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Zimbabwe ruling party ahead, rigging fears grow

Yahoo News

By Stella Mapenzauswa 21 minutes ago

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's ruling party edged ahead of the main
opposition on Tuesday with over half of parliamentary election results
released and concerns grew that President Robert Mugabe was trying to rig
the vote.

Riot police in armored carriers patrolled two of Harare's opposition
strongholds overnight and residents were told to stay off the normally
bustling streets.

Three days after the most important vote since independence, only 109 out of
210 parliamentary constituencies had been declared, showing the ruling
ZANU-PF two seats ahead of the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

No results have been announced for the presidential vote, in which Mugabe
faces the most formidable political challenge of his 28 years in power -- 
from old rival Morgan Tsvangirai and ruling party defector Simba Makoni.

The opposition MDC says it won according to its own tally and has accused
the veteran leader of delaying the issuing of the results in a bid to steal
the election, which Zimbabweans hoped would ease daily hardships.

Zimbabweans are suffering the world's highest inflation of more than 100,000
percent, food and fuel shortages, and an HIV/AIDS epidemic that has
contributed to a steep decline in life expectancy. Mugabe's foes blame him
for the economic disaster.

"It is now clear that there is something fishy. The whole thing is
suspicious and totally unacceptable," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

Mugabe has denied rigging the election and his government warned that any
early victory claim would be regarded as an attempted coup.


An independent Zimbabwean election monitoring group forecast Tsvangirai,
leader of the largest faction of the MDC, would win the most votes in the
presidential poll but not by a big enough margin to avoid a second round.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said its projections gave him
49.4 percent. It predicted Mugabe would win 41.8 percent and Makoni would
get 8.2 percent.

Tsvangirai was due to hold a news conference at 4:00 a.m. EDT, his first
since voting ended.

Seven European countries and the United States called on Zimbabwe's
Electoral Commission to quickly release the results.

Slovenia, which holds the EU Presidency, also called for a speedy release of
the results.

"This would end the current uncertainty and prevent the risk of rising
tensions," the EU presidency said in a statement.

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

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

Marwick Khumalo, head of an observer group from the Pan-African parliament,
said the elections themselves were free, fair and credible overall and on
Tuesday the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) observer team also endorsed
the polls.

"The ACP Election observer mission was particularly impressed by the calm
and peaceful atmosphere that prevailed before, during and immediately after
polling day," the state-owned Herald newspaper quoted the ACP as saying.

Official results so far showed ZANU-PF with 53 seats, MDC with 51 and a
breakaway MDC faction with five. Five of the new seats the MDC won were from
traditional ZANU-PF strongholds.

The MDC said unofficial tallies showed Tsvangirai had 60 percent of the
presidential vote, twice the total for Mugabe. Private polling organizations
also put Tsvangirai ahead.

"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.

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Mugabe Holds Back the Presidential Vote Result

Business Day (Johannesburg)

1 April 2008
Posted to the web 1 April 2008

Dumisani Muleya

TENSION mounted in Zimbabwe yesterday as it emerged that President Robert
Mugabe had arbitrarily blocked the result of the weekend’s cliff-hanger
presidential election to manipulate it in his favour.

By late yesterday no official presidential vote results were available,
prompting the US, the UK and the European Union to call for the state-run
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to act swiftly.

Last night, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general
secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the federation was “extremely concerned” over
the slow counting of votes. “This snail pace just deepens all manner of
suspicions,” he said in Johannesburg.

Almost 48 hours after polls closed, only 67 of 210 parliamentary
constituencies had been declared, showing Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party one seat
ahead of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The withholding of the result has caused a tense situation in a country
already reeling from a deep economic crisis, and heightened fears of
instability in the region.

On Sunday, Mugabe met the Joint Operations Command (JOC), which comprises
army, police and intelligence chiefs, for an emergency meeting to discuss
security. This was prompted by the growing fears that if Mugabe had managed
to rig the elections — as opposition groups have claimed — antigovernment
street protests could spontaneously erupt.

Security sources said Mugabe and the JOC decided to withhold the
presidential election results and release the outcomes of the parliamentary,
senate and local council polls in small batches to manage the volatile
situation and prepare the nation for a Mugabe victory.

The idea is also to contain the situation because Mugabe and his Zanu (PF)
have lost the polls by wide margins, sources said.

Sources in the ZEC, which is staffed by pro-government officials, said
Mugabe had thwarted the release of the presidential election result to
enable his regime to doctor the outcome.

