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Robert Mugabe emerges as Zimbabwe 'crackdown' begins

The Telegraph

Last Updated: 10:55pm BST 03/04/2008

Robert Mugabe has appeared in public for the first time since Zimbabwe’s bitterly fought weekend election as his party said it was confident of him winning a second round in the presidential contest.

In a sign of growing confidence that the 84-year-old leader could yet cling on to power, his Zanu-PF party said it was ready to fight on despite losing control of parliament.

Robert Mugabe emerges to meet the African union observer group
Robert Mugabe finally emerged to meet the African Union observer group in Harare

Police also raided offices of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last night in what its official called the start of a “crackdown”.

Mr Mugabe had been conspicuous by his absence from television and radio.

But the president was shown smiling and looking relaxed as he met the leader of an African Union monitoring mission.

As his handpicked state Electoral Commission continued to hold back the result of the key presidential vote five days after the election, Zanu-PF officials said that Mr Mugabe will chair a meeting of his politburo today (FRI) to decide on his strategy in the weeks ahead.

A second round must be held within three weeks of last Sunday’s vote.

Bright Matonga, the deputy information minister, said: “Zanu-PF is ready for a run-off, we are ready for a resulting victory.

“In terms of strategy, we only applied 25 per cent of our energy into this campaign ... That (the run-off) is when we are going to unleash the other 75 percent that we did not apply in the first case.”

Official results for the parliamentary election showed the main MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai had won 99 seats, with Zanu-PF on 97, another MDC faction with 10 and one independent seat.

Zimbabwe riot police patrol the city centre in the capital Harare
Zimbabwe riot police patrol the city centre in the capital Harare

But according to the figures issued by the Zimbabwe Election Commission, Zanu-PF was leading the popular vote with 45.94 per cent, and Mr Tsvangirai’s party on 42.88 per cent.

The numbers pave the way for Mr Mugabe to be declared as leading the presidential race, contrary to projections by independent monitors and the MDC, which says Mr Tsvangirai won with 50.3 per cent.

If Mr Mugabe decides to fight, opposition fears a run-off vote could be easier to manipulate than Sunday’s four-pronged poll for the presidency, lower and upper houses of parliament and local councils.

A man reads The Herald in Zimbabwe: watch Zimbabwe run-off?
Watch: full election results still remain a mystery

Noel Kututwa, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which monitored the polls, said that while the parliamentary seats had been correctly apportioned, the statistics had been rigged.

“They have inflated the votes,” he said.

“What they did was reduce the majority in seats where the MDC won and in constituencies where Zanu-PF won they would inflate the victory. We think that’s a deliberate strategy, so according to their figures we are in a situation where Zanu-PF has more votes than the MDC.

“They can put the argument that because Zanu-PF won the popular vote in the assembly it’s possible Mugabe has won.”

Nonetheless he felt that rigging a second round would be “very difficult”.

While rumours that Mr Mugabe could step down continued to circulate in the capital, political normality appeared to be returning after days of heady speculation following the election.

Robert Mugabe receives his declaration as President of Zimbabwe for a six year term of office from Chief Justice Gubbay Masrch 1996: view Robert Mugabe's political career
View: Robert Mugabe's political career

An informed source pointed out the public posting of election results - which has made all the difference to the poll - could be revoked for the second round by presidential decree, but said the top echelons of the regime were in disarray, unable to decide what to do.

“At State House you sense a meltdown, the end of an era, a sense of panic,” he said.

The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, said last night that he had spoken to Mr Tsvangirai and been told the MDC was prepared to fight a second round if he was not declared president when official results are published.

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Zimbabwe waits for 'sting in tail' as paramilitaries swoop on hotel

The Times
April 4, 2008

Catherine Philp and Jan Raath in Harare
Down but apparently not yet out, Robert Mugabe made his first public
appearance yesterday since last weekend's presidential election as evidence
mounted that he was preparing for a high-risk final run-off.

Mr Mugabe was shown on state television meeting African Union election
observers as ruling party officials announced that he would hold a critical
politburo meeting today to plot his next move.

State media, the ruling Zanu (PF) party and even, according to some, the
octogenarian president himself, have conceded that he lost the race to the
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but maintain that the challenger failed
to secure an absolute majority. But the Government insisted yesterday that
Mr Mugabe was in no mood for surrender and was gearing up to fight on.

