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Impatience, Concern, Suspicion As Zimbabwe Vote Count Stretches Out

  • Jonga Kandemiiri

The slow pace at which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been working its way through the compilation of results from an election that ended Saturday at 7 p.m. has frustrated Zimbabweans and provoked widespread concern and suspicion as to the reasons for the delay and what may be taking place behind the scenes.

Chairman Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional Assembly offered a worst-case scenario, saying the delay in processing results is intended to prepare Zimbabwe for a decision handing victory to President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

Nonetheless, Madhuku told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the opposition should allow ZEC to finish giving results before issuing their own to avoid setting a precedent for parties to set up their own compilation processes.

Elsewhere, the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa expressed its concern at the slow progress in tabulation by the Zimbabwean electoral authority.

The institute said the slow drip of results has heightened fears that rigging is going on behind the scenes. The institute, which sent 25 election observers to Zimbabwe, said the elections were only partly free, lacked transparency, and had not been fair.

Institute Executive Director Denis Kadima, who returned to Johannesburg from Harare on Monday, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that regional observers have also chosen not to speak up about the delay.

A spokesman for the Southern African Development Community’s observer mission to Zimbabwe, Charles Mubita, said his body cannot comment on the counting process as that falls outside its mandate, which is restricted to the voting process itself.

Bulawayo was on edge Monday as residents waited impatiently for official election results. Anxiety turned to confusion and disbelief when the Electoral Commission eventually started to issue tallies. Correspondent Netsai Mlilo reported.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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