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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 15:15 GMT
Zimbabwe votes: Mashonaland
President Mugabe has received a resounding vote from Mashonaland, which has given him a convincing win over his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Tsvangirai won just one constituency Kadoma Central (urban) in Mashonaland West.
Mr Mugabe captured 73% of the vote in Mashonaland West, 84% in Mashonaland Central, and 77% Mashonaland East.
But Mr Tsvangirai says his poor showing in Mashonaland does not reflect his true popularity.
"As a result of the violence and intimidation, the MDC was unable to access the electorate in large parts of the country, such as all the three Mashonaland provinces," he told journalists.
But Zanu-PF supporters are nevertheless celebrating wildly.
"We told them (the opposition Movement for Democratic Change) we will never sell out to the British like they are doing, shameless puppets of the worst kind," said John Yotamu, a Zanu-PF youth, in Chinhoyi.
However, he would not rule out violence breaking out. "Some have scores to settle with those MDC members who were stubborn during the campaign. The women here are just breathless with joy over the results in favour of Zanu-PF."
From Kariba, Elsie Mhondoro who said she was apolitical, said residents would stay indoors after dark because retaliation between opposing supporters was imminent.
No violence has been reported yet from Mashonaland. There is a heavy police and army presence in most areas, especially in the urban areas of the provinces.
The political situation in Mashonaland remains calm but tense as voters anxiously await the results of the just ended three-day poll.
Sources in Mashonaland contacted by phone from Harare have said there was a lot of tension among the people as the counting of the votes got under way today.
The verification process has taken the better part of the day with actual vote-counting expected to have been completed by tomorrow afternoon.
Results are expected later tomorrow afternoon at the earliest.
By today Mash East had 328,571 votes and 343,066 in Mash West.
No update was available for Mash Central which yesterday stood at 331,251. These are the solid Zanu-PF bases of support which will obviously decide the way the result will go.
A Marondera resident (Mash East) Barbra Motsi said everyone was looking forward to an MDC victory "especially having spent a lot of time in queues for maize mealie and then in the voting process".
She claimed residents adopted a new slogan during the campaign and vote period:"Support Zanu PF, vote MDC."
The two days of voting have taken place without any major incidents in Mashonaland.
The worst incidents were the reported assault of opposition polling agents in Shamva, about 100 km (60 miles) north-east of Harare, and the abduction of two others in the farming area of Raffingora 140 km (85 miles) north-west of Harare.
By 1700 (1500 GMT) on Sunday 331,251 people had voted in Mashonaland Central, 328,571 in Mash East and 292,943 in Mash West.
There are 11 constituencies in the province and similar numbers in Mashonaland East and West.
Thousands of Mashonaland voters though, also support the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, going by the June 2000 parliamentary elections.
During the two days of balloting in Mashonaland, MDC supporters said they were afraid to come out in the open, and attended Zanu-PF meetings for their own safety.
One even claimed he was a district chairman for the ruling Zanu-PF and his colleagues vouched for him.
"We are talking through the ballot box," he said.
"Maybe we will be able to get some food like maize meal, cooking oil if we get a new leader."
A team of observers from the Southern Africa Development Community was in Hwedza constituency on Sunday. The leader, Moises Gasper Kamabaya of Angola, said peace had prevailed in rural areas.
"Our presence has something to do with this," he said. "This is a sign that SADC can help with orderliness."
The second day of voting has been peaceful and quiet in rural Mashonaland.
The sun burst through in the afternoon after a cloudy start, but voters have failed to materialise.
Most polling stations have been virtually empty, with polling officers dozing.
Even so, by midday today, an average of 1,000 voters had passed through each of the polling stations since voting began on Saturday.
There have been some problems though.
In Hwedza, some 150km south-east of Harare, 25 people were turned away for trying to vote twice.
A sizeable number of voters were unable to cast their ballots, as they were not registered in the constituency they were voting in - and for many it was too expensive for them to return to their own constituency - sometimes hundreds of kilometres away.
In the urban areas the queues have been long - with the polling stations likely to remain open until the small hours - well after the scheduled end of voting.
Many people I spoke to were saying they wanted a change of government. There was a real mood of optimism among many - even in this area which is a Mugabe stronghold.
One 70 year-old man, Simon Kamhembere, told me: "I voted for the new one". When I asked who that was, he just said Tsvangirai.
Party agents for both the main candidates have been present in all the polling stations in Marondera, Hwedzo and Chivhu.
