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The Current Political Situation in Zimbabwe
(June 2008)

When we had our harmonized elections on the 29th of March 2008, according to SADC norms, there was so much hope. We thought it was the dawn of a new era for Zimbabwe. In hindsight, I can say we were naïve in believing the sincerity of the ZANU PF regime when they agreed to implement SADC electoral norms for a free and fair election. The norms state that all parties contesting in the election should have unfettered freedom in campaigning, equal access to electronic campaigning, equal access to electronic and print media, a sufficient number of polling stations in each ward, with the counting of the ballot papers to be done at each polling station and results posted outside for everyone to see. It would be very difficult to rig an election under these conditions. It would also be very easy to collate the results from the centres, thereby knowing which party and which candidates won.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) started buying time by delaying and then drip-feeding the results to the public. They were, as they frequently said "meticulously verifying the results." Alarm bells went off. Everyone became suspicious as something was definitely amiss. It took more than four weeks for ZEC to release the results of the presidential election, results which hardly reflected the results from the polling and counting centres.

ZEC announced that Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition candidate, did not garner the required majority of fifty plus one percent. A run-off needed to be held. The party of the current president, Robert Mugabe, was beaten and lost its majority in Parliament. That was the beginning of Mugabe’s bloodletting campaign terror. He first launched an operation spearheaded by the so-called war-veterans, militia, and soldiers. They forcibly elicited information as to whom people had voted for. MDC activists, supporters and those suspected of having voted for MDC, Tsvangirai's party, were targeted. Some of his supporters continue to lose their homes and properties. Some have lost their lives. Many continue to be displaced.

We are experiencing systematic state sponsored violence. We are witnessing and receiving reports of gruesome murders of MDC people. MDC staff have been doused with petrol while they are in their offices. The doors are locked. Then the people are set alight.

There are cases of victims (Mutambara and Chipinge) who had their arms and legs chopped off and eyes gouged out. I work in the countryside where the suppression and the repression is fierce. People are fleeing their homes and remaining in the bush and mountains for the night. They avoid having their houses torched while they are sleeping inside. Some have already lost their lives in that way. ZANU PF militias, so-called war-veterans, have sealed off villages. People were threatened with war and death if they voted for MDC.

The country suffered through a poor harvest this yet. But because NGO’s and AID agencies have been banned from carrying out their very much needed humanitarian assistance, causing further suffering among the people. The health delivery system has all but collapsed. Even the supply of basic drugs like painkillers and anti-malaria tablets is now non-existent.

The militarization of the country, which is now in place, is meant to crush the spirit of the people of Zimbabwe. The words of St. Gregory have become true in our situation: “Where vice is considered a virtue, guilt piles high without fear.” We see people who are unemployed and poor being manipulated by this regime. They are employed and paid to carry out very gruesome acts.

The SADC appointed mediator, President Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy is not helping at all. African Union leaders have not come out strongly either. We are still waiting for our fellow African leaders to save our situation before it is too late.