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Zimbabwe election results delay fuels vote-rigging fears


By Sebastien Berger in Harare and David Blair, Diplomatic Editor
Last Updated: 7:59pm BST 31/03/2008
Page 1 of 3

If Zimbabwe's regime had wanted to maximise public suspicion surrounding the elections, it could scarcely have worked more effectively today.

First, there were no results for about 36 hours after polls closed on Saturday. Then the first declarations trickled in this morning.

Supporters of the opposition MDC party celebrate in Harare
Watch: Supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai celebrate

But they were not for the crucial battle for the presidency between Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

Instead, the Electoral Commission chose to concentrate on the election for the lower house of parliament.

At 6am, it was revealed that the MDC and Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party had won three seats each.

Five hours later, Zimbabwe learned that the two parties had won another nine seats each.

By 4pm, they were level pegging with 19 seats each.

When another tranche of results were disclosed at 7pm, Zimbabweans learned that the two parties were apparently still neck-and-neck with 26 seats each.

No hard conclusions can be drawn from these announcements, save that no random declaration of results as and when they became ready could explain them.

The Electoral Commission was clearly working to a plan.

Experience from previous polls suggests that the results will be disclosed in a careful order to give the appearance of a genuinely tight contest, before Zanu-PF gradually noses ahead.

In a café in central Harare today, a businessman listened to the results on his mobile phone, relaying them to rapt customers and staff.

Beside him, a colleague greeted every opposition victory by grinning broadly and waving her hand in the open-palmed salute of the MDC.

Some of those listeners suspected that the neck-and-neck tally was a bid to give the impression of a close race as a prelude to announcing a narrow victory for Mr Mugabe.

A man cycles past an elction board: In Pictures- Fraud fears as Zimbabwe goes to the polls
Watch: Fraud fears as Zimbabwe goes to the polls

The businessman, though, clung to an optimistic outlook.

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Latest available results

Zim Online

     Monday 31 March 2008


ZANU PF     31

MDC  (Tsv) 30

MDC (Mut)   4

Indep          -


HARARE - Latest Zimbabwe election results as at 6.15pm Monday.

Bulilima West

MDC (Mut)            3996

ZANU PF                3359

MDC (Tsv)             1658

Harare West

MDC (Tsv)            7938

ZANU PF              1605

MDC (Mut)            1079

Indep                    366

Beitbridge East

ZANU PF              4741

MDC (Mut)            2194

MDC (Tsv)             1101

Gutu South

MDC (Tsv)            5757

ZANU PF               3359

MDC (Mut)             1570

Indep                     334

Chiredzi South

ZANU PF            5147

MDC (Tsv)           2205

MDC (Mut)          1271


MDC (Mut)           3928

ZANU PF              2627

MDC (Tsv)             2294

ST Mary’s

MDC (Tsv)             6508

ZANU PF              2464

MDC (Mut)             1183

UPP                         171

ZDP                          39

ZPPDP                      25

Mudzi West

ZANU PF              9407

MDC (Tsv)              2408

MDC (Mut)            953

UPP                        163

Insiza South

MDC (Mut)              5252

ZANU PF                4006

MDC (Tsv)               890

PHUMA               171

Harare North

MDC (Tsv)           6710

ZANU PF              3135

Indep                    441

UPP                      226

Hurungwe Central

ZANU PF             4997

MDC (Tsv)             1399

MDC (Mut)            494

Gwanda Central

MDC (Mut)          4323

ZANU PF              3340

MDC (Tsv)            1354

Indep                     657

PHUMA                    94

Indep                     85


MDC (Tsv)             7048

ZANU PF              7029


ZANU PF             14 264

MDC (Tsv)              3772

UPP                           578

Mazowe North

ZANU PF              5466

MDC (Tsv)            2508

MDC (Mut)             717

Indep                    363


MDC (Tsv)             3325

MDC (Mut)             3178

ZANU PF                  940

Indep                       697

FDU                        146


ZANU PF                  4799

MDC T                      4450

IND                           760

UPP                          333

Bulilima East

MDC (Mut)          3180

ZANU PF              3104

MDC (Tsv)            2181

MT Darwin West

ZANU PF             18236

MDC (Tsv)            1792

MDC (Mut)             887

Bulawayo East

MDC (Tsv)           3587

MDC (Mut)          2525

ZANU PF             1031

Indep                    471

FDU                       147

Indep                     114

UPP                        80

MT Darwin South

ZANU PF           9105

MDC T               2698

Indep                 380

UPP                     115

Bulawayo Central

MDC (Tsv)          3786

MDC (Mut)         3553

ZANU PF             908

Indep                191

PHUMA               162

FDU                    74

Indep                   63

Shamva North

ZANU PF             10385

MDC (Tsv)            1354

MDC (Tsv)             1173

Indep                   526

UPP                     105

Goromonzi South

MDC (Tsv)            6456

ZANU PF              5305

MDC (Mut)            1341

Indep                    395

1ndep                   149

Chegutu East

ZANU PF             9222

MDC (Tsv)             2724

MDC (Mut)            1218


MDC (Tsv)             5731

ZANU PF              1252

MDC (Mut)               696

Hurungwe East

ZANU PF           9465

MDC T             1573

Murehwa West

MDC (Tsv)            7334

ZANU PF             6313


ZANU PF                   11 042

MDC                           1647

MDC                          716

Kadoma Central

MDC (Tsv)                   8 180

ZANU PF                     2 738

Zvimba West

ZANU PF                   7 281

MDC                         3 801

Chitungwiza North

MDC (Tsv)                   7 539

ZANU PF                   2 073

MDC (Mut)                   734

UPP                              47

Zvimba East

ZANU PF                   5 197

MDC (Ts)                  3 554

Zaka West

MDC (Tsv)                   4734

ZANU PF                   4 030

PAFA                         347

Indep                        307

Mudzi South

ZANU PF                   8 202

MDC (Tsv)                  2 735

MDC (Mut)                  1 370

UPP                           180

Mazowe Central

MDC (Tsv)                       5 573

ZANU PF (Chimutengwende)     4 136

UPP                                 119

ZPDP                                79


ZANU PF                      14 916

MDC (Tsv)                      1 947

Indep                               46


MDC (Matibenga)           8 763

ZANU PF                       2 048

UPP                               198

ZDP                              58

Goromonzi North

ZANU PF                   5 626

MDC (Tsv)                  4 845

Zaka Central

MDC (Tsv)                  5 972

ZANU PF                   4 974

MDC (Mut)                  1 255

Indep                         289

Gutu West

ZANU PF                     5 054

MDC (Tsv)                  4 082

ZANU PF                     2 384

Masvingo Central

MDC (Tsv)                   4 905

ZANU PF                      4 793

Indep                               327

ZDP                               293

UPP                               250



MDC  (Tsv)         6092

ZANU PF             1 334

MDC (Mut)            900

UPP                      99

Murehwa North

ZANU PF             7 104

MDC (Tsv)            6 468


MDC (Tsv)            7 677

ZANU PF             1 901

Indep                      543

Indep                      261

UPP                     93

Mutoko South

ZANU PF             10 795

MDC (Tsv)            2 897

MDC (Mut)             762

UPP                      200

Highfield West

MDC (Tsv)            7 532

ZANU PF             1 328

MDC (Mut)             907

ZPPDP                     74

Murehwa South

ZANU PF             9 032

MDC (Tsv)            3 410

UPP                     287

Kuwadzana East

MDC (Tsv)            8 381

ZANU PF             1 388

Indep                     150

UPP             85

Masvingo South

ZANU PF             6 365

MDC                     3 707

Indep                     500

Mt Pleasant

MDC (Tsv)            3 875

ZANU PF            1 738

MDC (Mut)            1 426

ZCDP                      152

Harare South

ZANU PF            7 111

MDC (Tsv)            4 389

MDC (Mut)             819


MDC (Tsv)            7 071

ZANU PF             980

MDC (Mut)            834

ZANU PF            634

UPP                      87

VP                     63

Hwedza North

ZANU PF            6 267

MDC (Tsv)            3 586

Makoni Central

MDC (Tsv)            7 060

ZANU PF              4 055

Indep                     1 305


ZANU PF             13 396

MDC (Tsv)            2 156

MDC (Mut)             814


MDC (Tsv)            9 575

ZANU PF            1 450

Indep                      589

ZDP                      54

Indep                     0

Marondera East

ZANU PF            6 514

MDC (Tsv)            2 268

MDC (Mut)             788

Indep                     201

Chipinge East

MDC (Tsv)            7 038

ZANU PF            4 131

Marondera West

ZANU PF            4 284

MDC (Tsv)            2 132

Indep                     1520

Chegutu West

MDC Tsv    6772

ZANU PF    3 713

MDC –    Mut 750

Goromonzi West

MDC Tsv   5 931

ZANU PF    6 193

Mutoko North

ZANU PF    6 922

MDC Tsv   3163

Indep            3023

MDC Tsv    1065

Mutasa South

MDC Tsv   8 207

ZANU PF   3 409

Indep             412

Mutare Central

MDC Tsv   7 284

ZANU PF   2 322

MDC Mut    639

Indep            117

ZPPDP    21

Chipinge Central

ZANU PF   6 377

MDC Tsv   5 862

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It's officially neck-and-neck!

