Southern African observers have endorsed Zimbabwe's parliamentary election, which was won by President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) said the vote reflected the will of the people despite other monitors saying that it was neither free nor fair.
Zanu-PF now has a two-thirds parliamentary majority which means that Mr Mugabe can change the country's constitution.
Do you agree with the southern African observers endorsement? What do you think of the result? Was the election free and fair? What does the future hold for Zimbabwe?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
The elections in Zimbabwe indeed have been free and fair and it is gratifying that in Africa we are now able to hold elections freely despite some minor electoral flaws. One word of advice to Zimbabweans is that they should not make the mistake we Zambians made in 1991 by voting in people like Tsvangirai who are sponsored by the insensitive West. Development does not come in a day or by talking Human Rights, Good Governance and the rest of the Western Jargon but by a clear cut policy of empowering citizens so that they are able to engage in economic activities themselves.
Daniel Chisanga, Luanshya, Zambia
Many voters were dead people and ghost voters. Most of who voted for Zanu-PF. The constituencies were reduced in urban centres where the literate people want change and democracy. The President has been all over the country trying to buy votes by donating computers. The chiefs and other traditional leaders have been given recognition by Zanu-PF government to solicit votes. Chiefs were given cars, cellphones, and allowances and their homes are electrified. Ngcuka questioned the role of the Chiefs in the elections but I am not sure got a concrete response. They play a very crucial role because people respect them and we have cases where they threaten people with evictions if they don't support Zanu-PF. The appointment and the composition of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission leaves a lot to be desired. There is absolutely no independence and impartiality in the whole thing. Zanu-PF lost these elections by a wider margin and they know it. The election officers can be witnesses on the irregularities which were in the elections. It is sad that we are being taken for ride. We know the truth and the truth shall redeem us.
Vusi, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Mugabe had the world at his feet in 1980 and look what he has done with what was and could still be if anyone cared a wonderful country. The only people who can change things in Zimbabwe are Zimbabweans and until they stand up for what they believe in they will continue to be ruled by thugs and thieves and just be another banana republic.
Mike, Muscat Oman
Are elections 'free and fair' to the western world only if MDC had won? Long live Zanu-PF! Long live Mugabe!
Kagiso, Moshupa, Botswana
The BBC World television's coverage of the Pope's illness and death over the weekend, to the exclusion of all other events, made at least one person happy - Robert Mugabe.
Brady Ridgway, Kinshasa, DRC
The issue of whether the poll was free and fair or not is one that can be debated until the cows come home. The issue at hand here is what Mugabe is going to do now that he is back in power. Zanu-PF seems to be concerned only with political power without caring much about what they do with it. Personally, I am disheartened at the thought of five more years of the trash we have gone through during the last five years.
On the other hand, Zimbabweans also need to decide to do now that the vote has been stolen from them. We are very fond of sitting down and wailing our heads off and doing nothing when called to stand up and be counted for our rights. Bob Marley put it aptly in his song Get up, stand up.
He also warned us in his song Zimbabwe that: "Soon we will find out who is the real revolutionary, cause I don't want my people to be tricked by mercenaries." This has clearly happened, now what are we going to do about? Chances are we will set a new milestone which will come to pass and nothing would have changed. Many are already talking about 2008 - that is a long way away.
Leslie, Harare, Zimbabwe
I strongly believe the election was very free and fair, and the result was as expected. The major problem of the MDC stems from its lack of a clear strategy to deal with the country's economic ills. All they (MDC) talk about is rule of law, human rights, democracy, etc. Terms that mean a lot in the international arena but absolutely nothing to the majority of Zimbos.
Baba vaFreddy, Harare, Zimbabwe
The people of Zimbabwe have spoken. It is time for the leaders to deliver basic necessities such as clean water, sanitation etc. Zimbabwe is a beautiful country with lots of potential. The leaders of the MDC and Zanu-PF must put aside their differences and work towards a common goal which is to improve the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Bruce, Cape Town, South Africa
With the rural of Matabeleland being free to express their bitterness of the 1983 atrocities through the ballot of 2000, 2002 and 2005 elections, and with the town young people able to express their votes of protests against economic hardships, I feel in all honesty, the elections were free and fair. There was no intimidation at all against rural people unless you say that the rural of Matabeleland are more sophisticated than Mashonaland and Masvingo and the majority of Midlands.
There was no vote rigging unless you say the rural dead people in the voter register of Matabeleland were not able to vote from graves and it was only the Mashonaland, Midlands and Masvingo dead voters who were able to vote from the grave. Let's be honest with ourselves, knowing very well that we will have to answer for all these lies one day when we depart from this earth.
Anonymous, Harare, Zimbabwe
The opposition (MDC) is stupid. Why did they agree to participate in these elections in first place? They knew very well that the results will be on Mugabe's favour.
Dumisani, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
The rural folk are really letting the entire nation down. Most of them are inadequately educated and fed with all sorts of stories of how Zanu will be able to see who votes for it and who does not and how those people would not be given food aid. It's time great strides were made to rid them of this cruel intimidation.
Anonymous, Harare, Zimbabwe
What is fair? And in whose sight? England's? America's? Germany? Why should they have a say in Zimbabwe affairs? Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans. Long live President Mugabe.
Milton Bruce, Georgetown, Guyana
Another sad story, we are doomed once again for another five years of struggle. This election has a serious implication on Zimbabwe's future. I wonder what our kids will survive on? It pains me lot. I thought my vote was going to change things for the better and for the good of our kids. It's a shame that they have rigged the elections again.
Keshor Chitambira, Harare
The people of Zimbabwe voted peacefully. Yet others are gathering wood for a dangerous fire. Why? To continue painting the picture that Africans are brutal? If the Zimbabweans did not fight while voting why would they fight after? It would only be because someone motivated the fights or the war, which the people of Zimbabwe are not interested in.
What would the overdeveloped nations do if African states demanded their freedom from colonial rule, which is in the name of the Commonwealth of Nations? Maybe one should ask a lighter question. What is Zimbabwe's real problem today? Is it true that Zimbabwe's problems are land issues? Any African state that will go against the British rule incorporated with other developed nations, will find itself in Zimbabwe's situation.