Fears were mounting that the stricken leader might yet resort to force to
cling on to power after a senior government spokesman gave warning that the
party was preparing to invoke “energy” it had not tapped during the previous

Last night armed paramilitary police surrounded the Hotel York Lodge in
Harare where foreign reporters were staying. Diplomats said that three
correspondents were arrested, including a reporter from the New York Times
and one from the Daily Telegraph.
“Zanu (PF) is ready for a run-off, we are ready for a resulting victory,”
Bright Matonga, the deputy information minister, said. “In terms of
strategy, we only applied 25 per cent of our energy into this campaign,” he
added, but the run-off would be different. “That is when we are going to
unleash the other 75 per cent that we did not apply in the first case.”

Unconfirmed reports were circulating among the diplomatic community last
night about an alleged Mugabe military plot to extend the three-week run-up
to the second round to three months, and to use the time to shut down the
provisions in the election law that help to thwart poll rigging attempts.

Key among them is the precedent of publicly posting each polling station's
results on its walls - a move that allowed the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, as well as independent observers, to collect the figures
and release them in a preemptive strike against poll fixing.

But well-placed sources were adamant that any such attempts to manipulate
the process would fail, even if they were unprepared to rule out some last
desperate, and even violent, attempt to cling to power.

“Mugabe is a villain of the first order,” one source told The Times. “He is
desperate to stay in power and the sting may be in the tail.” Zimbabwe's
African neighbours are the only countries with any significant influence
over Mr Mugabe's regime but they have thus far failed to intervene in any
significant way. Yesterday's television appearance came after Mr Mugabe met
an African election observer team led by Ahmad Tejah Kabbah, the former
Sierra Leone president.

Mr Kabbah has also met Mr Tsvangirai, who claims victory in the election
with 50.3 per cent of the vote, but who had vowed to contest a run-off if
official election results award him less than 50 percent.

Rumours have swirled around Harare in the six days since the election, amid
the absence of information. Zimbabweans, drained by the fatigue of economic
collapse, have displayed epic patience in their wait for results. The slow
drip-drip of parliamentary results has held people's focus as they listen to
radios, keeping their own running tallies of the score.

But yesterday the information vacuum yawned open again in the absence of the
expected senatorial results, the precursor to the presidential tally
expected by the end of play on Friday. The delay, blamed on logistical
problems, once again heightened fears that results were being manipulated
and that the regime was buying itself time to concoct extreme measures to
shore up Mr Mugabe ahead of a run-off.

“We will stay patient because we must,” said Blessing, a street vendor in
the Harare slums of Mbare. “But it is frustrating.” News of Zanu (PF)'s loss
of their parliamentary majority boosted morale, but only led to further
questions over the delay in the release of presidential results. “We are
waiting for the big ones,” Moses, his friend, added.

The grinding logistics of every day life under Zimbabwe's collapsing economy
have kept many distracted from their fears of worst-case scenarios.
Yesterday, as every other day, huge queues formed outside a bakery from
morning as people stood in line clutching bundles of cash, hopeful that
there would be food to buy. More than 40 people were still queueing when, at
lunchtime, the bread ran out.

Queues also snaked away from cash machines around the city, which people
must visit several times daily just to get out the notes they need.

Officially, inflation is running at a global high of more than 100,000 per
cent, but analysts say the true figure is more than 250,000 - mostly because
of the huge currency printing operation the Government undertook to raise
funds to hold elections and bribe officials.

Even if Mr Mugabe were intent on a second round, many believe he could not
afford it. Many now believe that the run-off may yet be an attempt to cling
to power while the regime tidies up its desks before bowing out.

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'We'll embarass Mugabe if he calls this run-off'

Zim Online

by Patricia Mpofu  Friday 04 April 2008

HARARE – Armed police and soldiers on Thursday maintained a presence on
Harare’s streets but Zimbabwe’s capital remained calm if excited about what
increasingly looks a delayed but inevitable departure of President Robert
Mugabe from power.

Many residents quietly went about the daily challenge of trying to survive
Zimbabwe’s unprecedented economic crisis, seemingly unperturbed by delays by
the election authorities to announce results of the presidential election
six days ago.

But nearly all potential voters who agreed to share their thoughts with
ZimOnline about a possible second round run-off between Mugabe and
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai whose Movement fro Democratic Change
(MDC) party vowed one thing:

“We will certainly embarrass the old man, if he dares ask for this run-off
thing,” said Chipo Tsodzo, a 25-year old mother of one who vends oranges on
Harare’s streets to supplement the little income her husband earns from
waste paper he collects for resale to recycling factories.

It is not difficult to tell that Tsodzo, who says she lost her job when one
of the main bakeries in town where she worked downsized to cut on losses
after the government ordered all companies to reduce prices last June, holds
the old man (Mugabe) responsible for her plight.

Zimbabweans dealt Mugabe’s ZANU PF party the worst devastating blow since
its 1963 formation voting to take away its parliamentary majority it had
come to take for granted since first coming to power at the country’s 1980
independence from Britain.

