Looking forward to a future without Mugabe

Two things became crystal clear in the past one week.

First, it is obvious that the general election unilaterally set down by President Robert Mugabe March 29 will not be free or fair. It is being rigged.

And second, most importantly for the immediate future, people from all walks of life opposed to Mugabe and Zanu (PF) are in danger from state-sponsored violence.

Voters in many parts of the country have already been cowed by this blatant terrorism. The intense and sudden bouts of violence have served as a warning to others,

Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba has the audacity to tell us MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was not arrested last week but “invited” by police. At 4:00 am?

I witnessed some of the 26 pro-democracy activists being carted into ambulances at the Harare Central Police Station on Friday, most of them with soft-tissue bruising all over their bodies and broken bones. I was immediately gripped by a surreal mix of fear and anger. Nguva iya yekuti tichirohwa yazosvika manje, I thought to myself.

There is widespread acknowledgement that this violence has been planned and is being controlled by Mugabe personally, with obvious help from central bank chief Gideon Gono who is bankrolling State terror.

The governor needs to explain to the nation why farming implements under his RBZ farm mechanization program are being distributed on a partisan basis in the rural areas. Or why the RBZ “donated” more than 200 vehicles – bought with taxpayers’ money under the Sunrise 2 project  – to Zanu (PF).

Could this be reason why Zanu (PF) and Mugabe forestalled his scheduled appearance before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance and Budget to answer charges of corruption?

To deflect attention from Gono and Mugabe for their appalling handling of the cash crisis, police arrested British businessman Nicholas van Hoogstraten on allegations of being a “cash baron”.

Van Hoogstraten did not commit any offence but made an internationally-accepted business decision to hedge himself against inflation by charging rentals in forex. Gono knows this. Zanu (PF) is desperate for credibility.

Mugabe is hated, but Zimbabweans worry that the biggest block to a mass anti-Mugabe vote is fear that after the election he will unleash violence on his own people, as he did in 1985.

SADC cannot help us. I salute President Mbeki for trying. Mugabe is immune to influence and diplomacy.

But Zimbabwe is not all gloom. The country is a success story waiting to happen. One woman who called me from Uzumba Maramba Pfungwa on Saturday said Zimbabweans, both in the rural areas and in towns, now share a common view of the future, a future without Mugabe. – For views and comments, e-mail: [email protected]

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