Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Write down the result, tell a friend, then run like hell!"

Zimbabwe voting in progress and those are part of the instructions to opposition poll watchers according to this report:
"Harare - "Write down the result, tell a friend, then run like hell!" This was the order to polling agents for Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, before they began moving off to monitor more than 8,000 polling stations ahead of tomorrow's general election."
This surely indicates that the barrier to free elections in Zimbabwe are greater than any of those put up by the parties in power in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Yet, there are still some 35,000 people that had planned to monitor the polling places, according to an e-mail received by Norm Geras.

Not that it will matter much to the election results. The physical and organizational tone of the campaign in the last week or two has subsided somewhat. The opposition has had some access to public airwaves, are allowed to rally unmolested, and President Mugabe's brownshirts have receded into the shadows for the time being. But Mugababe's oratory is an omen of what will come when the last of the international monitors and news organizations board their flights to other destinations:
"President Robert Mugabe has branded main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party supporters as traitors, raising fears of new political violence two days ahead of parliamentary elections.

"All those who will vote for the MDC are traitors," state radio quoted Mugabe as saying to a ruling ZANU-PF party rally at Mutoko, 140 kilometers (90 miles) northeast of Harare, on Tuesday.

Similar comments by the president in the past have encouraged ruling party and youth militia's to take violent action against opposition supporters and candidates."
(Note: This was to be a link to a BC article but while the google item indicates the "traitor" remark is part of the story, that portion has been purged from the story and the headline changed so I went with a CNN story.)

Read the whole story. It is an ominous sign Mugabe is only waiting for the fair election blessing to be given by his hand picked international monitors before giving the losers of the elections what he feels is their due. And well picked they are (Cathy Buckle doesn't have permalinks; it's in the 3rd paragraph of the 12 March letter):

The head of the South African government observer team arrived in the country and immediately pronounced that the environment for elections looked free and fair and this was before they'd been anywhere or met anyone so their presence certainly doesn't inspire confidence. By all accounts it seems that there are going to be at least 8200 polling stations in the elections and unless I've got my maths very wrong, there will only be one non Zimbabwean election observer for every 10-15 polling stations.
The opposition in Zimbabwe need more than their own courageous efforts to topple this axis of evil tinpot wannabe. And they must not fail for their very lives will depend on it.

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