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Sometimes there are no words, no way to express the despair and disappointment when a longed for hope fails to materialise. That’s how it was for me and I suspect thousands of other Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora over the past few weeks. I can’t speak for them but I have to admit that I had hoped – against all reason – that the recent elections would finally mean the end of Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe. For weeks before I had told myself and anyone else who would listen that Mugabe was never going to give up, he would hang on to the bitter end. Yet, despite knowing that, hope would keep on reviving. I should have known better; dictatorship and hope don’t really go together, Mugabe was never going to give up power.
In stunned disbelief, I read the results as one after the other former MDC seats fell to Zanu PF candidates. It just didn’t seem possible but there it was: another five years of Zanu PF rule stretched ahead. When people here ask me how old Mugabe is and I tell them, they always respond “Well then, cheer up! He can’t live forever!” His mother lived to 102 I remind them gloomily and if longevity is genetic he could be around for another ten years. A friend phoned from Zim telling me there were no smiling happy faces to be seen anywhere after the results were announced, just stunned disbelief on every face. The BBC here had shown the long lines of voters and it was immediately obvious that there were no youngsters, no one under the age of 40 by the look of the crowds of middle-aged voters. That was supported by the statistics: young voters had simply not been registered and so-called ‘aliens’ were turned away when they tried to vote; their names were just not on the Voters Roll; indeed it was calculated that one third of the registered voters were in fact dead. Even people who had been born in Zimbabwe and lived their whole lives there were denied the vote; yet still the African Union declared the elections ‘free, honest and credible’, SADC said the election had been ‘free and peaceful’ but said nothing about its fairness or otherwise. President Zuma of South Africa was one of the first to congratulate Robert Mugabe, saying that the Zim election result represented ‘the will of the people’. It seems that ‘African unity’ automatically implies condoning outright fraud and chicanery; in short anything rather than admit that a fellow African nation is anything less that democratic. It was left to the west, Mugabe’s nemesis, to tell it like it is. Australia, the EU, the UK and the US declared that the election was ‘not a credible expression of the people’s will’ Ever the optimist, the US Ambassador had declared before the election that ‘there was still hope’, to which Mugabe had reportedly responded with the comment, ‘Keep your pink nose out of our affairs’. True or not, the comment certainly illustrates Mugabe’s racist attitudes.
Robert Mugabe won 61% of the votes and Morgan Tsvangirai just 34% and in the House of Assembly that represents a 2/3 majority for Zanu PF which gives them the power to change the constitution. They have 158 seats while MDC have just 49. Is that the ‘will of the people’ or simply the result of the massive rigging that went on? There was another factor that might explain Mugabe’s victory and that was the diamond revenue. The army is now firmly in control of the diamonds and no doubt it was diamond money that helped to fund Mugabe’s campaign. It is no secret that many of his closest supporters have made huge profits from the sale of Chiadzwa diamonds. Mugabe can be sure of their support; they are after all not likely to bite the hand that feeds them.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson.
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