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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 09:09 GMT
Press fears for Zimbabwe's future
Zimbabwe election officials verify army postal votes
Zimbabwe holds its breath waiting for poll results
As the votes are counted in Zimbabwe's presidential election, the region's newspapers voice apprehension over the country's future, while the pro-government press remains staunchly confident of victory.


If the MDC response is violent, there may be brutal suppression by the police and other security forces which can plunge the country into chaos

The Star

An opinion piece in South Africa's The Star views the coming days with a sense of trepidation.

"Zimbabwe, South Africa, and indeed the whole of the African continent, are on tenterhooks," Mathata Tsedu writes.

He says it is the upcoming period after the votes are counted "that makes many fearful, for it forces all to ask what the way forward is for this country".

Whether incumbent President Robert Mugabe or opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai are declared the winner, he says, either way this could spark trouble.


The same old tired tirade about vote rigging, manipulation and intimidation has been the war-cry for a vanquished MDC

The Herald

He expresses the hope that, in the face of a Mugabe victory, the opposition MDC will turn to the courts to mount any challenge to the outcome of the vote.

And he warns that, if the opposition instead resorts to violence, Zimbabwe could see a police crackdown which, he says, could "plunge the country into chaos".

A win by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, on the other hand, could prove unacceptable to the army and may see Zimbabwe plunged into civil war, he says.

Danger signs

"Storm clouds loom," a commentary in South Africa's Business Day warns. "Danger signs are flashing in Zimbabwe," it says, citing the arrest of members of the opposition and restricted access to voting.


There is a real danger that Mugabe's actions could ignite fresh and bloody interparty violence

Business Day

The writer criticises Mr Mugabe's actions, saying his "strategy was to disenfranchise thousands of opposition voters and thereby boost his chances of being re-elected".

"There is a real danger that these actions could ignite fresh and bloody interparty violence," he says.

"The question has got to be asked," he continues: "How will MDC supporters view the arrest of their leaders just before the outcome of the poll and how will they react to being denied their democratic right to choose the country's leader?"

Warning that the situation may descend into violence, he urges MDC supporters not to take matters into their own hands.

Winners and losers

The website of the pro-government paper, The Herald, confident of a Mugabe victory, continues to dismiss opposition complaints.

"The same old tired tirade about vote rigging, manipulation and intimidation has been the war-cry for a vanquished MDC," an editorial says.

"The MDC publicity department's wishful thinking has gone into overdrive claiming that rural votes have been transposed and the imaginary urban vote is now superseding the rural vote."

"The consternation and agitation being experienced by MDC and its white masters is a result of their misguided notion that if there are 500,000 voters in Harare, that automatically translates into an overall victory," it adds.

And a separate commentary in The Herald warns that the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai are doomed to defeat.

"They are in for a major disappointment as their nefarious activities infuriated the majority of voters. Their puppet will not win."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Zimbabwe
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