ZANU PF managed 97 seats in last Saturday’s election against the MDC’s 99. A
breakaway MDC faction took 10 seats while one seat went to an independent

Results of the presidential and Senate elections are still to be released,
however, ZANU PF and independent projections say Tsvangirai will fall short
of an absolute majority in the presidential vote and will have to face a
run-off against Mugabe.

Tsvangirai insists he won clearly but he has indicated he will take on
Mugabe in a run-off if only to prove the point.

Mugabe - who today chairs a meeting of ZANU PF’s inner politburo cabinet
that should decide whether he contests Tsvangirai in the run-off - has not
himself publicly stated whether or not he wants the second round voting.

All the same, Zimbabweans - who seem ever so impatient with the old man -
are willing to give him some advice lest the 84-year old leader finds it a
bit difficult to make up his mind in the matter.

“If he wants a whitewash let him stand in the run-off,” said Moses Moyo, who
survives by trading foreign currency on the illegal but thriving black
market for foreign currency.

A trained high school teacher who gave up his job for the more rewarding
black-market, Moyo – like Tsodzo - also blames Mugabe’s government for the
mess Zimbabwe is in.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of an acute recession blamed on state mismanagement
and seen in the world’s highest inflation of more than 100 000 percent,
spiraling poverty, shortages of food and every basic commodity.

Most political analysts had tipped Mugabe’s government to win the polls
despite a worsening crisis citing a skewed political field that they said
disadvantaged the opposition.

“Mugabe is the one responsible for causing this misery. He should go now”
said Tendai Chanda, a sales assistant at one of Harare’s top clothing shops.
She continued: “Why embarrass himself trying to swim against such a strong
tide? The politburo must convince the old man to call it quits.”

It remains to be seen whether the ZANU PF politburo or Mugabe heeds the call
to accept defeat or whether they will decide to have one more go against

Political analysts say Tsvangirai could easily beat Mugabe in a run-off
between the two but warn that such a second round of voting that the
three-week hiatus before a new vote would spark serious violence between
security forces and militia loyal to the Zimbabwean leader on one side and
MDC supporters on the other. - ZimOnline

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Civic group wants observers for run-off

Zim Online

by Patricia Mpofu  Friday 04 April 2008

HARARE – A church-led civic society alliance says it will ask the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) to dispatch observers to Zimbabwe to
monitor an expected run-off between President Robert Mugabe and opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The Christian Alliance on Thursday said it would dispatch envoys to SADC
chairman, President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia and South African President
Thabo Mbeki to plead for observers to ensure the run-off election will be
free of violence.

“We want to ensure that there is no violence in the run-off as we believe
there are high chances of political violence because we hear ZANU PF is
mobilizing its militia to go to the rural areas, especially those areas that
rejected the ruling party,” alliance co-ordinator Useni Sibanda told

“We want SADC and President Mbeki, as the mediator in the Zimbabwean talks,
to intervene before these (ZANU PF militias) are unleashed on the
defenceless masses,” Sibanda added.

The alliance is a coalition of churches, political parties, students and
labour, that is fighting for democratic change in Zimbabwe.

A SADC observer mission said in a preliminary report that last Saturday’s
presidential, parliamentary and local council elections were peaceful and
credible but noted that there were some flaws in the electoral process.

Zimbabwe has been on knife-edge over the past five days after the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) failed to release election results for last
Saturday’s presidential election amid rising international pressure for the
commission to release the results.

In final results for the lower House of Assembly released on Wednesday, the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won 99 seats against
ZANU PF’s 96 seats while a breakaway faction of the MDC won 10 seats and an
independent one seat.

The state-run Herald newspaper on Wednesday said a presidential election
run-off was looming on the horizon as neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai had
secured enough votes to win the presidency outright.

Political analysts say a second round of voting could see the wounded Mugabe
and his ruling ZANU PF party unleashing war veterans and feared militia
during the 21-day campaign period in a last-ditch bid to stay in power.

War veterans have since 2000 led a vicious campaign of violence and terror
against the MDC and government critics during every major election to ensure
victory for Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.

The war veterans were however surprisingly quiet in the run-up to last
weekend’s election allowing Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni, who was also
running in the presidential election as an independent, unprecedented access
to Mugabe’s rural strongholds.

The rural electorate responded to their new-found freedom by voting
overwhelmingly for Tsvangirai and the MDC in last weekend’s election. –

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ZEC to meet agents of presidential candidates

Zim Online

by Nokhutula Sibanda Friday 04 April 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission was on Thursday expected to meet
the chief election agents of all presidential candidates to verify results
of the presidential election before announcing them to the nation either
later in the evening or today.