A secret task force of security and electoral personnel was in place before
the vote to ensure Mugabe and the divided Zanu (PF) won an absolute

The team, headed by Central Intelligence Organisation operatives tasked to
ensure Mugabe “wins power, stays in power, and keeps power”, would heavily
influence the already flawed electoral process to secure a Mugabe victory,
well substantiated information to hand shows.

Yesterday, riot police patrolled the streets of cities while the army was on
high alert.

Mugabe has said he would crush any protests by the opposition. “Let them try
and they will see,” he said in closing his campaign on Friday last week.

Political scientist John Makumbe said Mugabe was likely to rig the polls,
creating serious clashes between the security forces and the opposition.

“I know for sure Mugabe will rig. There is too much evidence to support
this,” he said. “We might end up with a Kenyan-like situation here, but it
doesn’t have to be like that. However, if Mugabe rigs there will be fierce
resistance this time.”

The main opposition MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, said Zanu (PF) had lost
and was trying to doctor the results.

Official results announced by the ZEC showed Zanu (PF) had 26 seats,
Tsvangirai’s MDC faction had 25 seats and the MDC camp led by Arthur
Mutambara had one seat.

There are 210 seats in the House of Assembly and 60 elective seats in the
Senate. Two cabinet ministers, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and
Interactive Affairs Minister Chen Chimutengwende, lost their seats.

The MDC yesterday released its unofficial results, which showed it had won
96 constituencies out of 128 counted.

“In our view we cannot see the national trend changing. This means the
people have spoken, they’ve spoken against the dictatorship," said MDC
secretary-general Tendai Biti.

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Mugabe has not left Zimbabwe: minister


April 01, 2008, 07:30

Zimbabwe's Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga has scoffed at reports
that President Robert Mugabe has left the country for Malaysia ahead of the
release of the country's presidential election results.

A presidential election was held in Zimbabwe on March 29, 2008, along with a
parliamentary election on the same day.

Reports say Mugabe who heads the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union -
Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) has not been seen in the country since he cast his
vote on Saturday but Matonga insists the reports are false.

Zimbabwe is making headlines around the world as the country, once the gem
in continent’s post colonial crown now struggles with unprecedented rates of
unemployment and inflation. The elections are expected, because of
Zimbabwe's dire economic situation, to provide President Mugabe with his
toughest electoral challenge to date.

Zanu-PF leads by 1 seat
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change as well as Mugabe's ruling
Zanu-PF is still battling to gain a significant vote advantage as results
are continuing to trickle in from the weekend's general elections.

With 89 of the 210 parliamentary seats so far declared, the Zanu-PF is two
seats ahead of the MDC. The figures released by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission give Zanu-PF 43 seats, followed by the MDC with 41. The breakaway
MDC faction has five parliamentary seats.

Meanwhile, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition says it's concerned that some
election observers in Zimbabwe have already begun leaving the country.
Earlier, the US, Britain and the European Union called on the United Nations
to persuade Zimbabwean authorities to release the results of last Saturday's
election swiftly.

In the latest results, Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC faction has so far secured 30
House of Assembly seats while six have gone to the formation led by Arthur
Mutambara. This gives the ruling Zanu-PF a slight lead of just one seat over
Tsvangirai's faction so far. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has not yet
announced the results outcome of the hotly-contested presidential race.

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'Mugabe is penning his victory speech'


    April 01 2008 at 09:05AM

By Moshoeshoe Monare

The opposition is claiming an imminent win, but President Robert
Mugabe is preparing his victory speech.

This is according to Zanu-PF spokesperson and politburo member Nathan

In an interview with Independent Newspapers on Monday, Shamuyarira
said he was in touch with Mugabe, who he said was in high spirits.

This is amid speculation that Mugabe was seriously worried about the
election outcomes, with wild rumours suggesting that he was preparing to
flee the country in the event of a defeat.

Independent Newspapers reliably learned that Mugabe was kept informed
about the results while the nation was in the dark, fuelling charges of an
uncomfortable relationship between the president and the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC).

Shamuyarira said Mugabe was optimistic about serving a sixth term.

"I am in touch with him and he is in top form. He knows and we know he
is going to win. Let's wait for the results, but we are sure we are going to

Shamuyarira refused to say if this would be the 84-year-old leader's
last term if he wins.

"I don't know, you will have to ask him that question."

Asked why the president has not been seen in public since he cast his
vote on Saturday in his home township of Highfields, outside Harare,
Shamuyarira said Mugabe would meet the Zimbabwean people at the right time.

