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Delay adds to Zimbabwe fraud fears

30 March 2008, 17:33 GMT

By Joseph Winter
BBC News

The delay in announcing the results from Zimbabwe's general elections is
raising fears that the outcome is being rigged.

Counting began immediately after voting ended on Saturday night at some
9,000 polling stations around the country but Zimbabwe's population still do
not know whether or not President Robert Mugabe will extend his 28 years in

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) argues that the election was
actually four different contests in one - president, Senate, House of
Assembly and local councils - and so urges voters to be patient.

But around the country, voters can go to where they cast their ballots and
see the results from that polling station, which were generally posted as
early as Sunday morning.

They are asking why it takes so long to add up the results and announce

Surely in the 21st Century, adding up four lots of 9,000 results should not
take more than a few hours?

Although Zimbabwe's economic crisis has not spared the election process -
votes were counted by candlelight in some areas due to a lack of


"I have no doubt that the large part - if not all - results are known,"
Marwick Khumalo, head of the Pan-African Parliament observer team, told
South Africa's SABC TV.

He said the delay was "frustrating" and risked "upsetting a very peaceful
electoral process".
"The regime is at a loss and it is taking its time deliberately," said
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary General Tendai

The fears of rigging are also grounded in what happened in Kenya's elections
last December.

There, it took three days for the local election commission to announce the

Elections observers in Kenya said the declared results were often different
from those posted outside polling stations - and the discrepancies generally
favoured the incumbent, who was announced the winner.

This led to opposition protests and some 1,500 deaths.


"The delay is a worry - people are afraid," Denford Magora, a spokesman for
independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni told the BBC News website.

"We just hope and pray that the army doesn't do something stupid."

The MDC has cranked up the tension by announcing that they are in the lead -
a move the government has condemned as "causing unnecessary havoc".

The MDC bases their announcements on results that their polling agents have
texted to party headquarters, where they have done the sums themselves.

Most interestingly, they say they are winning not just in their urban
strongholds but also in rural areas which have previously voted for
President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

Contributors to the BBC around the country who have visited polling stations
in their areas agree that the MDC has done well, as does Mr Magora.

"The MDC has swept the board - ministers are falling like flies," he said.

While Mr Magora's candidate is fighting against Mr Mugabe, he comes from
Zanu-PF, several of whose parliamentary candidates are believed to back his
campaign. So he is fairly impartial in the parliamentary race.


Some opposition activists have already started celebrating, only to be
dispersed by police in the second city of Bulawayo.

And the opposition jubilation is certainly premature.

Until the official results are announced by the ZEC, Zimbabwe's future
direction remains up in the air.

ZEC chairman George Chiweshe had to be rescued by security officials from
journalists and opposition supporters demanding results on Sunday.

"This has been a more complicated election. We will be releasing the results
as soon as we can," he promised.

The vote itself was generally peaceful and the major concern on the day
seemed to be the large numbers of people turned away from polling stations.

Ashley (not his real name) in Harare, told the BBC that he had registered to
vote but when he turned up to cast his ballot, his name was not on the
voters' roll.

He suspects that young people's names were deliberately removed, as they are
likely to support the opposition.

But Rindai Chipfunde from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which had
some 8,000 observers during the election, told the BBC that these problems
seemed to stem from a lack of voter education, rather than systematic fraud.

What next?

Mr Mugabe himself strongly denied any plans to rig the polls.

"I cannot sleep with a clear conscience if there is any cheating," he said
after voting and promised to respect the results.

"If you lose an election and are rejected by the people, it is time to leave

If the MDC is right about how the vote went, the president and his allies
are no doubt currently deciding whether or not to live up to those grand

Giving up and going quietly would be out of character for the veteran
nationalist, who ran his campaign on the slogan "Behind the Fist".

Another scenario would be for the fist to hit back, declare victory and use
the security forces to stamp out any opposition protests - as they have in
the past.

This option obviously relies on the loyalty of the military - some of whom
are reported to be sympathetic to Mr Makoni.

A third, compromise solution would be for the ZEC to announce that no
candidate has won more than the 50% of the vote required for victory and for
a run-off to be held in three weeks' time.

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Pressure mounts on ZEC to release results


March 30, 2008, 17:45

Pressure is mounting on Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission (ZEC) to start
releasing the results of yesterday's election. The commission says its still
collating information from voting stations across the country. This comes
amid reports that the MDC has bagged key urban constituencies across all 10

Preliminary results at rural command centres show the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leading in previous Zanu-PF heart lands. In the
past, rural voters have been key to keeping incumbent President Robert
Mugabe at the helm.

The confident MDC claims a decisive win in Manicaland province. The MDC
admits they are surprised by the overwhelming support in some of the rural
areas. "We have already taken the province. In fact, results coming in have
shown that we are leading by 60%," says MDC provincial chairperson, Patrick

Makoni scoops some votes
In Bulawayo, the MDC says it has won all 12 parliamentary seats. In the
Matabele region early reports indicate that Independent candidate Simba
Makoni scooped some votes. He also made some significant inroads in
Bulawayo, with votes tallied so far showing that he was the second strongest
candidate participating in that country's poll.

Meanwhile the streets of Bulawayo remain almost deserted. There was no sign
of significant elections that took place yesterday. It was also quiet
outside the MDC's regional office. Members say they are keeping a low
profile, fearing a crack-down by security forces. By contrast, celebrations
are already breaking out in villages across Zimbabwe's western Manicaland

Official election results are only expected to be released tomorrow.

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Regional observers judge Zimbabwe poll "credible"


Sun 30 Mar 2008, 19:09 GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's election, seen as the most crucial vote since
independence, was a credible expression of the will of the people despite
problems, southern African observers said on Sunday.

Two dissenting South African members of the observer mission refused to sign
the preliminary report by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Mission chairman Jose Marcos Barrica of Angola told reporters through an
interpreter the election "has been a peaceful and credible expression of the
will of the people of Zimbabwe."

He expressed concern about the voters roll, opposition access to the media
and statements by the heads of security forces who had said they would not
accept an opposition victory.

But Barrica said the voting process "went well."

He added: "It was peaceful because there was no violence. It was free,
because there was no intimidation."

Diane Kohler Barnard, one of the dissenting mission members from South
Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), said in a statement "It is
impossible for this deeply flawed electoral process to be viewed as a
credible expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe"

SADC, which critics say has been too soft on President Robert Mugabe, has
unsuccessfully tried to mediate an end to Zimbabwe's crisis, which has left
the economy in ruins and much of the population in misery.

The DA said the organisation of the elections was "chaotic".

More than 24 hours after the polls closed in presidential, parliamentary and
local elections seen as the most crucial vote since independence, only a
trickle of results had emerged on Sunday.

The DA said this fuelled fears that Mugabe's government was rigging the


Zimbabwe's opposition said earlier on Sunday it had won the election but the
government warned it that premature victory claims would be seen as an
attempted coup.

Tendai Biti, secretary general of the main MDC opposition party, told
diplomats and observers that early results showed it was victorious. "We
have won this election," he said.

Projections from 12 percent of the vote showed MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
winning 67 percent nationally, Biti said.

Results usually begin emerging soon after polls close.

Officials said the delay was caused by the complexity of counting in three
different polls but Biti expressed concern.

"We're aware the results are final in most constituencies but they are
deliberately taking their time to announce ... The whole idea of having an
election is so you can have a result," he said.

George Chiweshe, chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), had to
be rescued by security men in a Harare hotel when he was confronted by
journalists and opposition supporters demanding results be published.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, faced his most
formidable challenge in the election against Tsvangirai and ruling ZANU-PF
party defector Simba Makoni, who both campaigned on the collapse of
Zimbabwe's economy.

Although the odds seem stacked against Mugabe, 84, analysts believe he will
be declared the winner and the opposition accused him of widespread

Zimbabwe's security forces, which have thrown their backing firmly behind
Mugabe, said before the election they would not allow a victory declaration
before counting was complete.

Government spokesman George Charamba warned the opposition against such
claims. "It is called a coup d'etat and we all know how coups are handled,"
he told the state-owned Sunday Mail.

Residents in the eastern opposition stronghold of Manicaland said riot
police stopped a victory demonstration by about 200 MDC supporters on
Sunday. There was no violence, they said.

