It's Just a Question of Time
A few things are now absolutely clear; the State is determined to
what is left of the MDC by the end of the year. They are determined to
what remains of the urban economic infrastructure into servitude to
priorities and give their key supporters even larger stakes in the
and they are going to try and control the delivery of all essential
both urban and rural populations.
The scope and scale of violence against the MDC and those in the
whose independence and autonomy are viewed as being potentially
is very concerning. A staggering 25 000 business persons have been
detained and charged by the Police since the so called 'Price
strategy was implemented. The numbers of MDC activists who have
been arrested, detained and beaten since March the 11th when Morgan
Tsvangirai and 70 other senior MDC leaders were savagely beaten in
custody in Harare must also run to many thousands.
When the global reaction to the beatings on the 11th March became
regime turned its attention to our lower structures and they have been
working these over in a systematic and brutal way. Just in the past
have had 4 activists so savagely beaten that they have either died or
required hospital treatment. One is paralysed for life and another is
dialysis because of kidney damage. Many are unknown or unrecorded. On
I heard of a grandmother who has two children from her sons family
with her after he son was beaten and died at home after his release
prison. We are now helping with the expenses of the Grandmother.
In rural areas our structures are in tatters, many are in hiding or
fled to the urban areas or to South Africa. This is exactly what the
wishes to achieve. Our capacity to fight back is very limited. We have
little money available to us, we have even fewer things such as
vehicles and fuel and our staff is poorly paid and often go hungry.
driver brought his pick up to my home for safety last week, a battered
vehicle followed him with shaded windows occupied by several young
who slowly drove by when the driver left on foot to catch a bus home.
The attacks on the remnants of the private sector are also relentless.
Farmers are being forced off their farms, large segments of the retail
are nearing bankruptcy, manufacturers are idle and finding it
operate with shortages of electricity, fuel and water, the high cost of
transport, and the scarcity of both orders and inputs. Thousands of
have left their jobs and fled south to try and make a living. Hundreds
the remaining skilled and experienced people in all sectors are making
to move when the schools close at year-end and exams are over. Despair
helplessness are almost universal.
We have raised this at the SADC sponsored talks but there is no
that either the region or South Africa (as facilitator) have taken this
situation seriously and raised it with the regime. Our leadership that
been earlier charged with treason for allegations of violence and
military style attacks on Police Stations has now all been released.
were beaten in custody and are recovering slowly. Many have lost their
and their families have suffered while they have been detained. The
led against them in Court was laughable.
The question is what do we do about all this? We are expected to
in good faith with Zanu PF at the talks while there is no evidence that
are also negotiating in good faith. In fact quite the contrary. We
understand from the press that both the regime and the facilitators are
determined to hold the elections as soon as March 2008 as scheduled.
can only be done if the electoral machinery is left very much as it is
simply co-opted into the new legal framework being negotiated.
What our friends need to understand is that Zanu PF has been working on
voters roll for 5 years. They have disenfranchised hundreds of
people who will now be entitled to vote - if they can register. They
left the dead on the roll and thereby created hundreds of thousands of
opportunities to vote against the names of dead people using these ID
documents. They are denying us any opportunity to campaign or even
properly, we are given no access to the media and independent media is
totally controlled and cowed. Foreign media is tightly restricted.
Almost all basic foodstuffs come under political control. If you are a
MDC supporter you find it difficult to buy food, secure land for
urban areas, access to fuel, imports of any kind. If you swear
Zanu PF you are given all these things and at prices that would stun an
outsider. A new pick up will cost in real terms US$6 to US$ 7 dollars (
not exaggerating) fuel costs half a US cent a litre.
Just on Saturday a Zanu PF office in Harare was handing out maize meal
US cents for 10 kilograms.
It goes beyond that - support MDC and your license is cancelled, your
abrogated and your right to a plot on an irrigation scheme withdrawn.
right to live in your rural village can be withdrawn at the whim of
local traditional leaders. Become known as an MDC activist and you will
to live with the dread of a knock on the door at 3 am in the morning.
family may not be safe, your children victimized. Get arrested and if
cannot find you, you will disappear into the labyrinth of State prisons
police holding cells. Once there you will not get food unless your
bring you meals. Water to wash is unavailable and even drinking water
scarce. Tuberculosis and malaria are endemic.
So we are being told that this election is already decided - in Zanu
favor. I do not agree, If the SADC talks give us half decent conditions
allow people a secret vote that is counted and reported independently
the only vote these guys can rely upon is one filled in by a soldier
supervision or one cast by a robot. If the body filling in the ballot
breathe, it will vote MDC. This time I think that no matter what Zanu
their ship is sunk. It's only a matter of time.
Bulawayo, 16th October 2007