Zimbabwe Today

New official results show Tsvangirai and Mugabe level - so why is Mugabe
making plans to leave?

Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, March 31, 11.30 am

Latest official voting figures for the House of Assembly reveal another 18
results, with the MDC and Zanu-PF now level pegging with 12 seats each.
These so-called results conflict with the MDC's own figures, which
consistently show the Tsvangirai faction leading by a large margin.

Sources tell me that so far the constituency seats are in truth shared out
as follows:  the MDC with 61 per cent, Zanu-PF with 26 per cent, and others
at 13 per cent.

Of particular interest is the race for the Presidency itself, between
Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni. My information is that Tsvangirai is
leading with 58 per cent of the vote counted so far, with Mugabe on 37 per
cent and Makoni with a disappointing five per cent.

All these figures, however, mean nothing, because they and those to come are
in the hands of the two expert poll rig-masters, who have undertaken the job
of swapping the figures around to give Zanu-PF and Mugabe a totally false

The two gentlemen in question are Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede and
Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba. Already they have reversed a number
of results in Masvingo and Mashonaland West, where the MDC claim they
recorded a clean sweep.

But all is not lost. And the Electoral Commission may yet hang back from
announcing a blatantly fixed set of results. Because Mugabe's
much-relied-upon military and judicial support is beginning to look a little

The Joint Operating Command (JOC) - a security unit chaired by Mugabe and
comprising the country's service chiefs - met at five this morning, and last
I heard was still in session. And what his generals, etc., have had to say
has shocked Mugabe.

It has been put to him that if his defeat at the polls is simply reversed,
and called a victory, there will be a very real chance of violence at or
above the scale seen in Kenya at the beginning of the year.

My source says that he was told there was no guarantee that the armed
services could keep down a violent rebellion. In recent years the forces had
been weakened by resignations and desertions, and many who still remain are
not zealous Zanu-PF supporters.

This shock for Mugabe came on top of another blow. Some days ago I
exclusively revealed on this site his plan to halt the election, if it went
badly, by getting the Supreme Court to uphold two appeals concerning
disqualified candidates.

The plan fell in ruins at Mugabe's feet when the Chief Justice, Godfrey
Chidyausiku, having previously agreed to co-operate, changed his mind and
refused to be pressured to give the judgement Mugabe wanted. Chidyausiku is
believed to have sided with Simba Makoni and the Mutambara faction of the

During this morning an alternative, even outlandish plan for Mugabe's future
has been discussed. It would involve an army coup, staged by Zimbabwe
Defence Forces Chief General Constantine Chiwenga, shortly before final
results of the election are due to be announced.

The Army would rule for six months, calling new elections for September, and
allowing Mugabe to slip safely away to Malaysia where he has huge business
interests. Thus the old man would avoid being arrested and put on trial by
any new government.

My source within the JOC told me that if this happens, the army will appear
impartial and professional, it will agree that the election was rigged by
Zanu-PF, and everyone will believe that it is in favour of true democracy..

More developments and "results" as they happen. Keep checking in.

Posted on Monday, 31 March 2008 at 10:37

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Mugabe Loses in Zimbabwe, Election Observers Report

Washington Post

By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, March 31, 2008; 2:57 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe, March 31 -- Zimbabwe's largest group of independent
election observers reported Monday that President Robert Mugabe lost
Saturday's national vote to longtime opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The margin does not appear to have been wide enough to avoid a runoff, which
occurs automatically if no candidate gets more than 50 percent, according to
the findings of the group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network.

The report carries no force of law, but amid long-standing claims of rigging
by the official electoral commission, the announcement by the respected
observer group has been eagerly anticipated. The group's analysis bolstered
repeated claims from Tsvangirai's opposition party that it has defeated
Mugabe, who predicted victory for himself and his party.

Based on a statistical model relying on publicly posted results at 435 of
the nation's 9,000 polling stations, the observer group calculated that
Tsvangirai won 49.4 percent of the vote, with a margin of error of 2.4
percent. Mugabe got 42 percent, and independent Simba Makoni 8 percent, the
group found.

Official results, meanwhile, have trickled in far more slowly than in
previous elections, heightening fears that the results are being
manipulated. No presidential votes have been announced by the electoral
commission, even though thousands of individual polling stations have hung
their tallies in public view across the country.

The 52 official race results released so far, all for parliamentary seats,
have been evenly split between the ruling party and the opposition. There
were 210 parliamentary constituencies contested in Saturday's vote.

In the presidential contest, evidence has been mounting for several days
that Tsvangirai had surged decisively past Mugabe amid rising frustration at
the world's worst hyperinflation, 80 percent unemployment and debilitating
shortages of food, medicine, soap, fuel and most other basics of Zimbabwean

Vote totals tabulated by Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change show
him winning 58 percent of the vote, compared with 37 percent for Mugabe and
the rest for Makoni, party officials said. Party officials did not release a
comprehensive spreadsheet of polling station or images of the individual
tally sheets to verify their claims.

Under Zimbabwe's election rules, a candidate for president must get more
than 50 percent of the vote. If no candidate reaches that level in the
results of the Saturday election, voters will be asked to choose between the
top two, probably on April 19.

A loss for Mugabe, 84, and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front party would end the domination of this beleaguered southern African
nation by a ruling group whose membership has changed little since taking
control in 1980, after the end of the white supremacist rule in the former
British colony of Rhodesia.

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MDC wins massively; Mugabe trying to steal election

Global Politician

Guy White - 3/31/2008

The MDC victory in Zimbabwe is massive. Those on the ground report victories
of almost 2-1 in Robert Mugabe-favored areas and anywhere between 10-1 to
30-1 in Matabeleland and other regions that are favorable to Morgan

Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), won at least 70% of
the vote and another 5-10% went to Simba Makoni, a former Mugabe ally who
left the government to run against Mugabe sensing which way the winds are

Mugabe expected to lose, but his cronies led him to believe his situation is
not as precarious as it really is. The President figured that he can “fix”
the elections by a margin of 5-10% just as he did in 2002.

But inflation went up from 3 digits to 6-digits in the last 5 years, and now
80% of the population has to survive on $1 a day or less. Other than
government employees, soldiers and those with close connections to corrupt
politicians, everyone else is starving. The result is that the anti-Mugabe
vote is nearly uniform.

About half a year ago CNN reported that it is now common for people to catch
and eat rats. Zimbabwean Ambassador charged back that rats are a delicacy in
his country - though videos showed desperate people starving, not feasting
on a tasty delicacy.

When Zimbabwe was white-run Rhodesia, it was - despite sanctions from every
country except South Africa - the bread-basket of Africa. Now, it’s just a
basket-case. As recently as the late 1990s, Zimbabwe was one of the more
successful countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Mugabe and the Left, however,
believed it’s not fair that white people have a disproportionate amount of
farmland and profits.

Mugabe initiated reforms to confiscate and transfer farms and other
white-owned property to blacks. The result was a complete collapse of
Zimbabwean farming and of the economy in general.

Whites were not robbing Zimbabwe, they were keeping it afloat.

Mugabe reacted by claiming that reforms didn’t go far enough and pushed for
more confiscations and physical assaults, both by the police and by the
youth gangs who called themselves “war patriots”, explaining that the reason
the economy is collapsing is due to white people fighting back to prevent

In 2007, inflation was 100,000%. In 2008, it is estimated to be about
400,000. These numbers are unreal in that they no longer matter - regardless
how much money you may have had 10 years ago, you are penniless today.

The Zimbabwean dollar - worth more than the American dollar when blacks took
over in 1980 - has been devalued several thousand times in the last half a
dozen years. Even if you had an equivalent of a million US dollars in 2000,
today it is is worth no more than a few hundred US dollars.

Blacks blame Mugabe for mismanagement, but they will never give the farm
land to the productive farmers who actually produced food on it because race
is the end all, be all for blacks.