The real problem in Zimbabwe is freedom. Zimbabweans are fighting for their freedom to be free from the Commonwealth rule, which is under the British Monarch. Because Zimbabwe wants to break free from the British Commonwealth of chains Britain together with other overdeveloped nations cause more cruel measures against Zimbabwe.
Archie Kasalika, Oslo, Norway
Like Jonathan Moyo has said, you can't waltz into the State House on the back of peoples' anger and frustration just because you are the 'Opposition'. MDC are in no way ready to form a government to lead a country like Zimbabwe and to all those crying foul: Zanu-PF is still the most popular Party in Zimbabwe. The coverage of this election has been one-sided and very negative but I want to applaud all those Zimbabweans that voted in what was a remarkably peaceful election. The rest of you, leave us Zimbabweans to sort out our own problems.
Zvinaiye Mutandiro, Surrey, UK
Congratulations to MDC! I can see that their strength forced Zanu-PF to bow down for democracy and allow at least a partially democratic election process. They must also note that the reason for Mugabe's victory is not only due to rigged votes, but also due to the MDC's defects. What appealing policy does the MDC provide to the rural Zims?
I think that MDC not dealing with the land issue is very portent. They must note that many African governments sympathise with Mugabe, despite his flaws, because there is no African who would like to see children of the ex-colonizers still owning more than 60 percent of the agricultural land. MDC must come up with an appealing plan about the land.
Samuel, Edmonton, Canada
The African Union (AU), the 13-member regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) and government delegations from Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi joined economic powerhouse South Africa in saying Zimbabwe's poll was free, credible and reflected the will of the people.
There was never any question that Zanu-PF would win this election... we knew Mugabe would make sure of that. I still held on to the hope, however, that he would not win the two-thirds majority required to change the constitution. The government now has absolute power over the people. They can do whatever they like with this country... and this both worries and saddens me. I do not think any person in their right minds would want their government to have such absolute power. These elections were not "free and fair" by any stretch of the imagination. I feel that my country is doomed.
Adrienne, Philadelphia, USA (ex-Zimbabwe)
Pius Ncube for Pope! Surely a Zimbabwean Pope would rid us of this dictator.
Mike S, Perth, Australia
Why should there even be elections in Zimbabwe? It's a waste of time! Everyone knows what the outcome will be... The election was not "free and fair"! There is no way it could be! So Mugabe has won! It's not a surprise! Can you imagine what would happen if he didn't? I can't, because there is no way he would have lost! The elections were rigged. Will the Zimbabwean people ever fight and defend their vote? no. Zimbabweans are peaceful people, in general they are not violent and I really don't think they'll do anything about it... I don't know what will happen in Zimbabwe, but I don't think there will be any change for the better any time soon.
This election was rigged. It's a pity the world just looks and let the poor citizen suffer. I wonder if such was a dictator was in a European country would be allowed to stay in power.
Godfrey Mushandu, Crawley
Although political violence claimed 447 Iraqis in the four weeks preceding the polls and although more than 20,000 innocent civilians had similarly been killed since the US and British-led invasion forces stormed the country in 2003, the alliance still celebrated the event as free and fair. but why not in Zimbabwe?? Our elections were free and fair. those who are saying they were not free and fair are biased
Hamilton, South Africa
As a former lecturer at the university in Harare in the 1960s (then called UCR), and someone who was arrested by Ian Smith's Special Branch for sedition, I have watched Zimbabwe from afar for over 3 decades now - and each year the situation gets worse and worse. Mugabe is and always was a disaster - a brutal, racist ideologue consumed by hatred.
I applaud the courage of Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters and the millions of decent Zimbabweans, both white and black, who have opposed this vile tyranny for so long and with such little real support. That elections under a barrage of bombs and bullets in Iraq were 'free' renders this question academic; Zimbabwean elections were orders of magnitude freer!
The United States and Great Britain are responsible for Mugabe's rise to power and should share responsibility for the death a depravation he has brought to both white and black Zimbabweans.
Christopher Campbell, Stamford, CT
I think the results represent the will of the majority. Were the people manipulated? Probably, but that's how it works everywhere in the west also, just maybe in a subtler way. Personally I am happy about the result. Mugabe is one of the few presidents who doesn't bow to the US, and English pressure. It is such a shame that while seemingly promoting "human rights", what the west really wants is to further its economic influence in the country.
It's the usual choreography: if a government doesn't do what the west wants, divide and rule. Support the opposition through world wide media, create tension (maybe even sell arms to both parties) and disrupt the national integrity of the nation, and when the country is chaotic enough, come in as a "saviour", giving aids and loans, lifting bans, and introduce modern economic slavery. It's a shame what democracy has been turned into.
There can surely be no doubt that this election was a fraud, albeit a cleverer fraud that all the previous ones. The question is where to now? If Pres Mbeki and his government give their stamp of approval to this crude and cruel charade they will stand condemned of betraying the very values they proclaim and which ushered in democracy in SA. This is not about the West, colonialism and all the rest of the now irrelevant ideological baggage of 'Third worldism', it's about respecting the basic dignity of ordinary Africans. What chance an "African renaissance" if the one great hope for Africa - SA itself - proclaims itself on the side of the thugs while, in full view of the world, they are putting the boot into the face of the common man?
Tony McAdam, Melbourne, Australia
Does it matter if they were free and fair? Zanu-PF has got the majority they wanted, now he can do what ever he wants with the constitution, I feel sad for all of us who have to bare it all
Brian K, Harare, Zimbabwe
Now that Mr Mugabe is fully confident for having won this so-called election, are some people not worried of him leading the country into an acute poverty, while the international community is decorous rather than issuing resolution?
Chernor Jalloh, Almeria, Spain
For Mugabe and his select beneficiaries the result is perfect - his vision is to revert to the systems of governance, the society and subsistence lifestyle that existed in the land prior to 1890 - before foreign influence brought with it foreign ideas that have not and will not work in a continent that is trapped in the past. The past is the inevitable future for countries such as this.