The United States said it was worried by the conduct of the election and the
absence of most international observers.

"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," Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice told reporters during a visit to Jerusalem.

Once-prosperous Zimbabwe is suffering from the world's highest inflation
rate 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

Mugabe accuses the West of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy. He rejected
vote-rigging allegations.

(Additional reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Stella Mapenzauswa, Nelson
Banya, Muchena Zigomo and Arshad Mohammed in Jerusalem)

(Writing by Barry Moody; Editing by Marius Bosch)

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Robert Mugabe threat as Zimbabwe opposition claims election victory

The Telegraph

By John Birch, Peta Thornycroft, Byron Dziva and Megan Levy
Last Updated: 2:02pm BST 30/03/2008

Zimbabwe's main opposition party has claimed an overwhelming victory
in the country's general election, prompting a warning from President Robert
Mugabe's camp that the early declaration amounted to an attempted coup.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) defied a ban on pre-empting
poll results to say it had secured nearly all parliamentary seats in the two
biggest cities, and was the certain winner of the election.

Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary-general, said: "This far, short of a
miracle, we have won this election beyond any reasonable doubt. We have won
this election."

The party's assessment was based on unofficial returns posted at
polling stations.

Mr Biti said it showed that the party had virtually wiped out the
ruling ZANU-PF in the capital Harare and the southern city of Bulawayo.

However the early declaration was met with hostility and veiled
threats in Mr Mugabe's camp.

George Charamba, Mr Mugabe's spokesman, said the party would treat any
announcement by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai that he was now the rightful
president as tantamount to a coup.

"He (Mr Tsvangirai) announces results, declares himself and the MDC
winner and then what? Declare himself president of Zimbabwe? It is called a
coup d'etat and we all know how coups are handled," he said.

Desperate Zimbabweans had turned out in their thousands in an attempt
to put their country on a path to a new era.
Many queued from the early hours of the morning to vote for a new
president, parliament and councils at more than 9,000 polling stations in
what promised to be an historic election, with clear signs that many former
supporters had finally turned against Mr Mugabe.

"This time round we'll finish him off," said one middle aged woman,
queuing along with at least 1,000 others to vote at a polling station in a
tent in the town of Chitungwiza 20 miles south of Harare.

The optimism among the president's opponents was tempered by a
widespread suspicion that Mr Mugabe would once again attempt to cling on to
power by rigging the final result.

As voting started it became clear that large numbers of people were
being turned away from the polling booths.

In Chitungwiza The Sunday Telegraph witnessed seven people being
turned away in the space of five minutes after being told their names were
not on the voters roll or that they had not got the correct identification.

The MDC claimed Mr Mugabe had packed the voters roll with fake names
and addresses, and set up "ghost" polling stations which only his agents
knew about in order to rig the results of an election he knew he was going
to lose.

African Union election observers also raised concerns about 8,450
voters registered to a patch of deserted land in north Harare.

Mr Mugabe, 84, rejected the rigging claims and predicted he would win
a sixth term of office.

"We are not in the habit of rigging... We don't rig elections. I cannot
sleep with my conscience if I have rigged," he said.

But even in Mr Mugabe's own home village, Zvimba, 40 miles west of Harare,
voters appeared to be turning their backs on the president and his Zanu PF
party. Of 20 people interviewed by The Sunday Telegraph, 12 who had
previously voted Zanu PF said they had switched to the MDC and its leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai.

One mother of two children, a distant relative of the president, said she
had voted for the MDC because of the economic conditions in a country in the
grip of a prolonged economic crisis.

The 33-year-old, who sells tomatoes at the roadside to eke out a meagre
living, said: "Do you think the economy will improve if the old man wins
again? How is he going to control the economy with such levels of inflation.

"We used to get free maize here but not any more. If we who are his
relatives cannot get the free food now imagine what the rest of the country
is like. My vote is my power. We want change."
The latest figures show inflation in Zimbabwe running at 165,000 per cent -
the highest in the world, while unemployment is at 80 per cent and there are
shortages of food and the most basic household items.

In Zvimba itself, which is dominated by President Mugabe's 20-room thatched
mansion, the maize crop has failed due to a combination of heavy rains and
lack of fertiliser with most people unable to afford it.

The president has blamed the country's economic woes on the European Union
and United States, which imposed sanctions on his inner circle after he was
accused of rigging his 2002 re-election. He has portrayed the election as a
chance to stand up against the West and in particular Britain.

He also attempted to bolster his support through the "agricultural
mechanisation programme", a thinly disguised vote buying exercise in which
mountains of farm equipment have been given away at Zanu PF election

The tactic appeared to have convinced some supporters to stay loyal.
Christine Machada, 46, a mother of six who received a harvester and a
tractor, said she had voted for him again, although her 25 acre farm was
producing few crops.

"Bob is one of the sons of our community - we will not dump him," she said.
"The problem is for him to solve the economic situation if he wins but
economy or no economy he has done enough for this country."

Elsewhere, however, sentiment was firmly against the president. In the
suburb of Kuwadzana six miles west of Harare city centre, housewife
Elizabeth Garada, said she was voting for the first time since 1995.

"I never voted since 1995 but I am ready to vote this year after my children
went for the whole term without learning because of the teachers strike. In
my daughter's school there were just two student teachers teaching 14
classses," she complained. "We can't imagine another five years under
Mugabe's rule."

As usual, voting day in Zimbabwe, was reasonably efficient and orderly and
there were far fewer queues than at the last two elections, as the
government increased the number of polling stations in the last few days.

One death in a fight and one petrol bomb attack on a government
parliamentary candidate's office appeared to be the only violence, but what
characterised the elections in large parts of the country was the absence of

n a journey of 125 miles north of Harare in Zimbabwe's wealthiest province,
Mashonaland West, past more than a dozen polling stations over a period of
six hours, it became clear that the rural areas were depopulated.

Political observer Brian Raftopoulos, who has monitored all Zimbabwe's
elections since independence from Britain in 1980, said: "This country is
dying. It is like a cemetery. The people have gone or have died."

It has long been accepted that at least 70 percent of the population lived
outside the cities and towns but in the farming town of Karoi, the longest
voting queue was 20 people, who were each processed within three minutes.

"Oh, we will be voting for change," meaning the Movement for Democratic
Change, said a man waiting to vote outside Mvou Primary School about 50
miles north of Harare.
"Most people here who were Zanu PF have changed because life is bad here.
There is nothing left, just look at everything here, it is broken," said a
32-year-old man.

"We are not going to vote the way we did before," said a young woman who
looked terrified as she left the same polling station at the shabby, almost
derelict school.

In Harare the queues cleared quickly as many had gone to their polling
stations at dawn. Stewart Chiwara, an unemployed 21 year old voting in a
poor suburb north of Harare, said: "Most of my relatives were hard core Zanu
PF supporters, but they tell me change is now necessary. If Zanu PF wins, I
will beat the path to South Africa."

Linnet Masimba, 31, a mother of two and a housewife, showed off the red ink
on her finger that indicated she had voted in a high density suburb of

"I woke up early and voted. I'm proud of this red ink on my right finger. I
know it will make a difference. We mobilised as women to go and vote. Even
if he [Mugabe] rigs, he knows the whole nation is no longer behind him".

Despite the evidence in the countryside, the independent Zimbabwe Election
Support Network claimed that the voter turnout looked "good."

Its chairman, Noel Kututwa, said: "People have freely gone to polling
stations to cast their vote. As in past elections there were very few
problems on voting day. Anticipated problem issues come with counting and

But the network admitted that many voters were turned away yesterday as
their names did not show up on the flawed and massively overstated voters
roll, or because there was confusion about where to vote.

Outside observers questioned the validity of the vote. Mark Ellis, executive
director, London-based International Bar Association, warned: "There are
signs that voters are losing their patience with fraudulent elections, which
could lead to violence."

Sean McCormack, spokesman for the US State Department, said: "There are a
lot of big question marks hanging over this election in terms of the
integrity of the electoral process."

In an attempt to pre-empt fraud the MDC said it would collate results from
each of the 9,400 polling stations and announce them itself.