Mugabe is presently sitting in his quarters with his henchmen trying to find
a way to stay in power. This is a man who murdered tens of thousands of
Ndebele people (a minority tribe that is opposed to Mugabe’s Shona tribe),
and other opposition. The gap between real results and victory may be too
big to fix. He may try to share power. He may try to just declare victory
and back his declaration with military power, though soldiers have shown
some independence recently and may not want to maul down their own relatives
just to keep Mugabe from facing murder and genocide charges in criminal

Mugabe knows that if he leaves the President’s quarters in anything but a
coffin, he’s likely to spend his finals days in prison, so he’ll do anything
possible to stay in power. Whether anything is really possible remains a

MDC is a more moderate party right now because they are trying to get
Western support and later Western aid if they come to power. Their “brain”
is really Roy Bennett, a white man. But Bennett is mistaken if he thinks the
treatment of whites will improve if MDC comes to power. MDC may not force
confiscations, but neither will Mugabe anymore - just about everything was
already taken from whites. Tsvangirai will not return anything to whites.
And eventually, he’ll double-cross “the white devil” Roy Bennett.

The few remaining whites should just leave Zimbabwe. As for blacks, life
will probably improve somewhat under MDC with the influx of foreign aid, but
it will never be as good as during the “old days”. Zimbabwe is now Africa,
totally Africa.

Guy White writes on issues of race. He can be reached at Visit his blog at

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Zimbabwe: Voters react

19:10 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008
Voters in Zimbabwe

Official results from Zimbabwe's general election are trickling in amid speculation about vote-rigging.

Voters from across the country have been sending the BBC their experiences and observations after the elections.

Are you in Zimbabwe? Send us your experiences by text on +44 7786 20 50 85 or use the form below - and let us know if you do not want your full name to be published.

17.44 GMT, Harare: Louie has sent us this account: "Police have already been deployed on the streets in Harare and are telling people not to assemble, to keep quiet. I have never been this afraid before."

17.31 GMT, Chiredzi: Picket e-mailed us to voice his concern "after voting on Saturday the counting process started immediately and was finished by about 2200hrs. At about 0300hrs all results from the constituency were collated at the command centre. By early morning we knew who was going to represent us in parliament. But to my surprise the results for Chiredzi West have so far not been announced. One can only wonder as to what is taking place."

16.53 GMT, Harare:Vusumuzi e-mailed to say "after having rejoiced that the regime is going down we're now hearing that they've actually won. We heard that Mai Mujuru had lost the Mount Darwin seat but the results show that she has won instead. We no longer know who to trust. Just the thought of going back to Mugabe's rule is so depressing."

16.46 GMT, Zimbabwe: Clemence contacted us with his concern over vote rigging "the voting was fine in my constituency and the MDC won with a very big margin. Now to my surprise what I am hearing on TV and Radio is totally different. I believe they are just starting to rig the vote."

16.42 GMT, Harare: N. Dzimbabwe e-mailed to express his hope for the country "If ZANU is/was rigging the vote then Chen Chimutengwende would not have lost. I understand the MDC's disappointment that the landslide victory they promised is not happening. This seems to be a tight race and I'm glad that no one party will have absolute majority. The future of my country looks much brighter than it was before the elections."

15:53 GMT, Harare: James e-mailed to say he believes Mugabe is up to his old tricks again. "Mugabe wants to announce the results at night so that any dissension is quelled by the soldiers he is deploying in the volatile urban areas. There is no way that he can win with the present state of the country."

15:32 GMT, Harare: Rainman e-mails us to say voting was generally peaceful and free. "People talked freely - even in the voting queues - of their discontent at Mugabe rule. They openly said they would vote for change and if it didn't come it would have been stolen from them."

15:26 GMT Glen View, Harare: Anderson told the BBC that there was clear evidence in his constituency of intimidation by police and soldiers. "There was a heavy police presence at polling stations. Conversation was not allowed among voters, cell phones had to be switched off. The whole atmosphere was tense. If this was the psychological warfare in an urban area, I can only imagine what it was like in rural ones."

15:08 GMT, Gweru: Zvenyika reports via e-mail that in remote districts of Zimbabwe there are no road networks and the Zimbabwe electoral commission has to rely on tractors to get around. The logistical challenges means it is unrealistic to "expect the ZEC to collate, verify the results and publishing them any faster than they are doing without compromising the validity of the entire election system," he says. "Throughout the voting exercise, I did not once see or hear about any international election observer or accredited journalist visiting any of the remote polling stations."

15:07 GMT, Gweru: Mabasa, a Zanu-PF supporter e-mails in to say that he witnessed a "free" election characterised by "peace and tranquillity". He told the BBC that he was not particularly worried about the delayed results: "The MDC are celebrating now but I think it is premature. Let them wait for the official result to be announced."

14:59 GMT, Harare: "The real fear now is that the government is holding back the official results to incite violence," says Mukonikoni by e-mail. "This would give them reason to impose some kind of martial law."

14:30 GMT, Harare: Thokozani e-mailed to say people are anxious about the delays in the results. "We are tired of suffering at the expense of a few selfish individuals. I hope the world just doesn't turn a blind eye as has happened before. We need help," he says.

14:28 GMT, Harare: Patrick voted yesterday for the MDC. He contacted us to say: "When the results started coming through there was real excitement, cell phone networks were jammed with people exchanging results. Now the excitement is dying down, as the results are showing the MDC and Zanu-PF are tied. People are beginning to feel that there has been some trick by the government."

13:54 GMT, Mutare Lazarus e-mails in to say that if people feel election results have been rigged, "people will burst with anger and probably demonstrate or become violent".

13:51 GMT, Harare Thomas told the BBC of his fears: "My constituency is Harare central. I think the results are there and they are taking their time. I feel they are manipulating the numbers. I fear a win for Zanu-PF. We really fear that. We know for sure that in the urban areas Zanu-PF will not win. But what about elsewhere?"

13:42 GMT Zvishavane: Kudzie e-mailed to say: "People here are very anxious. We have been accessing many websites and using our phones to try to get the results. The critical challenge is the abuse of the state security forces. They have been deployed in most places. Helicopters were flying just over our town a few days before elections. I have not met anyone who is backing Mugabe. And yes we are all very nervous."

13:25 GMT Ndondandishe from Harare e-mails in saying that in Glen Norah there has been no reported violence and claims that the MDC has taken the constituency by a big margin: "We want change - and sure enough change has come. I phoned my parents in the rural areas of Masvingo and they said MDC has also won there, even though the official results have yet to be announced. That used to be a Zanu stronghold, but not anymore. We are tired of prices that go up everyday."

13:21 GMT An anonymous voter from Gweru e-mails in to express concerns: "The delay is becoming dubious, it seems they are trying to cook figures."

13:03 GMT, Harare: Shingie contacted the BBC to say: What worries me is that the results have not been published yet. Those working at the polling stations claimed counting was completed yesterday morning. How can it take so much time to verify? We are anxious and the longer it takes the more likely it seems that the 'verified' result will be far from the actual result."

10:43 GMT, Harare: Wilma e-mailed us to say: "They are already rigging the results, judging from the announcements on radio and television. It truly pathetic for Mugabe to keep holding on to power when it is pretty obvious that he has lost."

09:55 GMT, Zvishavane: Dhewa e-mailed us to say he believes "something fishy is going on". He says: "I understand the counting of the votes started soon after the polling stations were closed. So what puzzles me is the delay. Heavy deployment of riot police and other armed forces really shows something is being cooked up."

08:53 GMT, Gweru: Willard Nyamubarwa contacted the BBC to say voting was very straightforward and peaceful. But he is concerned about the delay in the publication of results, and that there is a tense atmosphere as people wait to find out the final results. Willard is also concerned that that MDC is saying it has won ahead of official results.

0837 GMT, Harare: Adam e-mailed us to say there is great concern that results are being manipulated by the government.

08:37 GMT: MDC supporter Munya texts in to say: "We are happy, enjoying a landmark victory despite the delay in announcing results."

07:57 GMT, Harare: Dumiso e-mailed to say: "The voting was peaceful, the only concern is the delay of the results. This will cause some problems if the opposition lose the at the end of the day. We want to change now."

07:13 GMT, Harare: Tawanda e-mailed us to say that he thinks the MDC won the election at all levels. "But the important thing is no longer who won but whether Mugabe will be willing to accept defeat," he says.

06:52 GMT, Harare: Esther e-mailed to say there have been unprecedented events - with no main news bulletin on Sunday night. She believes it is because the results are simply too embarrassing for Zanu PF.