From the very first Zimbabwe elections in 1980 the western Press has mendaciously wished Mugabe away. But why does he keep winning? Why does he keep getting standing ovations when he addresses international forums? The answer is that he articulates the aspirations of the downtrodden. He democratised land ownership in Zimbabwe. He defended the DRC. He continues to expose the double standards of the West. If the Iraqi elections were free and fair then Zimbabwe's elections were perfect. Right or wrong, the results reflect the will of Zimbabweans. Respect us enough to believe that we know what we want. We want Mugabe.
Charles Majange, Masvingo, Zimbabwe
It's surprising to hear how normal people can be fooled by Mugabe that they can get to the extent of discussing about elections-2005!People of Zimbabwe only need to rise up and face the Mugabe regime with demonstration within and outside Zimbabwe! Mostly in all the major towns! And then I believe we can have help from the outside world.
Mugabe is an evil man who is acting like possessed, until we sacrifice ourselves to confront him with strong demonstrations then we can as well live and forget about democracy in our beloved country. The truth is MDC has been winning all the elections since we had the referendum! I don't need to explain this! Or else if we can't demonstrate lets pray to the Almighty God to create oil wells in Zimbabwe so that we can also have the US coming to our rescue in getting rid of this despot Mugabe, Iraq is a good example!
Forget about Thabo Mbeki he is another despot leader in the making and he is getting the training form his dear teacher Robert Mugabe! MDC without delay let's go to the streets!
AGM, Auckland, NZ
The elections were free and fair. MDC have only themselves to blame. They came late in the contest and had not prepared enough banking on the unpopularity of Mugabe in the West and amongst their supporters. That was not enough. They had more than 50 legislators in the last parliament but it is hard to see what they achieve on the ground.
For five years they concentrated on supporting the west on their campaign to demonise Mugabe and completely forgot about the electorate who have had to make do in very difficult times. The MDC could have achieved a lot if they had not left the people behind. In the end, it is the Zimbabwean people who vote and not the international community represented by Britain and America.
Tigere Mubaiwa, Bristol, England
Like the Tsunami but on a larger scale Zanu-PF are out to destroy lives. After winning the elections which were definitely not free and fair the foreign community (monitors) have given Mugabe the licence to continue making his own people suffer. I lived in Bulawayo until the economy fell apart and could not get work, then decided to migrate to the UK. My family have all spilt up to other countries namely Botswana, Canada and the UK. We need help to remove this dictator.
Anthony D, London, UK (ex Bulawayo, Zimbabwe)
A weekend with two sad events, the death of the pope and the re-election of a man who has participated in the murder of his own people.
Propaganda is a powerful tool and a combination of this, of the repression of the opposition, the threat of starvation and potentially some rigging of the election results has given Mugabe the power to ensure that Zimbabwe will suffer for many years after his retirement through his empowerment of a puppet second assembly. The only hope for Zimbabwe is now that in time they can achieve a more moderate climate for all its people to work together to restore what was once a healthy nation.
Stewart Lunn, Madrid, Spain
The Zanu-PF election victory is the proverbial long rope. With a ruined economy and bad relations with those that can afford to help, Mr Mugabe needs a miracle to deliver on his electoral promises. More intriguing from a regional viewpoint will be the Quiet Diplomacy Camp's next move as Zimbabwe's economic problems continue hurting its neighbours. I'm sure that the Quiet Diplomacy advocates will soon learn that it is economics, and not politics, that is the study of scarcity. It is much easier to turn a blind eye to a neighbour's bad politics than it is to ignore his ruined economy affecting yours.
Lloyd Kaseke, Johannesburg, South Africa
Does anyone out there know that people are really starving in Zimbabwe? It's disgusting how Africa and the rest of the world have seemingly abandoned Zimbabweans. You have the rest of Africa, led by Thabo Mbeki continuously defending Mugabe's legitimacy. On the other hand, there is the Western Powers, lead by the UK and the US castigating Mugabe.
The truth of the matter though is that only the ordinary Zimbabweans, including those emigrants who were not allowed to vote, know what life really is like in Zimbabwe. And we all know that a free and fair election will never be possible as long as Zanu Pf is in power. The recent elections were a non-event. But the struggle will continue nonetheless. And we shall solider on with or without the outside world's help. Because at the end of the day, its is us that are starving, not you!
Fungai Dzuda, Harare
We are deeply saddened by the outcome of the poll. We believe there might be something that was done for them to win the poll but the truth is these people are not wanted by many
Madyirapanze Chitova, Harare, Zimbabwe
Rhodesia was God's Country. The Garden of Eden. I was there for 5 years during the War. Zimbabwe sums up African corruption. A country that was a bread-basket has become a financial disaster through corruption. Do not write off African debts until they have control of corruption.
Julian, Tarporley, England
It's rather entertaining that Zimbabwe gets criticism from the US. Talk about pots and kettles.
This is the biggest elections fraud by Zanu pf ever witnessed in the world as far as elections are involved. Mugabe lost all seats in Bulawayo, Masvingo and some parts of Mashonaland but he manipulated all the results in favour of him. He is a thief who has stolen from the people of Zimbabwe.
How can you even ask if the elections were free or fair?? What we want to know is: is the international community still going to feed the thieves? Let them starve, then they may just get up and show their own wish!
Fair elections? A moot point. One thing is for sure - life isn't fair. If Zimbabweans want to change things they need to do what is necessary. Unfortunately, starvation and violence often catalyse change, so using these as an excuse to avoid transformation doesn't wash as an argument. You can't help people who don't want to help themselves.
Susan, Cape Town, South Africa
The country is in a shambles, the people have been lead down a path to wrack and ruin ... you don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that the only way to win an election with that track record is to control it !
John C, Singapore
Zimbabwe is a disaster and has been for years. Mugabe is a despot and tyrant who has raped his country and its peoples of wealth and rights. When are the so-called leaders of the free world, i.e. Bush and Blair, going to have the moral courage and fortitude to remove Mugabe and his evil regime from power?
Don't hold your breath Zimbabwe, I fear you have more time yet as a downtrodden nation ruled by corrupt and evil men and the world will look on and wring their hands in frustration but will do nothing about it. What a sad and corrupt world we live in.
