Bulawayo rally report

Democracy in Zimbabwe.
Today (the 20th January 2002) I planned to attend a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo scheduled for this morning with Morgan Tsvangirai as the main speaker. I picked up several members from our district and we proceeded to the venue at 10.00 hrs.

When we were still some 2 kilometers from the venue crowds of people shouted at us not to proceed - they said "it is a no go area" at present. We asked what had happened and they said the Police had thrown a cordon around the stadium and were tear gassing any one trying to reach the stadium. I stopped the vehicle and waited to see what was happening when a Police vehicle carrying about 20 men from the Police Support Unit approached and fired a tear gas shell at the crowd standing on the side of the road.

We fled and returned to the Party offices where there were a number of people gathered - many suffering from the aftermath of tear gas. The Police took the number of my vehicle as we left the scene but did not attempt to stop us leaving the area.

How can we in the MDC be expected to campaign for the election - now only 48 days away, when the main opposition candidate cannot even hold a meeting? At no time did I see any evidence this morning of violence on the part of the MDC supporters. There may have been elsewhere but the crowd I was with were singing slogans and that was all.

Last week a consignment of food scheduled for delivery to Save the Children Fund in the Hwange area, was hijacked by Obert Mpofu (Zanu PF Governor of Matebeleland North) and given to Zanu PF Auxiliaries in the area. The food was paid for by Save the Children Fund (UK) and was destined for children's feeding programs in the area. The food situation is desperate with virtually no stocks of maize meal - the basic staple food of the country, now available.

Eddie Cross
20th January 2002