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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 07:42 GMT
Mugabe nears election victory
Election count at Vainona High School in Harare
Most of the counting is now over
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has a clear lead over opposition challenger Morgan Tsvangirai with more than 80% of votes counted in the country's presidential election.

With 107 of the 120 constituencies declared, Mr Mugabe has a lead of 351,315 votes, the registrar-general said.

While we must wait for the final result, it is abundantly clear that this was a seriously flawed election

Frederick Jones
US State Department spokesman
The BBC's Grant Ferrett says that Mr Mugabe's supporters in rural areas have turned out in larger numbers than opposition voters in towns and cities.

But the international community is expressing new concerns that the poll was not free and fair.

New Zealand said that it was ready to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe, if the Commonwealth did not suspend the country.

Foreign Minister Phil Goff said that there had been "an absolutely chaotic end to the voting", adding that some observers from African countries had shown a bias towards Mr Mugabe.

"You would think that people had been at two different elections," said Mr Goff.

Western gains

Some of the first constituencies to declare were in Matebeleland, in the west of the country, where President Mugabe does not traditionally enjoy much support.

Results so far
Mugabe - 1,484,576 votes
Tsvangirai - 1,133,261 votes
107 of 120 constituencies declared
The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt says although the vote went against him, he did not do as badly as expected.

President Mugabe did better there than his party, Zanu-PF, did in the last parliamentary election, and Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), lost ground.


I and many others who got to the polling station hours before the official opening of the station at 0700 only managed to vote late in the night

N Musvoto, Zimbabwe
arrow Click here to tell us your experiences
In Mashonaland, President Mugabe's own home territory, he has massively increased the Zanu-PF vote, adding as many as 10,000 votes in a single constituency.

Our correspondent says this may be because Zanu-PF had become complacent in the past, and it is only now that they have made a real effort to get out their vote.

Or it might be - as the opposition has alleged - that they have used their power locally to pack the voters roll with Zanu-PF supporters.

Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede said 3.1 million people had voted, about 55.4% of those registered.

The first candidate to obtain 50% of the votes cast will be the winner.

Observers' concerns

Kare Vollan, the head of the largest European group of observers, from Norway, said the election was severely flawed and failed to meet international standards.

MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube
Welshman Ncube said the charge against him was politically-motivated
Reginald Matchaba-Hove, chairman of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) - a coalition of non-governmental organisations - said:

"The election is total confusion and chaos... there is no way these elections can be described as substantially free and fair."

Mr Vollan said he estimated that thousands of people in Harare had been disenfranchised.

He said the 25 Norwegian observers had documented numerous reports of harassment and assault against opposition officials, members and supporters.

In contrast, Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said that anyone criticising the election was "spreading malicious propaganda".

Threat of violence

State television announced on Wednesday morning that the security forces were on a high state of alert, in case of any trouble when the final result is announced.

regional reports from around Zimbabwe
Choose a link below for latest news from around the country:

  1. Harare
  2. Mashonaland
  3. Matebeleland
  4. Midlands
  5. Manicaland
  6. Masvingo

Mr Matchaba-Hove said that "a flawed electoral process is a potential cause of conflict", and urged the public to remain calm.

Anticipating an outbreak of trouble, the government positioned armed police and soldiers in cities, villages and at strategic sites in the Midlands province.

Residential suburbs have been sealed off and a curfew imposed from 1800 local time (1600 GMT) on Tuesday.

As counting began, a court in Harare charged the Secretary General of the MDC, Welshman Ncube, with treason.

He had been arrested in February, along with Mr Tsvangirai and another party official, when police accused all three of treason.

Mr Ncube, who was released on bail, said his arrest was an act of political desperation.

"We remain firmly confident [of victory] otherwise they [the government] would not be in such a state of panic," he said.

The BBC's Hilary Andersson
"They're already celebrating Mr Tsvangirai's electoral funeral"
Institute of Security Studies' Richard Cornwell
"Observers were not allowed to travel with the ballot boxes"
Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
"These elections were conducted freely and fairly"

Key stories

The vote



See also:

12 Mar 02 | Media reports
Press fears for Zimbabwe's future
12 Mar 02 | Africa
Turnout key to Zimbabwe result
11 Mar 02 | Africa
E-mailers' voting resolve
11 Mar 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe election in quotes
11 Mar 02 | Africa
In pictures: Zimbabwe votes
12 Mar 02 | Africa
Zimbabwe votes: Midlands
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