Brian Vickers, Javea, Spain
It seems an irony that the United States only concerns itself with free and fair elections in its favourite pet projects, the Middle East and the ex-Soviet block. It's time Zimbabwe's neighbours (especially South Africa), the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations and the United States address this issue. Zimbabwe is a disaster.
Natalie Renew, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
I feel that Zimbabwe's future is not in good hands. I don't think the election was fair and I feel dreadfully sorry for people who didn't vote for him. If the world was a fair place many people like him wouldn't be in power.
Anonymous, Alicante, Spain
I believe the elections were free and fair. There could have been anomalies here and there I don't know but in Bulawayo things were very normal. I am glad also that Jonathan Moyo won in Tsholotsho as that is a good sign that what people want is somebody who will work for them. MDC should get that lesson and concentrate on working and serving the people and they will get the support. All we need, I believe is politicians who will focus on developing where they have control over.
Hlo, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
It's been an extraordinary week; an 84-year-old Pope has billions of followers holding their breath, 81-year-old Prince of Monaco has the tiny isle all-eyes-watery, and 81-year-old Robert Mugabe has a whole African generation of potential in a gripping vice. What a wonderful world!
We are dealing with two parties who differ in what they want. The man in the urban areas wants jobs since his livelihood depends on it. On the other hand the man in rural areas depends on better farming land especially with the drought years that have become the order. The poor have found a saviour. You worry so much about the situation in the country.
It was caused by MDC's stay-aways action. Remember they forced most employers to award 200% plus increases in wages. This had a ripple effect to the already fragile economy. Are you serious you want this man to lead? I think it is better to work with Mugabe than the man you think. He is not a credible leader. He has made enough money for his family on the basis of change.
Freddy, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Zanu-PF did not start rigging these elections now. They started as early as 2002 presidential elections. Also people in the rural areas were intimidated. More so those who were aligned to MDC were fired from the government e.g. if you were anti-Zanu you couldn't get a job in the government. Voting was just but an exercise in futility. It was a fishing expedition in the desert where there is neither fish nor water.
More so uprising against Mugabe won't work because he is in charge of the state machinery who can do anything they want whilst the international community is waffling and watching helplessly or otherwise harassing ordinary Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
Joseph Raisi, Francistown, Botswana
In the last month's build up to the election one would say the campaign was free and fair as the opposition was given space in the media and in accessing its supporters. From the point of an outsider this would be considered to be good democratic practice. The voting day was one of the most peacefully I have ever witnessed in this country. However, there are more salient and disturbing features about the Zimbabwean political scenario which outside miss all the time.
The Zimbabwean electorate particularly the rural folk are easily duped into believing very absurd intimidating innuendos by the ruling party functionaries. For example the rural folk are threatened with starvation or eviction from their rural homes if they vote for the opposition. They are also threatened with claims of the ruling party functionaries as having abilities to know whom they would have voted for. This is quite serious in rural areas.
AMM, Gweru, Zimbabwe
There is no democracy in Zimbabwe as evidenced by the recent elections. Going to the polls is not significant in Zimbabwean politics as Zanu-PF cheats.
Barbra Mhashu, Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe
I voted on Thursday, and then came to South Africa on holiday. At registration I noticed that there were seven Valintines on the roll. In fact there are only two eligible Valintines left in Zim. My grandfather James died in 1988, my mother Margaret died in 1989, my uncle David and his wife Margot immigrated to Australia in 1990, my sister Barbara got married in 1993.
However my father-in-law Frank Coates who has lived in Zim for the last 50 odd years and has voted in the last three elections was not allowed to vote as he had been removed from the role. This is just my family. I would appreciate the observer missions explaining how this is possible. I would be interested to know who my family 'voted' for.
I can't believe that these elections were free and fair. In 2000 I told the provincial registrar that the role was wrong, I completed a form requesting the role be corrected. In 2002 I highlighted to MDC these errors in the role. I know they raised concerns over these names, yet in 2005 the role still has not been corrected.
Stuart Valintine, Mutare, Zimbabwe
With yet another manufactured victory for Mugabe the people of Zimbabwe and the region are the ones who will continue to suffer. When will African leaders realise that the AU, peer review mechanisms, and talk of human rights and democracy remains a laughable sham as long as dictators like Mugabe escape censure and continue to be embraced.
Werner van Wyk, South Africa
Firstly I find it amazing that armchair election monitors can judge whether an election is free and fair based on a few snippets on the news. How many of these monitors have actually interviewed people on the ground in Zimbabwe or taken the time to analyse the actual legal and logistical process of the elections? I also find it amazing the idea that an election can only be considered free and fair if the opposition wins.
Why is there such a big deal about names of dead people on the voter role? Does this not happen in every country? Besides, in every Zimbabwean election less people have voted than are on the voter role. If Mugabe was truly a tyrant and dictator why would he bother holding elections and why would he make things more difficult for himself by letting the opposition win any seats at all in parliament?
The issue of allowing external votes is also regularly mentioned as if this is a standard feature of all elections across the world. The word rigged has always been mentioned yet no-one has ever told us how exactly the Zimbabwean elections get rigged. It just goes to show that anyone can make any baseless comment about anything. The WMD saga is another clear example of this phenomenon.
Steve, Harare, Zimbabwe
The elections were a total fraud. Zanu-PF cheated and they know it. No-one wants them anymore even in the rural areas and there is no way there could be more voters in the rural areas than in the urban ones. Zanu-PF cheated - they know every Zimbabwean knows it.
Taps Moyo, Harare, Zimbabwe
I am a Zimbabwean living in Canada since 1988. It is a sad day for Zimbabwean's who have no choice but to continue on with the current political party. Inflation will continue to rise at alarming rates and so will the devaluation of its currency. This will only bring more hardship, less professionals and increased security problems for the people. Let us hope that who ever is nominated to take over from Mugabe will be more sympathetic to the needs of the country and its people.
Guy, Toronto, Canada
Mugabe needs to realize that the kids he educated during his 25 year reign are ready to take over the state of affairs. He's no longer more capable and educated, so I do question the result and democratic process.