The BBC has not been allowed to send reporters into Zimbabwe. Some names have been changed to protect their identities.


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Rural areas turn their backs on Mugabe

HARARE , 31 March 2008 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's rural areas, once viewed as
strongholds of the ruling ZANU-PF party, are backing the opposition party,
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), according to intial results from
the March 29 poll.

The sharp move away in support for President Robert Mugabe's ruling party,
is resulting in a slew of senior government memebers losing their
parliamentary seats in such provinces as Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland
West - Mugabe's home province - Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Masvingo and
Midlands province.

Early returns announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) late on
Monday, indicated the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, and ZANU-PF were tied
on 19 parliamentary seats a piece. There are 210 elected parliamentary

The ZEC's announcement of the election results appears to be developing a
pattern where both of the main rival parties remain tied in the number of
seats they have won, although no results by late Monday had been announced
from urban areas, seen as bastions of support for the MDC.

Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary general, told IRIN they had been collating
their own results from polling stations and determined that "We (the MDC)
have garnered more votes in rural areas than in urban areas."

"In Manicaland province, we have won 20 out of 26 seats with most of them
being rural. In Masvingo province, we claimed 15 seats out of 26. There are
no variations between our own figures and those announced by ZEC. The worst
case scenario for us would be a run off but we are confident that we will
romp home to victory."

George Chiweshe, a retired army officer and ZEC chairman, told journalists
at a briefing in the capital Harare he was opposed to the opposition party
and the media announcing unofficial results.

"I do not understand the impatience of stakeholders including journalists
both foreign and local."

Delay in results

He defended the delay in announcing the results as a consequence of the
holding of combined elections.

"We are doing 210 House of Assembly constituencies, 60 senatorial
constituencies in addition to more than 1,000 municipal wards plus the
presidential election.

"This should all things being equal, take four days but it has taken us 48
hours. In other countries where we have observed elections, they take longer
as the job requires more time," Chiweshe said.

There were no indications late on Monday about which way the presidential
ballot was heading and wether, after 28 years in office, Mugabe's presidency
would end and Tsvangirai installed as his successor.

The MDC, which went into the elections divided, has seen one sided support
for Tsvangirai's faction.

President of the pro-Senate faction, Arthur Mutambara was defeated in
parliamentary elections in Chitungwiza, a dormitory town outside the
capital, while his deputy, Gibson Sibanda lost in Bulawayo as did the
secretary general, Welshman Ncube.


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Mounting concern at Zimbabwe poll delays


Mon 31 Mar 2008, 18:23 GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - Concern grew on Monday that long delays in issuing
Zimbabwe's election results hid attempts by President Robert Mugabe to cling
to power by rigging.

Almost 48 hours after polls closed, only 52 of 210 parliamentary
constituencies had been declared, showing Mugabe's ZANU-PF party one seat
ahead of the main opposition MDC. Two of his ministers lost their seats.

No results were announced for the presidential vote, in which Mugabe faces
the most formidable political challenge of his 28 years in power.

"It is now clear that there is something fishy. The whole thing is
suspicious and totally unacceptable," said MDC (Movement for Democratic
Change) spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

Mugabe, 84, is under unprecedented pressure from a two-pronged attack by
veteran MDC rival Morgan Tsvangirai and ZANU-PF defector Simba Makoni, who
both blame him for Zimbabwe's ruin.

Official results showed ZANU-PF with 26 seats, MDC with 25 and a breakaway
MDC faction with one.

There was a chorus of concern over the delays, including former colonial
ruler Britain, the European Union and both opposition challengers.

The MDC said unofficial tallies showed Tsvangirai had 60 percent of the
presidential vote, twice the total for Mugabe, with more than half the
results counted. Private polling organisations also put Tsvangirai well

In his first public comments since the vote, Makoni criticised the way
results were being announced. "We are very worried by the manner in which
things are unfolding," he told Reuters.


The Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of civic, political and religious
groups, also expressed concern at the delay which it said "gives reason to
Zimbabweans to suspect that the electoral process is being manipulated by
the incumbent."

Although the odds seemed stacked against Mugabe, in power since independence
in 1980, analysts believe his iron grip on the country and solid backing
from the armed forces could enable him to ignore the results and declare

Tsvangirai and some international observers accused Mugabe of stealing the
last presidential election in 2002.

Zimbabwe is suffering the world's highest inflation of more than 100,000
percent, chronic shortages of food and fuel, and an HIV/AIDS epidemic that
has contributed to a steep decline in life expectancy.

The MDC said its tally showed it had won 96 parliamentary constituencies out
of 128 counted. Makoni had 10 percent of the unofficial presidential vote
count. "In our view, as we stated before, we cannot see the national trend
changing. This means the people have spoken, they've spoken against the
dictatorship," MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Public Affairs Minister Chen
Chimutengwende both lost their seats.

The state-run Herald newspaper accused the MDC of "preparing its supporters
to engage in violence by pre-empting results, claiming they had won". The
government has warned that any early victory claim would be regarded as an
attempted coup.

Mugabe blames Zimbabwe's collapse on Britain and says Western sanctions have
sabotaged the economy.

He rejects vote-rigging allegations.

Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe said the delay in results was
due to the complexity of holding presidential, parliamentary and local polls
together for the first time.

In previous elections, most results have been released by this stage.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a statement there should be
no unnecessary delay in releasing the results. "The international community
is watching events closely," he said.

A spokesman for the European Commission said it would be "opportune" for the
electoral commission to publish final results as soon as possible "to
demonstrate its independence and to avoid unnecessary speculation."

Two South African members of a regional observer mission said the delay in
announcing the election results "underscores the fear that vote-rigging is
taking place".

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U.S. tells Zimbabwean poll body to 'do right thing'


Mon 31 Mar 2008, 17:54 GMT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States expressed concern that Zimbabwe's
election results were being delayed, and urged the country's electoral
commission on Monday to put aside any partisan sympathies and ensure all
votes are counted "honestly" from last weekend's presidential poll.

There were growing concerns in the African country that long delays in
issuing election results masked attempts by President Robert Mugabe to cling
to power by rigging the outcome.

"We have seen some results, but are concerned that the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission is delaying the annoulcement of election results," said White
House spokesman Tony Fratto.

"We're urging the election commission to count every vote honestly and to
release results quickly that reflect the will and preferences of the people
of Zimbabwe," he said.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey pointed to a long list of
irregularities in the run-up to Saturday's poll, including an over-printing
of ballot papers, which he predicted could make vote counting problematic.

"It is no secret that the Zimbabwean electoral commission has a partisan
cast to it and we would certainly hope that regardless of the partisan
sympathies of any members of that commission, that they would again follow
the letter and spirit of the law," he said.

The latest counts showed Zimbabwe's opposition to be even with President
Robert Mugabe.

Asked to comment on the elections over the weekend, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice told reporters: "The Mugabe regime is a disgrace to the
people of Zimbabwe and a disgrace to southern Africa and to the continent of
Africa as a whole."

Casey and other U.S. officials declined to comment specifically on the
election results released so far and said they were waiting for a clearer
picture to emerge.

"We want to wait and see what results the Zimbabwean electoral commission
does produce," said Casey.

Asked whether he was worried about the possibility of post-electoral
violence in Zimbabwe, as happened after the disputed Kenyan election last
December, Casey said violence did not serve anyone's interests.

"At the same time, we understand that the Zimbabwean people have suffered
greatly under President Mugabe's leadership. We have seen many instances
where the will of the people has been thwarted," said Casey.

"We are concerned about the situation and we certainly hope the election
results as reported by the Zimbabwean electoral commission do in fact match
the will of the Zimbabwean people," he added.

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Brown: World is watching Zimbabwe

19:07 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said the "eyes of the world" are on Zimbabwe
and said that its election results should be published without delay.

He said it was also important that the elections were "seen to be fair".

Official results show seats are split between the ruling Zanu-PF party and
the Movement for Democratic Change, who say the results are being rigged.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg urged the PM to increase pressure for a "swift and
transparent" declaration of results.

Downing Street said Mr Brown had discussed the situation with South African
President Thabo Mbeki on Monday, but would not give details of the talks.

Seats split

MDC official Tendai Biti has told the BBC that results from Saturday's
general election have started to trickle in - 36 hours after the polls
closed - but he claimed they were being rigged.

Bright Matonga, from the ruling Zanu-PF party, told the BBC he was confident
that Mr Mugabe would be re-elected and Zanu-PF would retain its majority in

The MDC says its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai has won 60% of the vote, against
30% for Robert Mugabe.