In Marondera, Murehwa and surrounding areas of Mashonaland East, thousands of voters thronged polling stations from early this morning to cast their ballots.
In the town of Marondera, even a late morning downpour failed to dampen the spirits and people's determination to vote.
The mood at the polling stations I visited was peaceful, although tempers were occasionally starting to fray because of the long and slow-moving queues.
Some voters turned round when they saw the long queues and said that they would come back to vote on Sunday.
Others said they had been queuing for more than 5 hours but were determined to wait until they had cast their ballot.
Only a few people were turned away from polling stations because they did not have the correct identity documents.
The police and the army maintained a heavy presence at most polling stations but there were no disturbances.
Voting in rural areas of Murehwa and Mutoko was different as people voted without too much delay.
Although there were long queues, they were moving faster than in urban areas.
It appeared that more people had cast their ballots in rural areas than in the urban centres I visited.
A group of South African observers I met in Marondera said they were concerned by the slow process of voting and the long queues.
They said that voting should be extended beyond Sunday if all the eligible voters had failed to cast their ballots.
We passed some Commonwealth and local non-governmental observers on the main road to the Nyamapanda border post but we did not see any observers in rural polling stations.
The MDC did not have any representatives at three polling stations in Murehwa, which has seen some of the worst violence during the campaign.
With less than 15 hours until voting starts, President Robert Mugabe addressed his biggest and last rally in rural Mashonaland in Bindura, the provincial capital of Mashonaland Central province and a Zanu-PF stronghold.
Bindura is about 90 km north of Harare and Zanu-PF won the 2000 parliamentary seat with 13,328 votes against the MDC's 11,257 votes.
Thousands of his supporters were bussed in from all over the province and from the capital, Harare, to hear him say they would bury the MDC and all their puppets with a resounding win in the election.
Winding up his political campaign which he also began in another Mashonaland province (East) on 1 February, Mr Mugabe paid tribute to all his supporters and urged them to turn out in full force to vote the MDC out of existence.
He said the huge turnout at all his meetings was a clear demonstration of the massive support and oneness of the people under the leadership of Zanu-PF.
"Those charlatans come up with fraudulent statistics in their surveys predicting who is going to win this election but look at these numbers (of people) here today. We are going to win with a resounding victory. We (Zanu PF) have never, ever been losers," he declared at the rally which saw 55 head of cattle slaughtered to feed the crowd.
As usual, Mr Mugabe and his wife Grace dished out millions of dollars to help people begin self-help projects.
Meanwhile, a high court judge today ordered Home Affairs Minister John Nkomo and police chief Augustine Chihuri to remove all Zanu-PF bases set up in Mashonaland East within 10 days.
The bases are used as torture camps for opposition MDC supporters.
Justice Benjamin Paradza, ordered the two officials to secure the immediate release of the president of the Civil Service Association of Zimbabwe Ephraim Tapa and his wife Faith Mukwakwa who were abducted by war veterans on 16 February and detained at Mushimbo base in Mutoko, 140 km north-east of Harare.
Mr Tapa and his wife were accused of being MDC supporters.
In another development, the registrar-general released the number of voters registered for the election.
Out of a total 5,607,812 registered voters countrywide, Mashonaland Central now has 480,092 up from 441 552 in the June 2000 elections; Mashonaland East has 589,185 - up from 535,106; Mashonaland West has 572 677 - up from 530,364.
About half the number of registered voters actually cast their ballot in the June 2000 parliamentary elections
The three rural Mashonaland provinces are strongholds of President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.
Here, Mr Mugabe's promise to distribute land to the landless is a vote-winner as black subsistence farmers gaze across at the lush, lucrative farms of their white neighbours.
Mashonaland Central leads the way in both support for Mr Mugabe and violence against opposition activists.
The provincial capital Bindura hosts the notorious Border Gezi National Youth Training Centre where unemployed youths from all over the country undergo three months of training and later terrorise ordinary folk suspected of not supporting Zanu PF.
Zanu PF has been the aggressor in most incidences of violence but of late the MDC has started fighting back.
Members of the public travelling in these provinces have resorted to unwillingly buying Zanu PF membership cards to ensure their personal safety at illegal road blocks mounted by supporters of Mr Mugabe.
They have also barred independent newspapers like The Daily News, The Financial Gazette, and The Independent from rural Mashonaland.
Anyone seen reading these papers is automatically labelled an MDC supporter and can pay dearly.
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