Borry Abrahams, Seattle, USA
Numerous countries are crying foul regarding the recent election in Zimbabwe, including the UK. For an ex-Zimbabwean such as me this is rather amusing when you consider that most, if not all, of these countries were either directly or indirectly responsible for bringing Mugabe to power and for keeping him there. How quickly our politicians conveniently forget the very history that they themselves have created. Selective amnesia and hypocrisy are synonymous.
Nicholas R Swart, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
The MDC were more interested in reaping outside sympathy than campaigning for votes inside Zimbabwe. The result has proved that Mugabe is not as bad as they want us to believe. We Africans must always imbibe the culture of fighting for ourselves than taking every flimsy matter to the doorsteps of Europe and America.
Ekemini Umoh, Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria
Asking whether the elections were free and fair is like asking an elephant to ascend Mt Cameroon! Wake up brother Africans, wake up fellow Zimbabweans, there is no such thing as "free and fair" elections in the African context of it. I'm a Cameroonian who grew up most of my life in the states and nowhere have I seen a properly carried out elections, except of course in the US. Once you're a president you don't want anyone else to have a piece of that sweet delicious pie of power. The future of Zimbabwe? Just look at any neighbouring country and you'll have your answer.
Asongwe Paul, Bamenda, Cameroon
These elections were obviously rigged but, once again the United Nations will do nothing to actually help. We wouldn't even be writing anything about this right now if Mugabe was taken out of power when he started to brutally kick out white farmers.
James Eli Ryan, USA
I think the best answer for the question asked can be provided by the Zimbabweans who took part in voting. All other comments are a mere speculation. Well from what has been said so far the elections were free from violence. It is clear that some people will just not accept every little improvement that Zimbabwe does because they hate the country. We in Botswana are Zimbabwe's neighbours and are actually affected by the hardships that Zimbabweans currently face. We appreciate every little attempt made to restore the Zimbabwe's economy.
It is a pity that African leaders are not sensitive to the situation of their population. I see no reason clinging to power for over 25 years without any meaningful changes in the lives of the masses. Why not leave the scene for others to try. I have the impression that our leaders are greedy, selfish and good for nothing.
Paul Rotimi, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
I am from Zimbabwe and left just before it started getting really bad, I love my country but feel that there is nothing left due to Mugabe's reign over the last 25 years he has stripped the country and the people of everything they have or believe in. I feel the elections will be rigged again as I can not see him being free or fair or stepping down, it's all controlled by Mugabe and will be until he passes out of this life, unless the Zimbabweans and the MDC take a stand, but this will not happen as the citizens fear for theirs and their families lives. It's very sad as I feel it is an amazing country with a lot to give to its people and the rest of the world, if only he will let it.
Dalene, Manchester, United Kingdom
It is no secret that any election in any third world country can only be certified free and fair if a USA and Western powers' favoured candidate has won it.
Eneas Mwanyangapo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When only 50% of the people have voted and a majority of them were denied voting rights how can you say the voting is free?
Chatrapati, Hyderabad, India
All things aside, the elections were indeed 'free'. Free from intimidation, violence, and all those other images conjured up by the outside world. Here, on the ground, we voted and our fingers are showing red ink to show it! Fairness is a matter of opinion, because usually people only talk about fairness after the results come out. What we deserve as a country is a pat on the back, just this once.
Ziso, Gweru, Zimbabwe
Whatever hardship Zimbabweans are experiencing presently, they must hang on, look up to the future and continue to vote. The younger generation should examine Mugabe's positive and negative sides and correct the wrongs.
Adeleke Babalola, Ibadan, Nigeria
These could never be free or fair elections. We have spoken to two members of our family in the last week and their domestic servants have been locked up on trumped up charges, so they could not vote during the elections.
Chidi Nwamadi put it very clearly. What is the point to be concerned about "fair" elections? The question should be: Would be the results of a fair election accepted? Chavez in Venezuela was elected in fair elections, still the USA and the Western powers are trying to bring his democratically elected government down as they did with Allende in Chile.
I believe that if the majority of the Zimbabweans really don't wish for Zanu PF rule it is possible to go and vote in mass for the opposition. You cannot have mass rigging of the election if the majority of people are against the regime.
G Caccia, Harare, Zimbabwe
I have a 'Rhodesian' husband, and 2 brothers obliged, but proud to have served in the Rhodesian war. Of course the election will be rigged - African democracy - 'one man, one vote, once.' Sadly ordinary Africans there will suffer - many are now nostalgic and sorry most of the whites have fled. The White farms were some of the most productive in Africa - maize was exported - even to S Africa. And, the farmers did not steal the land most paid, some in the 1980s & 1900s, and all invested and improved their farms. A vote is worthless if you are starving.
Pauline Rosslee, Wiltshire, UK
As long as President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party remains the only dominant political party in the country, the election can never be fair. It is only fair for his own Zanu-PF's members to be elected and re-elected through the means of intimidation, fear and manipulation against other political parties. It can be fair for only his own political justification.
Christopher Xaphakd, Minnesota, USA
Mr Mugabe's heavy criticisms of the West shouldn't blindfold us to believe that there is nothing good he can ever do. The just ended elections were well organised and proceeded in a free and fair manner. No violence was reported during the polls, so we have to say a big congratulations to Mugabe.
Emmanuel Wembenyui, Brisbane, Australia
When a third world country goes to polls, there are big meddling of richer countries in the name of observing such polls. They become part of a process for the elections to go wrong and rigged. The exit poll results they announce while voting goes on is a dirty trick to bend the results in favour of trouble-makers. Mugabe is right in saying that this election is between Blair and Zimbabwe.
C Sachidananda Narayanan, Tirunelveli, India
Should anyone believe that the elections in Zimbabwe will be fair and free that person/s should have their minds read. I have friends in Zim who have found out that their own dead relatives are on the voters role and we don't need to wonder too much about where their votes will end up. As long as Mbeki and others like him silently support Mugabe and his cronies nothing will change. The West should wake up and realize that you are dealing with Africa, where dishonesty and corruption is a game being played by most of the leaders on this dark land.
TJ, Randburg, South Africa
No of course the elections won't be fair. But it doesn't matter to Blair and Bush that the despot is turning Zimbabwe into a Country with no hope. The only way for Zimbabwe to survive is for them to strike oil, then and only then will the decent people of Zimbabwe get the help they need.
