Riot police deployed to MDC offices

About two dozen police officers in two anti-riot trucks are stationed outside the MDC's Harare offices.

FILE: Zimbabwe Prime Minister and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pictured on March 15, 2013 talking to church leaders about upcoming elections. Picture: AFP/JEKESAI NJIKIZANA

HARARE - Zimbabwean riot police have been deployed to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Harare offices.

About two dozen police officers in two anti-riot trucks were stationed outside the building on Thursday afternoon.

The news comes amid claims from current President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF that the 89-year-old has won the election with a landslide, despite results not being due out until 5 August.

Releasing unofficial results early in Zimbabwe is illegal and police have said they will arrest anybody who makes premature claims.

But a senior source in Mugabe's party, who asked not to be named, said the result was already clear.

"We've taken this election. We've buried the MDC. We never had any doubt that we were going to win," the source told Reuters by phone.

Tsvangirai struck back at a press conference, calling the poll a fraud.

He labelled the election in Zimbabwe "a major farce" that has once again short-changed the people of his nation.

He says the MDC has picked up countless problems in the election process, listing examples such as "the abuse of facilities of voter registration slips," "militarisation of the electoral process" and a "lack of transparency in the printing of over 35 percent of ballots."

He says the people of Zimbabwe will be the ones who suffer most.

"They will have to bear the economic, political and social consequences undertaken by Mugabe and the Zanu-PF."

The riot police arrived at the offices shortly after Tsvangirai's comments.

INCORRECT BALLOTS FOUND

Meanwhile, a group of SADC observers has confirmed that incorrect papers were discovered in ballot boxes.

The statement from the SADC's Election Support Network (ESN) is the first indication from observers at the elections of having seen fraud.

However, journalists at the press conference were preoccupied with the earlier assertions that voting took place peacefully.

SADC ESN head Steven Duwa wouldn't be drawn to comment on findings of local observers that the process is compromised because of the disenfranchisement of rural voters.

He said their report is based on the observations of their own people in the field.

It will be fed into SADC and African Union structures to ensure improvements in future Zimbabwe elections.

The MDC will reportedly hold an emergency meeting later on Thursday.