Through the Looking Glass
If it were not so serious, it would make a fine story for a farce. Following
the March 29th elections (which were heavily rigged to try and give Zanu PF
a victory) they delayed giving the results for a month and then simply
falsified the Presidential ballot. Following the June 27th vote - Zanu PF
was claiming a victory within 24 hours, we expect the results to be released
this afternoon - 48 hours after the poll closed and the Chief Justice is
standing by to swear Robert Mugabe in as the new President!
When the MDC claimed victory on the Tuesday after the March 29th poll, based
on a parallel vote count - they were accused of 'treason'. One of the
charges on which Tendai Biti was arrested was just that. Now Zanu and Mugabe
do the same thing - in advance of the ZEC results and its all OK.
On the 29th March Tsvangirai won with 54 per cent of the total poll - still
not confirmed by validating the actual returns, which are held under lock
and key by the State. They struggled for a month to try and wriggle out of
that one eventually, just brushing aside the need for any validation process
and simply announced that a run off was required.
This was followed by two months of intense, nation wide, State managed and
executed violence against the MDC and its supporters. Hundreds of thousands
have fled their homes, tens of thousands have been injured - many with
serious injuries, hands and feet amputated, broken limbs, smashed hands.
Food aid to millions cancelled and what food was left was brought under
strict political control. Indoctrination centers were established in every
district in the country and tens of thousands subjected to arbitrary orders
to attend activities in these centers at which they were threatened with
further violence and injury if they 'voted the wrong way'. At public rallies
the regime promised a return to war if Tsvangirai won.
The MDC campaign for the run off was not allowed to even get started -
rallies were banned and when a High Court Judge ordered the police to allow
a rally in Harare, the police stood by as armed thugs from Zanu PF militia's
attacked those attempting to go to the venue. Live ammunition was used and
there was no attempt to even hide the role of the militias. The police
affected not a single arrest.
The offices of the MDC were raided on several occasions, thousands of MDC
officials were arrested and at the end of the campaign it was estimated that
2000 were still in custody - most without charge. Tsvangirai himself was not
allowed to move freely, was given no space - even for adverts - in the
dominant State controlled media and his personal safety was threatened.
Had Morgan not pulled out of the elections the violence would have
intensified. The 27 000 polling agents that had been trained for the poll
would have put their lives on the line and many would have not even got to
their polling stations. The 2 000 or more volunteers who were standing by to
supervise the poll would not have been allowed to do their job and without
polling agents and independent observers the poll would have been massively
rigged. We already knew that the armed forces had been forced to vote under
supervision and that 130 000 votes had been obtained by these means. We also
knew that hundred of thousands of false ballots were in regional army
barracks awaiting deployment to selected polling stations. Add to that the
issue of multiple voting, secret polling stations, supervised balloting in
rural areas and the whole back ground of violence and intimidation and you
get a clear picture of just what a farce this has been.
At about 16.00 hours on Sunday - less than 48 hours after the poll closed,
ZEC announced that Mugabe had won with 85 per cent of the votes cast,
Tsvangirai only got 15 per cent. What three months can do for an
administration - counting down from 30 days to less than two, 27 per cent
total votes for Mugabe to 85 per cent! As much as anything else, this is a
step too far for Mugabe - it's just not credible. The same number of ballots
were cast, 2,4 million. At our local polling station Mugabe got 24 votes,
Tsvangirai 38 with 80 spoilt ballots. Overall there were less than a third
of the total votes cast in March. By my simple mathematics - they must have
ballots stuffed at least a million votes to get this result.
Fortunately, because of the courage of a number of journalists who risked
their freedom to come into the country illegally and report on events, as
well as the courage and determination of local activists and diplomats, all
of this was well documented and reported on in the international media. The
regime here simply could not hide the facts behind the charade.
I have been away from home for a month to have a stent inserted to improve
blood circulation. I drove up to Bulawayo this morning and was shocked by
the state of the country. My staff all reported that their families had fled
their rural homes for safety in towns, a dead body was found this morning on
the side of the road just 500 metres from my home - no identity or clothes -
just dumped on the side of the road. When I left the Rand was trading at
Z$35 million to one, yesterday it was trading at Z$1,5 billion to 1. The
toll on Beitbridge was Z$5,4 billion when I went out; it was Z$100 billion
when I came back. The road was deserted and the Town of Gwanda eerily quiet
and also deserted. Only the roadblocks looked the same!
At home no salaries had been paid - what should you pay when a 10-kilogram
bag of maize meal costs Z$70 billion! Stores are empty, people angry and
hungry and virtually everybody is talking about the very real possibility of
flight to another country. I have yet to see my own staff or get into the
office - that will be on Monday. What do I tell them we are going to do? How
do we survive? What hope is there left once the mafias are back in charge in
Harare and the looting and violence carries on?
I do not think South Africa can absorb another 2 million or more Zimbabwean
refugees. I also think that the African Union must be close to deciding that
they have had enough of Mugabe's antics. The political price of ignoring his
misdemeanors is now so great that I think we can expect some sort of action
to resolve the crisis here next week. How we in the MDC will handle any
negotiations is another matter - but I am sure they are coming.
Bulawayo, 29th June 2008