Mr Mugabe is facing his toughest election battle in 28-years, with a divided
party and a new challenger from within his own ranks in the form of former
finance minister Simba Makoni, who is standing as an independent. Mr Makoni,
formerly one of the leading lights in the ruling Zanu-PF party, is likely to
peel votes away from Mr Mugabe.

But it is Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main faction of the divided
opposition MDC, who is expected to benefit most from the anti-Mugabe feeling
on the back of a slick and energetic campaign.

Mr Tsvangirai said he believed his party would triumph despite attempts to
cheat because many of Mr Mugabe's former supporters in the security
apparatus had turned against him.

"Victory is assured in spite of the regime's attempt to subvert the will of
the people," he said.

The 5.9 million strong electorate had 12 hours in which to vote and the
results are due today.

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Zimbabwe opposition claims victory as Mugabe cries coup

Times Online
March 30, 2008

President Mugabe casts his vote in the Zimbabwe elections, before promising
he would respect the result of the polls

Joanna Sugden and agencies
Zimbabwe’s opposition party has claimed a resounding election victory but
President Robert Mugabe’s government warned that announcing success before
the release of official results would be treated as a coup d’etat.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) the main opposition to Mugabe’s
Zanu PF party, indicated that early results posted at polling stations
showed Zimbabweans have used their votes to show disgust with the dictator
who has brought the country to ruin over the last 28 years.

Tendai Biti, the MDC’s secretary-general, said: “This far, short of a
miracle, we have won this election beyond any reasonable doubt. We have won
this election.”

But George Charamba, the spokesman for the government, gave an ominous
warning against such claims. “It is called a coup d’etat and we all know how
coups are handled,” he told the state-owned Sunday Mail.

The MDC said results gathered from observers in every province of the
country – including Mugabe’s home town of Mashonaland – and posted outside
polling stations, showed their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, had beaten Mugabe
overwhelmingly. In the capital, Harare, 66 per cent of the vote went against
the President, the MDC claimed, while results from rural areas indicated
Mugabe’s power base was fast eroding.
The pre-emptive announcement of results by the opposition party is an
attempt to thwart any manipulation of results in favour of Mugabe. While
Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission said the MDC’s claims were a “concern”, the
decision was taken in defiance of a message from Augustine Chihuri, Zimbabwe’s
police chief, who warned on Friday against announcing unofficial election
results. “We will not tolerate any such pronouncements as they have the
effect of trying to take the law into their own hands, thereby fomenting
disorder and mayhem,” he said.

Riot police were on standby throughout voting after thousands of Zimbabweans
slept at polling stations before they opened, ensuring a large turnout.

Observers from the Pan-African parliament said in a letter to the commission
they had found more than 8,000 non-existent voters registered on empty land
in a Harare constituency. Biti indicated the MDC would take action if they
suspected foul play in the results but that the party would not go to court
over rigged elections, a “mistake” which they made over disputed elections
in 2002. “The MDC will act inside the law, but the MDC cannot speak for the
people of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Mugabe dismissed vote rigging allegations after casting his vote on
Saturday. “I cannot sleep with a clear conscience if there is any cheating,”
he said, promising to respect the results. “If you lose an election and are
rejected by the people, it is time to leave politics.”

Yesterday’s elections were much anticipated as the most significant vote
since independence and the best chance to oust the leader whose actions have
put the country in the grip of poverty, with inflation running at 1000 per
cent and 80 per cent of the country living on less than $2 a day.

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Some 'unofficial' results

Well what a night! The Elections closed more or less on schedule and
counting got under way at polling stations about 20.00 hrs. The procedure
followed is very cumbersome but results started to come in about 2 AM.
It now appears from the results recorded at polling stations that there has
been a huge upset. It looks likely that Morgan might just get more than 50
per cent of the vote with Mugabe in second place and Makoni a distant third.
In my own constituency we saw the following unofficial results


Tsvangirai 58.45%
Mugabe 9.32%
Makoni 32.23%
Total votes cast 6897

MDC (T) 60.18%
Zanu PF 9.17%
MDC (M) 26.90%
Others 3.17

House of Assembly (yours truly)
MDC (T) 58.86%
Zanu PF 11.66%
MDC(M) 30.72%
Others 2.13%

MDC (T) 57.86
Zanu PF 11.66%
MDC (M) 25.88%
Others 4.60%

In Matabeleland it would seem that Makoni did well - beating Zanu PF into
third place in almost all areas. Elsewhere he did very poorly and is still
likely to be in third place. We now wait for the official results - but
remember that these results are based on the actual count at each polling
station. The first time we have been allowed to do this.
My own guess is that we are already over half of all seats in the House and
are able to form the next government. But it might still be necessary to
have a Presidential re run and in that case I expect Makoni to back MT.

Eddie Cross (the Honourable!!)
08.00 hrs on the 30th March

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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MDC claims Mugabe's deputy has lost seat

New Zimbabwe

By Lindie Whiz
Last updated: 03/30/2008 22:34:39
ZIMBABWE’S main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has claimed
in the past few hours that it has won a parliamentary seat held by Vice
President Joice Mujuru – a major power shift which has raised hopes that
President Robert Mugabe’s 28-year-rule could be broken.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the body running Saturday’s general
elections, has cautioned against the MDC announcing unofficial results,
fearing that could trigger public unrest.

And in a warning issued Sunday, Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said MDC
claims of victory amounted to a coup d'etat, ominously adding: “We all know
how coups are handled.”

Tsvangirai's MDC faction is rushing to announce results before the ZEC to
stave off what it fears will be attempts by the election apparatus at
rigging in Mugabe's favour.

The move was likely to anger Zimbabwe's security forces, who warned Thursday
they would not tolerate any unilateral victory claims by the opposition.

And on Sunday afternoon, police raided MDC offices at a hotel in Harare,
where party members were collating results, but took nothing.

Lovemore Moyo, the MDC chairman, told New in a telephone
interview at noon Sunday that data collated by the polling agents around the
country showed the party had made significant inroads in traditional Zanu PF
strongholds – including Mugabe’s rural home in Zvimba, where Local
Government Minister Ignatius Chombo is projected losing Zvimba North

Mujuru, standing in Mt Darwin West, in Mashonaland East province, is
trailing the MDC’s Gora Madzudzo, Moyo said.

Moyo also claimed that State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa had fallen in
Headlands, Manicaland Province.

Moyo said while he expected official local government, senate and
parliamentary election results to be made available at some stage Sunday,
the presidential election results could take a day or two before they are
made public.

Moyo said: “We are collecting our own data from the wards where counting
began soon after voting. In the case of the presidential election, that
information is sent to a district command centre where other wards also send
their data and the votes are added up. The figures are then relayed to the
national command centre which then tallies the figures from the districts.

“It would be impossible to have the presidential election results today,

Mugabe, who declared himself confident of another five years to add to his
28 years in power Saturday, has vowed there will be no cheating, despite
warning in recent weeks the opposition would "never" govern Zimbabwe.

He also said a runoff vote "won't be necessary," while recognising it was a
constitutional requirement if he fails to take more than 50 per cent of the

Saturday's voting in synchronised presidential, assembly, senate and local
council elections was mostly peaceful apart from a bomb blast at the home of
a Zanu PF parliamentary candidate in the second city Bulawayo, in which
no-one was injured.

Some 5.9 million voters were listed as registered to vote in the polls, seen
as a vote mainly on the economic chaos wrought by Mugabe's populist policies
that have resulted in six-figure inflation and widespread food, fuel and
drug shortages. But the voters' roll is in a shambles leading the MDC to
estimate the real number of eligible voters at closer to 3.5 million.

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MDC Wins in Zanu-PF Strongholds

SW Radio Africa (London)

30 March 2008
Posted to the web 30 March 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

Early poll results show that the MDC has stunned Zanu-PF in rural
constituencies. MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told a press conference in
Harare on Sunday that his party had won parliamentary seats in Mashonaland
West, Central and East, all strongholds of Zanu-PF.

In Bulawayo, the Tsvangirai led MDC has won all 12 parliamentary seats and 5
out of 6 senatorial seats. In Manicaland so far, the MDC has claimed victory
in Nyanga, Chipinge South, Makoni central, Makoni south, Mutare central and
Dangamvura Chikanga.