"He will speak to the people once the results are announced.

"Let's not interfere with the process, and let's wait until there is a
decision. But he will definitely speak to the people," Shamuyarira said.

While Mugabe was in hibernation, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai was also nowhere to be found after security
concerns following a police raid on MDC officials' hotel rooms.

On Monday MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said: "Tsvangirai is
alive. We can't tell you where he is. He is ready to address a Press
conference. We can't tell you the time and venue."

Earlier in the day, Biti told a press conference that Tsvangirai was
winning the elections, flaunting unofficial collated results that showed
that Tsvangirai was leading by 58 percent, while Mugabe was trailing at 37

Independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni is projected at five

Biti said a worst-case scenario could be a run-off between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai in the presidential elections while the contest seems tough in
the senate, national assembly and council elections.

However, the official results for the national assembly trickling
every three hours from the ZEC showed a neck-and-neck performance between
MDC and Zanu-PF at the time going to Press.

But Biti said information sourced from their party agents in polling
stations showed that Mugabe was losing the race.

So far, senior Zanu-PF and cabinet members have lost in their

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa lost their seats to the MDC, according to Biti.

However, vice-president Joyce Mujuru, who many believe secretly
supports Makoni, won her seat in Mount Darwin.

Shamuyarira dismissed the opposition's victory as premature.

"It is not over yet, we can't celebrate while votes are still being
counted," he said.

However, only a few supporters surrounded Zanu-PF's headquarters, in a
towering building in the western part of Harare.

Besides a few staff workers and security guards, there were no
activities pointing to a ruling party victory.

Meanwhile, Shamuyarira said it would take a few years before the
economy was back on its feet.

He expressed optimism for the country, which is facing hyperinflation,
food shortage, low salaries and unemployment, low life expectancy and
general discontent.

He refused to admit that people were fleeing the country as a result
of the meltdown under Zanu-PF rule.

"Zimbabweans and people in the region have been going to South Africa
for years as a result of your country's strong economy. It is not new. It
happened long before you were born."

This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on
April 01, 2008

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The Last Kicks of a Dying Horse

The Zimbabwean

 Tuesday, 01 April 2008 06:01

What a dramatic two days this has been.

With voting over in the allotted 12
hours, counting has taken another 72 hours and in some cases the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission is still verifying the vote results. In a dramatic
development the political masters in Zanu PF tried to force ZEC to declare
Mugabe the winner with 53 per cent of the vote and a Zanu PF majority of 115
This information was sent to us by elements in Zanu PF and we made the plan
public at a press conference at 10.00 hrs today. But once again the ZEC has
come up trumps - they refused to gerrymander the results and are slowly
releasing the final results to the public. This appears to be an effort to
give the Zanu PF people a chance to "clean house" in advance of what will be
a fairly rapid transfer of power once the final figures for the Presidential
election are announced.

It would seem that the last minute desperate measures to frustrate a MDC
victory was made late yesterday and last night but has faded by this
morning. The best indication of that is that the heavy police presence
evident last night has faded and there are no police or army units on the
street today.

So at last it looks as if the ZEC will eventually announce that Morgan
Tsvangirai has won this election - I personally expect the final ZEC tally
to be 58 per cent for Morgan Tsvangirai, 27 per cent for Mugabe and 15 per
cent for Simba Makoni. I also expect that the final tally in terms of the
Parliamentary seats will be 115 for MDC, 12 for the Mutambara group, 8
independents and 75 for Zanu PF. It is clear that many of the Zanu PF seats
were in fact rigged in their favor but ZEC is accepting this as it was what
I call "micro rigging" - in the sense that they manipulated the numbers of
people voting.

There were many ways in which they could do this - threats against the
population - "vote Zanu PF or else", multiple voting in remote areas where
there was insufficient supervision, the postal ballot and moving people into
key constituencies. We will have to look at all of these and decide which we
will take to court once the dust has settled.

But there can be no doubt this was a huge upset. Zanu seems to have been
dislodged by a variety of factors. They gerrymandered the electoral
districts giving the rural vote (their traditional source of power) a 2 to 1
advantage over the urban voter. Then they gerrymandered the voter's roll and
the distribution of polling stations. These measures were overcome by two
essential elements - a very high turn out of the voters in urban areas (30
per cent of the voters roll but probably 65 per cent of the actual number of
registered voters that are still here) and a very low turn out in rural
districts (15 per cent or less). They also underestimated the Makoni factor
and he did much better than expected.

