It's two days since voters cast their ballot in Zimbabwe and the results are still not out. While the opposition claims a landslide victory and supporters prepare to welcome their new president, observers are advising them not to get over excited. Indeed, many suggest President Robert Mugabe is using the delay to steal the vote.
Everybody expected Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) party to rig the election results. Mugabe has been in power for 28 years and openly admits that he will not give up his presidential throne. However, when the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party announced a 58% win in the presidential election on Monday, observers questioned whether the ruling party had done quite enough rigging. Now, a delay in the results is raising concerns that the hitch is being corrected, and when Mugabe is declared president, violence will break out. Our Observers in the country's capital predict what will happen next.
"It's as if the elections never happened"
Samm Farai Monro is a Zimbabwean poet and musician from Harare:Today the streets have a strange energy. People are waiting. Young police recruits patrol the streets trying to stamp an authority they are no longer sure they have. The cigarette vendor apologises for the high cost of her cigarettes. "Tichadzikisa maprices mangwana". We will reduce the prices tomorrow. When change comes. The streets are waiting. We woke today to rumours of Mugabe fleeing to Malaysia and news of the MDC press conference. We carried our bababarazi'd selves to the conference after a night of ragga at downtown Harare's Tube Nightclub. According to the MDC's counting process they are way ahead in the polls. Victory is on people's lips. But so is rigging. Because the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to announce its ‘official' tally of votes. It has yet to work out how to turn our dream into a nightmare. So expectant Zimbabweans have been subjected to endless music videos and football on the state broadcaster. It's as if the elections never happened. So the streets wait. Shuffling from one foot to another. Waiting. Hoping."
"Everyone is now convinced rigging is in place"
Bev Clark manages Kubatana.net, a human rights website in Zimbabwe:The people have such a sense of hope; they're waiting for Morgan Tsvangirai to claim victory and wondering why it's taking such a long time. I really don't think the full results will be announced until Wednesday. It's an unacceptable delay, but Zimbabwean people are treated very disrespectfully by the government so even if you asked them for an excuse they wouldn't give one.
People believe there's been a landslide victory for the MDC. So the government's drawing up security. And then Mugabe will be declared winner of the parliamentary vote. I think there will be some reaction; there will be some sporadic violence, a few clashes. But I don't think Zimbabwean people will go out on the streets unless the MDC takes up leadership of the movement. They need direction and practical information. People are even scared to take down portraits of the president hung in their homes and businesses. The MDC should draw support from the international community and find a way to engage their supporters if the vote is stolen. They've caught Mugabe on the back foot [in the election]. But he's sprightly."
Results according to the website of the Independent Results Centre