John Heavens, UK
These elections will be the fairest in Africa if not in the world. The only problem is that the media and its owners have preconceived ideas of what they want to see and try and tell this to the world. If you are a true, and not money grabbing Zimbabwean you would know. But the problem is that people join politics for money especially where the opposition is concerned. I sing the song of freedom, sovereignty and love Zimbabwe. The elections will be very free and fair even the MDC President is smiling while casting his vote. What more do you want?
Mazoda Kazondo, Abidjan, Cote d' Ivoire
I can't believe this question even needs to be asked.
Lee, Bromley, Kent
Why, 25 years after independence, is there still massive controversy concerning poll rigging and voter intimidation surrounding the elections within an African state when the incumbent government have been in power for 25 years and had plenty of time to bring about a true democratic state, should they have wanted to? For those who know little about the Zimbabwean situation does that not say it all?
Bruce Tapping, London
There is more to an 'election' than counting votes. Mugabe and his regime have suppressed the opposition and violated their basic human rights. A culture that does not genuinely value liberal democracy and its principals can never experience true freedom and fairness.
Michael, California, USA
Fair elections in Zimbabwe? No way. It will be a shameful exercise in autocratic vote rigging. There will be no democracy in Zimbabwe before Mugabe goes.
I am a Malawian born in Zimbabwe but currently studying in Malaysia. The Zimbabwe elections are sickening to say the least. Free and fair elections don't come on voting day but through a process. Therefore, if the process is not fair how can you expect the voting to be free and fair? 30 seats for the ruling party is already an unfair help for the opposition
William Chirwa, Kuala Lumpar
No, of course not. May the Zimbabwean people overthrow their tyrant soon. However, if Mugabe were a pro-western tyrant rather than an anti-western one, the reduction in violence and limited opposition access to the media would have been greeted as signs of "fledgling democracy", as has been the case recently with regard to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Nick Gotts, Aberdeen, Scotland
As an African, I think it is about time Africa stopped making using Western objections to regimes like Mugabe's as an excuse not act. Africa should take responsibility for her own destiny. How many totalitarian regimes have truly free elections?!
I do not think the elections will be fair. Over a quarter of the population of Zimbabwe are in exile and cannot vote. Many of these people have left the country in fear of the ruling Zanu-PF. My vote would have gone to MDC if I was at home.
Sarah Charsley, Portishead, UK
I was one of the first people to vote. It is my democratic right to do so and I don't believe in mourning without taking action. To whoever wins I say congratulations, though I do wish my supported party wins.
Herbert Majoni, Harare, Zimbabwe
What are free and fair elections? Can somebody compare the elections in Iraq and the elections in Zimbabwe?
Duma Gates, Manzini, Swaziland
Zimbabwe's election will not be free and fair because Mugabe is surrounded by uneducated war veterans who are aware that Mugabe's downfall will spell doom and poverty. I can assure you that they will do everything to rig this election.
Patrick Daka, Lusaka, Zambia
Europe and US refuse to understand African realities. Land is too sensitive to be equated to western democracy.
Joseph Kaasa, Mwaduti, Tanzania
Elections will be fair but the West won't accept the outcome.
Haggai Sichalwe, Lusaka, Zambia
Africa has foolish leaders. People are dying in Sudan and yet they say it is a lie. I am an African and a media specialist. I know the objectivity of western media. The question is are all these reports of sickness, rape, tribal wars, corruption, official stealing, gross underdevelopment, poor economy, unemployment, election rigging in Africa false or true? It is time we solved our problems rather than blaming a photographer who reproduces reality as it is.
Adie Paul Ingiona, Ogoja, Nigeria
I wish that all Africans think about development for all rather than just for their family. Mugabe should have worked out long back that it is only we Africans don't think about the past - we need food at the present moment. We forget our past. Poverty should now rule the countries in Africa. We should be able to see which way is better for ourselves.
Malopa, Beira, Mozambique
I have a feeling that the elections won't be free and fair. Zanu-PF is going to use its old tricks such as intimidation, violence and threats in order to win the election and to prevent MDC supporters from voting.
James Mayane, Botswana
Polls in the world have always been free... you don't have to pay to cast a vote. But talking of fair - even churches are not fair in their decision making.
David Lulasa, Nairobi, Kenya
Fair? In Africa there is no time when someone can claim elections are free and fair. There is so much hunger such that people stop thinking for the country but for themselves - who ever can promise them manna they will vote for that person. To a large extent the western world has contributed a lot to the political instability in Africa for having preferred a candidate whom they want to win. If that candidate fails to win then the elections were not free and fair, as long as this stand doesn't change Africa will never have free and fair elections.
Douglas Banda, Kitwe, Zambia
Are you kidding? No way will the people of Zimbabwe get a free and fair election. The people of Zimbabwe, my fellows, have been the great loser in this bizarre political situation. Mugabe plays the strong card of the fighter against the British Empire and the British themselves. Zimbabweans are subjected to vital food being used as political weapons - no Zanu-PF supporter, no food. It is a very outrageous situation for my people and Mugabe so far has the connivance of South Africa and other neighbouring countries.
Patrick Mulenga, Livingstonia, Malawi
I do not support Mugabe's clinging to power but I hate MDC's marriage of convenience with the USA and UK. The West only hate Mugabe because he evicted white farmers from our land otherwise how can their silence over Darfur be explained.
Charles Mitelo, Lusaka
To be perfectly honest I don't think Zimbabweans realize just how precarious our situation is politically, economically and socially. Whilst change is certainly long overdue, the situation as it stands now is explosive to say the least and a sudden change could be calamitous.
Shingi, Harare, Zimbabwe
I don't know if this election will be considered free and fair when MDC wins it. But what I know is that as long as the West is against Zanu-PF it will not be considered free and fair by the West.
Stephen Mator, Liberia/Ghana
Zimbabwean elections will simply not be fair! This is because the government in power is not fair, so it cannot conduct a fair election.
Chigbu Uchendu, Uturu, Nigeria
The fact that Blair and Bush want a change of regime in Zimbabwe does not mean that election cannot be free there. Stop exporting you abuse culture now termed "Democrazy".
