Violence mars Zimbabwe recount

(aljazeera) - Continuing violence has been reported in Zimbabwe even as the ruling Zanu-PF party emerged the winner in the first result of a contentious recount of votes in a disputed election.

The Goromonzi West constituency result - one of 23 areas being reassessed by the electoral commission - was announced in the ruling party's favour on Wednesday.

The recount is taking place amid allegations of government-sponsored violence against opposition supporters.

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa reporting from Zimbabwe said dozens of homes have been burned down and farm workers attacked northwest of the capital Harare in continuing violence.

Controversial recount

Twenty-one of the constituencies being recounted after complaints of irregularities by Zanu-PF have been won by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Goromozi West was one of only two districts to hold a recount in a seat won by president Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

The MDC was initially declared to have taken 109 seats against 97 for Zanu-PF in the 210-seat parliamentary chamber, but Mugabe's party will regain its majority if it can reverse the results in seven or more of the seats under review.

The recount also covers votes cast in a simultaneous presidential election in which Mugabe is seeking a sixth term in office.

Al Jazeera's Mutasa said people in the country are becoming increasingly frustrated with the political wrangling over the elections.

"Many people have given up, they suspect Zanu-PF are going to end up winning," she said.

"We are [also] hearing a report that out in the rural areas, people are being intimidated ... the government has denied this, saying that those arrested are MDC supporters. There is a lot of confusion."

Post-election violence

Jacob Zuma, leader of South Africa's ruling political party and likely the country's next president, has called any violence "unacceptable".

The opposition claims at least 10 people have been killed and hundreds injured - mostly during what they say has been a campaign of intimidation by supporters of Mugabe.

In Centenary, 100km northwest of Harare, at least 28 homes have been burned down, while many people report being attacked.

Justin Chauke, a farm worker, told Al Jazeera: "They beat me, tore my clothes and said to me I was selling out the nation, and that I am MDC. They kept beating me, and I started bleeding from my ears and nose."

Church leaders on Tuesday also issued a statement claiming several people have been injured and killed in post-election violence.

Government officials deny opposition supporters are being targeted and say the MDC is lying.

Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of justice, said: "We refute completely that people are dying of politically motivated violence. And please next time they say that, ask them who are these people, where are their names."

The minister said claims by Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, of a genocide happening in the country are wrong.

Chinamasa told Al Jazeera: "With respect to genocide, please save us from the MDC-Tsvangirai lies. What are they intended to achieve? They are intended to achieve on an international intervention in the domestic affairs of Zimbabwe."

Unity call

Zimbabwe's state-run newspaper has urged regional countries to help Mugabe form a transitional government that can organise a fresh poll and write a new constitution.

The Herald, traditionally close to Zanu-PF, said in an editorial posted on its website on Wednesday that prevailing political tensions made it impossible to hold a free and fair presidential run-off.

"The current socio-economic environment in Zimbabwe is not conducive, and the country's political dynamics so distorted, that holding a free and fair election run-off in the immediate term is literally impossible," it said.

Back to China

Meanwhile, a Chinese vessel loaded with weapons reportedly turned back to port after it was prevented from unloading cargo that was to be transported to Zimbabwe across several southern African nations.

Jiang Yu, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the shipment was part of "normal military product trade" between the two countries.

"As far as I know, the carrier is now considering carrying back the cargo," she said on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe's neighbours, powerful unions and church leaders united to bar the Chinese freighter An Yue Jiang from docking or offloading its cargo since last week, saying it could deepen the country's post-election crisis.
Zanu-PF officials defended the arms shipment, saying the government did not need "clearance from anyone".

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