In the presidential poll, Morgan Tsvangirai is believed to be leading and
indications are pointing to a landslide MDC victory.

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'ANC will accept any leader out of Zimbabwe polls'


March 30, 2008, 16:45

The ANC has reacted positively to the possibility of an opposition victory
in Zimbabwe.

ANC Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe, says the party is happy that the
elections in Zimbabwe seem to be free and fair so far. He says his party
will accept any leader who is able to work hand in hand with South Africa.

Mantashe has been addressing a rally in his home town of Cala in the Eastern
Cape. He says they will wait for the official announcement of the results.
“When the observer missions were leaving for Zimbabwe we said we wish
Zimbabweans good luck for a free and fare elections. We refused the
temptation of condemning those elections before they started.

“We are monitoring the results as they trickle in now, the fact that up to
this morning the MDC was leading gives us hope that they were free and fair.

"But we know if not all the results have come in, we cannot count the
chickens before they are hatched. Whatever results will come out there we
will welcome as the ANC.”

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Tensions in Zimbabwe as wait for poll results continues

Monsters and Critics

Mar 30, 2008, 19:01 GMT

Johannesburg/Harare - Tensions were rising in Zimbabwe Sunday as the country
awaited the results of elections, in which the opposition has already
claimed to have shown the door to longtime authoritarian leader Robert

As the clamour grew for the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC)to issue
results more than 24 hours after polls closed late Saturday, a rift emerged
in one election monitoring team over whether the polls had been free and

South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party said it had refused
to sign the Southern African Development Community (SADC) observer mission's
preliminary report on the elections.

The SADC observer mission had concluded that: 'despite a number of concerns,
the elections were a peaceful and a credible expression of the will of the
people of Zimbabwe.'

The DA objected because the report 'pays lip service to very material
defects in the carrying out of the poll' and 'ignores the fundamentally
undemocratic environment that has been created in Zimbabwe over the last
eight years.'

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) of opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai moved quickly to claim victory in the combined presidential,
parliamentary and local elections, the unofficial results of which were
posted on the doors of polling stations.

'We have won this election,' Tendai Biti, secretary general of Tsvangirai's
MDC faction told a press conference hours after the close of polls.

The MDC claimed 67 per cent of the vote after results from around one third
of polling stations were counted. 'But they (the government) still might
steal it,' Biti warned.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) warned the delay in announcing
the results, for which 'there is no justification' was creating tension and
'worsening anxiety.'

The government dismissed the MDC's victory claim as 'speculation and lies'
that caused 'unnecessary havoc.'

Earlier in the week, the country's security chiefs, including the heads of
the army and police, had warned the opposition against any unilateral
victory claim, setting the scene for a standoff between the state and the

The MDC decided to announce unofficial results before the ZEC to stave off
any attempt by the state-controlled body at rigging in Mugabe's favour.

On Sunday evening, ZEC said it was still at the 'verification' stage and
cited logistical difficulties.

Mugabe, who declared himself confident of another five years to add to his
28 years in power, has vowed to respect the wishes of Zimbabweans but also
said recently the MDC would 'never' govern.

Tsvangirai's MDC faction made a clean sweep in Harare and took all 12
parliament seats in the second city of Bulawayo in Matabeleland, according
to unofficial results.

The party and Tsvangirai also claimed to have made inroads in rural,
Shona-speaking areas that were previously ruling Zanu-PF strongholds,
including president's native constituency of Zvimba.

Former finance minister and ex-ruling Zanu-PF politburo member, Simba
Makoni, was reported to have taken votes from Tsvangirai in the presidential
poll in Matabeleland, where his campaign manager Denford Magora claimed he
had topped the poll with more than 45 per cent of votes.

It was not yet clear whether Makoni had garnered enough support to figure in
a possible run-off.

Although there were some reports of rejoicing in rural areas and in some
townships over reports of an MDC/Tsvangirai win, Harare was quiet for the
most part. While extra police have been deployed around the city in recent
days, there was little sense of crisis.

The whereabouts of both Tsvangirai and Makoni was unclear, with both
reported to have gone into hiding.

Earlier police raided MDC offices at a hotel in Harare, where party members
were collating results, but took nothing.

Some 5.9 million voters were listed as registered to vote in the polls, seen
as a vote mainly on the economic chaos wrought by Mugabe's populist policies
that have resulted in six-figure inflation and widespread food, fuel and
drug shortages.

The voting was largely peaceful.

ZESN expressed concern at what it called the large number of voters turned
away after being told they were not registered to vote or were in the wrong
ward (district).

The MDC also cried foul over many 'ghost voters', the presence of police in
polling stations and intimidation of some of its polling agents.

The Pan-African Parliament observer team complained about the 8,450 voters
registered on a patch of deserted land in Harare.

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'We have been delivered from darkness'

Zimbabwe holds its breath as people who can't quite believe that they have managed to defeat Mugabe in an election wait to see what happens next

Chris McGreal in Harare,
Sunday March 30 2008
MDC supporters in Zimbabwe

Suppoters of Zimbabwe's opposition leader Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai show the party logo at a rally in Buhera. Photograph: Desmond Kwande/AFP/Getty Images

Zimbabweans dare not celebrate yet.

They ask excitedly if it can be true that the "old man" might really be on his way out, and then they reflect with resignation that Zimbabwe has been this way before. Robert Mugabe probably lost the 2002 election before the state-run electoral commission changed the numbers.

"We want to believe but can't quite," said George Murangari, a Harare churchgoer.

"We know he's lost but we can't say he's lost until he admits it. Do you think he's just going to give up? If you do, you don't know Mugabe. I will say we've won when Mugabe is no longer president, not before."

But this time it might be different. The victory of the opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, appears to be so clear that the numbers cannot so easily be fixed.

There is a collective holding of the national breath in Zimbabwe as people who can't quite believe that they have managed so decisively to defeat Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party in an election wait to see what happens next.

Even the belligerently pro-Mugabe Sunday Mail newspaper abandoned its ritual front page denunciation of the president's opponents in favour of a unusually realistic headline: 'Anxiety grips Zim'.

The editors had, no doubt, been preparing to declare a great victory for Mugabe but as the election results filtered across the country, people from all sides took a step back to consider what it all means.

"Zanu-PF had no idea what the people thought. If they did, how could they imagine that we would vote for them after what they have done to us? They thought they could buy us with free spades and threaten us that we will not eat," said Witness Mbira who described himself as an "interested poll watcher with no money thanks to Mugabe".

"We have been delivered from darkness, from hell. They are finished. The people have spoken and now they know we do not want them. The message here is that they are thieves and murderers and liars. Now they can go away."

For all Mbira's anger, there is no mood of vengeance or retribution. More than anything there will be relief that finally the beginning of the end of the misery may be in sight.

It will take years to revive Zimbabwe's economy but parts of it can but put back on track relatively quickly, particularly agriculture. Many Zimbabweans are counting on Britain and other western countries to pour in aid if Mugabe goes, and foreign businesses to return.

That offers the hope of jobs and that the millions of exiles - doctors, teachers, the skilled and unskilled - will come home and families will be reunited, maybe not now but "sometime" people say. Zimbabweans think of themselves as exceptionally loyal to their country and cannot imagine that anyone would want to stay away for long unless they had to.

There were celebrations in some places: Harare's Chitungwiza township and in Bulawayo saw cheering crowds of the young. But most people are wary, uncertain what the police and army will do after the security chiefs said they would never recognise a Tsvangirai victory.

"It is like a second liberation and like the first liberation we might have to fight some more before our victory is complete," said Mbira.

But maybe not. Ordinary soldiers and policemen have suffered just as much as anyone, and so have their families. They too are likely to have lost faith in a regime that had no answers only accusations.

Hardly anyone is thinking about what a Tsvangirai presidency may actually mean. Give it a few years and Zimbabweans might be raising new statues to Mugabe and fondly remembering the fiery revolutionary who helped deliver them freedom before he led them to disaster.

