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Home | ZimCrisis#60 -- Concise Report from Eddie Cross in Zimbabwe

Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 18:56:45 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#60 -- Concise Report from Eddie Cross in Zimbabwe
Cc: "Australian government":;, "British government":;,
"Canadian government":
;, "South African government":;,
"US government":;, Commonwealth:;, "NG organisations":;,
"African press":;, "Foreign press":;

Hi everyone,

This is a few days old (in fact, almost a week) but it's a very concise summary from Eddie Cross of the MDC of most of what has happened over the last few months.

For the handful of politicians whining about my e-mail, read this one -- it's a good summary. Unfortunately it won't make your blood run cold as some of the more detailed reports will (or should). You should also do all you can to ensure that there is a peaceful transition to (real) democracy after the elections. If that happens I will go away. If it doesn't, I won't.


7 days to "D" day - I wrote this weekly report and then blinked and behold - a week has rushed by! In the MDC offices this morning the team looked exhausted already. Charlene could hardly talk, Chris had not shaved for a week, Rudo and Grace had dark rings around their eyes, and still the crowds of candidates, victims of violence and others poured through the door. Its great stuff - but I do not think anyone will have any energy for the celebrations when we win, although the human spirit is something else.

The campaign to win by any means is in full swing - look at the record:

1.. A totally peaceful and orderly referendum campaign - lasting two months with people fighting it out in the tabloids and in meetings and presentations by both sides to audiences throughout the country.

2.. Then BAM - 14 days afterwards, its wake up time for the dragon,the campaign of violence starts on the farms and spreads to the cities - land is promoted as THE issue, rescuing Zimbabwe from the grabbing hands of the British and their local puppets the other.

3.. The UN declares the voter's roll hopelessly out of date - dead people, people who had left the country and the international community declares that any election conducted on the basis of the old roll would have no credibility. They decide no observers, as this would give credibility to a flawed process.

4.. The Danes step in and set up an operation to clean up the voter's roll - the government accepts the offer and they go to work - eliminating millions of phantom voters and dead people and others with enthusiasm.

5.. They decide that they should have a registration exercise and this is launched, but they underestimate the desire of the people to vote and 2,5 million register in two months, swamping the process and leading to a delay in the election - originally set for mid May.

6.. They finally decide to link the voters roll to the National Register of citizens and the two are merged successfully. This has the added advantage of bringing into the roll a large number of voters who otherwise would have been left out - especially in the rural areas where the registration exercise was not as popular as in the cities.

7.. This leads to the delimitation exercise, which results in the loss of some three urban seats, and these are shifted to the rural areas - useful but not definitive in Zanu PF eyes. However it further delays the poll giving the opposition time to organise and raise funds and giving Mugabe a real case of the jitters. Eventually he imposes on his professional team the dates of the 24/25th June.

8.. When this is decided there is insufficient time for those who have not had access to the roll or the delimitation to prepare for the nomination courts - a delay is sought but we have to go to court to get an extension of 4 days.

9.. The voters roll and accompanying maps of constituencies are delayed and eventually come out too late to be scrutinized in depth or used by the political opposition for campaign planning and other purposes. In fact the maps only come out 14 days before the actual poll and as at today's date - nobody other than the Registrar Generals Office and Zanu PF have a copy of the actual voters roll.

10.. Then come a number of new regulations for this poll - who can be an observer - half the foreign observers fail to gain recognition and leave the country or withdraw. Civil society groups train 24 000 local observers for the Election Supervisory Commission only to find at the last minute, that the head of this body is going to be an ex-ZANLA combatant with no electoral experience or background and that the observers role is going to be strictly prescribed.

11.. The political parties scramble to put an alternative supervisory system in place consisting of team of party poll agents, only to find new regulations that require that they take an examination before they can be recognised and that we can only have one per station to cover the full 48 hour period of the poll. Since we have to contend with an unknown number of polling stations (we still do not have a full list) this is a near impossibility.

12.. Then yesterday we were told that the counting might be delayed by two to three days - no explanation, but thereby extending the period during which we have to watch the thousands of ballot boxes from 48 hours to possibly 6 days. They also put out a new regulation that we cannot travel with the boxes from point to point. We are taking these new regulations to court but how do we cope with all of this in the time available? - We are doing our best but this explains the exhausted state of our volunteer teams in the party offices. This is an exercise only for the most determined, and we qualify for that description!

In the meantime the violence and intimidation continue - our death toll of MDC members is over 35 and rising daily, the number of people with injuries is too numerous to list while the numbers of homes burned down run to hundreds, if not thousands. The farm occupations have intensified and a whole system of intimidation of farm workers is being set up for the election period. Intimidation and forced attendance and participation accompany all Zanu PF rallies. Non compliance is met with immediate retribution and threats of retribution against the individual and his or her family.

And then there is our President - in power for 20 years, with all that experience in running the country, 6 university degrees and a recognised intellect, yet making the most irresponsible statements on the economy and what he is going to do with it. Not satisfied with destroying the tourist and farming sectors, he now wants to inspire his goons to invade mines and industrial firms and offers no protection for any form of property rights in any field of endeavor. If we needed evidence of his growing insolvency in terms of ideas and wisdom, this is it and I only hope it pushes a few of the remaining fence sitters off the wall.

One comment that a person from South Africa made has stuck with me recently - he said "what Mugabe is trying to do, is exactly what Smith tried and failed to do - prevent the majority from coming to power". It's a thought - he will also fail!

Eddie Cross

17th June 2000

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