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I have been out of action for a few days with some nasty virus but coming back to the Zim Situation, I see that the forthcoming election dominates the news. As Mugabe and Tsvangirai criss-cross the country addressing rallies with reportedly huge audiences, the people themselves have in all probability already made up their minds which way to vote. A large number, calculated to be some two million have failed to register but whether the reason for that is plain indifference or the utterly chaotic state of the voters roll is not clear. Whatever the reason, one thing is very clear: Mugabe and Zanu PF have absolutely no intention of surrendering power. As yet there has been no repeat of the horrific violence of the 2008 election but here is still a great deal of very suspect behaviour from the party that has ruled the country for the whole of its independent life. It seems, however, that they can no longer take the people’s support for granted. It was once assumed that the rural areas were solidly Zanu PF supporters but there are reports of an increase in rural people’s political awareness and their support for Zanu PF can no longer be assured. MDC rallies in these remote rural areas appear to have been very well attended but both sides say they are confident of victory. Mugabe, of course, has played the race card again, saying that his opponents want to “bring back the whites”. He was all decked out in ‘mapostori’ gear at the time addressing a huge gathering of the brethren in Marange. I have never been quite sure of exactly what the mapostori stand for but I do know they are anti-white and anti-gay so Mugabe was on safe ground there. He promised church leaders that he would build them a school if they voted for him and his Vice President, Joice Mujuru went one step further promising church leaders houses and farms if they voted for Zanu PF. The President’s wife, Grace, assured the opposition that “there was no vacancy at State House” but then” Zimbabweans have heard it all before.
It was the so-called ‘special voting’ that caused all the doubt and suspicion in the international community. The ‘special voting’ period was intended to apply to police officers and civil servants who would be on duty on polling day but then we came to the crux of the matter. How many cops are there in Zimbabwe? The Police Commissioner had applied for 70.000 ballot papers but according to figures issued by the Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, there are in fact just 44.000 police officers in the country. Whether it was with cops or civilians, suspicion was widespread that rigging of one kind or another was taking place. An eye witness who happened to be driving along the Harare-Marondera highway on voting day reported huge numbers of trucks carrying people being bussed out to polling stations in time for ‘special voting’ - that was when Baba Jukwa, had predicted that the real rigging would take place. No wonder Mugabe has offered a $300.000 reward for his capture! The MDC have challenged the ‘special vote’ in the High Court but it was the chaos observed by the SADC team that really caught the world’s attention. There were inadequately trained officials, insufficient ballot papers arriving late and massive irregularities to mar the validity of the whole process; even the Deputy Chair of ZEC, Joyce Kazembe, had to admit that ‘special voting had not gone according to plan’. Despite SADC’s warning that “The world is watching you” Zimbabwe has failed to demonstrate that it can conduct free and fair elections on July 31st; . Mugabe can blast off all he likes against his critics but his ‘hate speech’ only shows the world his real character.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson.
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