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Zimbabwe opposition claims huge poll win· MDC says Mugabe party massacred

From The Observer (UK), 30 March

Chris McGreal in Harare

Zimbabwe's opposition party claimed an overwhelming victory against
President Robert Mugabe in yesterday's presidential election, saying that
the flow of results showed its candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, had 'massacred'
the ruling Zanu PF party. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) defied a
government ban on pre-empting the official announcement of the election
results and released the count from polling stations that showed Tsvangirai
beating the man who has ruled Zimbabwe for 28 years, even in the president's
home territory of Mashonaland. 'We've won this election,' said Tendai Biti,
the MDC's secretary-general. 'The results coming in show that in our
traditional strongholds we are massacring them. In Mugabe's traditional
strongholds they are doing very badly. There is no way Mugabe can claim
victory unless it is through fraud. He has lost this election.' The
government's electoral commission has yet to release the counts formally.
But the MDC said that declarations posted at polling stations across
Zimbabwe last night, and gathered from its agents observing the counts,
showed Tsvangirai ahead of Mugabe in every province where results were
available. The most dramatic gap was in Mashonaland West, where the MDC
candidate had 88 per cent of the vote to the president's 12 per cent. Even
in rural areas, where Mugabe has traditionally commanded support, he was
taking only half as many votes as Tsvangirai, according to the MDC. In
Harare, the opposition candidate was pulling in three times as many votes as
the president.

It was not clear what proportion of the overall vote the results
represented, but Biti claimed it was substantial and the trend was
'irreversible'. He said the MDC was releasing the results ahead of the
electoral commission to head off any attempt by the government to tamper
with the figures when they are centrally collated, as they believe happened
in the presidential election that Mugabe won by a narrow margin six years
ago. 'We don't trust the electoral commission. It isn't independent. We made
the mistake in 2002 of not claiming our victory,' he said. 'If they arrive
at figures which are different, we will not accept that, pure and simple.'
Asked how the MDC will challenge any attempt to fix the figures, Biti hinted
at popular protest. 'We will not make the same mistake again of taking court
action. But we will remain restrained as a movement. The MDC will act inside
the law. But the MDC cannot speak for the people of Zimbabwe,' he said.

The MDC's move came despite a warning by Zimbabwe's police chief, Augustine
Chihuri, who said he will not permit the opposition to declare victory. He
also warned against a plan by the MDC to call large numbers of people on to
the streets to defend the result. Police were posted at all major
intersections in Harare yesterday, while riot police were held in reserve.
The MDC's claim of victory came despite its protests about election
irregularities earlier in the day. Poll monitors raised concerns at the
large numbers of people who were told they could not vote because of errors
on the electoral roll. African election monitors wrote to the electoral
commission questioning the registration of more than 8,000 voters on vacant
lots in Harare or crammed by their hundreds into small shacks. Before the
vote, Tsvangirai said the MDC had uncovered evidence of widespread
vote-rigging including the names of a million 'ghost' voters on the
electoral roll. Thousands of Zimbabweans slept at polling stations and
queued for hours before they opened after the opposition called for a large
turnout to counter efforts by Mugabe to rig the election. The state-run
Herald newspaper published a poll giving the president 57 per cent of the
vote, enough to avoid a run-off. The opposition says that number is no more
than a guide to the scale of the fraud the government has planned.

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Makoni Spokesman Says Mugabe is History

SW Radio Africa (London)

30 March 2008
Posted to the web 30 March 2008

Lance Guma

Denford Magora, the official spokesman for independent presidential
candidate Simba Makoni, says preliminary results clearly show 'Robert Mugabe
is history.' Speaking to Newsreel on Sunday Magora claimed Mugabe had come a
distant third, with the real contest developing between Tsvangirai and

Although Magora admitted the Tsvangirai MDC had claimed some major scalps in
areas like Uzumba Maramba Pfungwa he accused the party of exaggerating their
victory claims. He said Simba Makoni had won in Matabeleland and they were
awaiting results in other areas. Magora conceded that Tsvangirai had won

The Makoni camp remains upbeat despite press reports projecting a landslide
for the Tsvangirai MDC. Magora believes ultimately that Tsvangirai will not
be able to secure the majority of presidential votes and a run off with
Makoni might become necessary. Other reports however have put Makoni third
in the poll. Until official results are announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, speculation will continue to be rife.

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MDC concerned about their security


March 30, 2008, 13:30

By Antoinette Lazarus, Harare
Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says they
are concerned about their security. They allege that the rooms which they
are using as offices at Meikles Hotel during the election period were
searched by police last night.

Addressing a large contingent of foreign and local journalists as well as
observers today, the MDC’s Secretary-General Tendai Biti said that it’s
public knowledge that security forces are on high alert in the country. “Our
security is compromised. We survive by the grace of God. We have to defend

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena says they are not aware of a search of
the MDC member’s rooms. The hotel security was also not able to confirm the

Zimbabweans went to the polls in presidential, parliamentary, House of
Assembly and local government elections yesterday. Counting is currently

Meanwhile, the MDC claimed victory today based on early results from an
election in which it is trying to unseat President Robert Mugabe after 28
years of power and end an economic collapse.

Results coming through at the moment are unofficial and official results are
only expected tomorrow.

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Zimbabwe Opposition Candidates Held After Post-Poll Fight


HARARE (AFP)--Zimbabwe police Sunday arrested 13 opposition activists and
two aspiring lawmakers in Harare's dormitory town of Chitungwiza after
clashes that followed the country's general election.

Parliamentary candidates from rival factions of the Movement for Democratic
Change, or MDC, party and the activists were detained after clashes which
left five people injured, said national police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena.

"Supporters of one of the candidates, Marvellous Khumalo, did their own
calculations and concluded that they had won against the other candidate Job
Sikhala and started celebrating," Bvudzijena told AFP.

"As part of the celebrations they made a mock coffin with the words 'Rest in
Peace Jobless' and went to Sikhala's house in St Mary's where they were
intercepted by Sikhala's supporters, resulting in the clashes."

The clashes had left five people with serious injuries including one with a
broken arm and another with a gash across his face, he added.

Zimbabweans went to the polls Saturday to choose a president, lawmakers and
councillors in a contest in which veteran President Robert Mugabe is
fighting for a sixth consecutive term in office.

The electoral commission said results would be released after a verification
and counting process at wards.

The campaign leading to the polls was peaceful compared to the country's
last presidential elections, which were marred by violence that claimed
several lives.

The MDC, which once posed the stiffest challenge to Mugabe's stranglehold on
power, has been riven by factionalism following a row in 2006 over senate

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires

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NCA Chivasa Badly Assaulted in Police Custody

SW Radio Africa (London)

30 March 2008
Posted to the web 30 March 2008

The national constitutional assembly NCA spokesperson Maddock Chivasa who
was arrested on friday 28 march 2008, a day before the election , is still
languishing in police custody.

Chivasa who was denied his right to vote yesterday is in a critical
condition after he was brutally assaulted by police while in custody.

Chivasa also sustained serious injuries after viscous police dogs were let
loose on them. The group suffered serious dog bits and upto now they have
not received any health assistance. The NCA calls on the police to exercise
their duties in the most non-partisan way. The NCA calls on state sponsored
and sanctioned assaults and attacks on defenceless human rights defenders to
cease forth with.

NCA calls on the powers that be, to immediately release Chivasa and others.

Chivasa was arrested and assaulted with a group of five other human rights
defenders. Among those severely assaulted is a sixty-five year old man.

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Woza Duo Spend 2nd Night in Custody

SW Radio Africa (London)

30 March 2008
Posted to the web 30 March 2008

TWO members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise are spending their second night in
custody at Western Commonage Police Station in Bulawayo. Shamiso Shumba and
Sithembiso Sibanda were arrested at 11 am on Friday 28th and have missed
their opportunity to vote.

Details as to what transpired for them to be arrested are still being
verified but the duo were placing WOZA 'stand up for your child' stickers in
Matshobana when a member of Zanu PF reported them as damaging a vehicle.
They are being charged with criminal damage to property, which should draw a
fine and release.

However officers at Western Commonage have told their lawyer that they have
had instructions from 'high up' that any WOZA members arrested should not be
released until Monday.

These arrest follow the arrest of 8 members on Good Friday for putting up
posters and stickers in Pumula.

The 'stand up for your child' campaign is being conducted to mobilise
Zimbabweans to get out to vote and defend their vote. The final
communications tools are in the process of being distributed.

