Through the Looking Glass

If it were not so serious, it would make a fine story for a farce.

Following the March 29th elections (which were heavily rigged to try and give Zanu PF

a victory) they delayed giving the results for a month and then simply

falsified the Presidential ballot. Following the June 27th vote – Zanu PF

was claiming a victory within 24 hours, we expect the results to be released

this afternoon – 48 hours after the poll closed and the Chief Justice is

standing by to swear Robert Mugabe in as the new President!

When the MDC claimed victory on the Tuesday after the March 29th poll, based

on a parallel vote count – they were accused of “treason”. One of the

charges on which Tendai Biti was arrested was just that. Now Zanu and Mugabe

do the same thing – in advance of the ZEC results and its all OK.

On the 29th March Tsvangirai won with 54 per cent of the total poll – still

not confirmed by validating the actual returns, which are held under lock

and key by the State. They struggled for a month to try and wriggle out of

that one eventually, just brushing aside the need for any validation process

and simply announced that a run off was required.

This was followed by two months of intense, nation wide, State managed and

executed violence against the MDC and its supporters. Hundreds of thousands

have fled their homes, tens of thousands have been injured – many with

serious injuries, hands and feet amputated, broken limbs, smashed hands.

Food aid to millions cancelled and what food was left was brought under

strict political control. Indoctrination centers were established in every

district in the country and tens of thousands subjected to arbitrary orders

to attend activities in these centers at which they were threatened with

further violence and injury if they “voted the wrong way”. At public rallies

the regime promised a return to war if Tsvangirai won.

The MDC campaign for the run off was not allowed to even get started –

rallies were banned and when a High Court Judge ordered the police to allow

a rally in Harare, the police stood by as armed thugs from Zanu PF militia’s

attacked those attempting to go to the venue. Live ammunition was used and

there was no attempt to even hide the role of the militias. The police

affected not a single arrest.

The offices of the MDC were raided on several occasions, thousands of MDC

officials were arrested and at the end of the campaign it was estimated that

2000 were still in custody – most without charge. Tsvangirai himself was not

allowed to move freely, was given no space – even for adverts – in the

dominant State controlled media and his personal safety was threatened.

Had Morgan not pulled out of the elections the violence would have

intensified. The 27 000 polling agents that had been trained for the poll

would have put their lives on the line and many would have not even got to

their polling stations. The 2 000 or more volunteers who were standing by to

supervise the poll would not have been allowed to do their job and without

polling agents and independent observers the poll would have been massively

rigged. We already knew that the armed forces had been forced to vote under

supervision and that 130 000 votes had been obtained by these means. We also

knew that hundred of thousands of false ballots were in regional army

barracks awaiting deployment to selected polling stations. Add to that the

issue of multiple voting, secret polling stations, supervised balloting in

rural areas and the whole back ground of violence and intimidation and you

get a clear picture of just what a farce this has been.

At about 16.00 hours on Sunday – less than 48 hours after the poll closed,

ZEC announced that Mugabe had won with 85 per cent of the votes cast,

Tsvangirai only got 15 per cent. What three months can do for an

administration – counting down from 30 days to less than two, 27 per cent

total votes for Mugabe to 85 per cent! As much as anything else, this is a

step too far for Mugabe – it’s just not credible. The same number of ballots

were cast, 2,4 million. At our local polling station Mugabe got 24 votes,

Tsvangirai 38 with 80 spoilt ballots. Overall there were less than a third

of the total votes cast in March. By my simple mathematics – they must have

ballots stuffed at least a million votes to get this result.

Fortunately, because of the courage of a number of journalists who risked

their freedom to come into the country illegally and report on events, as

well as the courage and determination of local activists and diplomats, all

of this was well documented and reported on in the international media. The

regime here simply could not hide the facts behind the charade.

I have been away from home for a month to have a stent inserted to improve

blood circulation. I drove up to Bulawayo this morning and was shocked by

the state of the country. My staff all reported that their families had fled

their rural homes for safety in towns, a dead body was found this morning on

the side of the road just 500 metres from my home – no identity or clothes –

just dumped on the side of the road. When I left the Rand was trading at

Z$35 million to one, yesterday it was trading at Z$1,5 billion to 1. The

toll on Beitbridge was Z$5,4 billion when I went out; it was Z$100 billion

when I came back. The road was deserted and the Town of Gwanda eerily quiet

and also deserted. Only the roadblocks looked the same!

At home no salaries had been paid – what should you pay when a 10-kilogram

bag of maize meal costs Z$70 billion! Stores are empty, people angry and

hungry and virtually everybody is talking about the very real possibility of

flight to another country. I have yet to see my own staff or get into the

office – that will be on Monday. What do I tell them we are going to do? How

do we survive? What hope is there left once the mafias are back in charge in

Harare and the looting and violence carries on?

I do not think South Africa can absorb another 2 million or more Zimbabwean

refugees. I also think that the African Union must be close to deciding that

they have had enough of Mugabe’s antics. The political price of ignoring his

misdemeanors is now so great that I think we can expect some sort of action

to resolve the crisis here next week. How we in the MDC will handle any

negotiations is another matter – but I am sure they are coming.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 29th June 2008

Post published in: Opinions

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