Official results suggest both sides have 26 parliamentary seats each so far.
Mr Mugabe has denied repeated MDC claims that he would rig the polls.

Mr Brown said: "The eyes of the world will be on Zimbabwe today and tomorrow
and I think two things are very important.

"First of all that the election results appear and appear quickly so that
people know what's happening on the ground and nothing is delayed. And
secondly that the elections are seen to be fair."

'Kenyan-style stand-off'

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said millions had turned out to vote at the
weekend and "their voice must now be heard".

"The next few days are critical for the future of Zimbabwe," he said.

"It is vital that this election should chart a course for Zimbabwe chosen by
the people of Zimbabwe."

Mr Clegg, whose party is the third biggest in the UK, said: "There is a very
real threat of a Kenyan-style stand-off between the opposition and Mugabe's
regime which is potentially even more dangerous, given the fragility of the
Zimbabwean state.

"Gordon Brown must seek urgent discussions with Thabo Mbeki and other
leaders of the South African Development Community to ensure that maximum
pressure is applied to ensure a swift and transparent declaration of

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague told the BBC Britain could not
pretend it had the answer - as so much depended on Zimbabwe's neighbours -
South Africa in particular.

But he added: "I think if he [Mugabe] declares victory on the basis of a
rigged result and from everything we can see that would be the only basis on
which he could achieve a victory - we do need then an intensification of the
international pressure on Zimbabwe, on the Mugabe regime."

BBC diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall said Mr Brown's words had been
carefully chosen, as Britain - the former colonial master - was always
worried about being accused of meddling.

The prime minister's spokesman has hinted at possible increases in aid for
Zimbabwe, but if the election is deemed to be stolen, officials admit there
is very little Western governments can do about it, she added.

Instead it is likely they will look to other African countries to mediate or
use leverage to try to manage or salvage the situation.

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Loyalty of military key to Mugabe’s future

Financial Times

By Alec Russell, Southern Africa Correspondent

Published: March 31 2008 18:41 | Last updated: March 31 2008 18:41

When President Robert Mugabe held a crisis meeting on Sunday night to
consider his options in the wake of mounting evidence of an opposition
victory in the weekend’s elections, it was not with his cabinet, nor with
the officials of his ruling Zanu-PF party.

Rather he met the “securocrats” – Zimbabwe’s heads of intelligence, military
and security, and according to diplomatic sources their advice was just
about as hardline as it has been in every government decision since they
assumed a prime role in running the country some years ago.

“In the JOC [Joint Operations Command] meeting there were two options on the
table for Mugabe: declare victory on Sunday night or declare martial law,”
said a diplomat who spoke to two sources privy to the meeting.
“They didn’t consider conceding. We understand Mugabe nearly decided to
declare victory. Cooler heads have prevailed,” he added, saying a decision
was taken to rely on the state-appointed Zimbabwe Election Commission to
delay the release of results, then try to fix the result in the counting
process. The defiant stance is in keeping with the recent record of the JOC,
which has held increasing sway over government decisions since the
presidential election in 2002.

Diplomats and Zanu-PF dissidents say it is this body which will be decisive
in steering the autocrat’s stance in the political crisis engulfing Zimbabwe
after Saturday’s elections.

With this in mind, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, who according to independent tallies of the vote is
sweeping to victory in the presidential race, has in the past 24 hours put
out feelers to the military. He is hoping that with results from polling
stations showing Zanu-PF has been all but routed, increasingly the thoughts
of the military chiefs will turn to their own future rather than that of the

In the countdown to the election, heads of the police and the army said they
would not take orders from Mr Tsvangirai if he won. According to sources
close to the opposition leader, he has sent a message to Solomon Mujuru, a
former army commander and a powerbroker in Zanu-PF, asking what “guarantees”
the military might want from a new administration. As of Monday morning he
had not received a response.

Military officers hold senior positions in civilian bodies such as the Grain
Marketing Board, the Electoral Supervisory Commission and the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe. According to a report last year by the International Crisis
Group, the JOC oversaw the government’s strategy in the regional attempts to
mediate between Zanu-PF and the opposition.

Publicly, senior figures in Zanu-PF are putting a brave face on the
situation. But privately they were stunned, analysts say, by the results
which, according to independent monitors, signal their first electoral
defeat since they took power at independence in 1980. However Mr Mugabe
decides to respond, with the economy in freefall, most appreciate that their
control on power – and the access to business opportunities and state
patronage that has given them – cannot last much longer, say insiders.

One of the critical questions for Zimbabwe now is whether the military
commanders can rely on their subordinates to obey orders if the JOC and Mr
Mugabe decide to initiate a clampdown on the opposition, as they have done
before when under pressure.

In the event of Mr Mugabe claiming a disputed victory, an outbreak of
widespread violence, as happened in Kenya in December under similar
circumstances, seems unlikely. Zimbabwe does not have Kenya’s combustible
ethnic divide, and opposition leaders are keen to avoid giving the
government an excuse for a crackdown. But the party fears that the security
might use isolated cases of protests to impose a state of emergency.

Mr Mugabe has been careful to try to retain the military commanders’
loyalty. In a speech a year ago he praised the security forces as “the
vanguard of our revolution and national integrity” and hailed their
“critical role in buttressing our economic activities”.

But diplomats and analysts have long speculated that many in the lower ranks
of the security forces are increasingly disillusioned with the regime, given
that their families, like most Zimbabweans, are suffering hardship. “Mugabe
is in the hands of the military command and they are in the hands of the
soldiers, and they sense that the rank and file are not wholly loyal,” said
one diplomat.

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Mutiny in the offing?

The outcome of the Zimbabwe elections depends largely on the armed forces.
Previously loyal to Mugabe, they are now showing signs of dissent

Andrew Meldrum

March 31, 2008 5:30 PM
As Zimbabwean authorities announce the official election results in dribs
and drabs, the nation is on tenterhooks as the results of the crucial
presidential and parliamentary elections hang in the balance.

No matter who is announced winner of the presidential race - Robert Mugabe
or opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai - the Zimbabwean military and police
will play a key role in making sure that the result is not challenged by
angry demonstrators.

Just a few weeks ago General Constantine Chiwenga, the army commander, and
Augustine Chihuri, the police commissioner, gave extraordinary public
pledges that they would not obey orders from anyone except Mugabe. In the
past 48 hours the army and police have displayed that loyalty to Mugabe by
maintaining a heavy presence throughout Harare, especially in the populous
townships which are hotbeds of support for the opposition. Helmeted riot
police, armoured personnel carriers and vehicles topped by water cannons
have patrolled the townships, a clear warning to the opposition against
taking to the streets to challenge the results.

Yet the loyalty of the military and police to Mugabe may not be as secure as
it seems at first glance. While the top generals and other officers have,
indeed, benefited from the largesse of Mugabe, the rank and file in the army
and police have suffered under poor pay and working conditions. Police
appear in shabby uniforms and it is well-known they cannot afford to keep
their families adequately fed and decently housed. Mugabe, aware of the
disgruntlement, last month granted hefty pay raises to his armed forces.
However, with inflation running at more than 100,000%, the army and police
officers are well aware that their pay increases are worth less every day.

Many in the security forces say privately that they are dismayed by the
blatant politicisation of their once professional bodies. They are aware
that they may be held responsible for human rights abuses, including
torture, committed during Mugabe's rule.

Although the state media continue to report on the steadfast loyalty of the
security forces, some independent media outlets have reported that the
chiefs of the armed forces have briefed Mugabe that the army, air force and
police cannot be counted on to crack down on any angry demonstrators
protesting against what they believe is a "stolen election". If the security
forces waver in their support for Mugabe, it could well be a decisive
setback for his continued rule.

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Mugabe Set to Claim Victory

Institute for War & Peace Reporting (London)

31 March 2008
Posted to the web 31 March 2008

Joseph Sithole

In what can best be described as a shock result, President Robert Mugabe and
his ruling ZANU-PF party are about to announce victory for Mugabe in the
parliamentary and presidential elections, according to unofficial results
leaked from the ZANU-PF and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, ZEC, command

But sources within the ZEC centre - newly christened the National Collation
Centre - say Mugabe clearly lost the election to his opposition rival Morgan
Tsvangirai, polling only 20 per cent of the vote. He is also said to trail
Simba Makoni who garnered 28 per cent.

Tsvangirai is said to be leading but just failed to get the requisite 50 per
cent plus one vote. According to ZANU-PF sources at the collation centre,
ZEC is about to announce that the ruling party won by 111 seats, with some
rural constituencies recording huge victories for Mugabe.