Sources in the commission said President Robert Mugabe was to be represented
at the meeting by Emmerson Mnangagwa, a close aide and government minister
who was tipped to succeed the veteran leader as president of ZANU PF and
possibly the country.

Main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, whose Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party defeated ZANU PF in parliamentary elections, will be
represented by Chris Mbanga and Harold Muvuti will represent former finance
minister, Simba Makoni.

"We will be meeting them today before the results are released to verify and
counter-verify the total results," said a source, who is a senior commission

He added: "Once verification is finished, we will announce the results
either later tonight or Friday . . . the law says the results should be
released within a six-day period, so no one needs to complain because we
still have a day to go.”

Mugabe is believed to have narrowly lost to Tsvangirai and is scheduled to
meet the inner politburo cabinet of his ZANU PF party to decide whether he
should contest the opposition leader in a second round run-off or throws in
the towel.

ZANU-PF and independent projections say Tsvangirai will fall short of an
absolute majority in the presidential vote and a run-off will be necessary.
The MDC leader insists he won with a clear majority but has indicated he is
ready to take on Mugabe in a run-off to “finish off the old man.”

The MDC beat ZANU PF by 99 seats to 97 in the House of Assembly election. A
breakaway MDC faction took 10 seats while one seat went to an independent
candidate. Results of the House of Senate are still to be released. –

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Harare introduces Z$50 million note

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro Friday 04 April 2008

HARARE – The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has introduced a new Z$50
million note to deal with rampant shortages of cash in an economy that is
also grappling with the world’s highest inflation rate of over 100 000

The new note is part of bearer cheques that were first introduced by the
central bank at the height of cash shortages about four years ago.

The Z$50 million note is expected to be introduced on the market today after
the RBZ also increased the maximum withdrawal limit for individuals to $5
billion a day.

The introduction of the $50 million note graphically captures the depth of
Zimbabwe’s unprecedented economic crisis. Fifty million dollars is enough to
buy two loaves of the cheapest quality bread in Zimbabwe.

Cash shortages which had disappeared in January following the introduction
of the $10 million note had resurfaced over the past month as Zimbabwe’s
economic crisis continued without let-up.

Zimbabweans have battled severe cash shortages over the past four years due
to an economic crisis described by the World Bank as unprecedented for a
country not at war.

In addition to cash shortages, Zimbabweans are also grappling with shortages
of virtually every basic survival commodity, essential medicines, fuel and
foreign currency. - ZimOnline

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Urgent petition to SADC heads of state on Zimbabwe elections

Zim Online

Friday 04 April 2008

Inordinate delay in announcing results is of grave concern to civil society

We the undersigned civil society groups whose names are listed below have
found it necessary to send this urgent petition to your Excellences in order
to save our country from potentially sinking into complete anarchy if
election results are manipulated.

On 29th March 2008 the people of Zimbabwe voted for the national president,
members of parliament and councillors.

The elections took place against the background of a serious political and
economic crisis in the country, which has lasted for a decade.

After brazen use of organised violence and torture of political opponents as
Zimbabwe approached the 2008 election year, the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) facilitated negotiations between the government and the
opposition to end Zimbabwe's crisis so that Zimbabweans can once again live
in dignity.

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa who was mandated by SADC to lead the
dialogue stated clearly that his aspiration was that the March 2008
elections needed to be held in circumstances where the outcome of such
elections would not be contestable.

Even though the negotiations collapsed before reaching their final
conclusion, there were some changes in the electoral laws that resulted in
visible changes on the ground in terms of the election management process as

The accreditation of journalists was smoother and earlier than in previous
elections even though the government erred in being selective on whom it
invited to observe.

There were less queues at polling stations and it looked like the majority
of those who wanted to vote and whose names were on the voter's roll managed
to vote without undue delays or major hassles.

The general environment inside the polling station and around the polling
station was not hostile unlike in previous elections where cases of
harassment of local observers were reported. In this election there have
been few reports of intimidation or harassment of human rights defenders
during the election day and the period immediately after.

The counting and posting of results at the polling stations for all to see
was very well received and ordinary people could be seen in numbers studying
the results posted at the polling stations.

There were however some areas of concern as well. These will be enumerated
in due course as various organisations do their individual and collective
election reports as necessary.

 However the biggest concern that has emerged is the inordinate delay in the
announcing of the election results. The counting was done immediately after
the polls were shut generally around 7 pm on 28 March 2008 at the polling

The results were posted at the polling stations immediately and there is
significant concern at the failure of the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC)
to announce these results more than 36 hours after the voting stopped.

