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Zimbabwe : Few results emerge as observers flee
IT’s still a ding dong affair in Zimbabweans elections. Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party stills maintains its slight edge over the opposition, winning 10 more seats in the latest batch of election results released to bring its total so far to 53 seats.

from our correspondent in Harare

The Morgan Tsvangirai-led opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party also won 10 more seats but remains two seats behind ZANU PF with a total 51 seats won so far.

The faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara has so far won five seats in its stronghold of Matabeleland provinces.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has now announced results from 109 House of Assembly constituencies. Zimbabwe’s lower chamber has a total 210 seats all of them elective.

MDC Vice-President Gibson Sibanda lost his Nkulumane seat in the second city of Bulawayo to Thamsanqa Mahlangu, the youth chairman of the Tsvangirai-led MDC.

Paul Themba-Nyathi, a senior official in the MDC Mutambara faction, also lost in Emakandeni-Entumbane constituency.

Delays

Bright Matonga, the former deputy minister of information, retained his seat in rural Mhondoro-Ngezi, a stronghold of the ruling ZANU PF party. But two other top Mugabe lieutenants, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Public and Interactive Affairs Minister Chen Chimutengwende, lost their seats in results announced yesterday.

The ZEC, which only began releasing results more than 30 hours after voting ended on Saturday, has not yet released any results for the presidential, Senate and local council elections that also took place at the weekend.

The ZEC has promised to have all results out within two days. But the very slow pace of counting of votes has fed suspicions of rigging.

Fleeing amid threats

Meanwhile, three members of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) observer mission to the Zimbabwean elections fled the country Monday evening claiming intimidation by security forces.

They immediately called for an urgent intervention by the SADC and UN peacekeeping forces.

According to sources in the SADC observer team and reports from South Africa, all thre are from the youth league in South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC).

It was not possible to establish the nature of the intimidation and surveillance the observers were subjected to.

In a statement released on Monday, the Youth league said there was still a high “level of intimidation that is still prevalent in Zimbabwe, and called for an urgent intervention by the SADC and United Nations to force the government to urgently release results.

It said further delays could result in a situation similar to the one that prevailed in Kenya. “The remaining result for the Presidential contest is reported to be in favour of Morgan Tsvangirai,” said the Youth league.

Rigging and fears of a coup

“There is fear of rigging the Presidential leg, thus the delay of the announcement of the results. And there is the fear about the army and police staging a coup if the opposition takes the Presidency.”

The immediate deployment of SADC and United Nations peace keeping forces, said the league, would help avert any attempt towards “sinking” Zimbabwe into violence.

“This should serve as a post-election process undertaken by all the parties involved in the elections and all the countries in the region,” the league said.

However, sources close to the operations of the mission said the departure of three members of the Youth Leagues could also be an indication of the differences that had emerged between members of the team.

Some, especially the Youth League representatives and members of the South African opposition party, the Democratic Alliance wanted the mission to take a radical stance “rather than the usual approach by SADC observer missions in Zimbabwe”.

On Sunday, SADC mission chairman Jose Marcos Barrica of Angola presented a preliminary report where the mission described the elections as free and fair.

More results

By late Monday night the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the official election administrator had announced only 66 House of Assembly seats, raising concerns that at that rate the announcement would run over another two days.

At 10PM on Monday, Zanu PF had won 31 of the announced House of Assembly seat. The MDC Tsvangirai had 30, while the other faction led by Arthur Mutambara had five seats, all of them in Matabeleland South.

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