Diouf, Dakar, Senegal
When will Africa be free from this shame of sit tight rulers? Someone misruling his people for 25 years! And still contesting in a charade called an election is beyond description. I am not a Zimbabwean but you need no prophet to tell you that Mugabe will win again. He will die in office like his compatriots like Mobutu, Enyadema and may be, Gadafi. It is quite appalling that this is happening in the 21st century. Lack of credible opposition due to lack of political education is the albatross of my people. I am weeping.
Akinbode, Onitsha, Nigeria
Even in the grim of things in Zimbabwe, there is optimism. Change is possible. I am disheartened by people who seem to give up. I have voted this morning, and I feel I have done my part, and exercised my right. Voter apathy will be retrogressive for Zimbabwe.
Freddie Chando, Harare, Zimbabwe
Obviously the elections will not be free and fair as the ruling party Zanu-PF, like any ruling party in Africa, has more access to state resources including among others the print and electronic media. However the president must be congratulated for being more tolerant to the MDC than before. We certainly had a much more peaceful pre-election period and current indications are that the polling will also be peaceful.
MDC has been able to campaign in area which were previously no-go areas including Gokwe where I stay. Their rallies were without incident and interference from Zanu-PF supporters. MDC has also enjoyed a small measure of media coverage unlike in the past. In summary while the playing field is not level and favours the ruling Zanu-PF the current environment is good enough to make MDC win if it has popular support.
It is wishful thinking for any opposition party in southern Africa to have a level playing field in elections. All opposition parties that managed to topple incumbent governments in southern Africa (Zambia and Malawi are good examples) did so in conditions worse than currently prevailing in Zimbabwe. It is time MDC proves its popularity or Zanu-PF will be absolved of rigging elections.
Kanaveti Jongwe, Gokwe, Zimbabwe
Of course the elections won't be free and fair. What a silly discussion.
Zibusiso Ndlovu, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Mugabe's government has not relieved the suffering of the poor in Zimbabwe since he began 25 years ago so it is time for a change. His government is corrupt and oppressive; this is obvious to even the most ignorant observer. No doubt he will win the next election and continue to build his retirement palace where he will retreat while the country burns.
TC, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe is a dictator masquerading as the leader of a democratic government. He stridently attempts to write off all criticism of him and his cronies as western racist/imperialist attempts to discredit what he claims is a true African democracy. He is a liar and a cheat (thousands of registered voters will vote for Zanu-PF in this election, despite the small problem of being dead!) His extreme paranoia, homophobia, and megalomania place his mental stability in serious question. Free and fair? If the answer to this question wasn't so sad it would make me laugh.
Simon Cherumai, Harare, Zimbabwe
A web search will show that recent opinion polls in Zimbabwe all demonstrate that Zanu-PF has far more support than MDC - and also that the European and US media coverage suppresses this fact as strictly as if they operated under centralised censorship. Of course they don't, they all quite freely and independently see that this unmentionable reality has no place in their imperial narrative of support for the MDC and disapproval of Zimbabwe's election. British concern over Zimbabwe's democracy and land reform is especially hypocritical - Britain's contribution to Zimbabwe's land problem and its contribution to Zimbabwean democracy was the Rhodesia racist dictatorship.
Brendan Tuohy, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Aotearoa
No way will the elections be free and fair, dead people are casting votes! Mugabe came to power in 1980 through "one man one vote" and no constituency was needed, why does he not allow this now? Zimbabwe is now a basket case and makes a mockery of Mbeki's plans for Nepad. Without aid from Western countries Africa would grind to a halt. This is just another cycle in the life of Africa.
Mark, Johannesburg, South Africa
I lived in Zimbabwe in the early 1980s and am shocked to see how the once prosperous country has fallen apart under Mugabe. Of course the elections are not fair - they are being conducted under the tyranny of this man. The most incredible issue is the lack of international criticism for the outrageous support South Africa provides to the Mugabe regime.
Andrew Jarmolkiewicz, UK
Will Zimbabwe's elections be fair? Are you blind, with the majority of the population eating only if they vote for ZANU PF?
N Bentley, London, UK
In Africa the elections are only free and fair when the opposition wins. How do you accuse Mugabe of dictatorship while keeping silent about Museveni and Kagame; the darlings of the West? If you want to criticise be consistent.
An African, USA
Robert Mugabe and Britain need each other and are to blame for the situation in Zimbabwe. Like many a demagogue who bravely fought against British colonialism, he knows he can pull out the anti-British card to win supporters in the Third World. The British political establishment for its part plays into his hands by some of their rhetoric - because he knows that many of the British Tories who attack him were supporters of the Smith regime. The losers are the people of Zimbabwe and the democratic process.
John P, UK
How can the election be fair when Mugabe makes laws that prohibit free speech of the press, accuse whites as being racist colonists and take their land forcefully and do even more horrible things to blacks if they don't agree with him. How can you expect these elections to be fair when Mugabe himself says that the opposition will not be tolerated. Sadly enough though, the Zanu-PF party will win because of fear and terror for those who vote against him.
Jon B, MN, USA
Of course it will not be fair, but Zimbabwe has no oil or any other commodity that the West needs, so there will be political uproar but no real action and the people of Zimbabwe will continue to suffer.
I was born in Zimbabwe in 1980 and my uncle and his family still live in the country so we hear of the problems on a continual basis. After reading some of the comments posted on this BBC site, I've come to realise that there are some very naive people in the world. This election will not be free and fair - and by that, I mean it will not be run on true principles of democracy.
Douglas Davies, Johannesburg, South Africa
A hidden electoral role, the intimidation of election supervisors who are randomly labelled MDC supporters, hundreds of thousands of dead people registered to vote whilst almost four million living, breathing Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are denied the right to vote. This election is a complete scam and the result ought to be treated with contempt it deserves.
Tim Eae, Australia
I doubt if any of the elections in Zimbabwe have truly been fair. If it was fair why have observer missions been barred from Zimbabwe, why have the NGOs been kicked out, why has the media been restricted? This is not the climate of a democratic election.