There seems to be absolutely no justification for this delay and the
tokenistic announcement of results for 109 contested positions by 8am on 1
April 2008 is wholly inadequate.

We as civil society are concerned by the failure to announce the results
timeously. This creates a founded suspicion in the minds of Zimbabweans that
the authorities are trying to manipulate the results in order to get their
preferred party candidates to win.

This is especially so given that the opposition has already been expressing
public concern at what they saw as measures that were being taken to
manipulate the vote and rig the elections.

This delay, if it persist will result in the real likelihood of the outcome
of the elections being contested and in the process undermining what ever
small gains may have arisen from the SADC efforts.

We are naturally gravely concerned that any contestation of the outcome of
the elections is also likely to lead to escalation of conflict. With the
weak rule of law environment that has been well documented before, the
elections may trigger serious and potentially widespread violations of human
rights in Zimbabwe.

We are aware that the Zimbabwean government has already deployed police,
army and intelligence units into the major cities in anticipation of
potential trouble. Of significant concern are the unconfirmed rumours that
allegedly from the security branches of government that the incumbent is
preparing to declare a state of emergency after announcing inaccurate

This is consistent with the threats by the security chiefs before the
elections that they are not prepared to accept the election results if
President Mugabe and ZANU PF lose the elections.

We the civil society organisations from Zimbabwe therefore implore the SADC
and AU heads of state and government to urgently exert the necessary
diplomatic pressure to force President Mugabe to ensure that the elections
are as free and fair as possible.

- demand that President Mugabe and his government should allow the elections
results to be released immediately without being tampered with.

- exert the necessary diplomatic pressure to President Mugabe not to declare
a state of emergency.

- apply pressure on the military and intelligence in Zimbabwe not to
manipulate the elections results and to accept the peoples verdict in the

- call for SADC in conjunction with other international and domestic
observers to investigate allegations of fraud, so that the ZEC announced
results may be correlated with independent tabulation processes.

- that SADC together with the African Union should be prepared to urgently
engage in a process to assist in resolving any dispute that may arise if the
results of the elections are seriously contested - particularly since the
domestic electoral courts process is itself not seen as legitimate by all
but the ruling party.

Dated this 1 April 2008 by the undersigned Civil Society Organisations



















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Senatorial election results

Zim Online

           Thursday 03 April 2008

MDC (Tsv)                              13 942

ZANU PF                                 7897

Indep                                     2238 


ZANU PF                                   26 144

MDC (Tsv)                                15345


MDC (Tsv)                            13701

ZANU PF                              4034

MDC (Mut)                             2487


ZANU PF                              22429

MDC (Tsv)                            17401


MDC (Tsv)                              67131

ZANU PF                                14582

MDC                                       6719

Indep                                      2354


ZANU PF                               24 571

MDC (Tsv)                             17370

MDC                                      6994

Indep                                    1996


MDC(Tsv)                             37138

ZANU PF                              14533

MDC                                    4413


ZANU PF                               44829

MDC (Tsv)                            20700

Indep                                    2223


MDC (Tsv)                            28031

ZANU PF                              8496

Indep                                   2274


ZANU PF                               16156

MDC (Tsv)                            15287

MDC                                     4560

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Barry Bearak, Pulitzer-Winning NYT Correspondent, Taken Into Custody In Zimbabwe

Huffington Post via Radar, E&P   |  Danny Shea   |   April 3, 2008 04:40 PM

Barry Bearak, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent
covering the Zimbabwe elections, was arrested today in the capital city of

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller released the following statement
(via Radar):

  Barry Bearak, a Times correspondent based in Johannesburg, was taken into
custody today by police in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he was covering the
elections. We do not know where he is being held, or what, if any, charges
have been made against him.

  We are making every effort to ascertain his status, to assure that he is
safe and being well treated, and to secure his prompt release. Barry is an
experienced and respected professional who has reported from many places. He
won a Pulitzer prize in 2002 for his deeply affecting coverage of daily life
in war-torn Afghanistan.

Bearak wrote yesterday's Page One story, but requested that the paper
withhold his byline for security reasons. The paper later added his byline
to the online version of the story, and made the following comment (via
Editor & Publisher):

  "We withheld Barry Bearak's name at his request as a security precaution,"
Diane McNulty, Times executive director of community affairs and media
relations, told E&P in an e-mail. "But as more Western journalists used
their bylines and as the story grew more prominent, Barry felt it was time
to use his byline, which appeared in the latest editions of the newspaper."

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Mugabe party ready for run-off to save president


03/04/2008 21:55 HARARE, April 3 (AFP)

Zimbabwe's ruling party geared up on Thursday for a final battle to keep
Robert Mugabe in power, declaring itself ready for a presidential election
run-off as police arrested foreign journalists in Harare.

