFU, the churches, banks, every business should have gone to Mugabe when the farm invasions started and said, 'Stop now or we burn our tobacco crops, so you lose as well as us'. We didn't stand up for ourselves."  
She is articulate and animated, waving her arms to emphasise the point that she was "a political animal" well before the death of her husband. "We would argue with our neighbours at the Country Club because David and I had radically different ideas on how to treat black workers. I was happy being a farmer's wife, but I was never part of that bridge and pink gin set. We just wished the CFU and others had set up real programmes to improve the lot of the black farm workers."  
The couple shared their profits with their labourers and refused to renovate their own property until new houses had been built for the staff.  
Her only disappointment as she stared along the line of several hundred voters at Craigie-Lea at the weekend was that she could see none of the labourers from her farm.  
"I'm afraid for them. Worried they have been bullied into running away or worse," she said. She drove for miles along deserted country tracks, ignoring her own security, calling at various remote polling stations around Virginia, trying to find familar faces, but she found none.  
Last night she had returned to her temporary home - lent to her by Swedish diplomats - in one of Harare's smartest suburbs.
"I can handle the change. I'm a town girl from Sweden who thought food came from supermarkets and who never wanted to go near a farm until I met and fell in love with a farmer. But the children feel the difference, leaving Arizona," she said.  Wrestling with her three- year-old twins, Sebastian and Warren, she added: "They keep asking where their toys are and why they can't go back to their big back garden. These last few weeks they have stopped asking where daddy is. But they wake every night and want to come in my bed."  
Mrs Stephens's two eldest children, Marc, 15, and Brenda, 14, were sitting in the front room. They will leave Zimbabwe in August to finish their education in her home town in Sweden - not to escape political violence, she insists, but for fear of Aids.  
There are photographs of their father pinned to a noticeboard, but the two teenagers prefer not to talk about the day in April when he telephoned them and said that a gang of squatters had forced their way on to the farm. The phone call was the last time that Marc heard his father's voice.
Mrs Stephens knows who murdered her husband, but she narrows her brown eyes in rage that the police have never questioned the man, whom the Stephens aided financially.  
"The police say they are investigating, but I know where the man lives. He struts around Murewa boasting about it. I just pray that one of the first things a new Government will do is get the police to do their job and start by arresting David's killer."  
She is convinced her husband was murdered to stop him from revealing the corruption of fellow councillors on Murewa district council. "He was about to go public with it, and it reaches to the very top," she said.  
She still intends to reclaim Arizona. "It's mine, and besides it's our only source of income. It will take two years to repair it, and maybe I will sell it or lease it, but I don't want it staying in the hands of these thugs. I won't let David's killers have it." She had intended to keep a low profile during the election until Mr Mugabe blamed her husband for "starting this war". "I was so incensed I had to speak out. This proves the man is deranged. Zimbabwe must get rid of him," she said.  
A senior figure in the oppostion Movement for Democratic Change described her as "the conscience of Zimbabwe". Embarrassed, she said: "That is a beautiful thing to say. But if I had a wish, it was that nobody had heard of me and my David was still alive." She pushed her hair from her face and cried.


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June 26 2000 Copyright 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.

WORLD NEWSFEATURES

How Joyous risked dinner to cast his ballot  FROM MICHAEL DYNES IN KWEKWE

JOYOUS KARONGA tied his chicken to the fence around the polling station on the outskirts of Kwekwe, 150 miles south of Harare, before casting his vote in Zimbabwe's fourth general election.  An over-officious and unsympathetic policeman had told him that he could not take the chicken into the station. Joyous had to choose between running the risk that his chicken might not be there when he returned or not vote at all.  But like millions of Zimbabweans he was determined to vote. On emerging from the polling station and relieved to discover that his chicken was still there, he whispered the opposition slogan: "Chinjai - I have voted for change."  Despite predictions of a landslide for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Kwekwe is no place to advertise one's opposition to President Mugabe's rule. During the terror that swept the countryside in the past two months, thousands of black farm workers were savagely beaten by marauding bands of self-styled war veterans.  The homes of suspected opposition sympathisers were rased. At night, re-education camps were held across the region to bludgeon the electorate into voting for the ruling Zanu (PF). Blessing Chibunda, the MDC candidate for Kwekwe, was forced to flee after his home was pillaged by a suspected Zanu mob. He is standing against Emerson Mnangagwa, the Justice Minister, but has been in hiding since May, fearful that he will join the list of murdered opposition candidates.  In Kwekwe's black township of Mbizo, a dozen, so-called war veterans had built their camp-fire near the polling station. Staring menacingly at the long queue of voters, which snaked its way round the breeze block shacks, they contented themselves with drinking the local brew. Their work had already been done.  "It's better for me to keep quiet," one man said. "People here are afraid to talk."  For hours they queued, sheltering under the lemon trees from the blistering heat, waiting for their turn to vote. The lines moved painfully slowly, but never seemed to diminish.  They kept coming in their thousands. Women with babies strapped to their backs, old men hobbling on wooden sticks, and huge numbers of young people, few of whom have jobs and all of whom are voting for the first time.  Many hundreds were turned away after being told they could not vote because they were not on the electoral roll, their identity papers were not in order, or because the supplementary electoral roll, detailing late registrations, had failed to arrive. Their details were meticulously recorded on forms headed "Particulars of Persons Denied the Vote" by the dutiful officials.