This was a referendum on Mugabe's leadership and even with all the rigging
and gerrymandering, he is now just so unpopular that he could not be
rescued. I doubt if he got 10 per cent of the vote, nationwide.  What we
have witnessed in the last 24 hours are the last kicks of a dying dynasty. I
wonder what is going on right now behind those closed doors!

Eddie Cross

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Opposition and Zanu PF should work together to save Zimbabwe from chaos

1st Apr 2008 07:58 GMT

By Communities Point


The Communities Point International, an international organization whose
major remit is community integration, wishes to challenge the consciences of
Zimbabweans during this post-election period to remain conscious of the
responsibilities that they have to maintain peace and ensure the return of
tranquility, integrity and dignity to their once prosperous nation.

The run-up to the election and the conduct on polling day is enough
indication that Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans can do better than what the country
has now been associated with. Yet Zimbabwe can redeem itself by finishing
the process with the announcement of the results of the elections in a way
that will not be contested by any of the political parties that contested.

The delay in announcing elections by the Zimbabwe Electorate Commission is
an unfortunate development and a dent onto the opportunity to return
Zimbabwe to international legitimacy. Instead of being sensitive to the
political realities in Zimbabwe ZEC seems to encourage this by unnecessarily
holding onto results which has created unnecessary anxiety.

Whilst we are aware that the task of reconciling ballots from 4 elections is
a very unenviable task, we nevertheless challenge ZEC that as the final
auditors of the election process they must not only be fair but they have to
be seen to be fair, just and transparent.

In the same light we would like to challenge all candidates particularly the
losing candidates to admit that they have lost. Our thoughts go particularly
to the Presidential Candidates and the challenges that are particular to the
current President Robert Mugabe who we understand is having serious family
problems at this crucial time. Whilst we join him in his sorrow we also
challenge him not to use the advantages of incumbency in the event of losing
the elections and that he honours his promise that he will accept the
verdict even if he loses.

Further we would like to tell him that he can still show his statesmanship
in the event of losing and accepting defeat. An acceptance of defeat will
mean that President Robert Mugabe joins a very unique club of African
leaders; those that accepted defeat and in this club there is only Dr
Kenneth Kaunda and FW de Klerk, former Presidents of Zambia and South Africa
respectively. At the same time we challenge the opposition to accept defeat
in the event that this process has been accepted as free and fair by all the
observers. Zimbabwe needs leaders in both government and opposition who will
put the nation above personal glory and it is Communities Point
International’s belief that it is not too late for all leaders across the
Party divide to start showing this now.

Many Thanks





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EU Foreign Ministers meet in Paris to discuss Zimbabwe

Kuwait News Agency

Politics    4/1/2008 9:09:00 AM

PARIS, April 1 (KUNA) -- Seven European Union Foreign Ministers,
including the Slovenian Presidency, met late Monday in Paris to discuss the
situation in Zimbabwe following the elections held there on March 29.
The ministers, from France, Britain, Italy, Holland, Slovakia,
Spain and the Slovene rotating presidency of the EU, commended the turnout
in the Zimbabwean vote that could end the decades-old monopoly on power of
controversial president, Robert Mugabe, who is in his early eighties but
reluctant to cede power.
Mugabe, who has openly clashed with Zimbabwes old colonial
power, Britain, is blamed for destroying the economy and bringing his nation
to the brink of ruin. Mugabe counters that he is being victimized by Britain
and its friends.
"We commend the Zimbabweans who turned out to vote despite the
difficult circumstances," a joint statement said after the talks.
"We call on the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to swiftly
announce all official election results, especially the results of the
presidential election, " the statement added, reflecting growing
dissatisfaction with the slowness to publish results amid accusations by the
opposition that fraud is taking place. The Ministers said that they had
addressed "the particular concern" over the situation in Zimbabwe.
"The future of the Zimbabwean people depends on the credibility
and the transparency of the electoral process. We note with interest and
admiration the reports from Zimbabwean civil society groups of specific
results from polling stations around the country," the statement issued here
"We look forward to working with democratically elected
Zimbabwean authorities, who will be expected to improve Human rights and the
rule of law for the good of the Zimbabwean people, the Ministers concluded.
(end) jk.rk KUNA 010909 Apr 08NNNN

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Immediate Action Needed on Zimbabwe as Controversial Election Results Emerge

The Zimbabwean

 Tuesday, 01 April 2008 05:56

International development agencies, Progressio, Tearfund, Trócaire and FEPA
today call for immediate action to stop what appears to impartial observers
as government-led election rigging of Zimbabwe’s March 29th polls.