With no official result yet declared five days after the poll, tensions were
heightened further by news that a New York Times correspondent and a
colleague were held after a raid on a guest house for reporting without

South African President Thabo Mbeki meanwhile urged all sides to accept the
official results of the election as diplomatic efforts were stepped up.

While the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) maintains its
leader Morgan Tsvangirai has surpassed the 50 percent threshold needed to
avoid a run-off, Mugabe's ZANU-PF party said it was ready for a run-off in
the presidential contest after earlier losing control of parliament.

"ZANU-PF is ready for a run-off, we are ready for a resulting victory," said
deputy information minister Bright Matonga who is also a senior lawmaker.

He said the party had "let the president down" in the first round and would
re-energise its efforts in the run-off.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior party official told AFP the
ZANU-PF's 49-member politburo would meet on Friday "to discuss the election
outcome and explore what went wrong."

Despite the extended silence over results from the presidential election,
the electoral commission did wrap up results of the parliamentary contest in
the early hours, giving the MDC 109 seats against 97 for ZANU-PF.

The situation is slightly complicated by a split in the MDC ranks, with 10
of the newly-elected lawmakers part of a rebel faction.

It also announced the first results from elections to the senate, a largely
ceremonial 60-seat chamber, with the MDC and ZANU-PF tied on five seats

A smiling Mugabe made his first public appearance on Thursday since the
polls when he met election observers from the African Union.

Former Sierra Leone president Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, who headed the AU mission
that monitored the polls, said Mugabe appeared "relaxed" during their talks
and revealed he had also met Tsvangirai.

In his first reaction to the polls, Mbeki urged all sides to respect the
outcome of the official result and said he had held talks on the phone with

"If indeed Tsvangirai has been elected that's fine and if there is a run-off
that's fine. That is a matter we must await," said Mbeki, who was the chief
mediator between the MDC and ZANU-PF in the run-up to the polls.

Despite his party's proclamation of victory, Tsvangirai has refrained from
declaring himself president -- a move seen as having helped prevent any
major unrest among his followers.

The Zimbabwean authorities refused nearly all applications by the foreign
media to cover the polls, warning last week that they would deal severely
with any journalists who sneaked into the country.

The raid on the guest house ended with the arrests of two journalists,
including award-winning New York Times reporter Barry Bearak.

"They are being investigated for practising without accreditation," national
police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told AFP.

The Times' executive editor Bill Keller said: "We do not know where he is
being held, or what, if any, charges have been made against him."

"We are making every effort to ascertain his status, to assure that he is
safe and being well treated, and to secure his prompt release."

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Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Seen Far From Issuing Presidential Results


      By Sylvia Manika, Patience Rusere, Taurai Shava and Loirdham Moyo
      Harare,Washington, Gweru and Mutare
      03 April 2008

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission late Thursday started issuing results of
senate elections held five days earlier, but in small batches as it did
earlier with house results leaving the presidential decision a seemingly
distant prospect.

Following the same pattern as it did in releasing house results this week,
the electoral panel announced the results of 10 our of 60 senate races after
which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan
Tsvangirai had five senate seats and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party
also had five senate seats.

The commission's announcement of house seats ended with ZANU-PF losing its
parliamentary majority to the combined opposition after 28 years in power.

Earlier Thursday, the commission had dismayed poll watchers by issuing a
statement saying unspecified logistical problems were holding up senate

Correspondent Sylvia Manika of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported from

Though the combined opposition formations of Morgan Tsvangirai and rival MDC
chief Arthur Mutambara have claimed a majority in the house, effecting broad
change could be difficult if Mr. Mugabe retains his grip on the presidency,
according to Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional
Assembly, a civic group.

Madhuku said the MDC win could temper Mr. Mugabe’s authority, but if he
continues as president he'll have a veto over legislation and can choose his
own cabinet.

He told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the
Mutambara opposition formation now wields considerable power in the

From Midlands Province, there were reports of witch-hunts within ZANU-PF and
of reprisals against the opposition, as correspondent Taurai Shava reported.

Though the election aftermath has generally been calm, there were violent
incidents in eastern Manicaland Province. Less than 48 hours after voting
ended the Chimanimani home of the MDC chairman for the area was torched.

Correspondent Loirdham Moyo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reported.

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Thabo Mbeki's villified diplomacy may be paying off at last

The Times
April 3, 2008

Jonathan Clayton
Thabo Mbeki, who is playing the key role in behind-the-scenes efforts to
broker a peaceful solution to the Zimbabwe crisis, could soon find himself
in a very strange position: applauded by friends and foes alike.

