Cathy Buckle's Weekly Letter From Zimbabwe !
Sunday 30th March 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
We finally arrived at the March 29th elections in typical Zimbabwean splendour. It was a glorious day with a clear, bright blue sky, a warm sun and everywhere an overwhelmingly positive feeling. The mood was one of anticipation and relief that at last this momentous day had arrived and it would surely mark the turning point and define the future of Zimbabwe.
Voting started with long queues at a few polling stations in my home area but nothing even remotely similar to the elections of 2002 and 2005 when we had waited for ten or more hours to vote. This time people waited for short periods and by mid day the queues had reduced considerably. The actual voting process was efficient and streamlined and many polling stations were completely deserted by early afternoon - hours before the close of the election.
At 7am on the 30th March, 12 hours after polling stations had closed and counting had been underway, there was still no official information or any election results.
By 11 am, 16 hours into the counting process numerous phone calls had come in from excited, exhausted people telling of major opposition wins but still no official announcements were forthcoming. On the government controlled ZBC television there were no analysts, commentators or even news stories of Zimbabwe's most crucial election. Finally at midday a short announcement was made by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. They said results were being collated and verified and would be announced in "due course."
As I write this letter the polls have been closed and counting has been underway for over 27 hours and still not a single official result from even one constituency has been announced. Tallying results publicly displayed at individual polling stations, the MDC have declared that they have a strong advantage. British Foreign Secretary Lord Malloch Brown has said that it is "quite likely that Mr Mugabe has lost the election" and Pan African Election Observers are expressing growing concern at the lack of official results.
As each hour passes without any official results, anxiety and suspicions are growing. We are in uncharted water. Never before has there been a complete media blackout after an election. We can do nothing but hope and pray that somehow we will emerge from this with a true and honest reflection of the will of the people. Perhaps by the time you read this letter the facts will be known, I hope so.
Until next time,