The sources said in Mugabe’s traditional strongholds, such as Uzumba Maramba
Pfungwe, he won with huge margins of more than 30,000 votes, with Movement
for Democratic Change, MDC, president Tsvangirai getting as few as 2,000

But commentators say it would be something of a miracle if Mugabe and his
party had secured the victory, given more than 85 per cent unemployment,
serious food shortages and a collapsed health delivery system.

IWPR could not get the exact percentage by which Mugabe will be said to have
won but the sources said there would not be a run-off, as ZANU-PF will claim
Mugabe has clinched more than 50 per cent of the total number of voters

Some of the ruling party’s heavyweights that have fallen include Minister of
Women Affairs Oppah Muchunguri, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made, Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of
Energy and Power Development Mike Nyambuya, and Information Minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.

The supposed election results, if ZEC goes ahead to announce them, are
likely to be condemned locally and internationally. The election will be
viewed as stolen because of voter intimidation and allegations of vote

There are already reports coming from the United States saying sanctions,
currently targeted at Mugabe and his close associates, would be intensified
if the ballot were not free and fair. The same is likely to come from
Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other western countries.

But what is more worrying now is how Zimbabweans are going to receive the
result, especially after the MDC has been saying it “has won this election
beyond any reasonable doubt”.

Zimbabweans cast their votes at the weekend amid indications the poll was
already stolen, with reports of stuffed ballot boxes being discovered in
Mashonaland Central and Masvingo provinces. The opposition parties and
independent candidates had already alleged that Mugabe was going to rig this
election to avoid a humiliating loss.

The MDC last week uncovered gross irregularities in the voters’ roll,
showing thousands of voters supposedly living on what turned out to be open
ground. According to the voters’ roll, 65 per cent of voters registered in
Harare North live on a piece of land that used to belong to the Ernest
Kadungure housing co-operative.

However, upon visiting the area, the MDC found that it was one of the areas
where shacks were demolished during Operation Murambatsvina, when the
government destroyed homes in areas that were perceived to be MDC

The Pan-African Parliament, PAP, at the close of voting on March 29, raised
concerns with ZEC chairman George Chiweshe.

In a letter to Chiweshe, PAP Election Observer Mission leader Marwick
Khumalo said it saw no evidence that there were any residents in Ward 42,
which is deserted land with a few wooden sheds, despite voters from that
deserted ward being listed on the voters’ roll. The Crisis Coalition of
Zimbabwe, CCZ, has said whatever the outcome of the results of the general
elections, the process will not be a true and legitimate expression of the
democratic will of the people of Zimbabwe.

CCZ spokesman McDonald Lewanika said civil society in Zimbabwe deplored the
recent comments by service chiefs saying that they would not accept the
election of any presidential candidate but Mugabe.

Army commander Constantine Chiwenga and head of the prison services retired
Major-General Paradzai Zimondi announced they would not salute anyone but
Mugabe, while police chief Augustine Chihuri said he would not accept an
opposition victory.

Lewanika also condemned statements by Mugabe, who has been using threatening
and intimidating language in speeches to the electorate.

In Bulawayo, Mugabe told a rally that voting for the MDC would be a waste of
time and that he would not allow the opposition party to rule Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai said in an interview recently that if Mugabe won the election,
“it’s dead end for the country”.

Once-prosperous Zimbabwe is suffering from the world's highest inflation
rate of more than 100,000 per cent, chronic shortages of food and fuel, and
an HIV/AIDS epidemic that has contributed to a steep decline in life

Joseph Sithole is the pseudonym of an IWPR-trained journalist in Zimbabwe.

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Fears grow Mugabe will ignore poll defeat

Financial Times

By Alec Russell, Southern Africa Correspondent

Published: March 31 2008 20:11 | Last updated: March 31 2008 20:11

Concern mounted on Monday that President Robert Mugabe was determined to
defy evidence of a defeat in elections as the state-appointed election
authority issued results showing the ruling Zanu-PF party taking a narrow
lead over the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

As the Zimbabwe Election Commission said that Zanu-PF had 26 seats to the
MDC’s 25, it emerged that Mr Mugabe held a crisis meeting with his security
chiefs in the joint operations command on Sunday night to plot how he could
stay in power. This followed the release of results from polling stations
which showed the president was heading for defeat for the first time since
independence in 1980.

The JOC, which consists of the heads of intelligence, police and the
military, considered imposing a state of emergency or a unilateral
declaration of victory by Mr Mugabe, before opting to rely on the ZEC to
falsify the results during the count, according to a diplomat who spoke to
two sources privy to the meeting.
In an apparent reflection of the turmoil in Zanu-PF, there were dissenting
voices at the meeting. A former senior Zanu-PF official and an official from
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change told the Financial Times the
meeting saw a debate between “hawks” and “doves”.

But they agreed with the diplomat that the upshot of the meeting was not
defeatist. “I think they [the security chiefs] are trying to work out what
the situation will look like in a few days and are trying to stall for time
by delaying the results,” said the former Zanu-PF official.

Details of the meeting emerged as western officials urged regional
governments to consider the possible consequences of their refusing to
condemn a “stolen” election, diplomats said. These included the damage to
their reputation and a fresh flood of refugees across Zimbabwe’s borders
fleeing the country’s economic meltdown if Mr Mugabe stayed in power.
Concerns were mounting on Monday night that the authorities were considering
falsifying the final figures, as 48 hours after polls closed the ZEC had
issued details on only 51 seats.

The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, exchanged angry words with the Angolan
head of the observer mission from the Southern African Development
Community, the regional grouping, at a meeting late on Sunday night after it
issued a statement endorsing the election as “peaceful” and “credible”.

MDC sources said the South African delegation was unhappy with the statement
but only two members of the South African opposition Democratic Alliance
publicly criticised it.

Independent election monitors say that, based on the results of about
two-thirds of the polling stations, Mr Tsvangirai had won about 55 per cent
in the presidential race, with Mr Mugabe on 36 per cent and Simba Makoni, a
former finance minister, on 8 per cent.

The joint presidential and parliamentary elections have posed the greatest
challenge to Mr Mugabe’s 28-year rule. Among the losers in the parliamentary
race, according to ZEC’s official results, was the justice minister, Patrick
Chinamasa. Independent monitors say at least six ministers lost their seats.
According to results collected by the MDC from polling stations, the results
from 128 of the 210 constituencies gave Mr Tsvangirai 60 per cent, Mr Mugabe
30 per cent and the MDC 96 parliamentary seats.

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Mugabe must go

Financial Times

Published: March 31 2008 19:18 | Last updated: March 31 2008 19:18

It should be clear already that Robert Mugabe’s time is up. Unofficial
results from Saturday’s elections point to a resounding defeat both for
Zimbabwe’s leader of 28 years and for the ruling Zanu-PF party. Even in his
rural strongholds, despair and economic ruin have cost Mr Mugabe once
reliable support. After years of opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai and his
Movement for Democratic Change have come out on top. That they did, despite
gerrymandering, vote-buying and intimidation, as well as an electoral
register heaving with ghosts, is testament to the bravery of Zimbabweans and
resilience of their hopes.

Unfortunately that may not be enough. By Sunday morning most results were
pinned up outside polling stations. They should have been collated and
announced at national level shortly thereafter. Instead they have been
trickling in. This is cause for concern. There is no way Mr Mugabe can
plausibly claim to have won. Nevertheless, it looks possible that
Zimbabweans will be drip fed another rigged Mugabe victory by an electoral
commission packed with loyalists.

There are few sticks that the west has not wielded already in a failed
effort to prise Mr Mugabe out. Neighbouring countries have helped to prop
him up and given him little cause to fear. Out of office there is every
chance that prison awaits him and his acolytes. They have everything to lose
from standing down and – they may be calculating – nothing to lose from
sitting tight. The cost of such an outcome for Zimbabwe, and Africa as a
whole, would be enormous.

For Zimbabweans the coming days may determine whether the transition from Mr
Mugabe’s rule will lead to state collapse and conflict or to recovery. At
stake for Africa is the credibility of its institutions and their commitment
to the rule of law. Any attempt by African governments to close ranks around
Mr Mugabe will be greeted in the wider world with disdain. South Africa is
especially vulnerable both to the potential fall-out from chaos in its
northern neighbour and further damage to its diplomatic reputation. Thabo
Mbeki, the outgoing president, pledged to deliver free and fair elections in
Zimbabwe through mediation. In this he has already failed.