All four agencies are concerned about the slow release of election results,
which as Noel Kututwa, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
says “is fuelling speculation that there could be something going on”.
Marwick Khumalo, head of the Pan-African Parliamentary Observer Mission, has
also expressed concern over the delay.

Our mutual partner, Pastor Promise of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance said:
“SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections stipulate
that counting of votes shall be done at the polling stations. This was done
and completed yet ZEC is withholding the results which are already public
knowledge as they were posted outside each polling station. With Kenya’s
violence so fresh in our minds, it is not acceptable to delay the timely
announcement of results as if to provoke the already highly charged
electorate. It’s extremely urgent that ZEC announces all the results

Specifically, the agencies are concerned that:

·        In some cases, officially announced votes do not appear to be
tallying with those registered and displayed at polling stations;

 ·        It has taken over 30 hours to collate and begin to announce
election results, which were posted up outside polling stations two days

 ·       The pace of announcement has been painfully slow. By 3pm on Monday
31st March the Electoral Commission had announced parliamentary poll results
for only 30 out of 210 constituencies. Results for senatorial and
presidential polls are also still pending;

 ·        The delay in announcing results and the failure of the Electoral
Commission to satisfactorily explain the delays to the general public is
contributing to tensions and could lead to a situation of instability in the

 ·        The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has already
issued its statement on the elections. According to article 6.1.12 of the
SADC guidelines, observers monitoring elections are obliged to issue a
statement on 'conduct AND outcome'. The SADC observer mission only issued a
statement on conduct of elections yesterday afternoon and has now declared
its work finished.

 In light of these serious concerns, we urge governments to take the
following critical actions:

 ·       African and especially southern African leaders should ensure that
the SADC observer mission fulfils its obligations to the people of Zimbabwe
by following through on assessing the counting process and declared outcome
of the polls;

·        There should be an SADC investigation and response to the
allegations of fraud made by independent outside and domestic analysts and
observers, in particular with respect to why the announcement of results was
delayed when polling stations results were already reported;

·        African Union and national leaders should be prepared to lead a
process of mediation in the event of a disputed outcome;

·       The UK, Ireland, EU and member states should encourage African
leaders to insist that the SADC principles are rigorously followed, in
particular on ensuring that the results announced reflect the will of the

·        Security forces in Zimbabwe are also urged to respect the verdict
of the people.

Progressio is an international development agency working for sustainable
development and the eradication of poverty.

Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency working with a global
network of local churches to help eradicate poverty.

Trócaire is an Irish charity & development agency working for a just world.

FEPA is the Foundation for Development and Partnership in Africa. It is
based in Switzerland and has worked in Zimbabwe for many years.

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EU calls on Zimbabwe to 'swiftly' announce election results


01.04.2008 - 09:22 CET | By Leigh Phillips
European politicians have called on the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to
"swiftly" announce election results, after unusual delays in their release.

Foreign ministers from seven EU member states issued a statement late Monday
(31 March) evening saying: "We call on the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission
to swiftly announce all official election results, especially the results of
the presidential election."

The ministers - from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain and Britain - were in Paris for an informal meeting where the
Zimbabwean elections were discussed.

They added: "The future of the Zimbabwean people depends on the credibility
and the transparency of the electoral process. We note with interest and
admiration the reports from Zimbabwean civil society groups of specific
results from polling stations around the country.

"We look forward to working with democratically elected Zimbabwean
authorities, who will be expected to improve human rights and the rule of
law for the good of the Zimbabwean people."

Three days after polls closed for both parliamentary and presidential
elections, the country's electoral authorities have only drip-fed results,
and only from the parliament. Normally, election results in Zimbabwe are
released within hours of the closure of polling stations.

Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, also issued a
statement calling on the electoral authorities to release the results

"The presidency calls on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to announce the
official results as soon as possible to demonstrate its independence and to
avoid unnecessary speculation," read a press release from the Slovenian

"This would end the current uncertainty and prevent the risk of rising

The European Commission's aid spokesperson, John Clancy, said: "The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission should publish the final results as soon as possible to
demonstrate its independence and to avoid unnecessary speculation."

Independent election observers from other African nations have said that
according to results from two thirds of polling stations, opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai has won 55 percent of the vote, against President Robert
Mugabe's 36 percent.

Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change is claiming support of 67

The Southern African Development Community, the regional intergovernmental
economic and political cooperation grouping, said it is concerned that the
delay suggests that results are being falsified.

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