Gail, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Will the election be fair? I don't think the question is even worth asking. It misguidedly gives Mugabe some sort of legitimacy, in that the election could be fair. When it already is a done deal and election day is just a show, to put a smoke-screen on Mugabe's dictatorship. Mugabe has destroyed the nation for the sake of power and money. the so-called independence gains of freedom, food and land are only realised by Mugabe's cronies. For the rest of us, ordinary Zimbabweans, we swapped a white oppressor for a black one. Whatever the colour of the oppressor, oppression is oppression and Mugabe has orchestrated that in Zimbabwe and it's about time Zimbabweans woke up to that.
Thando Siziba, patriotic Zimbabwean, London, UK
Is it not interesting that those who say the elections will not be free and fair are not Zimbabwean residents. Obviously they are missing the horrors of political violence that marred the 2000 and 2002 elections. If MDC has a majority, as they claim, how can they be outnumbered by Zanu-PF if it's a minority. Mugabe is obviously very popular and commands a majority. So can everyone respect the wishes of Zimbabwean voters and the let the country progress. Iraqis recently had a "free and fair" election under blazing guns and bombs. Food for thought.
Vimbai Mhofu, Harare, Zimbabwe
What we should be asking is whether the BBC's coverage of Zimbabwe is free and fair. It seems to me there is an agenda to discredit Zimbabwe and Mugabe based on white farmers losing the land they illegally obtained during colonial control. Let us never lose sight of what Ian Smith did with the support of the white population leading up to 1980 before we so willingly try to destroy the country.
Stephen Collison, Australia
One thing that surprises me is that the western governments and media has exaggerated the Zimbabwe issue even above the Darfur (Sudan) crisis. In Africa the opposition is always in difficulties, media access, use of government resources and outright vote rigging are common in Africa, but the BBC want to make us believe Zimbabwe's situation is unique. Let's face it the real problem is that Mugabe repossessed land which the whites had stolen from blacks. It's surprising that even BBC never mentions that whites stole the land and Britain refused to pay for its return. It's no wonder most African leaders (and followers) support Mugabe secretly - so as not to lose western aid.
Shimwami Mulenga, Lusaka, Zambia
There is no doubt the elections will not be fair. Mugabe, once a bright hope for African politics, has lost his grip on reality in his attempt to keep a grip on power. Intimidation, violence and blackmail will be the means which he will regain power while his people are starving and having to try and eek out a living with inflation at 600%. It's a shame and until there are free and fair elections, conditions in the country will not get any better.
Jason Robinson, Dublin, Ireland
How can anyone consider the elections fair when the very people within the country who do not support Mugabe and his policies are apathetic with even registering or showing up at the polls. Obviously the bravest opposition supporters will end up showing up, and the overwhelming majority will be Zanu die-hards who have as narrow a vision of the future as Mugabe does, and additionally they are the only ones who feel safe in openly revealing their affiliation. This is another farce of an election.
Mike Moyo, Zimbabwean in MN, USA
Why is it always that, the so-called "West" is always waiting to see Africa fail. Will Zimbabwe's elections be fair? Is it always so 'fair' in your countries?
Mugabe is a scar on the face of Zimbabwe. He is opposed to democratic means and will do anything to get his own way. He is not fit to lead a country if he doesn't give a damn about its people. The sooner this man is removed from power the better. Why can't Bush issue a warning like he did with troops in Beirut - oh, maybe there is no financial gains for him here.
Alan, Northern Ireland
Fair elections in an autocratic government? You have to be kidding to ask. The old man has failed the country with his incompetence and corruption, and he is too proud to admit it. Rhodesia used to be bad, but this regime is even worse. It is time for change. Its neighbours and the rest of the world should demand change for the good of Zimbabwe's people.
Ian Yee, Austin, Texas USA
The events in Zimbabwe show how far we in Southern Africa are from stabilising a region still recovering from decades of oppression and its consequential apathy. The fact that the international community (including South Africa) can stand on the fence whilst turning their back on such gross human rights violations and political dysfunction truly displays how much further Africa has to trudge, and how imperative it is for the global community to walk besides her. Having personally seen how far my country has travelled in the past decade, only now to witness such injustice taking place on our border, leaves me vexed.
Gavin Silber, Cape Town, South Africa
Is this a serious question? And where are Blair and Bush bringing freedom from thuggery, intimidation, killing, deliberate starvation. As long as Mugabe doesn't start building WMD with western supplied materials, he's safe.
Michael, London, UK
Mr Mugabe has been running elections (and influencing their outcomes) for a quarter of a century. I see no signs that he has become a reformed character, so the answer must be a resounding no, Zimbabwe's elections will not be fair.
"Free and fair" politics is an empty phrase when one of the major issues in Africa continues to be a growing racism that seeks to pit black against white instead of seeking co-operative progress. They apparently fail to realize that they threaten to seriously harm social, technical and economic progress in Africa.
John Holmes, Canada
It is difficult to answer the question of whether Zimbabwe's election will be 'free and fair' or not. This is because, anything short of victory for the opposition MDC is unacceptable to Britain and its Western Allies. Even if the best satellite in the world showed a massive victory for Zanu-PF, the MDC and the West will say it was rigged.
So at the end of the day, free and fair has a new definition - 'what the West wants', and Africa is paying heavily for this western hypocrisy, because in defiance, most Africans will prefer to vote a bad nationalist ruler than a western puppet. I certainly see Zanu-PF having a landslide victory, for just one reason, lack of a true Zimbabwean opposition party!
Chidi Nwamadi, Toulouse, France
I think President Robert Mugabe is a courageous man for fighting for the common man if only other African statesman did the same. Its about time the indigenous people were given the establishments used during colonial rule, long live President Robert Mugabe !
Kime Dashol, Gaborone, Botswana
Elections can never be considered free if those outside the country are denied the vote. However, despite the massive machinery that Zanu-PF has, including abuse of state resources, TV, radio and the print media the majority of Zimbabwe will surely vote to prevent Zanu-PF gaining the 2/3 majority it needs to temper with the constitution. The reason is simple, Zimbabweans are an educated lot and you cannot continue to lie to them. They know the source of their problems. Zanu-PF leaders still assume that there are addressing the same audience of the 1970s yet this is the 21st century!