Aid agencies in Zimbabwe say they’re “deeply concerned” about the rising tensions and fears following last weekend’s elections. They say the slow release of election results this week and accusations of vote rigging are the main reasons for the heightened tensions.
Karen Beattie, a Zimbabwean, is a disaster management officer for the NGO Tearfund. From London, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service Joe De Capua about the situation in Zimbabwe.
“We had a call from one of our partner organizations, the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, actually on Monday night, saying that they were very concerned about the tension that was mounting with the delay of the announcement of the results. As you can imagine, the Zimbabweans have been watching these results and with a lot of expectation and hope, but I think with a lot of fear as well. The Kenyan situation is fresh in everybody’s mind and so the delays are just increasing that tension. So we’ve been worried about it,” she says.
Beattie is calling upon prominent African organizations to take action. “There is obviously international pressure on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to actually get the results out. I think that’s very important. But I think that another thing that would be good to see would be the re-involvement or the reengagement of the SADC, the Southern African Development Community, observers, as well as the African Union observers, that they ensure that whatever the results are that we hear today and in the coming days, that they reengage in the process to ensure that the rule of law is upheld,” she says.
She says Tearfund has received reports of increased militia and police presence in some areas.
Tearfund has been operating in Zimbabwe for about 20 years. Its work includes teaching conservation farming, helping those with HIV/AIDS and food aid for AIDS orphans. However, the collapsed Zimbabwe economy has taken its toll.
Beattie says, “We’ve seen an incredible decrease in people’s ability to cope from, I would say, in the last couple of years. It’s been exponential. So where people were poor in the past, they’re absolutely not coping at all because of the combination of factors and primarily the economy.”