When I left school I went farming and one of my first jobs on a farm
erect a fence line. Difficult to describe to a person who does not know
Africa, these fence lines stretched across the country for miles and
Building a fence in such conditions requires quite a team - first we
cut the bush in a wide swathe down the middle of which the fence would
built. Then we had to put in the corner posts and the straining posts.
was followed by driving in the standards at set intervals and then
stretching the wire. This was done with a tractor - a dangerous game if
wire snapped, it would fly towards the straining crew with astonishing
Then once the wire was up, the droppers went in. This required strong
and tough fingers. Each dropper was attached to the wire by short
soft wire, which was wound around the dropper, and then the wire.
The end result; a straight line of steel, wood and wire, which was able
control the movement of game and cattle. An essential part of veldt
management in the semi arid savannah regions of Africa.
This week I saw something that stirred up the spirit of hope in me - a
of fencing where someone had replaced the droppers that had been burnt
fire or eaten by white ants. These droppers were neat and straight and
the same length - a clear sign that they were the work of a
farmer and not a squatter. It was a declaration of ownership, pride and
management. Things that are in short supply here right now.
In a true democracy it is the administration of the process of
recording the votes of the average citizen that matters. Right now in
Zimbabwe everything that can be done to ensure that the next election
managed to reflect the wishes of the electorate, is being done.
I know that the general sentiments of the people are very negative
Zanu PF and it has puzzled me that Zanu is so confident that they will
this contest. It also puzzled me that their hold over rural voters
immutable. Then at the weekend we had dinner with a couple that had
through the 2000 election in a rural Mashonaland constituency. They
of their experience.
They had helped with the poll and were in the room where the final
being conducted. The pile of votes for the MDC rose steadily and at the
of the initial phase of verification, the MDC pile was much larger than
Zanu PF pile. Then there was a power cut and the Police cleared the
When they came back, the Zanu candidate had won by a scant 34 votes.
just ordinary citizens - law abiding for most of the time, they were
astonished and wondered how it had happened. Only much later - after
2002 Presidential elections, did they realize they had probably
one of the early efforts by Zanu to fiddle the count. MDC challenged
result but the Courts have never finalized the case.
In this same constituency I knew the EU observers and found out later
they had not been able to track down a single mobile polling station in
District - and there were several. We now know that the mobile stations
used for the purpose of ballot stuffing in both elections.
So the question is how do we stop these malpractices this time? Well we
got the powers that control these things to do away with the mobiles
hold the election on one day. But this means thousands of new or
fixed polling stations - many in remote areas.
To give emphasis to this aspect we secured a preliminary list of
stations in one remote rural constituency and checked that we knew each
location. There were several we did not know and we sent out a team
truck to find them. One was deep in the bush and took all day to find.
was in fact a headquarters for the so called "war veterans" who were
responsible for the local farm invasions. It contained the usual
hall and a number of temporary thatched huts.
The vote this time is going to be captured at each of these thousands
polling stations - some in remote areas that are difficult to get to
find. The vote will be counted there and the result transported at
the constituency control center. There these results will be collated
give a result for the constituency.
In this same constituency a Zanu PF supporter has told us that the CIO
"already voting". This means that the armed forces are being forced to
in advance of the election under supervision - as they were in 2002 and
that blank ballots are being filled in and got ready for ballot
selected polling stations.
The Government has yet to invite international observer missions to
the election and we are sure that this will only be carried out at the
minute and then only for a handful of "friendly observers".
Then we hear they are going to target our MDC polling agents. We are
by law not only to register these people with the electoral authorities
also to publish their names and addresses in the newspaper. The threat
that the authorities will target these people as soon as their
are known to prevent the MDC giving full coverage of the election.
On the day you can also be sure that there will be roadblocks out in
rural areas preventing the movement of polling agents and MDC support
from deploying to target polling stations. Unsupervised and unobserved,
is at these remote and isolated polling stations that the "election"
decided. Not by citizens voting freely but by shadowy figures in the
security forces acting under instruction from the highest levels of
Its like a fence line - it is only effective if all your droppers and
standards are in place and holding the wire. Any break, no matter how
renders the whole line ineffective for the task it has been given. Can
cover every polling station? At this stage I think the answer to that
This is why Zanu PF is so confident of victory. It also explains why
years of war and struggle to gain "one man one vote", the great
our people now think that voting is just a waste of time.
Quite frankly I think talking to the SADC leaders about this is also a
of time. What a hopeless collection of clowns! So far they have not
delivered one single thing that might help to make this sham a real
Can you believe that we are just 45 days from the election and we still
no access to the media, no coverage for the campaign, hardly a
printer in the country will accept our copy and everyone is scared
be seen supporting us in any way. Our candidates are being arrested and
detained at will, our meetings disrupted and denied any fund raising
by fear of retribution.
And these guys show no shame. In my constituency the Zanu candidate is
saying at rallies - "are you hungry? Vote Zanu PF and be fed." Each
accompanied by food distribution care of the Grain Marketing Board and
funded by the State. It is a disgrace.
Bulawayo, 12th February 2005.