Despite immediate uncertainty, there is an inevitability, born of the voters’
verdict and popular defiance, about the regime’s demise. No one outside
Zimbabwe can claim credit. Zimbabweans have faced a lonely struggle. In the
last resort, they may have no option but to take to the streets to save
their country from a creeping coup.

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Zanu PF Heavyweights Lose in Landmark Election

SW Radio Africa (London)

31 March 2008
Posted to the web 31 March 2008

Lance Guma

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa became the first Zanu PF heavyweight to
be defeated in the country's harmonised parliamentary, senate, council and
presidential elections. As the first batch of official results were released
by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Chinamasa was beaten by little known
MDC Tsvangirai candidate John Nyamande. Only a few months ago Nyamande was
the interim chairman of the MDC United Kingdom Province, before he decided
to go back home and seek a parliamentary seat. Nyamande told Newsreel, 'I'm
over the moon. I cant believe it.' He says he did not expect to beat the
Justice Minister who was backed by state resources.

Nyamande said the MDC had won overwhelmingly in Manicaland at both senate,
council, parliamentary and presidential level. Although the ZEC is
announcing the results in trickles Nyamande said their supporters already
know they won. 'It's difficult for our people to contain their feelings and
we urge them to remain calm,' he added. In another set of results released
later in the day, another government Minister Chen Chimutengwende lost in
Mazoe Central to MDC Tsvangirai candidate Shepherd Mushonga. Chimutengwende
who is the Minister for Public and Interactive Affairs lost in a province
that has traditionally tended to favour Zanu PF.

Meanwhile Zanu PF candidate and science and technology Minister Olivia
Muchena, retained her seat in Mutoko South while Mugabe's nephew Patrick
Zhuwawo won in Zvimba East. Other notable Zanu PF winners were Vice
President Joyce Mujuru, Stan Mudenge, Saviour Kasukuwere, Nicholas Goche and
Webster Shamu. On Monday late morning the MDC claimed that out of 128
constituencies tallied so far they have won 96 and that party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has 60 percent of the presidential vote. Robert Mugabe is
trailing with 30 percent while Simba Makoni is third with 10 percent.

By early afternoon the results being announced by the ZEC were still
tallying with the MDC's own figures. Biti said they now had more seats in
the rural areas than urban ones. In figures released by the ZEC for 52
constituencies, Zanu PF was leading by one seat. The MDC claims Zanu PF will
soon run out of positive results to announce. A website calling itself the
Independent Results Centre, and we must stress this is completely
unofficial, has the MDC leading with 117 seats, Zanu PF 50 and the
Mutambara/Makoni bloc on 20. Tsvangirai is said to have 58 percent of the
presidential vote, Mugabe 37 percent and Makoni 5 percent.

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Mugabe likely to have escape plan, says expert

Posted at 8:26am on 01 Apr 2008

A former New Zealand High Commissioner to Zimbabwe believes Robert Mugabe
will have prepared an escape plan if he loses power.

President Mugabe, 84, faces the biggest challenge of his 28-year rule and is
seeking a sixth term in elections held at the weekend.

Almost two days after polls closed only a fraction of the 210 parliamentary
constituencies had been declared, showing Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party one seat
ahead of the main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change.

There is international concern that the figures have been rigged, and no
results have yet been announced for the presidential vote.

Chris Laidlaw has been a Commonwealth observer of the previous three
elections in Zimbabwe.

Mr Laidlaw says Mr Mugabe has done everything he can to rig the vote, but
there may have been an internal revolt by previously loyal officials.

He says Mr Mugabe will probably have to leave Zimbabwe.

Mr Laidlaw says if Mr Mugabe loses, it is not clear who will be in a
position to lead Zimbabwe.

Copyright © 2008 Radio New Zealand

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More African monitors give qualified thumbs-up to Zimbabwe polls

Monsters and Critics

Mar 31, 2008, 18:34 GMT

Harare - A team of 19 monitors from the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on
Monday gave a qualified thumbs-up to Saturday's election in Zimbabwe, in
which President Robert Mugabe's 28-year rule hangs in the balance.

The PAP election observation mission told a press conference in Harare it
had noticed several irregularities but said these 'were not so major as to
compromise the flow of the electoral process.'

'However, the mission is concerned that two days after the closure of the
polls, the overall outcome of the elections remains unknown,' Marwick
Khumalo, the chairman of the mission, said.

'The post-election phase, including the announcement of results, remains a
concern and needs to be closely monitored,' he added.

Among the irregularities noted by the PAP observers were the handing out by
Mugabe of tractors, ploughs and other gifts on the campaign trail.

'The timing of such generosity was unfortunate,' said Khulamo, who also
decried statements by the country's security chiefs vowing they would not
salute a Western 'puppet' - Mugabe's term for his two main opponents -
MOrgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and former
finance minister Simba Makoni.

'These statements violate the professional ethics of the security forces and
goes against the spirit of the democratic electoral process by its
intimidatory nature,' said Khumalo.

The Movement for Democratic Change has claimed an outright victory in the
polls, but official results are still pending.

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IBA calls on observers not to let Zimbabweans down again

31st Mar 2008 17:01 GMT

By a Correspondent

LONDON - The International Bar Association (IBA) today called upon Zimbabwe’s
electoral authorities and accredited international observers to take all
steps necessary to ensure that the will of the electorate is not thwarted.

"The catalogue of serious irregularities reported ahead of the March 29
elections suggests that yet again Zimbabwe will not have free and fair
elections," said Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar

"Most international observers and media have been denied permission to
observe this process. However, the Zimbabwean government has allowed the
African Union, Southern African Development Community and other selected
entities to observe. They should not fail the Zimbabwean people by endorsing
a process that falls below acceptable standards," he said.

"Zimbabweans have for years shown remarkable restraint in the face of the
systematic denial of their rights and the subversion of democratic process,"
Ellis said. "They have endured a series of deeply flawed elections but kept
their faith in democracy. Now there are signs that voters are losing their
patience with fraudulent elections, which could lead to violence."

He added, "It is, therefore, imperative that the foreign observers speak out
strongly against all irregularities in this election."

The IBA said that credible local and international organisations have
reported extensive pre-election irregularities, such as:

·  gerrymandering;

·  inaccurate voter rolls;

·  violence and intimidation of opposition political parties and civil

·  overproduction of postal ballots for police, military, diplomats, and
electoral officials and the absence of an independent process to count the
postal votes so as to prevent multiple voting;

·  inadequate polling stations in urban areas;

·  bias against the opposition in the state-run media;

·  permission for police to be present inside polling stations in breach of
the recent SADC-brokered agreement;

·  politicized distribution of government-controlled food, and other
benefits and government resources; and

·   denial of  observer status to significant regional bodies, including the
SADC Lawyers Association.

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Mugabe's options


Of the various dubious courses that remain open to Zimbabwe's leader, the
worst is the Musharraf gambit

Simon Tisdall

March 31, 2008 4:00 PM |

Elections supposedly give voters the right to choose. But after 28 years of
increasingly dictatorial rule, economic mismanagement, human rights abuses
and international sanctions, the choice of what kind of future awaits
Zimbabwe still rests with one man: Robert Mugabe.
The 84-year-old president's hold on power, once both legitimate and
unchallengeable, has been severely weakened by his own failures, isolation
and paranoia, and now by an apparently stunning electoral reverse. All the
stuffed ballot boxes in the world may not drown out Saturday's cry of rage.

Yesterday's official silence concerning the presidential election results
suggests even the most expert vote-riggers, their dubious skills honed in
earlier stolen contests, are at a stand over how to make defeat add up to
victory. That will not stop them trying. The whole crooked regime has too
much to lose, and to fear from possible reprisals, to give up without one
last fiddle.

But as of now, Mugabe's choices will determine how things go in the critical
next few days. Breaking the habit of a lifetime, he could choose to concede
defeat and bow out gracefully. A deal with the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change guaranteeing him protection from future harassment or
domestic legal action would be seen by many as a small price to pay for a
peaceful transfer of power.

South Africa or some other friendly neighbour might be counted on to afford
him a retirement sanctuary in return for an end to the strife that adversely
affects them all. But past performance, informed by innate stubbornness and
pride, suggests Mugabe will not freely take this route.

Alternatively Mugabe could try to elevate himself above the fray, depicting
himself as a mediator or arbitrator between the warring parliamentary
factions of the MDC and Zanu-PF. Temporary power-sharing arrangements might
then be discussed.

