The Zanu PF Election Campaign

The Zanu PF election campaign is gathering momentum; they have smashed the political structures of the MDC in many districts - especially in the rural areas. Over 1000 activists have been detained, beaten and tortured before being tossed out next to some road in the remote rural areas. Most detentions have been outside the legal system.

They have banned political activities of all types in the main centers and this ban includes a ban on rallies and meetings even held in local halls. There is a total ban on news about the MDC in the press, the radio and television. In its place there is a stream of propaganda, much of it crude, about the MDC and its leadership. They are jamming external radio broadcasts.

Last week a meeting was held with Chiefs from all over Zimbabwe. I spoke with one of them and he told me they had been addressed by Zanu PF Ministers and had been told not to allow MDC any opportunity to campaign or hold meetings in their districts. They were threatened that any district that supported MDC in any way would face the wrath of the government.

In the Binga District - long a stronghold of the MDC and one of the most remote and poorest districts in the country, the majority of the Non Governmental Organisations that are working n the area on humanitarian support have been instructed to close down and leave. Elsewhere in the country any NGO's who operate in the rural areas is being told that no humanitarian aid is permitted without the presence and authority of the State.

Now they are rushing through Parliament amendments to the Constitution that will allow Parliament to appoint Mugabe's successor in the event that he resigns or is removed from office. At present the Constitution provides for fresh elections for the President within 90 days of any such development.

They are also now hastily extending the numbers of seats in the Parliament and Senate and a delimitation Commission is being appointed. No doubt we will wake up one day and find that constituency boundaries have been changed, urban seats are linked with rural districts where Zanu PF still thinks their controls are effective. By my estimate, for the first time in our history over half our population now lives in urban areas. Despite this I am sure we will see the number of rural seats increased to reflect the official line that over 70 per cent of the population is rural. There is no chance of that being true today.

Behind the scenes you can be sure that they are also working on the electoral procedures themselves. They will be gerrymandering the voters roll, setting up a control system for the vote itself - planning a controlled postal ballot and generally making sure that the vote is tightly managed and that if required, the necessary false ballots are available and can be deployed at short notice.

Although the President has accepted the SADC initiative in nominal terms, they know full well what that means if it ever sees the light of day. For this reason they are using every possible opportunity to delay the process and to frustrate Mr. Mbeki's role in the whole exercise. I am sure that behind the scenes, envoys from Mr. Mugabe are fanning out over the African continent visiting leaders and arguing against the SADC initiative. They will be arguing against the South Africans as 'regional bully boys' and making the case that 'everyone hates us because we defended African interests in the name of our status as a sovereign State'.

The pressure on remaining commercial farms continues despite all the evidence that they are now the only remaining functioning farms. Murambatsvina type operations continue against informal settlements, housing and business activities. Threats against business in all sectors is being intensified and broadened and soon we will see major new 'indigenisation' efforts initiated to use the remaining productive sector as a source of patronage. Use of the exchange rate mechanism for patronage, despite its destructive influence, continues unabated.

In electoral terms this is a no holds barred, total onslaught on the MDC as enemy number one. The regime is leaving nothing to chance and the only obstacle is the SADC process now underway.

South Africa and the SADC leadership are going to have to use a very big stick to get this situation sorted out. In the meantime you can be sure, so long as this situation is not corrected and soon, the MDC is sure to boycott the whole process and Zimbabwe can expect to complete its fateful slide into the abyss.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 10th June 2007