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Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Wednesday, 9 April 2008 11:09 UK

Zuma condemns Zimbabwe poll delay

Jacob Zuma (file picture)
Mr Zuma says Zimbabwe has become an international issue

South Africa's governing party leader Jacob Zuma has criticised the delay in publishing the results of presidential elections held in Zimbabwe 11 days ago.

Mr Zuma's comments are in stark contrast to those of South Africa's president who said the situation was "manageable" and a question of waiting.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai met Mr Zuma on Monday.

He is travelling around the region urging leaders to help prevent Zimbabwe from descending into chaos.

Meanwhile, Zambia's leader has announced a regional emergency meeting is to be held on Saturday.

I don't think it augurs very well
ANC's Jacob Zuma

President Levy Mwanawasa said Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders would discuss Zimbabwe's post-election impasse.

He said the entire region needed to work together to find a solution.

Mr Tsvangirai has already met the president of Botswana - and plans to go on to Zambia and Mozambique. There is also talk that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader may meet Mr Mbeki when he returns from a trip abroad.

Mr Tsvangirai's party says its activists have been attacked in a campaign of "massive violence" around the country since the polls - although is unconfirmed by reporters and denied by the government.

Invasions

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's state television says that war veterans have occupied 11 farms in the north-east of the country, Reuters news agency reports.

War vets in 2000 (archive picture)

The farm invasions were ignitedby reports that some white farmers were returning to their former properties anticipating the opposition MDC 's victory.

"We managed to remove all theinvaders from the occupied farms after realising that they werenow committing crimes such as looting farmequipment, produce and threatening to kill the farm owners," police assistant commissioner Mhekia Tanyanyiwa said.

"As of now the situation is under control and the affectedwhite farmers are safe," he said.

A BBC contributor in Masvingo says police on Tuesday fought running battles with farm invaders who had looted farm equipment and produce.

Zuma

The MDC is still hoping that legal action in the High Court will lead to the immediate release of results.

Posters in Harare
Campaigning was largely peaceful during last month's elections

Mr Zuma said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) should have announced the results by now.

"I think keeping the nation in suspense, and as you know, the Zimbabwean issue has become an international issue - it is almost keeping the international community in suspense - I don't think it augurs very well," the African National Congress leader said.

Mr Zuma beat President Thabo Mbeki to the leadership of the governing ANC last year, and is favourite to become president new year.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Only Zimbabweans can get themselves out of this by resisting this failed leadership.
Moses, Nairobi

Last weekend, Mr Mbeki, who led mediation efforts last year between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and MDC, said it was "time to wait".

Mr Zuma met Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, when he visited Johannesburg for the day.

The MDC is trying to persuade Zimbabwe's neighbours to take a more public stand, and demand to know the outcome of the presidential election.

Our World affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds says that Western governments believe the delay in announcing results is designed to buy time to organise intimidation.

It is possible, the governments think, that there will be no re-run and that Robert Mugabe will declared the winner after a "recount", he says.

If all else fails, there could be martial law, though the loyalty of the military rank and file might be in doubt, he adds.

The state-owned Herald newspaper is reporting that Mr Tsvangirai has "begged" for the vice-presidency in a national unity government. The MDC reject this as "rubbish".

Independent and ruling party projections say Mr Tsvangirai gained most votes but not the 50% needed to win outright.

The MDC says he gained 50.3% of the vote, but Zanu-PF has demanded a recount of the vote.




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