Thursday, 1 August 2013

Zimbabwe Crunch Election concludes with no Violence.


Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe casts his vote as his wife Grace and daughter Bona look on in Highfields outside Harare
As Mr Mugabe and Mr Tsvangirai cast their votes - New Generation Africa looks at the latest Presidential election and ask is it finally time for change in Zimbabwe as voters turn out in their thousands to cast their vote!
The African Union's top poll observer has said Zimbabwe's crunch presidential election appears, according to initial reports, to have passed off smoothly.
"The conduct of the election has been peaceful, orderly, free and fair," said former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, who leads the 69-member observation team, as counting was set to begin.
Before the polls closed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claimed he was heading for a "resounding" victory against president Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe's presidential election.
Casting his vote in the capital, Harare, Mr Tsvangirai said he believed he had the support to oust his old rival. "It's not if but when," he said.
Zimbabweans began queuing outside polling stations before dawn on Wednesday with African observers reporting no major problems in the process from the outset, despite allegations of vote rigging and fraud.
Mr Mugabe has repeatedly pledged that the election will be free and fair. However the information from New Generation Africa contacts on the ground suggest people are worried the election result will be rigged especially as predicted that it looks very likely now more than ever that Mugabe is finally about to lose his 33 years grip on power.  on of the longest dictatorship in the world and one of the most brutal regimes in Africa.
Polls have closed in Zimbabwe's elections with President Robert Mugabe facing the toughest challenge to his 33-year grip on power.
A few polling stations were prepared to stay open into the night to accommodate all voters who were in line by 7pm, election officials said on Wednesday.
Vote counting is expected to begin on Wednesday night and final results are expected by Monday.
Rita Makarau, the head of the election commission, told a news conference in the capital Harare that those who were not able to vote would be given the opportunity to cast their ballots.
"If people are still in the queues, they will be allowed to complete their vote," she said. 
"Polling stations were still clearing queues by 6pm local time and we have allowed voting to continue until midnight." 
Makarau reported what she called "a few minor logistical problems" where voting started slowly, and appealed to people to put forward any evidence of voting irregularities. 
She also confirmed that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had received reports of 20 fake voter registration slips in Hatfield, a suburb in the capital Harare

The executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) says Zimbabwean voters deserve praise following a peaceful general election Wednesday.
“People were sending a clear message that that they are here basically to perform their duty as citizens of Zimbabwe. It was very calm and that is why I am saying that Zimbabweans deserve a huge commendation in that regard,” said SADC executive secretary Tomaz Augusto Salomão.
Salomão says Zimbabweans demonstrated that they are capable of organizing a peaceful vote despite predictions among skeptics that there could be violence during the vote.

“It was peaceful, calm smooth and amazing,” said Salomão. “We need to commend Zimbabweans because people came in huge numbers to the polling stations to vote.”
He says the SADC poll observer mission’s preliminary report about the vote would be released on Friday. Salomão says it was too early for the regional bloc to give its full assessment of the vote so soon after it took place, but adds that the balloting went well despite the long lines.                    
Zimbabwe’s electoral body has until next Monday to release the results of the vote.
SADC deployed six hundred observers throughout Zimbabwe to monitor the elections. Salomão says the regional bloc is compiling reports of its poll monitors.

“We have observers on the ground and we are receiving their reports while the process is still on,” said Salomão. “We have the biggest operation ever observing elections. Our observers were deployed in all regions and provinces of Zimbabwe.

Some political analysts had worried about a possible repeat of the 2008 violence, which led to President Robert Mugabe and his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai to sharing power in a coalition government. Salomão says there were no reports of violence during the voting process this time.

“I think you will hear from reports from different observers that violence is something that belongs to the past [and that] in 2013 there were no incidents of violence,” said Salomão.
 
The United States expressed concern about partisan behavior by state security institutions, as well as technical and logistical issues that could keep Wednesday's vote from being transparent and credible.
About 7,000 domestic observers and several hundred more from various African countries monitored the vote. But, Western observers were barred from monitoring the election.


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