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COMMERCIAL FARMERS' UNION
 
FARM INVASIONS UPDATE
 
MONDAY 26 JUNE 2000
 
  
Zimbabwe Elections 2000
 
INTERIM STATEMENT
 Pierre Schori
Head of EU Election Observation Mission
 
Introduction
The people of Zimbabwe have voted in large numbers in this weekend's parliamentary elections. Despite a high level of violence and intimidation during the campaign, and serious flaws and irregularities in the electoral process, they have shown a clear determination to influence the future of their country - both individually and through the structures of civil society.
 
The European Union and its member states have co-operated with Zimbabwe politically and financially since independence in 1980. The EU is the largest contributor of development assistance. As an act of commitment to the people of Zimbabwe, the EU deployed some 190 experienced EU observers throughout the country, the largest international observer mission, with the aim of contributing to a more favourable climate for the elections. We see our presence here as a natural consequence of our support for the struggle for independence; and we wish to build a strong partnership with a peaceful and democratic Zimbabwe.
 
EU observers were in general warmly welcomed. They established contacts with political parties, local authorities and civil society. They attended some one hundred political rallies .The EU mission also benefited from co-operation with the monitors and other international observer missions.
The EU Election Observation Mission's assessment of the electoral process falls into three phases: the election preparations and campaign; voting and the count; and the post- election period. A final report will be presented on 3 July 2000.
 
The Pre-Election Period & the Campaign
It is clear from the daily reports and weekly assessments made by EU observers in every part of the country that there were serious flaws and failures in the electoral process.

Electoral Management and Administration
The body effectively running the elections, the Office of the Registrar-General, did not operate in an open and transparent manner, and as a result failed to secure the confidence of both the political parties and of the institutions of civil society in the electoral process.
 
The Electoral Supervisory Commission, which is constitutionally responsible for overseeing the electoral process, was systematically rendered ineffective by both legal and administrative means.
Changes made to the electoral regulations only days before the vote, together with a series of deliberate administrative obstructions, severely undermined the ability of domestic monitors to carry out their work. The EU Election Observation Mission reached the conclusion that this was not due to administrative incompetence but to a deliberate attempt to reduce the effectiveness of independent monitoring of the election. Similar obstructions were placed in the way of international observers.
 
Violence and intimidation
High levels of violence, intimidation and coercion marred the election campaign. An assessment of violence and intimidation since February 2000 made by the EU Election Observation Mission, together with reports from EU observers operating throughout the country since early June, indicate that Zanu PF  was responsible for the bulk of political violence.
Zanu PF  leaders seemed to sanction the use of violence and intimidation against political opponents and contributed significantly to the climate of fear so evident during the election campaign. Calls for peaceful campaigning and efforts to restrain party supporters, including the war veterans, were often ambiguous. Overall, the conduct of the government has failed to uphold the rule of law and compromised law enforcement agencies.
MDC supporters were also engaged in violence and intimidation, but the degree of their responsibility for such activities was far less. Moreover, MDC leaders were clearer in their condemnation of violence.
 
The levels of violence and intimidation, and the ability to campaign in relative peace, varied considerably from one part of the country to another. EU observers monitored scores of political rallies in all provinces of the country organised both by Zanu PF  and MDC.
In the major cities, although intimidation was far from absent, the campaign was robust. In many rural areas, however, the levels of intimidation by Zanu PF  were so intense as to make it virtually impossible for the opposition to campaign.
 
Media coverage
During the campaign the government-controlled media did not provide equal access to the political parties contesting the election. Both the public broadcaster, the ZBC, and government-controlled newspapers were used as publicity vehicles for Zanu PF . The ZBC failed to ensure informed political debate. Propaganda crowded out the real issues of the campaign. Opposition parties have had to rely on commercial media only.
 
Voting & the Count
Generally speaking the voting was calm and well organised. The EU Observer teams, working in co-ordination with other international observers, and with the support of civic organisations, visited some 1,700 polling stations over the two-days of voting, more than 40 percent of the total.
 
Their overall assessment of the polling is highly positive. Presiding officers and their staff on the whole were competent and efficient. There were, however, serious problems concerning the voters' roll and the number of intending voters who were unable to cast their ballots. Moreover, as a result of the obstructions placed in the way of domestic monitors, their effectiveness was seriously compromised.
Our verdict on the counting process will be made clear at a later stage.
 
Interim Assessment
In summary, the violence and intimidation during the pre-election period must be condemned. The courts should deal with all cases of human rights abuses associated with the electoral process. This will be essential in helping to re-establish respect for the rule of law in Zimbabwe.
 
