Armed militias have been given free reign throughout the countryside, and now even in the urban areas, to steal, torture, rape and pillage in the name of Zanu (PF). The police, partisan at the best of times, have become the major perpetrators of the barbaric, state-sponsored mayhem.
Despite a High Court order for soldiers to withdraw from the rural areas and return to barracks, they continue to wage war on the defenceless population whose only crime has been to exercise their democratic right to vote for whomever they choose – they chose Morgan Tsvangirai. And they are being punished.
The police have set up roadblocks countrywide, ostensibly to stop guns being moved around the country. But Zanu (PF) is the only party with guns and they are moving them at will wherever they please. The real purpose of the roadblocks is to disrupt all movement of the MDC election campaign machinery.
It is clear that everything being done by the junta is focussed on one end – getting Mugabe a victory at the run-off scheduled for June 27. MDC activists are being kidnapped in large numbers, tortured and in some cases killed. The operation is known as Project Decapitation.
A prominent political analyst said Mugabe and the junta had abandoned all pretence of campaigning for the election run-off.
“They have no ideas, no solutions for Zimbabwe’s problems. They simply want to remain in power and they are terrorising the people and stealing their vote right now, before the election, by taking away their IDs,” he said. “What is happening in Zimbabwe today is not an election campaign, it state-sponsored terrorism.”
Morgan Tsvangirai’s campaign activities have been thwarted at every turn. He and his officials have been arrested on a number of occasions and held at remote police stations for hours to prevent rallies taking place. Zanu thugs have invaded rally venues, as police stand by and do nothing to stop them. MDC activists were prevented from putting up campaign posters in Bulawayo by police who told them “This is Mugabe’s country”. High Court orders demanding that rallies be allowed to go ahead without interference have been ignored.
The junta’s cynical disregard for the law is paramount. It has even sunk as low as to steal Tsvangirai’s bullet-proof BMW. The car, provided because the police said they were unable to protect Tsvangirai when he returned to Zimbabwe last month, was taken from him by the police on the pretext that it was registered in South African and the driver had no letter from the owner authorising him to drive it. It was supposedly in police custody, but MDC officials issued a statement this week saying it was seen being used by Zanu militias to campaign for Mugabe.
The Zanu strategy in the rural areas is nothing short of diabolical. They round up the people in an area where Zanu (PF) lost the March elections, particularly in areas formerly believed to be Zanu strongholds, such as Mashonaland. Then the thugs drag one person, usually an elderly woman, to the front and start beating her. The villagers are encouraged to “confess” voting for MDC. The beating does not stop until they do. Once they have “confessed”, their IDs are taken destroyed – making it impossible for them to vote on June 27.
Reports have been received of people being “baptised” in the name of Zanu (PF) after such confession sessions.
In many cases starving people have been told they can get food in return for surrender of their IDs. Many thousands have been displaced by the violence and burning of their properties, and have effectively been robbed of their vote because they cannot return to the constituencies where they are registered.
Remarkably, in the face of such brutality, the spirit of the majority of Zimbabweans remains indomitable. Reports pour in constantly of the people’s determination to “pull the silent trigger” on June 27 that will finish Mugabe off once and for all.
“People are saying that they have been stunned by the demonstration of Zanu (PF)’s viciousness and brutality in the past two months and there is no way they will vote for continued rule by such a party,” say analysts. “They are battered, bloodied and down – but not out. Never before have such levels of cruelty been seen – on such a scale – in Zimbabwe. People are determined to end it.”
Mugabe was dealt a fatal blow on March 29 and the people know it. He is at his weakest now – having lost the popular support he enjoyed for three decades. He now rules only by terror and people are determined to deliver the decisive knock-out blow – as long as they can hang on to their precious IDs until June 27.
In the midst of the mayhem, there is no sign of the international observers tasked with monitoring the pre-election period. However, given their craven pro-Mugabe stance at the last election, many believe their presence or absence is irrelevant.
International human rights bodies said this week that any chance of holding a free and fair election in Zimbabwe had evaporated. In a report entitled “Bullets for each of you”, Human Rights Watch says soldiers threatened to come back and shoot villagers after the elections if they dared vote for Tsvangirai.
Political analysts say its behaviour during recent weeks demonstrates that Zanu (PF) never made the transition from guerrilla army to government. “They just don’t know how to govern. Mugabe and Zanu (PF) obviously never made the psychological adjustment from waging war to governing in peace.”
BY STAFF REPORTERS
Since Zanu (PF) lost the March 29 elections to Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) some 10 weeks ago, Robert Mugabe and his military junta have reduced Zimbabwe to a state of anarchy - where terror reigns.