FEARS that President Robert Mugabe’s allies would rig Zimbabwe’s election on Wednesday have prompted a citizen army of blogging and tweeting poll monitors.
Pressure groups and a fictitious "mole" blogging from "inside" Mr Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) have promised to report and collate all accounts of abuses and voting irregularities across the country.
Already a popular Facebook blogger, Baba Jukwa (Mr Jukwa), is promising to release election results before the official announcement.
The anonymous blogger has a cult following for exposing Mugabe government secrets — at times giving out the cellphone numbers of prominent figures and asking ordinary people to call them to tell them they "know what is going on".
The law states election results must only be announced by the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
While voting ended on Wednesday, the ZEC said it needed five days to collate the results. This means official results will only be announced on Monday, despite polling stations publishing their final tally at voting stations soon after counting.
Mr Mugabe has gone as far as to threaten his rival Morgan Tsvangirai with arrest if he declares the results before the ZEC. But with rumours rife that the military will get a sneak peak at the results before they are released, Baba Jukwa’s tally could be explosive.
Already Baba Jukwa has attracted more than 300,000 Facebook followers since he started exposing what he calls the "evil deeds" of Mr Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) and their purported plans to rig polls.
"Zimbabwe, I would like to announce to you that I will be official, giving you results and outcome of the election," Baba Jukwa posted on his page on Monday.
"I will as well announce the winner without fear or favour despite the unfair and not free environment," he wrote.
Meanwhile, nongovernmental organisations such as Sokwanele and the Election Resource Centre (ERC) planned to update people on what was happening on voting day through their websites, twitter and Facebook.
"We are engaging the people through social media so that we tap what will be happening from the good, bad and ugly things on this election," said ERC director Tawanda Chimhini. "We will use social media from Facebook, WhatsApp and e-mail to expand the power of the people.
"This is our small way of engaging the people to expand the power of the vote and that people will not merely be voting only but they also interrogate what will be happening."
He said information that would be shared included results that would be posted outside polling stations. "It is legal, nothing stops us from doing that."
The ERC has deployed 210 mobile observers in all of the country’s constituencies to monitor the elections.
Although only a fraction of Zimbabwe’s population have access to internet or data services, the opposition has accused the Mugabe government of trying to prevent the spread of information. "They have started interfering with mobile internet so that there will be no movement of information," said Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Douglas Mwonzora.
"They have also started interfering with Whatsapp as well as bulk SMS. This is meant to slow down information during and after the voting process.
"It is certainly the state security agency, the CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation). We know these are people who want to rig the elections."