In Zimbabwe - living in fear but still ready to vote
publiziert: Samstag, 25. Nov 2000 / 16:09 Uhr

Wedza - A flying column of Movement for Democratic Change high-speed pick-up trucks pulled up outside a store in this deeply troubled farming district.

The occupants carefully deposited a pile of bright red cards printed with the words: "Mugabe must go now." Without saying a word, they drove off at speed.

"People just stood," said Moses Magwiro, who works on the surrounding commercial farms as a security officer. "They didn't move. Then I went and pick up one, and everybody ran forward."

The incident a couple of days ago is a remarkable sign of the gradual shedding of a culture of fear among poor rural Zimbabweans who for the last 20 years have provided the political bedrock of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU(PF) party, through a horrific programme of sustained violent intimidation.

It gives substance to the forecast of an opinion poll last month by the South African-based Helen Suzman Foundation, which found that so dramatically had Mugabe's support fallen in rural areas, ZANU(PF) would win only 13 per cent of the votes in an election now, and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC would take 47 percent.

The rush for "Mugabe-must-go" cards took place two days before a by-election being held Saturday and Sunday in the neglected constituency of Marondera West, south-east of Harare. Observers say that defeat for ZANU(PF) will mark irreversible loss of its control of the key to power.

The ruling party is doing what it knows best. Hitler Hunzvi, the leader of the notorious so-called guerrilla war veterans who have run a bloody campaign of terror across the country this year, has been deployed to take charge of the Marondera West operation that has seen one man shot dead and scores severely assaulted.

This week heavy government trucks roared down the roads of Wedza, the commercial farming area in the constituency and the worst affected in the country by the lawless campaign by war veterans to drive whites off their farms.

They deposited hundreds of ZANU(PF) youths at the side of the road where they set up encampments of army tents and hoisted the ZANU(PF) flag. Within hours they had abducted and assaulted two farm security guards.

"These people have sjamboks (heavy whips)," said Daniel, a 64- year-old farm worker who was born in the area. He forbids me to use his real name or the name of the farm. "They watch us all the time. If they see us talking to whites, they will come to the compound tonight and beat us."

Before parliamentary elections in June, men, women and often children on every farm in Wedza were systematically beaten by ZANU(PF) thugs. Daniel and his 12 colleagues I interviewed on the farm all voted ZANU(PF), says Magwiro. ZANU(PF) won in June with 11,221 votes against 4,570 for the MDC.

You could almost touch the fear in the fly-blown stockfeed shed were we spoke. After 15 minutes a stranger was seen 200 metres away, and I had to leave immediately. But before I left, Daniel said: "We are ready to vote. We will not discuss our vote with you. We will discuss with the ballot box. But everybody wants change."

Mugabe was stunned by the result of the June elections, in which the MDC secured 57 out of 120 elected seats in parliament, taking all urban constituencies and large chunks of the west and east of the country. ZANU(PF) was left with 62 elected seats in a long rump of heavily populated but backward rural areas where it had carried out sustained intimidation.

The warnings that ZANU(PF) would find out how people voted, and the threats of death if they voted for the MDC, did their work. "The violence has not been as bad as June, " said Magwiro. "ZANU(PF) thinks because what they did in June was enough, the effect is still there.

"But these people have seen that people in Harare and other areas voted MDC, and they are still alive. Nothing can stop these people voting MDC now." The powerful psychological factor at work in Wedza applies to the rest of the country still controlled by ZANU(PF), observers say.

And the fact that the national economic crash and the plunge in living standards has only accelerated since ZANU(PF) was re-elected in June has escaped no-one's attention.

(la/dpa)

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    Das wird die Deutschen aber traurig machen. Wenn man keinen Flughafen und keinen Bahnhof ... Mi, 08.06.16 17:49
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    Demokratie quo vadis? Wenn die Demokratie den Stacheldraht in Osteuropa-, einen Wahlsieg von ... Mo, 06.06.16 07:55
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    Kindeswohl egal! Es geht doch vor allem um die eigenen Kinder der Betroffenen. Die ... Do, 02.06.16 08:10
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