Zimbabwe's economy is in ruins, with the world's worst rate of hyper-inflation, but relief still seems far off with a web of legal manoeuvres preventing the population finding out whether the 28-year rule of President Robert Mugabe is over.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) told state media it would hold recounts of 23 constituencies in both the parliamentary and presidential poll next Saturday despite opposition court bids to stop it.
A High Court judge was due on Monday to issue his ruling on an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) application to force ZEC to release the result of the March 29 presidential vote, in which it says its leader Morgan Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe.
The ruling ZANU-PF party says neither man won the necessary absolute majority and a run-off will be necessary.
Even if the court rules in favour of the MDC, the ZEC has several options including lodging its own High Court case or appealing to the Supreme Court.
The delays have stoked tension in the southern African nation.
The MDC and international human rights organisations say Mugabe has unleashed militias in a campaign of violence around the country to intimidate opposition supporters ahead of a runoff.
The MDC says hundreds of villagers have been forced out of their homes by militia attacks and at least 50 needed medical treatment.
ZEC's recounts could overturn the MDC's victory in another vote on March 29 in which ZANU-PF lost control of parliament for the first time.
MDC lawyer Selby Hwacha accused the ZEC of calling the recount to help ZANU-PF rig the poll and said the opposition would make a legal challenge on Tuesday -- possibly prolonging the deadlock.
A top electoral official told state media the ZEC would press ahead with a partial recount despite the legal challenge.
"It is within our mandate as the electoral authority to do the recounts and they will proceed," the Herald newspaper quoted the ZEC's chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana as saying.
The government tried on Sunday to ease concerns the military might intervene to try to keep Mugabe in power.
"The soldiers are in the barracks where they belong because the country does not fully require their services in such a peaceful environment," the Sunday Mail quoted Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu as saying.
"I believe everyone in the country is aware that there is no military junta."
Zimbabwe's generals occupy no official posts in its ruling party, but the heads of the army and security forces are thought to have been key strategists in Mugabe's plan to fight back after the elections handed him his biggest defeat since taking power at independence from Britain in 1980.
In what the opposition says is a propaganda campaign, state media on Monday published a document alleged to have been written by MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti containing the party's plans to bribe polling officials to inflate MDC votes.
"This is a dirty campaign, a sign of desperation, publishing false documents which they have authored themselves," said MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa.
The MDC has called for an indefinite general strike on Tuesday to push for poll results to be released.
Tsvangirai, who says he is a target of security forces, has said widespread violence could erupt unless African states intervene.
A regional summit in Lusaka at the weekend called for the rapid release of results and urged Mugabe to ensure any run-off would be held "in a secure environment".
Mugabe did not attend.