Meanwhile WOZA informal observers in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare report that
voting has been conducted peacefully although some polling stations got off
to a late start. By midday the queues ended and voting continued with only
sporadic queues forming. Members have been asked to visit their polling
stations to check if results have been posted as is required by law.

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Anxiety Grips Country Ahead of Poll Result

SW Radio Africa (London)

30 March 2008
Posted to the web 30 March 2008

Lance Guma

An environment of anxiety gripped the country as the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission dragged its feet in announcing election results. No reason has
been given for the delay although the opposition say their own command
centres have over half the results fully counted.

This however has not stopped the MDC command centre from releasing results
supplied by their own polling agents. Our Bulawayo correspondent Lionel
Saungweme told us thousands of MDC supporters are already moving around the
city in jovial celebrations while motorists are blowing their horns in

In results given so far it seems the Tsvangirai MDC has a 78 percent lead in
senate and house of assembly seats. The majority of results in Zanu PF
strongholds are still pending. In the Bulawayo area the Mutambara MDC
suffered a humiliating loss to the rival MDC faction led by Tsvangirai who
swept all the seats available. Only senate candidate David Coltart from the
Mutambara side managed to win in the city.

The army and police have already warned against premature celebrations but
it seems there is no stopping a determined people angling for change. The
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has meanwhile called for patience to allow
them to, 'verify and collate' results. 'The commission notes with concern
that some stakeholders have gone on to announce purported results of the
poll when in fact the results are being verified and collated,' a statement

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Delay in Official Result Announcement Triggers Rigging Fears

SW Radio Africa (London)

30 March 2008
Posted to the web 30 March 2008

Lance Guma

A delay by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in announcing official election
results has triggered fears Mugabe's government is planning to tamper with
the final result.

Previous election results have been announced as they come in but for some
unknown reason the ZEC claim they still need time to 'verify and collate'
the results. Journalists on the ground say there was massive voter apathy in
the rural areas and because of this there was no justification for the ZEC
to claim they need more time to count.

Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba issued a warning to the MDC saying their
unofficial announcing of results amounted to a coup d'etat.

Confusion was the order of the day as Zimbabweans grappled between emotions
of happiness and anxiety. Happy that Zanu PF and Mugabe seem to have lost
the election, but worried the delay in an official announcement means the
regime might be trying to cook the results.

International news agencies like CNN reported that the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission would announce results Monday. Other reports say results could be
announced Sunday evening.

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Army On Standby But Allowed to Leave Camp

SW Radio Africa (London)

30 March 2008
Posted to the web 30 March 2008

Mandisa Mundanwarara

With unofficial information coming in that Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC has won
an overwhelming lead in the elections, much of the focus is now on the armed
forces. This is in light of the fact that senior officers have openly
declared that they will not respect any president other than Robert Mugabe.

General Constantine Chiwenga, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
recently stated that they were opposed to those contesting the elections
against Mugabe, and that "The army will not support or salute sell-outs and
agents of the West before, during and after the presidential elections ...
We will not support anyone other than President Mugabe."

On Friday and Saturday, the army was reported to have been on standby. But
on Sunday we spoke to a serving member of the Zimbabwe National Army, based
in Bulawayo, who reported that although they were still on standby, many of
his fellow soldiers were being allowed to leave the camp.

He said that his camp was divided in it's response to reports of
Tsvangirai's lead in the elections. "People have spoken. At our polling
station in the barracks Tsvangirai was leading, the rank and file like him;
people voted for who they wanted," he said.

He predicted that their commanders were probably afraid that the soldiers
might not follow orders if they were commanded to rise up against

As for his thoughts on a Tsvangirai victory - he was 'very happy,' and would
be buying a Coke to celebrate with his family.

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Manicaland residents can't wait

  The Zimbabwean

Sunday, 30 March 2008 14:35
MUTARE, (Zimbabwe)– RESIDENTS of this eastern border city of Mutare
and environs are ecstatic as rumours of election results favouring Morgan
Tsvangirayi and the MDC filter through from various polling stations
although there has not been an official position on the election outcome.

Unconfirmed results in Mutare urban state that the opposition MDC has
claimed all the 18 city wards, while two of its parliamentary candidates for
Dangamvura-Chikanga and Mutare Central Giles Mutsekwa and Innocent Gonese
appear to have romped home.

The same goes for the party's senatorial candidate Keresenzia Chabuka
who is said to have brushed aside a challenge from Mutare business and
transport mogul Isau Mupfumi of Zanu PF's.

Mutsekwa and Gonese seem to have beaten Zanu PF's Binali Yard and
Trinity Munowenyu. Former Zanu PF strongman, Edgar Tekere, who represented
former Zimbabwe finance Minister, Simba Makoni's 'Mavambo' project failed to
make it.

As early as 5am residents were streaming to polling stations to check
election results. Many believe zanu PF has had its time and it now is not
going to survive despite some fears of rigging from certain quarters of

Magret Mandizvidza of Dangamvura says she feels the opposition MDC
will form the next government owing to Mutare urban's results where all the
18 councilors are from the opposition party.

"It seems the trend will follow in other urban areas and even in rural
areas. We are fed up with the Zanu PF rule," said the mother of two.

Edward Chamunorwa of Chikanga in Mutare says he is unsettled as state
radio is not announcing election results as earlier as promised.

"This could be a well-calculated move to buy time and rig the results
for the presidential result. Not many people cast their ballots and it
should not take the whole day to know who won and who lost," he moaned.

However, the optimistic are already celebrating in high density
suburbs of the country's eastern city, home to about 400 000. Despite the
financial difficulties experienced in the Southern African country, imbibers
are already thronging beer-gardens sharing the news still filtering in.

Others have taken portable radios with them to drinking holes in
anticipation of listening to news bulletins from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings, ZBH, which has been promising Zimbabweans to announce the results
as they come, but had not done so by mid-morning.

As the people wait with bated breath,  anti-riot and armed police are
on high alert in high residential areas on patrol including the central
business district.

While many people remain anxious, it is the candidates involved that
are on the edge of their seats looking forward to victory.

Although the police warmed Zimbabweans from premature celebrations of
election victories some are already in celebratory mood as they blare
car-horns while some are playing their music loudly at home--CAJ News.
[04:28:33 PM] wilftrish says: HEADLINE FOR STORY ABOVE - Manicaland
province residents can't wait
[04:30:55 PM] wilftrish says: ACDP says police presence at Zimbabwe
polls is intimidation

ACDP MP & Whip, Cheryllyn Dudley says the ACDP is still very hopeful
that against all odds the voice of the Zimbabwean people will be heard.

High voter turnouts are encouraging and we applaud the people of
Zimbabwe for their resilience.

We are also encouraged by President Mugabe's comments with regard to
accepting whatever the outcome despite allegations of gross irregularities
pointing to an attempt to hold on to power at any cost.

Police presence and assistance in polling booths is unacceptable and
we are somewhat concerned that observer missions have not been more vocal on
this issue. Even if the benefit of the doubt were to be given in terms of
motive - clearly intimidation would be the result.

The ACDP is praying for a peaceful outcome but one which represents
the will of the people who will face the consequences and indeed have
suffered the consequences of a dictatorship to date.

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The Zimbabwean Elections: A refugee journalist’s take

The Chicago Methods

Published March 30, 2008 by

By Matt Medved

      On the eve of the Zimbabwean general election, Francis Hweshe is

      Pacing the floor of a near empty newsroom in Cape Town, South
Africa, the 26-year-old Zimbabwean ex-patriate gulps from a bottle of
Windhoek beer. His eyes dart over yet another headline about President
Robert Mugabe, accompanied by a picture of him laughing with his wife Grace.
He sighs and takes another swig.

      “My wish for tomorrow is for Mugabe to go,” Hweshe says. “If he
goes then certainly we can map out our own future as a nation. He has put
everyone in prison, he has hijacked my nation. Zimbabweans are living in a
jail cell of their own every single day.”

       Mugabe will attempt to win his sixth term as President today
since ascending to the nation’s helm in 1980.

But Zimbabwe currently has the world’s highest inflation rate of over
100,000% and a meager one-in-five adult employment rate.

Additionally, Mugabe faces two opponents this time around. Long-time
opponent Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is
also in contention with newcomer Simba Makoni, an ex-finance minister in
Mugabe’s Zanu-PF now running as an independent.

