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  • Christine Chumbler
    Mar 26, 2002
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      MDC details fraud claims in presidential poll

      Stuffed ballots, missing ballots, attacks on polling agents ― it's all in the
      opposition's report on how the party says President Robert Mugabe's government
      "manipulated the electoral process"

      AFP

      Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
      (MDC), rejected the results of the March 9-11 poll shortly after Mugabe was
      declared the winner.

      But the inch-thick report released on Tuesday provides the most detailed analysis
      yet aiming to support Tsvangirai's claim that the election was "stolen" and
      "massively rigged".

      The party found large differences between the number of ballots tallied at polling
      centres and the number of votes cast according to the official results.

      According to the party's count, 185 961 ballots went missing in 48 constituencies.
      The number of ballots recorded at polling stations in those areas was higher than the
      number announced when the registrar-general gave the results, the report said.

      The opposite happened in 72 other constituencies. The number of votes announced
      by the registrar general was as much as 246 445 votes higher than the figures
      announced at the counting centres, according to MDC.

      Official results gave Mugabe 426 454 more votes than Tsvangirai, extending his
      22-year grip on power by a further six years.

      The party said it had still been unable to
      compile a complete national report on the
      election because pro-Mugabe militants
      had blocked their polling agents from
      monitoring 40% of rural voting stations.

      "The report covers only the initial phases
      of information gathering because many of
      the polling agents are still detained by
      the police or their whereabouts unknown
      as a result of intimidation or related
      reasons," the party said.

      Mugabe's government has not responded
      to most of the allegations made by the
      MDC and has rejected reports from
      observer missions ― including local
      independent observers, regional
      parliamentarians, the Commonwealth and
      most western nations ― which found the
      polls were neither free nor fair.

      At least 42 people have died since the
      start of this year in political violence,
      most of them MDC supporters.

      The MDC has reported two of its polling
      agents killed either by soldiers or
      pro-Mugabe militia.

      Thousands more have suffered beatings
      or other intimidation, according to rights
      groups.

      In its report, the MDC said 83 of its
      campaign rallies were disrupted or cancelled by police or the militias, who have set
      up bases around the country during the last two years.

      Among the other irregularities cited by the party were:

      no opposition access to state media, which operate the only radio and
      television networks in Zimbabwe;
      a 40%- reduction of polling stations in urban areas, where the MDC enjoys
      most of its support;
      reduced numbers of independent observers, with only 430 domestic observers
      granted accreditation, of the 12 000 who applied;
      Mugabe's issuing of new electoral regulations right up to the day before the
      voting began;
      new laws that curtailed freedoms of expression and association;
      and a delay in opening polling stations on a court-ordered third day of voting in
      Harare.

      Some African nations have backed the results, including South Africa, Kenya,
      Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia, even though South Africa and Nigeria were
      part of a three-nation team that subsequently suspended Zimbabwe from the
      54-nation Commonwealth for a year.

      Other African nations, including Ghana and Senegal, have joined Western capitals in
      criticizing the polls, saying they failed to meet democratic standards.

      *****

      African leaders seek aid
      breakthrough

      Leaders of 21 African states have gathered in
      Abuja in Nigeria to fine-tune a plan to finance
      economic development in the continent, ahead
      at a meeting of the world's biggest
      industrialised countries.

      The plan, dubbed the New Partnership for
      African Development (Nepad), is the brainchild
      of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and
      Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.

      The BBC's Elizabeth
      Blunt says African
      countries are counting
      on the plan to
      re-engage potential
      donors and investors.

      It is to be discussed by
      G8 leaders, who will lay
      out their response -
      including financing to
      tackle the Aids crisis
      which affects tens of millions of Africans - in
      June.

      South Africa has requested that the Western
      countries, on whose money the plan depends,
      should not victimise the whole continent
      following the election in Zimbabwe.

      Details

      The summit aims to develop in more detail the
      ideas drawn up by the 16 member states of
      Nepad before a visit to Nigeria by Canadian
      Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who is due to
      host the next G8 meeting.

      It hopes to persuade Western countries and
      companies to invest $64bn (£45bn) a year in
      Africa, targeting economic growth of 7%, in
      exchange for promises that good governance
      and transparency will be encouraged.


      On the agenda are
      subjects including
      peace and security,
      agriculture and market
      access, capital flows,
      economic and
      corporate governance,
      infrastructure and
      human development.

      But some fear that the
      recent election in
      Zimbabwe has put
      that investment at
      risk.

      Western governments,
      together with a clutch
      of non-governmental
      organisations including
      the Commonwealth,
      cast doubt on the
      legitimacy of the
      President Robert Mugabe's victory.

      Zimbabwe's neighbours, however, were broadly
      in agreement that Mr Mugabe won fairly.

      Punish one, punish all

      Jacob Zuma, the South African deputy
      president, warned against "collective
      punishment".

      "There is a tendency to
      look at one country and
      say that it is every
      country in Africa... to
      almost want to punish
      all countries in Africa
      collectively," Mr Zuma
      told reporters in South
      Africa.

      "Zimbabwe was such an
      example. If one country
      has done certain
      things... you must not
      try to also punish other
      people."

      African leaders should
      not be expected to be
      held responsible for
      bringing Zimbabwe into
      line, he warned.

      "If a country like France
      misbehaved, no-one
      would say that
      everything is in the
      hands of (British prime
      minister) Tony Blair," he
      said.
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