If, however, Mr Mugabe is still in power in a month's time the South African
President will have a lot of explaining to do.

Diplomats say that if President Mugabe is finally eased out of office, Mr
Mbeki will take much of the credit.

“I don't think you can say they are brokering the deal, but they are making
all the important calls. They are quietly pressuring the parties to keep
talking to each other and keeping the talks on track,” a senior Western
diplomat based in Pretoria said.

Gordon Brown recognises the pivotal role Mr Mbeki is now playing. He has
been on the phone to Mr Mbeki several times in the past few days and the
South African leader has cancelled a planned visit to London today so that
he can remain close to the negotiations. The United States has also been
urging Mr Mbeki to continue to orchestrate events.
Mr Mbeki, long vilified for his “quiet diplomacy” approach to Mr Mugabe, is
already credited with engineering the current situation by persuading the
veteran Zimbabwean leader to accept a series of apparently tiny measures,
such as allowing election results to be posted outside every polling station
before being sent to regional centres and giving observers and election
agents of all parties access to the interior of each polling station.

In previous elections they often waited outside while security forces and
police took up positions inside and were not present at all in many rural
constituencies where ballot stuffing took place. The result has been the
most free and fair elections, though still deeply flawed, in the country
under Mr Mugabe's authoritarian 28-year rule.

“Everybody was laughing at Mbeki and his mediation efforts, but his aides
are saying he has delivered,” said Buchizya Mseteka, a political analyst on
southern Africa. “We are on the verge of a democratic and peaceful solution
to this crisis.” Since last weekend's poll Mr Mbeki has maintained solid
pressure on the Zimbabwean Government to honour its previous pledges to make
the results public — a move that is designed to make it impossible for Mr
Mugabe and his cohorts to rig themselves back into power.

Mr Mseteka added: “Mbeki also got Mugabe to accept to keep the security
forces largely out of sight. That is why the run-up to this vote was so
peaceful.” Even if Mr Mugabe declines to go and, urged on by a handful of
hardliners in the security forces, opts to fight a second round, the South
Africans will keep up the pressure for an honest result — a policy that
virtually ensures the end of the current regime.

Mr Mbeki and his closest advisers have also kept open channels of
communication to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)

It is a supreme irony that Mr Mbeki could pull off a considerable diplomatic
coup at a time when he has never been weaker at home. His once-powerful grip
on the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has all but evaporated since
his arch-rival Jacob Zuma became its President in a bitterly fought contest
last December. He is set to limp on to next year when he steps down, a
bruised and battered figure largely disowned by the movement he has served
all his life.

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Delay in results from Zimbabwean elections not comforting, US says

Monsters and Critics

Apr 3, 2008, 20:17 GMT

Washington - The United States said Thursday it was 'high time' for
Zimbabwean officials to release the results of last weekend's presidential
and parliamentary elections and that the delay was 'not exactly comforting.'

Zimbabwean election officials have yet to provide the final results of the
parliamentary outcome that appear to have handed power to the opposition.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says their leader Morgan
Tsvangirai defeated President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country for
28 years.

US State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey cited pre-election concerns
about the fairness of the election and the conclusion of independent
observers that the Movement for Democratic Change defeated Mugabe's Zanu-PF

'Given what we saw before the election, given the independent groups' counts
that are out there that clearly show the opposition ahead, it is not exactly
comforting to see these kinds of delays occur,' Casey said.

'And whatever problems may exist or whatever logistical hurdles are there,
we believe that it's high time for the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to
release those results,' he said.

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How Long Will Mugabe Hang On?


Thursday, Apr. 03, 2008 By IAN EVANS/HARARE

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe may not be ready to give up power any
time soon, according to one of his former confidantes. The country remains
in the limbo of an uncertain post-election moment, as Mugabe's party lost
the parliamentary vote in last weekend's balloting, while the presidential
tally has not yet been released. On Thursday, CNN reported opposition claims
that a crackdown had begun that included the arrest of journalists.

Jonathan Moyo, a former Information Minister in Mugabe's government but now
one of the regime's fiercest critics, suggests that Mugabe is not in any
hurry to leave office. He spoke to TIME in an interview following an address
to the National Press Club in Harare on Wednesday. As members of Mugabe's
party close ranks around their beleaguered president and suggest that he
will face off with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a runoff, Moyo,
51, may be one of the few people with insight into Mugabe's thinking and a
willingness to share it.
"[Mugabe] has lived and ruled from an ivory tower, and that is his problem,"
says Moyo, who says he last spoke with Mugabe on February 17, 2005.
"Obviously he believes people love him and [the election result] is a new
reality check. I don't know whether that reality check will make him
understand that the people have taken the decision to vote against him on
their own. He'll explain it by external influences, but he will find it very
difficult to understand that people have made their choices."

