One gets the sense that the pattern of the election results announcements in Harare is designed to beguile everyone into a state of passive apprehension. They seem to be deliberately going out of their way to deny either side boasting rights by announcing victories in equal measure for both parties. But they can play this game only for as long as the results allow.
The possible reasons behind this approach are varied. They could be doing this purely to maintain law and order and avoid wild, disorderly celebrations, or confrontation brewed by premature celebrations. The idea also seems to be that keeping expectations modest by presenting cliffhanger results dampens the boisterous confidence of those who believe victory is overwhelmingly theirs. Either side is made open to the prospect of victory or defeat.
In the event that the opposition has, indeed, won, staggering the results in this manner somewhat tranquilises the ruling party against cataclysmic shock and adulterates, to a large extent, the drama attendant to the sudden announcement of sharply contrasting fortunes. In the same context, it may also be meant to give those who are fleeing a chance to pack and do so! I presume, with full confidence, that I am not alone in finding the latter scenario gleefully attractive!
ON SADC's OBSERVER MISSION
The SADC boys decided a long time ago that with respect to Mugabe's Zimbabwe they will hear, see and speak no evil! These boys are clearly playing as bosom buddies in the national liberation movement. According to their creed, where a national liberation movement has fought its way to power, it stays there forever as the exclusive embodiment of the people's will. The national liberation movement itself becomes the people so it can not really be wrong at all!
With its victory over the forces of colonialism, history ends and there's no need for new struggles or new actors championing any new aspirations. Anything to that effect is an aberration, a regrouping of the erstwhile defeated forces of colonialism and imperialism and the national liberation movement will have no choice but to once again rise in its revolutionary glory to crush the resurgent head of imperialism.
And in southern Africa, this resurgent head of imperialism is seen as resurrecting itself through the labour unions. Kaunda and UNIP in Zambia were felled by it. But as these boys see it, Kaunda didn't really wield a gun to achieve power anyway, which is why 'imperialism' got to him easily. But not so with revolutionary Frelimo in Mozambique, MPLA in Angola (where real elections are yet to be held), SWAPO in Namibia, or the ANC in South Africa.
These boys see the souther-most end of the subregion as the cradle of the African nationalist revolution and here no imperialism will ever be allowed to resurrect! It is a tall order, therefore, to expect the SADC boys to change their game. For them, to do so would be antithetical to their very identity, their reason for exisiting. So the army generals in Zimbabwe can threaten a military coup on the eve of elections and SADC does not bat an eye-lid. If ever they do, they give a knowing wink with the other!