Zimbabwe votes in despair

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So, how'd the voting go in Zimbabwe today? John Simpson, the BBC World Affairs editor, reporting from Harare, said the atmosphere of fear and intimidation was the worst thing "he has seen in 40 years of reporting."

Many voters reportedly believed they would be subject to violence and harassment if their fingers were not dipped in red ink, a sign that they had voted. Although this might mean that they cast a protest ballot for Mr. Tsvangirai, don't bet on it -- election officials and Mugabe goons are requring voters to write down the serial numbers of their ballots, so they will have a record of everyone who voted for the opposition.

How will Africa respond? More statements, condemnations and demands, with no action.

Nigeria's This Day newspaper said that Mugabe has "lost any iota of credibility." Mozambique's government has called for "renewed dialogue." From Kampala, Uganda's government has urged "a stop to violence," which is ironic coming from Uganda. Kenya recommends that the election be postponed (also ironic, given what happened there in December and January). Botswana threatens to take action, although what kind remains unclear (now we're getting somewhere!). And South Africa, the country that the entire world has been begging to put an end to this? Thabo Mbeki is expected to reject the results of today's election, catching him up with the rest of the world, who knew a month ago that this contest is rigged.

Nobody will do anything, or so it seems. At least one person was enjoying the vote today, however:

Mugabe and his family voted in the Harare suburb of Highfields, beaming to reporters after casting his ballot.

"I feel very fit and very optimistic," he said.


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