Hweshe is skeptical about the intentions of Mugabe’s challengers.

“The MDC is also corrupt,” Hweshe says. “Everyone is excited about change
but they overlook the fact that the MDC could easily become what Zanu-PF is,
like a little pup becoming a lion if we’re not careful. If Makoni is true,
then perhaps he can be a source of change. But I don’t believe in him. I don’t
believe in any politicians unless they deliver.”

The same questions of ghost voters and ballot stuffing that have plagued
past elections still surround the current one. The MDC has already charged
that the vote will be rigged, which Mugabe’s government has denied.

      Hweshe did not vote in the 2003 polls because he believed the
election to be a joke. When asked about the legitimacy of today’s vote, he
rolls his eyes and arches his eyebrows.

      “What do you think? We have to face the fact that Mugabe is
going to win tomorrow no matter what,” Hweshe says. “But tomorrow I think is
the beginning of a new era where we have to face reality. We are going to be
like Ground Zero from tomorrow onwards if he wins. Every man should stand
up. Politicians can’t free the world, but they can put the world in prison.”

      Hweshe knows from experience. He was detained a year ago by
Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) for taking photographs of
the forced removal of slum dwellers as part of Mugabe’s Operation
Murambatsvina (Operation Drive Out Trash). While the photographs were
intended for the Associated Press, for whom Hweshe had freelanced in the
past, Hweshe denied this to his captors while he was tortured for more than
24 hours. He was only released after he agreed to spy on an international
NGO for the CIO officers and to work for the Zanu-PF mouthpiece Herald
newspaper.      But Hweshe realized he could not follow through on his
extorted promise. He decided to leave behind his girlfriend, his nearly
completed university studies and his family for a shot at freedom.

      “How could I spy on my own people who are dying of hunger?”
Hweshe asks. “We have kids with dreams in Zimbabwe. Look at all those dreams
that went down the drain. The youth of Zimbabwe are frustrated, they are

      Hweshe consulted his decision with his father before fleeing the
country, posing as a bus conductor.

      “It was a choice that I made,” Hweshe says. “I’m young, I do not
have a family and journalism is more than a job for me. It is a calling.
Sooner or later someone may get me down and say ‘we must kill this one man.’
But I am not afraid.”

      Hweshe managed to make it to Cape Town, where he spent weeks
sleeping on the streets while trying to get his working papers from Home
Affairs. Since obtaining them, he has been covering the plights of fellow
refugees for the Cape Argus newspaper there.

      “I feel like I’ve let a lot of the guys on the frontline down,”
Hweshe says, idly tearing the newspaper across Mugabe’s bespectacled
features. “I’m here writing my refugee stories and I feel like I should be
there. I feel I have a burden on my shoulder. But I am representing the guys
suffering here in South Africa. I write about the Zimbabweans and the
Congolese, the black South Africans who are refugees in their own country.
If I don’t help speak for the voiceless than who will?”

      Hweshe says he still believes he will one day see Zimbabwe
again, although the current administration would “arrest him on the spot.”
He finishes ripping Mugabe’s face out of the paper and crumples it in his

“This thing is eating up at me,” he says. “The probability is high that he’ll
be President again and we’ll have the slow genocide of millions of
Zimbabweans for the next five years with people living in airtight cages of
poverty and dying of HIV/AIDS.”

      Hweshe has finished his beer, which he sets down on a desk with
a clang. He closes his dark eyes and leans back in a chair. When he reopens
them, bloodshot and blinking, he appears wearier than before.

      “I’ve grown to believe in civil disobedience and constructive
violence,” he says. “My hope is that there will be high drama if Mugabe is
‘reelected’. There are going to be a lot of hungry people.”

      “And the hungry man,” Hweshe finishes, tossing the shredded
picture of Mugabe into a nearby trash basket. “Is an angry man.”

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Zimbabwe Mock Elections – 29th March 2008

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About 500 people came to the Vigil for our mock election. We were outside the Embassy from 6 am to 6 pm, with some people joining us from a Prayer Vigil for Zimbabwe at Southwark Cathedral.  There was a lot of press interest and while the Vigil was on  we had telephone calls from people telling us we were on Sky and BBC television. One supporter summed up the day: “ I was so happy. To me it was real.”


The focus of attention was Fungayi Mabhunu wearing a Mugabe mask and accompanied by Gugu Tutani-Ndlovu as Grace.  Fungayi really got into the swing of things, mouthing Mugabe’s vitriolic comments about puppet Tsvangirai, prostitute Makoni and the evil British while stuffing the giant ballot box with votes reading ‘Mugabe for Murder’, ‘Mugabe for Torture’, Mugabe for Starvation’ etc. Mugabe’s last stunt was to try to hitch a lift to exile in North Korea. 


Also much photographed was a dead voter rising from a coffin to cast a vote for Mugabe, who was surrounded by people dressed as soldiers, policemen (particular thanks to Paradzai Mapfumo) and green bombers as well as blinkered election observers from countries such as Sudan, Libya and Russia.  


Thanks to the coffin makers, Munetsi Toro and his cousin Albert, and to Choice Matambanadazo and Julius Muguwe, who made the tunics for the election observers.  Choice also brought a beautifully iced cake reading ‘Elections 2008 – Mugabe must go’.  Thanks to our sister organization Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR Zimbabwe) for feeding us with sadza and stew. 


We were pleased to have with us a Kenyan, who was very supportive given his country’s unfortunate recent election experience. We were also joined by our good supporter from Devon Caroline Witts who brought lovely hessian shopping bags for sale reading ‘Working for a new Zimbabwe’ with our website address.  Also good to see our friends from Bristol: Rosemary Baragwanath, Jude Edwards and Mathilda Mudariki, who are still holding regular protests. We hear from Patrick Dzimba and Anceilla Chifamba that the first Glasgow Zimbabwe Vigil went well with 15 supporters turning up including friends from Botswana and South Africa. Passers-by were very supportive.


After the long but exuberant Vigil we adjourned to the Vigil pub to count the votes. The results were:

·        Presidential: Morgan Tsvangirai 273, Simba Makoni 31, Robert Mugabe 10, Langton Tounganga 5.

·        Parliamentary / Senate: MDC (Tsvangirai) 252, MDC (Mutambara) 12, Zanu-PF 8, Independent 12, Other Parties 5


·   Presidential: Morgan Tsvangirai 85.5%, Simba Makoni 10%, Robert Mugabe 3%, Langton Tounganga 1.5%.

·   Parliamentary/Senate: MDC (Tsvangirai) 87%, MDC (Mutambara) 4%, Zanu-PF 3%, Independent 4%, Other Parties 2%.


The votes for Mugabe should be taken with a pinch of salt because they included the ones he stuffed in himself and others coerced by the police or deposited by dead voters.  Not everyone voted because they couldn’t get near the box because of the crush.


For this week’s Vigil pictures:


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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Activity in Harare


As we all wait with bated breath for results, word from a colleague in
Harare is that he spotted scores of Mercs and 4×4s hurtling towards Zanu PF
headquarters at top speed disregarding red lights. What’s up, we wonder?

News already out is that the MDC have claimed victory.

  Tendai Biti, secretary general of the main MDC opposition party, told
diplomats and observers overnight that early results posted at polling
stations showed the MDC was victorious. “We have won this election, we have
won this election,” he said.

The BBC have an item though which says the government has warned the MDC to
not claim victory:

  Results may not be finalised for some days and the government warned the
MDC not to declare an early victory.

And so does Reuters:

  Zimbabwe’s security forces, which have thrown their backing firmly behind
Mugabe, said before the election they would not allow a victory declaration
before counting was complete.

  “It is called a coup d’etat and we all know how coups are handled,”
government spokesman George Charamba told the state-owned Sunday Mail.

I wonder if the activity spotted in Harare this morning is a sign of pure
panic? If so they be having a small taste of what its been like for us
trying to live here the last few years. Panic about fuel, food, our jobs.
Can’t say I’m feeling sorry for them.

This entry was written by Hope on Sunday, March 30th, 2008

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Run-off vote "won't be necessary": Mugabe

Monsters and Critics

Mar 30, 2008, 7:39 GMT

Harare - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said a run-off in Saturday's
presidential elections 'won't be necessary' while recognizing it was a
constitutional requirement if he fails to take more than 50 per cent of the
vote, state media reported Sunday.

