Page last updated at 18:21 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 19:21 UK

Anxious Zimbabweans await run-off

By Farai Sevenzo

Police confiscate bags of salt for sale on the black market in Harare
Zimbabwe authorities are fighting black marketeers amid shortages
After a month of not-so-subtle suspense, the results of the long-awaited presidential elections were finally released.

The days that preceded the announcement were dark ones - broken limbs, burned huts, dead bodies and unofficial curfews were widely reported.

The people were cynical from the beginning.

Missing results, they said, meant the mother of all election riggings was underway.

At the Domboshawa Election Command Centre, Beatrice Nyamupinda, newly elected Zanu-PF MP for Goromonzi West, thought there was no need for a recount.

"For those of us who have been educated, this is just like going back to primary school. I won here and this recount is a waste of time."

And now we have gone from recounts to a re-run of the presidential poll, because Robert Mugabe secured 43.2% of the vote to Morgan Tsvangirai's 47.8%.

Too busy to care

The release of these figures had no immediate effect on Harare's patient folk.

election results

The day of the announcement saw Harare's streets packed with people queuing at banks to get to their billions.

Cash is hard to find, fuel has soared to an unbelievable billion Zimbabwe dollars a gallon on the black market, and large chunks of the city are constantly in darkness because of the power cuts.

"In order to sustain a dictatorship, it is important to keep the people busy," says Daves Guzha in his topical new play The Two Leaders I Know, currently running at the Harare International Festival of The Arts.

And Hararians have simply been too busy surviving to care about the new twists in their political fortunes.

It is a different case for the politicians, though.

The notion of a run-off has been pushed since the MDC prematurely claimed victory.

What was once the opposition is relishing telling the press that Mr Mugabe is now the leader of the official opposition.

Full page ads in the local press from the MDC are signed "President Elect" and "Morgan".

Morgan Tsvangirai (l) and Robert Mugabe (r)
Either Morgan Tsvangirai or Robert Mugabe will lead Zimbabwe

The ads are headlined "Delayed democracy" and "Martyrs for democracy".

"It is a tragedy that our own sons and daughters are being murdered, tortured and wounded for no other reason than that the regime believes they have voted for change," the MDC says.

For Hararians the rural violence has reached them one way or another - from the pictures being screened by international broadcasters to the local hospitals and their steady flow of injured people, to damning reports from international human rights organisations.

What will this background do to a run-off between these two men?

Will people turn up to vote or will the injured be too broken to visit the polls again?

Sam Mutukula, a thatcher, says he will go and vote the same way he voted the first time.

"I will repeat my vote. Things are tight in Zimbabwe because of the old man, he has no friends and we are suffering."


The old suspicions that seem to attach themselves to Zimbabwean polls are already doing the rounds.

"The voters roll will be vastly reduced, there will be some trickery somewhere," says Sam Mutukula.

Former Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo put it another way in the local press: "The mind of the electorate is now so fixed against Mugabe that if he were to contest against a donkey in the run-off, the donkey would win by a landslide not because anyone would vote for it, but simply because people would vote against Mugabe."

I ring a Zanu-PF man and ask him what the feeling in the Zanu camp is.

"I don't know about the party, but the message from the electorate is more than clear."

Hararians are strangely quiet about their long-lost poll results.

They will have to muster enough energy to do the whole thing again in the coming weeks.

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