Anarchy in Zimbabwe

Monday June 23, 2008

By Morgan Tsvangirai

MorganThe Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party won the March 29 elections despite conditions that were far from free and fair. Our party’s message of peaceful, democratic change and rebuilding a New Zimbabwe enjoys the support of the vast majority of Zimbabweans. Our election victory confirmed this to President Robert Mugabe and since that date, he and his supporters have been waging a war against the people of Zimbabwe.

This violent retributive agenda has seen over 200 000 people internally displaced and over 86 MDC supporters killed. Over 20 000 homes have been destroyed and over 10 000 people have been injured and maimed in this orgy of violence.

For the record, there are eight broad reasons why a free and fair election is impossible. ZANU PF has already subverted the run-off through the following:

State sponsored violence The police have been reduced to bystanders while Zanu PF militia commit crimes against humanity varying from rape, torture, murder, arson, abductions and other atrocities.

ZANU PF militia dressed in army regalia have been deployed to spearhead the terror campaign in the rural and urban areas. Armed ZANU PF youths are waging a terror campaign and have vowed that the MDC will not rule the county even if it wins.

The Joint Operations Command (JOC) is engineering a violent campaign to subvert the will of the people. The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has designed covert operations to destabilise the nation. ZANU PF has set up over 3 000 militia bases across the length and breath of the country in order to cow and intimidate MDC supporters into submission.

Death and hit squads are on the loose in all the provinces. War veterans and ZANU PF youths are manning illegal roadblocks with impunity in complicity with the police.

The use of guns and arms of war by ZANU PF militia and war veterans to campaign for ZANU PF has virtually militarised the election atmosphere. All this is being done as a State sponsored ploy to tilt the vote in favour of ZANU PF.

MDC presidential candidate’s campaign The regime has crippled the MDC presidential candidate’s campaign. MDC rallies have been banned. Court orders have been ignored. Today, Sunday June 22 2008, a mere five days before the run-off date, police refused MDC permission to hold its only star rally at the open space across the Harare Show Grounds. We successfully sought a High Court Order which granted us permission to proceed with our rally. Regrettably, armed ZANU PF thugs occupied the venue in order to prevent us from gathering. MDC supporters were attacked and cars were stoned at the venue. This happened in full view of the police.

Unlawful arrests of the MDC presidential candidate have been going on unabated. The public media has flatly refused to flight MDC adverts. To date, no single commercial has aired by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. There is a total blackout of the MDC in the public media in clear contravention of the SADC guidelines and standards governing a free and fair election.

The hate language and the vilification of the MDC presidential candidate by the public broadcasters and public media is unprecedented. By denying us access to the media the regime has managed to deny the MDC access to the people.

Decimation of MDC structures The MDC Secretary General, Hon. Tendai Biti and MP Advocate Matinenga are illegally detained. Over 2 000 MDC supporters including our polling agents are in illegal detention. The arrests have targeted Members of Parliament, Councillors, the MDC structures and election agents. Over 200 000 people have been internally displaced. The whole game plan is designed to cripple the MDC campaign.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) The MDC is shocked by the level of partisanship of ZEC. We have lost confidence in ZEC. The organisation has been staffed by war veterans and ZANU PF militia. In fact, as it stands now, ZEC is not in charge of the management of this election.

The media The media is under attack. There is a complete blackout of the MDC’s campaign. Journalists are being harassed and intimidated and foreign journalists barred from entering the country.

The ZANU PF presidential candidate The ZANU PF candidate has no respect for the MDC, observers, the regional and international community. He has made public pronouncements to the effect that he will not accept defeat. He has declared war by saying that the bullet has replaced the ballot.

The statement by General Constantine Chiwenga and Commissioner of Prisons Paradzai Zimondi that they will not respect and accept the will of the people is regrettable and is a clear manifestation that a free and fair election is impossible.

Planned election rigging by ZANU PF The MDC has unearthed an elaborate and decisive plan by ZANU PF to rig the elections through the following measures:

i.. Commandeering the uniformed forces to use the postal ballot and forcing them to vote in front of their superiors.

ii. The prevention of MDC election agents to get to the polling stations through roadblocks and arrests.

iii. The three Mashonaland provinces have been identified as rigging centres where ballots are going to be stuffed.

iv. Villagers are having their national identity cards confiscated, denying them their right to vote.

v. There is a plan to record the serial numbers of ballot papers so as to intimidate voters.

vi. The holding of forced pungwes (overnight meetings) where MDC supporters are beaten and forced to undergo "re-education".

vii. The abuse of traditional leaders.

viii. The use of massive violence as a weapon to influence the ballot. Conclusion

Given the totality of these circumstances, we believe a credible election, which reflects the will of the people is impossible. We remain unreservedly committed to free and fair elections in the country. The conditions prevailing as of today do not permit the holding of a credible poll.

The militia, war veterans and even Mugabe himself have made it clear that anyone that votes for me in the forthcoming election faces the very real possibility of being killed.

Zimbabweans have also shown how brave and resilient they can be. They have withstood years of brutality, impoverishment and intimidation. They are dedicated to a New democratic Zimbabwe.

But, we in the MDC, cannot ask them to cast their vote on June 27 when that vote could cost them their lives.

Therefore, we in the MDC have resolved that we will no longer participate in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process.

The courageous people of this country, and the people of the MDC have done everything humanly and democratically possible to deliver a new Zimbabwe under a new government.

We urge SADC, AU and the United Nations to intervene urgently in this unprecedented situation to restore the rule of law, peace, and conditions for a free and fair election.

We are going to articulate our vision and the way forward to the people of Zimbabwe and the world, after further consulting the people. Finally, we salute and thank all the suppressed masses of Zimbabwe who have been maimed, raped, tortured, lost homes and properties in the pursuit of a noble cause of wishing to see a free and democratic Zimbabwe. I sympathise with you over the loss of your loved ones in these final phases of the struggle. Victory is certain, it can only be delayed. I thank you.