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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 14:20 GMT
Zimbabwe votes: Masvingo
The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, won only in Masvingo Central, an urban area.
Street kids, who had been to drafted in by the ruling party during the campaign, are chanting Zanu-PF slogans.
The vice-chairman of the MDC for the province, Shaky Matake, said the election had been rigged in some constituencies.
At some polling centres no MDC agents had been allowed to monitor the vote, Mr Matake added.
The process of accounting for all ballot papers cast in the elections is about to end and counting should start soon in the 14 constituencies of Masvingo province.
The actual counting is quite fast and should only take an hour or so.
This means that we should know the results from Masvingo later this evening.
However, it is not clear whether the results will be announced here or in Harare.
Journalists were present for the verification process but will be excluded as soon as the counting begins, as officials are worried about unofficial results being made public.
Despite all the allegations of rigging which surrounded the voting, the atmosphere this morning was very peaceful.
Representatives of both main parties agreed on the process to be followed and there were no arguments.
The atmosphere in the town is peaceful, as residents are anxiously waiting for the results.
However, people were shocked when heavily armed soldiers were deployed into high density areas of Masvingo town overnight.
They were withdrawn in the morning but police are now manning road blocks at the entrance to the town.
Counting has not yet started in Masvingo province, as some people were still casting their votes in Harare and Chitungwiza following a High Court ruling to extend the voting period.
In Masvingo province ballot boxes were being ferried to counting centres, where polling officers had been advised not to start counting until Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede issues a directive.
A total of 400,525 people had cast their votes by 7pm on Sunday, but some constituencies were still compiling their final figures while 40,155 people were turned away for various reasons.
Turnout was high in rural areas of Masvingo province, a traditional stronghold of the ruling Zanu-PF.
Both the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and Zanu-PF were confident of winning a majority of votes in the province.
A Zanu-PF official, Absalom Mudavanhu, said: "We are quite happy with the turnout but we know very well that some rural areas are not ours."
MDC vice-chairman Shaky Matake said: "We had done our groundwork in rural areas and are happy with the response... People know very well that Mugabe must go."
On Day Two of the election there have still been long queues under the baking sun in urban areas of Masvingo, but in rural constituencies the long queues of Saturday have vanished.
In the urban Masvingo central constituencies voting stopped for nearly two hours as polling station ran out of ballot papers.
At Mucheke Hall polling station a mechanical problem with the fraud detection device led to voting being stopped for almost an hour.
Thomas Mkuru told me he had been in a queue for an hour without it moving at all.
"It is clear the ruling party wants to frustrate urban voters who traditionally support the opposition," he told me.
In rural Chivi north and Masvingo north constituencies all was quiet with the presiding officer saying it was not a busy day.
In Masvingo province as a whole, 284,559 people had cast their votes by 1100 this morning.
The highest turnout was reported in Zaka east constituency - which had witnessed a high level of political violence - and saw 30,000 votes by 1100.
Voting in Masvingo started at a slow pace with long and winding queues at most polling stations in both urban and rural areas.
By 1000 local time (0800 GMT), about 33,000 had voted throughout the province. The province has 600,589 registered voters.
During the day, the queues lengthened as more and more people turned up. It took up to 20 minutes to go through the numerous checks and cast a ballot.
Voting was peaceful throughout the province.
By 1900 when voting was supposed to end for the day, voting was still going on.
Some polling stations closed and those in the queue were told to return tomorrow, while others stayed open until those queuing had voted.
In rural Zaka and Bikita districts which have been flashpoints for political violence in the run-up to the elections, there were also long queues and people were voting peacefully.
There were election observers at every polling station I visited but in Zaka, there were 2 stations with no MDC representatives.
Election monitors and polling officers were deployed yesterday to various rural parts of the country amid reports that some of them threatened to withdraw from the whole exercise citing security concerns.
They argued that the government had not put in place adequate security measures to safeguard their lives.
The ruling Zanu-PF is accused of allowing war veterans to wreck havoc in rural areas, harassing and intimidating people, in an effort to remain in power.
War veterans and youths have been deployed to rural schools in Masvingo, where it is feared they will intimidate and harass the electorate on the voting day.
Most rural schools in Masvingo are polling stations.
Naison Nyika, an election monitor in Masvingo, said war veterans had threatened to harass all election officials suspected of supporting the opposition.
"We are going for the exercise under protest. The government has failed to provide enough security for us.
"War veterans have openly told us that they will not allow people who do not support Zanu-PF to be deployed in their areas as monitors or polling agents," said Naison Nyika.
In the Zaka district, war veterans and Zanu-PF youths yesterday took hostage a group of about 500 people at Chipfunde primary school.
The war veterans said they will not release their captives until the two polling days are over.
One of the war veterans identified as Samuel Maoko said: "We will provide food for these people until they finish voting. We know if we release them they will vote for the opposition."
In Chiredzi district hundreds of people yesterday thronged the registrar general's office to register as voters.
The move has been viewed by many as a way by the ruling party to rig the elections.
The registration of these voters was being supervised by the local Zanu-PF MP Elliot Chauke.
Uniformed forces in Masvingo have already finished casting their votes and the opposition MDC has cried foul over the way the soldiers and policemen voted ahead of the weekend poll.
Police in Masvingo yesterday confirmed that they were casting their votes ahead of the weekend presidential polls amid reports the ruling Zanu-PF party was attempting to rig the election.
"We are busy casting our votes. The ballot papers were sent to individuals in envelops and our bosses were presiding officers," said one policeman.
The opposition MDC has cried foul over the issue, arguing that none of its representatives were present when the uniformed forces cast their votes.
Preparations for the presidential elections are at an advanced stage, amid reports that some election monitors are refusing to be deployed to rural areas, due to security concerns.
In Masvingo province Zanu-PF youths and war veterans have been deployed in schools and have set up bases.
Jobert Mudzumwe, an official with the Movement for Democratic Change, said about 100 monitors and polling agents have been threatened by Zanu-PF supporters.
They have threatened to attack monitors not sympathetic to the ruling party.
"We have reported the issue to the police but we are getting a raw deal from the force," Mudzumwe said.
Masvingo urban is an MDC stronghold where the MP Silas Mangono trounced Zanu-PF's Dzikamai Mavhaire in the June 2000 parliamentary elections.
The MDC 's Alois Chaimiti also won the Masvingo mayoral seat in May last year beating Zanu-PF's Jacob Chademana to become the opposition's first executive mayor in the country.
However, most of Masvingo is rural, where President Robert Mugabe's trump card of land may deliver him votes in spite of the worst drought in living memory.
Self-styled war veterans and Zanu-PF supporters have turned Gutu district into a terror-zone.
Over 10,000 people have been displaced in the district - around 10% of the area's registered voters.
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