Faced with the demand for elections in March 2008 and for them to be on a
basis acceptable to the regional community and others, the regime, moving
with its usual swift and ruthless determination when it comes to survival
strategies, decided on a campaign which basically sought to smash the MDC as
an organised political party; reduce its capacity to campaign; intensify
controls over the basic necessities of life and to prevaricate when it came
to the talks; drag them out for as long as possible and during that time
further reduce the urban population by encouraging human flight.
The effect of these draconian strategies on the general population did not
factor. In addition they were confident that they could manipulate the whole
process and keep intact their system for vote rigging. They are past masters
at the latter and some African States have looked at what goes on here with
In fact the South Africans have pursued their goal in these talks with
determination but even they must by now be totally frustrated by the tactics
the Zanu PF team is using. While they talked, they beat the MDC to death.
Thousands imprisoned, beaten and tortured. The cities starved of food and
water. The rate of inflation accelerated by simply printing money, has
destroyed incomes and savings and driven hundreds of thousands into penury.
In response perhaps a million people have fled the country for greener
pastures in the past year.
In a recent survey of wards in Harare the MDC found that half those
registered to vote were simply no longer at the addresses listed. Many were
dead and many had fled. The situation was particularly serious in the areas
affected by Murambatsvina.
Then there is the situation in respect to the management of the elections.
Previously an election administration was built up under the Registrar
General together with security and military elements and they ran elections.
They manipulated the voter’s roll; the right to vote was compromised, false
balloting and multiple voting by loyalists was openly undertaken as was
voting under political supervision.
What did Zanu PF do in the talks? They agreed to changes – a new IEC and the
IEC to take over the whole administration of the electoral system. They
agreed to new regulations for the process, a new definition of citizenship.
Then they simply tried to transfer the whole of their rigging operation
across to the IEC – staff and all. The voter’s roll remains distorted by
past changes and manipulation and no effort is being made to update the roll
for the elections. The final straw came when they actually tried to do the
delimitation of the new constituencies without our knowledge or
participation and approval and using the present voters roll.
This sort of action makes a complete mockery of the whole negotiations
process. Its business as usual for Zanu PF and they think that they can get
away with this behavior.
The reality is that we can do little about the destruction of the economy
while this collection of criminals is in charge. We can do little about the
flight of hundreds of thousands of our supporters to South Africa and
elsewhere. But we can do something about the subversion of the talks because
the SADC has committed itself to a free and fair election.
So what we have done is said very clearly to the facilitators and to anyone
else who is listening that we will not accept a vote conducted purely on the
basis of the present voters roll. We will not accept the present composition
of the IEC or its staff appointments. We will not accept delimitation under
these circumstances – we now want all of these measures set aside and only
when the full agreement is in place and signed, will we then consent to
starting to put the required administration in place. Zanu PF has to get
used to a situation where they are no longer totally in control. They have
to take our views into account or else there is simply no deal.
We hear talk on the local grapevine that the Police have received
instructions to ease up on both POSA and AIPPA – we wait and see. We will
not accept that real changes are taking place until we can see political
activity actually being allowed to take place freely and without restraint
or retribution. That is certainly not the case at present.
What we are doing on the ground is to start our campaign at grass roots –
telling people to be ready if we eventually do get the kind of conditions we
think are necessary for a free and fair election – if not campaign. What is
crucial is to get the message across that people can vote in secret, that
this time the result will not be manipulated by false ballots and
miscounting and reporting and that real change is possible.
How many people will be left to vote on the day – whenever that will be, is
anyone’s guess. My own view is less than 3 million potential voters and a 60
per cent turnout – 1,8 million actual voting on the day. That is a far cry
from the 6 million names that are on the present voters roll. I would expect
the Diaspora to be able to vote – but the difficulties will severely
restrict the numbers and we cannot expect this element to be more than
There is still near total disbelief here that Zanu PF will accept sufficient
change to make a free and fair election possible. The jury is still out on
this but we have been encouraged by the determination of the South Africans
to do what is necessary to deliver such an outcome. For both countries,
South Africa and Zimbabwe, this is a crucial turning point and opportunity.
Failure is just not an option.
Bulawayo 30th November 2007Post published in: News