As you will expect, Bev & I have decided not to vote today. We drove around to have a look at some of the polling stations on our side of town and found them very quiet: Courtney Selous, Highlands, Borrowdale School. More police and elections staff than voters.
Busier were polling station tents in Gunhill and Chikurubi. These tents seem to be processing voters from Tomlinson Depot and the prison. Clearly zanupf own you and your family’s votes if you work for the police, prison or army. Watch the voting patterns at polling stations in these areas.
Intimidation has taken an interesting turn this election. In previous elections people were beaten and had their identity documents destroyed/seized by zanupf zealots to stop them voting. This time they are being threatened with violence if they don’t go and vote. Since the MDC’s withdrawal from the run-off, zanupf have had to reverse their tactics in an effort to legitimise these elections. How foolish would they look if no-one turned up?
A friend living in one of Harare’s high density suburbs, Tafara, returned home after work on Thursday evening to a demand from the local zanupf chairman. Everyone in the area was required to take his/her identity document to the chairman’s house – they would have it returned to them the next day (June 27, run-off election day) on their way to the nearby polling station. On collection of his id this morning he was instructed to vote for Robert Mugabe and return with the serial number of the ballot paper issued to him.
Clearly zanupf feel the need to carry their threats further than usual to coerce people to vote in this sham of an election. Against the bloody backdrop of the last 3 months Zimbabweans are taking these threats seriously in areas where zanupf is organised and has a permanent base or representative.
At a last minute rally in Kamfinsa, zanupf youth apologised for beating the people over the last few weeks and implored (advised?) the reluctant gathering to vote for ‘madala’ (old man) on June 27. A creative variation on the coersion theme!
Reports from other parts of the country are of dramatically reduced voter turnout – zanupf will have to work hard to fabricate enthusiastic support for the run-off election. You can count on them doing that. As a friend wryly commented today, it’s a case of One Man One Vote.
Yet again, Zimbabweans have not been allowed to express their will through the ballot box. So, in the short-term, it’s over to Africa’s leaders to deliver on their condemnation of this election. Action must follow their words. Of course most African leaders have skeletons and dubious elections in their pasts. Mugabe wants to make sure they don’t conveniently forget this fact. Still, Africa’s renaissance must begin sometime – and now is as good a time as any.