Are we brave enough to vote No’?

BY CHIEF REPORTER
HARARE
With the diaspora unable to vote, next month's crucial poll in troubled Zimbabwe will be decided largely by the country's rural population, who make up 75 percent of the total 11,9 million population.

These are the people who have borne the brunt of a violent intimidation campaign by the ruling party.

“The outcome of the vote will be determined in rural areas,” said Ronald Shumba, a Harare-based political analyst.

Green bombers and party activists have terrorised the countryside to prevent farm workers and peasants living on community settlements from voting.

The farm workers must now take loyalty tests to Zanu (PF) in exchange for a guarantee they will be allowed to continue ploughing, sowing and harvesting.

Prof Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the MDC (Mutambara) said the main question was not whether the elections would be free and fair, but “whether the estimated 5,6 million registered voters will be brave enough to turn out in large numbers and say No’ to intimidation.”

Respected lawyer, David Coltart, said the government was trying to use old intimidation techniques, but “they simply do not have the same resources as before.”

“They used to have a guerrilla army of 50,000 people country-wide. We think that there are probably no more than 300 to 400 of these people – the rest are untrained youths,” he said.

Presidential candidate Simba Makoni has claimed the huge turnout last week at the registration centres was actuated by his entry into the presidential race.

“Judging by the response we have had since our announcement, we are heading for a landslide win,” Makoni said. “We have reports that voter registration was up 10-fold since the Tuesday we launched our bid. The enthusiasm is palpable.”

Makoni claimed he also had the rural vote and refused to categorise Zimbabweans saying “all of them are Zimbabweans, and all of them yearn for the same thing, which is an immediate renewal of our country.”

But the MDC also claims it is in the lead and has clinched the significant portion of the rural vote.

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