Telephone services in Zimbabwe jammed

Reading time 2 min.

Fixed and mobile phone lines have been jammed as Zimbabweans try to find out the outcome of their elections.

from our correspondent in Harare

Phone services already on the verge of collapse in Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown were paralysed as voters angered by the slow release of official results from Saturday’s polling called each other for news.

This has frustrated locals here.

Mr Steven Chisora is one of such. “This has been the cellphone and text message election.”

As a result, repeated attempts to connect were cut off with beeps, “network busy” signals or just dead silence.

“It’s frustrating not to be able to communicate and you just throw up your hands in despair,” Chisora said.

Zimbabwe has three cellar phone service providers- Econet, Net-one and Telecel.

He said relatives across the country who saw results posted outside polling stations called or sent him cellphone text messages to compare notes. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said it had thousands of polling agents and supporters texting in results.

MDC polling agents were also equipped with camera phones or digital cameras to photograph result notices.

In downtown Harare Thursday morning , people crowded around parked cars with the radio on to hear the latest official results announced on state radio.

Deliberate ploy

“I can’t see why it’s taking so long. Last time we had all the results in a
day or two. It stinks,” said a woman who gave her name only as Ziyambi.

Others clamouring around a car radio said the delays were a deliberate ploy to portray a close race between the opposition and President Robert Mugabe’s party.

Well-to-do Zimbabweans with computers relied on specialised websites for tallies compiled by independent monitors and the main opposition party. Only about 30 000 Zimbabweans owned satellite televisions receivers.

One Harare family asked a relative in Britain to listen to world broadcasts on Zimbabwe that they couldn’t tune in to and text results given by international media.

“My uncle got through from London yesterday and held his phone to the radio news there for us to listen to,” said Peter Ncube, a Harare car mechanic.

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