Zimbabwe is preparing for parliamentary elections tomorrow. The outcome is hardly in doubt. Most observers expect Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party to win in a landslide, garnering at least 75% of votes. This is not because Zanu-PF is especially popular, but because the election process is believed to be so corrupt that the opposition could not possibly win. Members of the opposition MDC party have been prevented from holding rallies, and activists run the risk of being abducted, imprisoned and tortured.
Voters outside the country – 3.5 million in total, many of them dissidents – have been prevented from voting in the elections. They are participating in a protest “SMS vote” to demonstrate how strong opposition support is outside the country. Voters inside the country are being systematically disenfranchised, being required to show papers from employers or landlords before being allowed to vote… a challenge in a nation with widespread homelessness and 80% unemployment.
Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube has called for Zimbabweans to rise up in a non-violent revolution against Mugabe. He believes that Mugabe's party has rigged the upcoming vote, registering thousands of dead, fake and duplicate pro-Zanu-PF voters.
Mugabe has systematically dismantled opposition media, forcing opposition newspapers to operate only outside of the country. A report from Abraham McLaughlin in the Christian Science Monitor suggests that radio-jamming devices provided by the Chinese government are being used to prevent independent radio stations from competing with state-controlled radio signals.
In this environment, it's remarkable that anyone would be challenging Zanu-PF with reporting via a weblog… but that's exactly what the brave folks at Sokwanele, a “Civil Action Support Group” are doing. Their weblog includes posts from individual activists as well as from the organization as a whole, and provides voices, views and news from around the nation as Zimbabweans prepare to go to the polls. Recent posts have included rumors about Chinese involvement with possible vote-rigging:
Along the Nyanzane river resettlement area people are so afraid and were told that the Chinese brought boxes for zanu pf to win. The people think that the boxes are somehow already rigged in favour of zanu pf.
Attempts to influence voters with a massive increase in minimum wages:
The government has come up with another panic measure – this time to buy the urban vote. Today, domestic workers’ salaries and wages were increased across the board by a staggering average of 900% backdated to 1st March, 2005.
Does the illegitimate and bankrupt regime really believe that domestic workers are stupid enough to change their allegiance over this last resort measure?
and a moving post by Noktula in Bulawayo, titled “I'll wear my shirt with pride”.
Yesterday I was given an MDC campaign t-shirt. I am not going to use it as a ‘sleep shirt’ in the privacy of my home. I am going to wear it when I go out. I am going to wear it with pride, and no-body is going to stop me! And when I am not wearing my t-shirt, I am not going to hide it deep in the back of my wardrobe, under all my other clothes like I have done in the past. Supporting the peoples party is not a crime. I will not be afraid.