'We're (candidates) not used to boxing matches where we go from round one to
round two. We just knock each other out. That's how we've done it in the
past and that's how we'll do it this time,' the 84-year-old leader was
quoted by the Sunday Mail as saying.

Mugabe, however, recognized that the constitution calls for a run-off to be
held within three weeks if no candidate wins an outright majority.

Voting is still ongoing after Saturday's combined presidential, assembly,
senate and local elections, in which Mugabe faces a strong challenge from
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
former finance minister Simba Makoni in his bid for a sixth term as leader.

His boxing-match analogy was seen as ironic by some Zimbabweans given
Tsvangirai's severe beating by police during a state crackdown on the
opposition in March 2007.

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Rice slams Mugabe regime as 'disgrace' to Zimbabwe

Yahoo News

JERUSALEM (AFP) - President Robert Mugabe's regime is a disgrace to the
people of Zimbabwe, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday
after the African state went to the polls amid accusations of fraud.

"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," Rice told
reporters in Jerusalem.

"We have made very clear our concerns about how these elections might be
conducted given the very bad record of Mugabe," she said.

Zimbabwe's main opposition party claimed victory in Saturday's election even
before the first results were announced and after accusing Mugabe of trying
to cheat his way to a sixth term in office.

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Election results round-up

The Zimbabwean

 Sunday, 30 March 2008 15:03

HARARE - Zimbabwe ’s main opposition party has made historic gains in the
country’s most hotly contested general election since independence 28 years
ago, with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai clinching 67 percent of the
total ballots counted so far, according to unofficial results released

With results from most of the voting districts announced, the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change had won the majority in Zimbabwe ’s
cities sweeping the decks by a landslide, officials said Monday.
President Robert Mugabe and his ruling party was a distant third in the
voting tallies, with the MDC Tsvangirai leading, followed by independent
candidate Simba Makoni and then the geriatric leader. The small independent
parties won at most 4 percent of the votes cast.
Such a closely contested race is unprecedented in a country where President
Mugabe’s party has ruled virtually unchallenged since 1980.
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti told the fourth press conference held
Monday afternoon that the MDC had made significant inroads into ruling party
strongholds and retained all major urban centres.
“In Bulawayo we have won all the 12 House of Assembly seats,” Biti told
In Bulawayo, an area the Mutambara-led MDC has long claimed to be its
stronghold, the MDC faction dismally lost, with senior officials such as
deputy president Gibson Sibanda and secretary general Welshamn Ncube losing
their seats. Infact, all the MDC Mutambara candidates lost, winning only one
senate seat.
“We have won five out of six senatorial seats (in Bulawayo ) and the one
seat that we have lost we lost it to the esteemed David Coltart (of the
Mutambara-led MDC)," Biti said. "And in Harare , counting is still taking
place in Harare South. So the remainder of the seats which are 28, we have
won all 28 out of 29 seats. We have also won Marondera central, plus the 12
councilors. So Ian Kay is now the honorable member of our honorable House of
After early results were announced by the MDC, which has been barred by the
authorities from doing so, some MDC supporters drove through the streets of
Harare honking their horns. They gave the open hand salute of the party and
shouted the MDC slogan: “Chinja!” In Mutare, police stopped jubilant MDC
supporters celebrating “the people’s victory,” according to regional MDC
spokesman Pishai Muchauraya.
Biti said the MDC had won almost all the major urban centres were vote
counting had been finished.
“We have also won Mbizo and Kwekwe central and that’s confirmed,” Biti said.
“But we have lost Zvishavane. Yes, Pearson Mbalekwa has lost in Zvishavane.
We are yet to see the damage of the double candidature we had, had on this
particular area and in Midlands South”
In Zvishavane, MDC fielded two candidates, Mbalekwa and the hugely popular
Mike Akropol, a prominent businessman in the mining town.
Biti proceeded: “In Bindura, we have won Bindura and all the 13 council
seats as I stated yesterday. We have won Mkoba. We have won Gweru urban. We
have won Masvingo urban. We have all the results I guess of Manicaland.
Basically all the results of Masvingo. Basically all the results of
Mashonaland West. We have won in all those areas.”
Biti said “our presidential candidate is also winning in all those areas.”
“We have lost Murehwa North to David Parirenyatwa but in that area we have
actually won the presidential vote,” Biti added. “So it appears that even in
those areas that we appear to be narrowly losing, for instance we have lost
by 650 (votes) in Murehwa North, we are still winning the presidential vote.
So nothing has happened since we had the last press conference to detract
from the fundamental statement we have made thus far on the result of this
present election.”
Simba Makoni was said to have made a significant showing in Matabeleland
South, where he is said to have clinched 45 percent of the seats there.
But the former Finace minister lost all the seats in his home area of Makoni
to the MDC.
The Zimbabwean heard that several high-level ruling party officials and
Cabinet ministers lost their seats to MDC candidates.
Among them is Elliot Manyika, Shuvai Mahofa, Walter Mzembi, Patrick
Chinamasa, Chen Chimutengwende, Stan Mudenge, Oppah Muchinguri and Ignatius
With Zimbabwe ’s economy in shambles, the opposition party was posing the
strongest challenge to Mugabe’s party since it led the country to
independence from white-minority rule 28 years ago.
The large turnout, estimated in excess of 3 million of the nation’s 5.9
million registered voters, overwhelmed counting stations, leading to delays
in confirming results, according to the ZEC.
But the opposition says the ZEC is delaying announcing election results
because of Mugabe’s stunning loss.
As all contestants waited for official results to come in, African observers
from the Pan African Parliament said in a letter to the electoral commission
they had found more than 8,000 non-existent voters registered on empty land
in a Harare constituency.
Meanwhile, police were being deployed throughout the country to prevent any
possible outbreaks of trouble between the rival parties.
Riot police were sent to the southwestern Harare ghettos, scene of repeated
clashes in previous weeks between ruling party militants and opposition
supporters. There were no reports of any clashes, and police appealed for

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Messages for Zimbabweans from around the world

Published on the Sokwanele blog

Take courage…the present regime is only comprised of mortal men. Their
power, however intimidating, is limited and temporary. Even this shall
pass…they might retain their power through this election, but they are
fragile in the mighty hand of God. Millions across the globe stand with you
who seek freedom from such oppression…I count myself among that number…we
pray for you. May you find peace amidst the storm…do not allow wicked men to
dictate your happiness! (Cape Town)

Our prayers go with you. (Barbados)

Hope is the last thing to be lost and from what we’ve seen lately,
Zimbabweans still have hope that there will be a change for the better - and
I do too, which is why I’ll be ‘watching’ the elections today! Good luck
Zimbabwe - you deserve to get your pearl back! (Spain)

I am praying for you and will continue to. God is bigger than all the
trouble you are facing. He raises kings up and He brings them down. God
bless you. Indeed the world is watching and so is God.(USA)

Good luck to all of you from here in Kenya. We hope you will see a change.

Good luck to you in the hope that the morning is bright with promise. The
Zim elections have gotten a fair amount of press here in the States and its
in all of my mainstream news feeds (the BBC, of course, but also US news).
The world is watching.(USA)

I feel lost here in Manchester not being able to participate and rid
Zimbabwe of the greatest evil that has been visited on us. So I comb the web
for any news. I spoke to friends and family and they told me of the amazing
spirit of hope that people have that this might just be the end of Mugabe’s
regime. I wish I was home. I feel so helpless. All I can say to my fellow
countryman is I am praying for your protection and that at last our Gods
deliver us from this evil and that we might have our country and our
deginity back again. You are in my prayers. God bless Zimbabwe (UK)

From South Africa, I wish you the best. It has been horrible hearing about
what goes on in Zim. I hope it comes right in whatever way possible. Old Bob
was way past his ‘best before’ date ages ago, if he ever was best at all.
God bless Africa.(South Africa)

Zimbabweans, all over the world we hope and pray for a miracle. Vote
tomorrow for a better and brighter future. Go for it.(UK)

The world is indeed watching and praying. Good luck on Saturday.(USA)

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