Late on Sunday, a hopeful Zimbabwe was told that results from Saturday’s national elections would be announced at 6am Monday morning. They watched the television and listened to the radio as the deadline approached and passed, their hope met by just a trickle of information, and nothing on the result everyone is waiting for — has despotic president Robert Mugabe been deposed?
Now, almost three days after the polling stations closed, Zimbabweans still await the news, with fears growing that the government is massaging the polling results before it releases them. Despite the tension, both citizens and the army are showing restraint.
As the results stand in the parliamentary race, Mugabe’s Zanu PF has 31 seats, the opposition MDC 35, with 144 still unannounced. Though according to figures from the Independent Results Centre, the MDC’s lead in both the presidential and parliamentary elections may be growing.
Fears deepen that result is being rigged: The publication of results at polling station level, a first in Zimbabwe’s flawed electoral history, has emerged as the Achilles’ heel of any attempt at post-election fixing. Observers are torn between two competing theories about the new practice: that it was evidence of bold independence on the part of the Election Commission or that it reflects a serious miscalculation by the ruling party, which believed that releasing results at village level would make their threats of retaliation against opponents stick better. – Times Online
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The results, where are the results? People have [been] anxiously watching the government television station for announcements about the election on Saturday. But instead of news, they were shown irrelevant fare like a program about biodegradable Chinese plastic and a documentary about the Netherlands’ 1974 soccer team. Near midnight Sunday, the election commissioner, George Chiweshe, finally announced that the official results would begin coming out at 6 a.m. on Monday. At the appointed hour no results were forthcoming. – New York Times
Show us the figures: The longer it takes them to announce [the results], the more suspicious we’re all getting. But whilst it’s 47 hours of suspense, it’s also 47 hours which the MDC has had to compile its own independent tally of results. The MDC has declared victory, but where is its substantiation of this claim? Election results have been posted outside polling stations and Constituency counting centres around the country, so it’s possible to add them up for yourself, if you have the capacity to track them all down, and the patience to add them all up. This is what, it would seem, the Independent Results Centre has been doing. But scratch the surface of their website, and there is a national percentage tally, but no constituency level results to compare with the 39 constituencies for which results have been announced. – Amanda Atwood, Kubatana Blogs
Could Mugabe steal the election in plain view of the world? Why do this now, instead of just having postponed the election under one pretext or another? Having taken the trouble to organise an election, and knowing the sceptical global microscope under which it was being conducted, why make a mockery of your own electoral process in this way? If Mugabe once had a plausible reason for arguing that he could win or at least get a respectable proportion of the vote, the believability of that claim is going up in smoke with every additional minute of delay. – Zimbabwe Review
What we don’t know: Those who have got access to MDC information have erupted into parties. The popular suburb of Highfields was a people’s carnival last night as residents celebrated the MDC success in their constituency. The riot police arrived and politely asked them to carry on partying the following day. The residents, stunned by the calm police force, agreed. The table next to me at the Book Cafe has been an all-day drinking session as they drink to victory and joke about ZANU’s failure. Victory is in the air. But so is uncertainty. MDC has quite likely won a big victory in the polls but the updates aren’t getting out to the people. The townships should be filled with flyers, pamphlets and megaphones updating the people. And the MDC should build this hope so that if ZANU does try and steal this election then the people will resist. We can defend victory. We can’t defend what we don’t know. – Commander Fatso
The truth is finding a way out: It’s becoming more and more obvious that Mugabe has lost by a large margin. A BBC report states that “in Harare, Zanu-PF security officials have met to decide who should tell Mr Mugabe he has lost”. The results are being held back, presumably as Mugabe and his security advisors decide whether to accept the result. In a way, this is a good thing. The longer the results are delayed, the less credibility a Zanu-PF declaration of victory will have. The whole situation may eventually hinge on the loyalty of Mugabe’s soldiers. Are they still loyal to their senior officers, or have they turned against Mugabe like the rest of the population? If Mugabe declares victory and violence ensues, will they obey orders and fire on demonstrators? Or will they refuse? If it’s the latter, the Mugabe regime is finished. – Commentary, South Africa
Celebrating like a Zimbabwean politician: [O]ne successful parliamentary candidate has allowed his celebration of victory to get slightly out of hand. Eliot Manyika, who is the Zanu-PF National Commissar and a Minister Without Portolio, won in Mashonaland East. He and his supporters decided that this was an occasion for singing and dancing, and the song they chose was a composition by Manyika himself, who claims to be a musician. The Minister noticed a young lad wearing a t-short supporting Tsvangirai, and stopped the celebration to tell the boy to go away. A quarrel developed, there was some pushing and shoving, and then the boy ran for it. Manyika, unable to run as fast as the boy, drew a pistol and shot him in the right leg. Then he was driven away by his supporters. There is no news of the boy’s condition. Police are believed to have interviewed the Minister, but not arrested him. I called Manyika this afternoon and asked him to comment on the incident. He said: “Leave me alone. Do you want me to shoot you instead?” I have decided to steer clear of the Minister for a few days. – Zimbabwe Today