The serious defects in the electoral process, particularly in regard to the voters' roll and the lack of transparency of the electoral authorities should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
We believe that the presence of international observers had a calming and stabilising effect.
We commend the impressive manner in which the people of Zimbabwe have shown their determination to influence their own destiny.
 
The Post-Election Period
Our final assessment will cover the whole process including the immediate post-election period. The report will be presented to European Union Members States, to the European Parliament and to the European Commission, as well as to the European Development Fund (EDF) which will meet on 5 July 2000. The issues to be addressed will include:
 
-  the extent to which the new dispensation in Zimbabwe respects the will of the people;
-  how the general environment within the country accommodates the new political realities;
-  the manner in which the political forces within the country work together to address the problems confronting Zimbabwe;
-  the extent to which respect for the rule of law and the protection of human rights is promoted by the new government; and
-  what efforts are being made to ensure that politically-motivated crimes and electoral malpractice are pursued.
With high authority comes high responsibility. The President of Zimbabwe will have to play a crucial role in the post election phase.
  
REGIONAL REPORTS 
 
MASHONALAND CENTRAL
Polling boxes were transported this morning without incident and the region has been relatively peaceful, with no reports for most areas as at midday.
 
Centenary - Senior war vet leaders from Centenary East requested transport to Mt Darwin to hear the results and to attend a meeting regarding their "way forward".  A non-politically motivated armed robbery took place at Aronbira Farm and a water pump was stolen.  One arrest has been made in connection with this case and it was found that the weapon carried was a fake.
 
Victory Block - Numerous requests for transport and food have been refused today without incident so far.
 
MASVINGO
Chiredzi - Quiet. The EU observers calculate that only 30% of voters in the 2 constituencies cast their votes over the weekend. The mobile polling unit did not arrive at the venue as indicated, so farmers had to move their labour to a fixed station.
 
Mwenezi - The District Administrator has been threatened for "not being on sides". He is not adhering to the war vets' demands, and they now want to hold a tribunal hearing to get the District Administrator fired.
 
MIDLANDS
Quiet. 
 
MASHONALAND WEST NORTH
Generally some intimidation took place in the province over the weekend. However, most polling stations reported calm and orderly voting. On Saturday morning a monitor was abducted at Yomba for just over 2 hours, and in Raffingora monitors were prevented from leaving the area.
Two farmers received death threats over the weekend.
A fake landmine found on the Chenanga Road and had a political sticker on it.
There were many problems with the collection of ballot boxes in Mhangura, Lions Den and Raffingora. The Karoi ZRP backup force will be on standby until Friday.
 
MASHONALAND WEST SOUTH
Norton - Shots have been fired most nights for the last week or ten days on Parklands, evidently to intimidate people there.  On another property there was a death threat to a farmer and on a further property a couple of pensioners were assaulted due to them not having voted.
 
Selous - There was a report on Saturday night of a lorry being petrol bombed.  Quite a lot of damage was done with a lot of the timber it was carrying being burnt.  We are unsure of the motive behind this attack.
 
Chegutu/ Suri Suri /Chakari  - A number of properties have been vacated of War Vets in these areas in the last 24 hours or so. 
 
Kadoma - There are still around 300 people on Milverton Estates and there was a bit of new pegging yesterday. On Lidford/Coryton Peggers left after about an hour.
 
MASHONALAND EAST
Marondera South -  Youths from Monte Christo were instructed by war vet Marimo to sleep at the base that the war vets have set up. Whether this need to bolster their numbers is because of fear on their part, or that some mischief is planned, is not clear.
A group of war vets arrived at Lendy Farm late this morning reiterating their intention to take Elmswood and making demands and threats. Their mood was aggressive. This particular group are a serious nuisance to a number of farmers in the area. Lydiasdale has also been visited, and other farms are expecting a visit from the same group.  Whether this is an isolated independent group or not is unclear. Now that the voting is behind us we may be seeing the beginning of a shift in emphasis away from intimidation and back to pressurizing for land
Wedza - The owner of Markwe was told by drunk war to vacate the farm when the election results are out. At Chakadenga on Sunday, a party of about twenty people was caught on a thieving binge in the maize land. Guards arrested two people. On Skoonveld fences on the farm were cut and a large number of communal land cattle were driven onto the farm. Serious stocktheft problem in the area. On Poltimore a beast was shot and carried away, and on Shaka again a beast was slaughtered and taken away in a 4x4. This vehicle was chased, but escaped.
 
MATABELELAND
Nyamandhlovu - Threats have been made of violence against farmers.
 
Bulawayo - There has been a buildup of numbers on Boomerang.  30 war vets are demanding to move onto Springs Farm. There are already some 300 from a different group occupying the property. The company's warehouse in Bulawayo was burnt down on Friday, destroying timber and machinery to the value of $4 million.
 
MANICALAND
Quiet. 
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