Sleeping Like a Hare Millions Billions Trillions    
African Tears Beyond Tears Innocent Victims Imire Can you hear the drums, by Cathy Buckle

Time has almost run out
July 20, 2013, 8:12 am


Dear Family and Friends,

We are is in a dizzy spin of contrasts as we hurtle towards elections. In my home town it started with an MDC rally.  ‘We weren’t  forced, to go! We went because we wanted to,’ everyone was saying the day after the election rally. Thousands attended, they wanted to see Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his team in the flesh.  ‘There were so many people and such a huge noise from the cheering, whistling and singing, that we thought the stands in the stadium were going to collapse,’ people said.  Everyone was wearing bright red and everyone seemed to be smiling. The next day you could almost feel the town smiling; things felt better, brighter, hopeful.  The questions everywhere were the same: ‘Did you go? Are you registered to vote?’

A week later the Zanu PF rally came to town and the difference was dramatic. From before eight in the morning the trucks and buses started arriving for the ‘star’ rally. They were coming from the direction of Harare and were packed full of people, strangers to the town.  For the next five hours the trucks kept on coming and coming and they were all crammed full.  In most of the open trucks there seemed to be a couple of cheer leaders standing at the top of the trucks nearest to the cab and their job was to stir people up. You could see these young men  rousing the passengers, leading them into bouts of singing, chanting and sloganeering. When the cheer leaders went quiet so did the people squashed into the open trucks, exposed to the elements.  By lunchtime the entire town was deserted.   Almost all the shops were closed, the usual vegetable vendors and pavement sellers had disappeared. Offering someone a lift they quickly, unusually  said:  ‘no thanks, it’s not safe for blacks to be seen with whites today.’  The word on the street was that if you wanted to stay safe you had two choices: put that Zanu PF cap on and go to the rally or get out sight, lock your door and don’t be seen. 

A little before 5 pm it was all over and thousands of people poured out on the streets. Some were lucky and managed to get a place in the trucks returning to Harare. Most were not, the trucks they came in had already gone. People stood five and six deep along the highway trying to get lifts back to Haraare, a long, cold, dark 80 kilometres away.  The next day strangers were still trying to flag down lifts to  the capital city. That day the feeling in town was one of relief that it was over and sympathy for thousands of strangers who had sat on the ground for hours and hours, without water, food or even able to go to the toilet.

As town by town the rallies come and go and emotions swing wildly from elation and delight to cold, quiet fear, everyone breathes a sigh of relief when the politicians leave town. For a few more days until the elections we can pretend to be normal, pretend that everything’s going to be OK. We’ve given up pretending that it’s going to be a free and fair poll or that the voters roll isn’t cooked. No one’s got any confidence in the polling process after watching the mayhem and chaos of the early voting for security forces and election personnel which left less than 50% being able to cast a ballot. Prime Minister Tsvangirai hit the nail on the head when he said: "If ZEC cannot handle 87,000 [special] voters, how will it handle 6 million voters on July 31?"  It’s a question we all want the answer to, but time has almost run out. Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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