Sitrep 4

I do apologize for the four-day gap in communication but we were called to Harare for an urgent National Executive meeting and I have been in the capital since then dealing with the aftermath of the elections.

By now you have all had the results - official and unofficial, but just to summarize them - Zanu PF took 78 seats, MDC 41 and Independents 1. I still do not have the total poll numbers and a lot of other detail - simply have not had the time to follow this up, but it looks as if there was a low poll compared to the voters roll (expected) and the MDC has rejected the results of the poll. Mugabe is crowing and Mbeki bowing down to this regional master of electoral fraud.

My rough calculations suggest that there were about 500 000 false ballots in this election - down from the 2002 election when our data suggested 800 000 false ballots. On this occasion of course, they simply had to target sufficient constituencies to ensure that the regime obtained their 2/3rd majority. A message passed on to Morgan Tsvangirai from an agent in the State security services said that in fact the MDC had "won" in 94 of the 120 seats. An unofficial comment from another representative of the intelligence community (not Zimbabwean) suggested that the MDC had won "over 80 seats".

What was very disappointing was the appalling lack of integrity (or was it simply stupidity) in the SA and the SADC observer missions. But then we were told by almost everyone before this whole farce was conducted that we were wasting our time and money - the election would be rigged (Zanu PF cannot get off the Tiger without being eaten, hypothesis) and that the African observer missions would whitewash the result. Our detractors were spot on, but it was worth the effort.

Let me just try to summarize the electoral situation here as a backdrop to your own analysis. The voters roll had 5,7 million names in it. Zimbabwe's last census of its population showed a total population of 11,6 million. This was nearly 2 million short of the anticipated total projected from the previous census in 1992. By extrapolating these census figures and using death rates and migration estimates we now think the total population is fewer than 11 million. Of this total 45 per cent would be over 18 - that is about the historical average.

So we start this analysis with a total adult population of 4,95 million. If we assume (optimistically) that 75 per cent register as voters then we end up with a potential voter register of 3,7 million. Of this number at the very best we could expect a voter turn out of (say) 65 per cent and this suggests total voter turn out of 2,4 million - 42 per cent of the number registered on the voters roll. This was just about the total number of votes cast, so on the surface we have quite a good turn out.

But it must be understood that we now have a death rate of over 300 000 adults a year and migration has been running at about 500 000 a year. If this has been the case then actual potential voter numbers may be much lower than the above estimate - perhaps as low as 1,8 to 1,9 million and hence the estimate of false ballots.

Whatever the real situation, the voters roll was about 60 per cent inflated and there were at least 2,7 million "ghost" voters on the roll. These were manipulated and used to pad out areas where Zanu PF felt they could dominate the election campaign and control the electoral process. It was by these means that the delimitation exercise was gerrymandered to further tilt the electoral process against the MDC.

In the 2004 delimitation exercise 40 seats were allocated to urban areas. This is one third of the total number of seats contested. However, in the past 25 years the percentage of the total population located in the urban areas has risen steadily - and is now estimated at over 60 per cent. This means that the MDC strongholds were under represented by almost 100 per cent in the numbers of seats they should have been allocated. With the urban population rising by about 5 to 6 per cent per annum and the total population shrinking by about 2 per cent - rural populations are declining quite rapidly. Harare/Chitungwiza metropolitan area has over 3 million people living in it according to municipal records. This is equal to 1,35 million potential voters - say 1 million for the voter's roll or a third of total potential voters yet it has only 18 seats - 15 per cent of the total.

Then you have what I call the invisible hand of intimidation. We have huge populations that now enjoy little or no security over their means of income and who live at or below subsistence. These people face instant penury if they are deprived in any way of their means of survival. They include gold panners (about 500 000 adults), "settlers" on expropriated commercial farms (about 200 000 adults) and peasant farmers in communal areas (1 million adults). All of these groups are subject to the whims of Zanu PF and must obey their dictates if they want to survive. The pressures are enormous - from families threatened with expulsion from their homes in communal farming districts by local Headmen who are appointed and paid by the State and act as "enforcers". They include the threat to small-scale miners that they will be expelled from their claims - 90 per cent of which are illegal. They include thousands of small informal businesses in urban areas where licenses to operate are controlled by Zanu dominated administrations.

Any of these people who voted MDC are faced with threats of one kind or another - sanctions on food and agricultural inputs from government agencies are widespread and in the context of this year when we have 6 million people threatened with starvation, a life or death issue. At one polling station on a commercial farm 190 votes were cast for Zanu PF, one vote for the MDC. When this result was seen by the "constituency control center" the remark was made - that this one vote must have been the white farmer and death threats were made - until the returning officer for the polling station said that he had not voted. A Minister had threatened the workers previously that if you vote MDC we will confiscate the farm. The workers voted to protect their jobs with one of the few remaining white farmers in the country. The white farmer was simply too frightened even to vote.

Then there is the voting process itself. In my wife's polling station there were 18 officials - 11 teachers, 4 policemen, one CIO officer and 3 officials from the Electoral Commission. We were allowed one polling agent into the polling center at any one time and they, without exception, were treated with hostility or worse. Our people tried to watch the poll through the day and to count the vote's cast, in the evening they also tried to witness the verification and counting process. Then, unexpectantly, they were locked in while the returning officer took the result off to the control center where the results were reported. On return the government officials informed our agents of the result for the station and then left with all the records in a government truck for an unknown destination.

When the results were subsequently announced they bore little resemblance to the physical count on the ground. In one constituency the total number of votes counted exceeded the physical count of voters by nearly 100 per cent. As Stalin said " it is not who votes that counts, but who counts the vote".

So what do we do from here - well that is still being decided but one thing is sure - the legal route is a waste of time (in 2000 and 2002 we sought justice from the Courts and were denied). Also under threat is the faith of our people in the whole democratic process. Three times now the vote has been stolen from the people. To say we are angry and disappointed is to put it mildly and if you weigh up all the possibilities, there is really only one remaining option.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 5th April 2005