Let the Games begin
We now have 5 weeks to go to the elections. A week ago we put our
up for nomination and I think we did quite well - we have almost all
Parliamentary seats covered and all Senate seats and about 80 per cent
the local government seats - quite an achievement when you understand
logistics and the time available.
I had a bit of a tussle - arrived at the Court to be told that the
General (a true Zanu PF flunky) had said I was not a citizen. We
took the issue to our lawyers and after a few hours went back with a
order that said I was a citizen and should be allowed to file my
papers. All else was in order and at 21.30 hrs I was duly declared a
My district is a mixed bag - two very poor high-density housing areas
spread of medium density housing that is occupied by mainly middle
people. The majority are in the former - 17 000 voters and the
in the latter - 7000 voters. I am already in the hands of the
and energetic MDC activists in the District and am being worked to
all and sundry!
On Saturday we launched the main campaign in Mutare at Sakubva stadium.
planned to start at 12.00 hrs and the stadium was almost full at 10.00
By the time we got under way I estimated the crowd at about 40 000. By
time Morgan spoke it was probably 50 000 to 65 000 - difficult to
but the stands were packed and we had to keep many outside the gates.
got a huge reception and it was very colorful.
600 kilometers to the South and East the other main candidate was
his campaign. Mugabe spent Z$3 000 000 000 000 on the combined birthday
launch bash in Beitbridge. Why on earth he chose Beitbridge is
guess - we had a reception committee ready in South Africa and they
rally there with a helium filled balloon that said 'You have had your
now beat it!' I think our balloon got more media attention than the
birthday bash and launch! Bob must have been furious.
All candidates are confidently predicting success - although come to
about it, that was one claim that Morgan actually did not make at
The President spoke of the need for change and said that this election
in reality, a referendum on Mugabe's rule. He said that if elected
would write a new constitution and then when this was implemented, he
hold fresh democratic elections.
The MDC has 5 white candidates for various posts - three ex farmers
whom won their primaries in the seats they are now campaigning for. But
is a tiny proportion of the 2000 odd candidates over all. In the main,
working class men and women will represent the MDC. There are
two Professors from UZ are running and we have a sprinkling of business
people. But by and large our candidates reflect our support base -
working men and women and the majority do not own a motorcar.
I have said it before and will repeat what many simply do not give
attention to - the MDC is a mass movement of the poor and
said to my constituency at the first meeting we held with the leaders,
crammed into a tiny house in a high-density suburb, I am deeply
to be chosen to run on their behalf. It is a privilege and a
that I, as one of the privileged minority can be so identified and
As I sat on the grass at Sakubva I thought about what lies ahead of us.
were surrounded by tens of thousands of the ordinary people who had
hitched rides and then waited in the sun for up to six hours to hear
leaders speak. They had no food, no vendors roved the stands - there
buyers and when it was all over they had to walk home, with the local
now costing Z$5 million a trip there was no chance that the majority
afford the ride.
They are looking to us to put the economy back on its feet. With
all round us and inflation at a staggering 150 000 per cent or more per
annum, with only 7 per cent of the population still employed and the
shortages of all essentials - water, food, shelter, fuel, energy;
that is no
easy task. They are looking to us to put children back into school and
provide teachers and books. They are looking to us to refurbish and
our hospitals, to make basic essentials affordable and provide the
I said to a Councilor in one of the wards, 'Reuben, do you see that
On the 30th of March that is your responsibility!' If elected we will
inherit a country in a total mess and meltdown. We will have to move
to restore macro economic stability and fill market shelves, it will
bold and courageous leadership and for a while we will have to all
our belts and make things work. Expectations, even though we are trying
manage them, will be high.
If we win - and I am sure we are going to win this time round for a
of reasons, it will be a remarkable testament to an organisation that
decade has fought a patient struggle against huge odds to win change
democratic and peaceful means. A remarkable tribute to ordinary people
have suffered and done extraordinary things.
As for the game itself, well just this past week the referee has given
'electronic' version of the voters role - as required by new
past Court orders, but all it contains are photographs of the voters
all 6 million voters with a red line transposed across the face of
page. Completely unusable. We hear the Daily News is getting its
the Minister has so instructed, but guess what, it will be two weeks at
least after the election. This is democracy, Mugabe style!
As for me, I am planning a party - the biggest street party you ever
for that day we win.
Bulawayo, 27th February 2008