"A negotiated settlement need not necessarily remove Mugabe," the
International Crisis Group said in a report this month on Zimbabwe's
prospects after the polls. "He might, for example, serve as a non-executive
head of state during a transitional period until new elections can be held."
This way his stature as a liberation hero and founding father could be

But this course resembles the option Mugabe rejected last October when
leading party members urged him to stand down in favour of a younger
candidate. The sheer scale of his rejection at the weekend may alter his
thinking. More likely, he will dig in his heels again.

Mugabe's third choice is to insist, against all the evidence and the
convictions of international observers, that he has won his re-election
battle, or at the very least forced a second round run-off against his main
opponent, the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai. If he takes this path - and the
longer the results are delayed, the more likely it appears that he will -
then Zimbabweans will face a choice in their turn.

Under the intimidating eye of the security forces, voters can bow to the
oft-brandished threat of violent retribution and passively accept what
amounts to daylight robbery, as they have been obliged to do in the past.
Or, less probably, they can take the Kenyan route, counting on sustained
popular resistance to force the president to back down.

Mugabe anticipated such a turn of events during the campaign and warned of
bloody consequences should his opponents take to the streets. Kenya would
"never happen here", he said. So far, at least, the army has remained true
to its paymaster. If ordered to crack down, it will. The consequences would
be terrible for Zimbabwe and the wider region.

Mugabe's final choice, and possibly the most destructive, may be termed the
Musharraf gambit, after Pakistan's current president: when facing electoral
difficulties, and if all else fails, declare a state of emergency, impose
martial law, suspend parliament and the courts, and rule by presidential
decree with the support of the armed forces. Locking up your opponents, or
failing to protect them from assassins, are optional extras.

Mugabe would probably be loth to shed the trappings of democracy, which have
long served as window dressing for his growing absolutism. But with senior
ministers within Zanu-PF losing their seats, and with the party's loyalty
increasingly strained, the pretence of pluralism or even oligarchy may no
longer be affordable. Out-and-out dictatorship would be the logical result.

It is still Mugabe's choice to make. But Zimbabwe's political fundamentals
changed irrevocably at the weekend. His options are narrowing fast and may
soon evaporate altogether. Only one thing seems certain: when the end
finally comes, he will be the very last to accept it.

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Zimbabwe Post Election Mood


By Chinedu Offor
31 March 2008

In official results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the
(ruling) MDC is tied with (the opposition) ZANU-PF, with each having won 12
parliamentary seats so far. As results continue to trickle in, English to
Africa reporter Chinedu Offor spoke with reporter Fazila Mohammed in Harare
about the mood in and around the capital.

“People seem very confused, some are celebrating, some feel the result
should have come out…people on the ground are trying to go about their
normal business, but on the streets the talk is all about the results not
coming out.” She says the security rings around the city of Harare and other
parts of the country put in place before the polls have been relaxed.

“Right now people are moving about. Starting last night, in a township
called Highfield, people were already celebrating; people actually waited
outside polling stations demanding to see the results. But in terms of
security, there [were] lots of riot police which were dropped off on the
streets of Harare last night, but it seems the police are quite relaxed with
the people.”

Mohammed says Zimbabwean electoral authorities are appealing for calm and
patience from the people as they await the results. “According to ZEC
(Zimbabwe Electoral Commission), they are saying it will take some time;
they are also saying that by the end of today, they are hoping to come out
with the presidential results at least, and the rest they will continue
after that.”

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Impact of organised violence and torture on the election climate

Southern African Centre for Survivors of Torture

Statement by the Southern African Centre for Survivors of Torture (SACST)
regarding the impact and import of organised violence and torture on
Zimbabwe’s forthcoming elections, and prospects for post-election

The Southern African Centre for Survivors of Torture (SACST) is a
non-governmental organisation based in Johannesburg dedicated to the
promotion and provision of medical, psychosocial and legal services to
primary victims/survivors of organised violence and torture. The SACST
flagship project, the Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project (ZTVP), was
established in 2005 to provide assistance to torture victims and survivors
fleeing deteriorating and abusive conditions in Zimbabwe.

Since 2005, SACST / ZTVP have assisted hundreds of Zimbabwean victims and
survivors of organised violence and torture. There are now over 20,000
Zimbabweans who have applied for political asylum, despite widespread and
ongoing constraints to access the process. To date, fewer than 300 have been
granted refugee status – although SACST believes than many more are indeed

Conditions for free and fair elections?
There has been considerable media coverage dedicated to assessing the
conditions for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. In recent elections
(i.e. 2000, 2002 & 2005), there has been overwhelming empirical evidence
that levels of organised violence and torture, primarily sponsored by state
agents and / or surrogates or proxies, have increased significantly during
the run up to elections. Levels of violence in between elections have also
remained unacceptably high.

According to our colleagues from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, more
than 600 incidents of torture were recorded in Zimbabwe during 2007. This is
corroborated in our recently released report, Victims of organised Violence
and Torture in Zimbabwe attending Refugee Reception offices in South Africa:
Prevalence & Associated Features. Since 2001, the Forum has recorded over
30,000 individual violations. This does not represent the sum of violations,
but only that which has been recorded by a smattering of largely
under-resourced human rights NGOs who are members of the Forum.

This situation has directly contributed to a massive internal displacement
within Zimbabwe, as well as an unprecedented exodus of its citizens to South
Africa and elsewhere. This, in turn, has resulted in the disenfranchisement
of hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans who no longer have an opportunity to
exercise their right to vote in these upcoming elections. As seen elsewhere,
organised violence and torture in Zimbabwe has been utilised as a political
weapon designed to manipulate election outcomes in favour of incumbent
political powers.

In the run up to the 29 March 2008 elections, media reporting on incidents
of organised violence and torture has noticeably decreased suggesting that
it is not being employed as a tactic in the same way as in previous
elections. Nevertheless, SACST urges the media to take note that reports of
violence and torture continue to be received. According to the Zimbabwe
Peace Project (a member organisation of the Forum), for example, over 1775
incidents of political violence have been recorded by their monitors since
November 2007 (up to early March 2008).

SACST reminds observers and commentators of the Zimbabwean situation that
analysing conditions for free and fair elections requires a broader and
longitudinal perspective on electoral conditions and the factors influencing
them and cannot be reduced to a narrow set of factors around polling day.
Such an approach necessarily includes experiences of election-related
violence (pre and post-election). In this

context, organised violence and torture have played a powerful role in
transforming the political playing fields in Zimbabwe, as well as elsewhere.
The impact of prior experiences has not been addressed and has not
dissipated, but rather the situation is compounded by continuing abuses, as
well as ongoing and widespread impunity for the perpetrators of such

Stopping organised violence and torture and an end to impunity
Beyond this election, it is evident that there can be no stable and
prosperous future in Zimbabwe without meaningful efforts to firstly
eradicate ongoing incidents of organised violence and torture, and secondly
to address the impact and repercussions of organised violence and torture,
through the provision of services to victims and survivors (including an
opportunity to have their stories heard without fear of repercussion), and
to employ processes that ensure those responsible for these violations are
held to account.

In accordance with the Johannesburg Declaration (signed by over 60
Zimbabwean Human Rights organisations in August 2003), the SACST calls on
Zimbabwe’s political leadership to demonstrate the required maturity to
honour these most basic commitments as an integral component of rebuilding
this fractured nation.

A copy of our recently released report, Victims of organised Violence and
Torture in Zimbabwe attending Refugee Reception offices in South Africa:
Prevalence & Associated Features can be obtained from SACST, by calling 011
339 4476/4728/4798 or emailing Lynn Merckel,
For further information, please call:
Dr. Fazel Randera – Chairperson – 083 633 7180
Mr. Piers Pigou – Board member – 083 3817150

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Zim releases SA pilot


    March 31 2008 at 08:35PM

South African helicopter pilot Brett Smyth, who was arrested in
Zimbabwe last week, was released on Monday until his next court appearance
in Harare, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said.

Roy Bennett, treasurer-general of the Zimbabwean opposition party,
told Sapa he believed Smyth would be back in South Africa soon.

The verdict in his case would be given on Tuesday, Bennett said.

"He is with his family and friends in Harare at the moment and will
appear in court tomorrow (Tuesday)."

Smyth was released after his legal counsel, Innocent Chagonda, asked
for the charges against him to be dismissed.

During an appearance in court on Monday, he was charged in terms of
the Immigration Act for overstaying his welcome in the country.

Smyth was initially arrested on fraud charges as he was preparing to
ferry MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to election rallies.

The charges were withdrawn on Thursday, after the state failed to
bring the case in court within 48 hours, as stipulated by Zimbabwean law. -

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