Despite the election results, Moyo says, Mugabe is likely to seek a way to
hang on to power. "He has to be mindful of the law as it stands," the former
Information Minister explains. "I personally think the president is going to
invoke presidential powers to extend the run-off period from 21 days to 90
days or more, claiming that the government is broke and doesn't have the
money to pay for the run-off. Parliament is not there to appraise the costs
so presidential powers will be used to extend or postpone the vote. That
will bring more time to think through his future policy and help develop
plans to work in his favor."

At the same time, Moyo says that some of those around Mugabe — "technocrats,
mostly" — are advising the president to stand down.

Last week's election, which saw Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party lose control
of the legislature for the first time in Zimbabwe's history, also returned
Moyo, a controversial figure widely viewed as the consummate 'flip-flop'
politician, as the country's lone independent member of parliament. Moyo is
best known for initiating the country's most draconian press laws during his
tenure as Information Minister — which made his appearance at the National
Press Club somewhat ironic. Moyo served in the position from 2000 until he
was sacked five years later.

Moyo is optimistic that a runoff election would seal the defeat of his
former boss. "It's about a new start for Zimbabwe and new hope," he says.
"We want to participate in international affairs and continental bodies."

Still, Moyo expresses a desire that Mugabe's legacy will not be entirely
wiped out. "We must respect Mugabe for what he has done for this country,"
says Moyo. "He led us to liberation and has been all our leader, so we must
not destroy his reputation." And that, argues Moyo, should shape Mugabe's
fate. "Whatever people think about him, he is a father figure and must be
given respect when he departs."

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Zimbabwean Election Protest in London

Press Release – 3rd April 2008

Zimbabwean exiles are to demonstrate outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London on Saturday, 5th April in protest at the manipulation of the voting in last week’s elections.
Some 500 Zimbabweans took part in Mock Elections outside the Embassy last Saturday and voted overwhelmingly for the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change.
The Mock Elections were organised by the Zimbabwe Vigil which has been demonstrating outside the Zimbabwe Embassy every Saturday for the past six years.
A Vigil statement said: “Mugabe has been rejected by the people and must not be allowed to cling to power”.
Event:                                  Zimbabwean Election Protest
Venue:                                 Outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London WC2
Date / time:                         2 pm – 6 pm, Saturday, 5th April 2008
Photo Opportunities:          Actors playing Mugabe and his wife. Zimbabwean singing, dancing and drumming.
Interview Opportunities:     Political activists, torture and rape victims.
Further information:            Contact Rose Benton (07970 996 003, 07932 193 467), Dumi Tutani (07960 039 775), Ephraim Tapa (07940 793 090)
Vigil co-ordinators
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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A Lion Meets His Winter


Thursday, Apr. 03, 2008 By ALEX PERRY, IAN EVANS

In the townships of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, political graffiti is
starting to appear. Next to election posters for Robert Mugabe, unseen hands
have scrawled messages to the President. One declares simply, "Zuakwana,"
meaning "enough." After 28 years, Mugabe's time leading Zimbabwe may finally
be nearing an end. Though results from a March 29 general election dribbled
out slowly, the state-run Herald newspaper acknowledged that Mugabe had not
won a majority of votes for the presidency and predicted a runoff with
Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader. If the votes are counted cleanly,
Tsvangirai will almost certainly win a second round.

That is still a big if. Mugabe could deploy the security forces, as he has
before, to try to cling to power. But a wind of change is in the air. Once
one of Africa's most prosperous nations, Zimbabwe has been wrecked by
Mugabe's disastrous policies. Inflation is running at an annual rate of more
than 100,000%, and millions have left for havens elsewhere.
If this really is the beginning of the end for Mugabe, it will have
significance throughout Africa, where the years since Ghana first won its
freedom in 1957 have been a serial, tragic disappointment, marked by war,
genocide, poverty and famine. At the root of them all was ruinous
leadership. With few exceptions, Africa's postindependence leaders wrested
their continent back from colonial rule only to plunder it afresh.
Contemptuous of their own people and often destined for a bloody end, many
contrived to make their nations poorer than they were in colonial times.

While autocrats still control Sudan and Equatorial Guinea, Mugabe is the
last of that Old Guard of former freedom fighters. His passing would befit
an Africa that is entering a new era characterized by democracy, peace,
robust economic growth and a fresh generation of capable leaders like
Liberia's Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Few nations have suffered more from the
failures of the generation that led Africa to independence than Zimbabwe,
and no people more than Zimbabweans deserve the type of leadership that is
transforming the continent for the better.

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