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Zimbabwe: Harare is tense after Tsvangirai claims victory

While the whole world is waiting for the official announcement of election results in Zimbabwe, the opposition leader, Morgan Tsvagirai, is claiming victory. Amanda Atwood writes:

But the MDC isn’t waiting. Ballot papers were counted at polling stations, and many of these have finished. Based on these preliminary results, the MDC is claiming victory.

Bev Clark argues that it is time for open air celebrations:

OK its almost official but not quite – the Movement for Democratic Change has trounced the “fist of fury”. Way to go. We’ve had two victory press conferences at the Meikles Hotel which are entirely necessary, but its enough already. As Amanda rightly asked, when is the MDC going to reconnect with their supporters who are sitting in the dark, waiting and wondering about the election results? The MDC’s base of support comes from working class people who don’t have access to satellite TV and the Internet.

Morgan Tsvangirai should be doing victory laps around high density suburbs, inspiring and preparing Zimbabweans for the next round of the fight for democracy. As we all know winning elections in Zimbabwe don’t necessarily mean a transfer of “power”.

So where are the MDC trucks and vans and cars filled with campaign workers roaming the cities hooting up a storm of resistance? They were very active and visible pre-election – now where have they gone?

Enough with Press Conferences for Change; let’s have some open air celebrations.

Hope reports that the situation in Harare is tense:

The news in now is that the streets of Harare have gone quiet. That the atmosphere there is tense with police being deployed all over the city.

Tension is rising with every minute they delay the announcement of the votes.

In contrast, in Bulawayo celebrations are starting.

It’s a rollercoaster ride.

There are suspicious movement of cars towards the headquarters of the ruling ZANU PF:

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.

There are unconfirmed reports that Robert Mugabe has left the country:

The unconfirmed reports (or rumours) are flying crazily. Just heard that Robert Mugabe has apparently left for Mozambique (this morning it was Mauritius).

We also heard that Chiweshe (ZEC Chairman) fled the Meikles Hotel in Harare where the press are gathered waiting to hear results. The story goes that he refused to deliver the news.

Another unconfirmed report is that Elliot Manyike has shot someone in anger, seriously angry because he lost his seat.

But the oddest news of the morning so far is the story that Sabina Mugabe has died of a heart attack and Bob is using this as an excuse to delay the news.

I laughed at this last, because it sounds like such Zimbo grapevine stuff, but the story is coming in from a variety of sources.

It’s hard to filter fact from fiction at this stage. But what it tells me is that the nation is desperate for news and starting to share everything they have as fast as they can.

Oh, and last bit of confirmed news – this is fact fact – via the ZBC is that they are still “verifying” the results. We all know what “verifying” has meant in previous years.

You can find latest election results at My Zimbabwe Today blog:

Vote counting continues in the Zimbabwe elections. Here I will keep collecting the latest elections results from Zimbabwe. Early results seems to show a win for Tsvangirayi's MDC. MDC is said to have won 28 seats in Harare with only one seat to be confirmed.
There are also reports indicating that most current Zimbabwe Ministers have been swept away by the tide of change. Eliot Manyika, Zvinavashe, Vice President Mujuru, Mutasa, Muchinguri they are all said to have lost the election.

Constituencies won by MDC – Morgan Tsvangirayi

MT DARWIN
NYANGA
MAKONI CENTRAL
MAKONI SOUTH
MUTARE CENTRAL
DANGAMVURA CHIKANGA

Are the words of Izzy Mutanhaurwa becoming a reality?:

Everything has a beginning and an end, even governments formed on a bedrock of anti-colonisation movements even dictatorships come to an end. It was 27 years for Zambia, 30 years for Malawi and it will be almost 28 years exactly for Zimbabwe just 18 days shy of our independence from colonial settlers for us to be able to have a post-liberation struggle government. Tomorrow the 29th March 2008 Zimbabweans will go to the polls to choose their next government and bin the current illegal government of Robert Mugabe. I have no doubt in my mind that MDC will win the vote as we did in 2000, 2002 & 2005 for us to loose the count.

Before the elections, Sokwanele, used Google Map to map election rigging:

Sokwanele has mapped a sample of breaches logged under our Zimbabwe Election Watch (ZEW) project using Google’s map function.
The interactive map aims to give a visual impression of the scale and many ways in which the Zimbabwean government has breached the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Elections are a process, not an event, and the same applies to rigging: the scene has been set for unfree and unfair elections on March 29th, and the conditions on the ground have been developed through many months of non-compliance with regional electoral standards.
The events and incidents mapped on the Zimbabwe Election Watch map represent a small sample of the breaches identified under the project since we started monitoring the government’s non-cooperation with regional standards in July 2007. All the information logged under Zimbabwe Election Watch is derived from media sources.
For more detail on the full range of breaches we have logged through the duration of the project, and more information on the SADC Principles and Guidelines, please visit the Zimbabwe Election Watch section of our website and explore the data through the database interface.

Will Sokwanele’s map show us whether the Zimbabwe election was rigged?, asks Ethan Zuckerman:

Each icon on the map corresponds to a media report of an incident that controvenes SADC standards for a free and fair election. Clicking on an icon will take you to the issue of Sokwanele’s Zimbwbe Elections Watch newsletter, which summarizes media report on the elections, and to a database record, where each instance is coded as to which SADC rules it violates.
The Sokwanele site is very careful to note that these media reports represent a sample of violations of SADC standards. It’s very difficult for journalists to afford to travel to rural areas, so reports of possible rigging in those locations are less likely. And since Zimbabwe’s press climate is quite constrained, it’s likely that many incidents of election fraud will go unreported.
Sokwanele has employed some clever and careful tactics here. Because they’re not accepting reports of election fraud, they’re not reporters so much as aggregators. That may help them steer clear of Zimbabwe’s laws which require journalists to be licensed – were they to attempt a strategy like Ushahidi’s of allowing citizens to report incidents of violence, I suspect they’d be shut down immediately.
Will Sokwanele’s map show us whether the Zimbabwe election was rigged? It’s possible that it already has – the map is filled with incidents of “political cleansing”, violence where people who don’t hold membership cards in ZANU-PF have been chased out. If you can’t safely make it to a polling place, you can’t vote. There are countless reports of failures to register voters, of food being given to government supporters and not to the opposition, of violence from police and troops against citizens.

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