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Home | ZimCrisis#61 -- Another Excellent Report from Eddie Cross

Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 20:36:30 -0700
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From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#61 -- Another Excellent Report from Eddie Cross
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Hi everyone,

Another excellent report from Eddie Cross with the MDC.


Well its almost over -- Zimbabwe is going to the polls. We will have an exit poll available to us on Monday night and we expect results to start coming in about that time as well, final results by Wednesday unless these are held up for one reason or another. I remain convinced -- as I have been from the start of this campaign, that MDC will win the poll -- the only difference is that I now think that it might be a landslide.

Talking to various people this past week -- journalists and ambassadors, I have been astonished by their reaction when I make this assertion. They have not thought this as being a possibility -- at most the foreign community thought we would win only a substantial minority of seats and that they would have to continue dealing with Zanu PF after the poll. The recent opinion polls have helped, as has the failure by Mugabe to attract decent crowds at his rallies in recent days. MDC crowds have been much larger despite the intimidation and violence. The international community is now scrambling to catch up and think through other possible outcomes and what it means for the country and for their home offices.

For everyone's sake it has to be a substantial majority as this is the only outcome that will force Mugabe and his henchmen to accept defeat and for the armed forces to support the following transition of power. In fact I think that any result over 76 seats will enable us to achieve what seemed only a dream a few months ago -- a peaceful transition from the old leadership of the country to the new. We deserve that after all we have been through.

Last Sunday my wife and I sat in the Rufaro Stadium and participated in a MDC rally attended by 35 000 to 40 000 people -- mainly young men. It was clear that there was much determination and cheerful optimism -- "We" are going to win was a common sentiment. As I watched that crowd, drawn from the poorest urban community in the country, I thought of the great responsibility that will rest on the shoulders of the new team to deliver what is needed. The terrible conditions that exist and the huge hurdles to overcome including the inertia of the local and international system. Included in this was the sentiment expressed to me by a senior international civil servant that it would take the international community a year or more to respond to our needs.

We are not short of ideas or talent -- we have that in abundance and I hope we have the programs and plans, which will trigger a national response which will carry us across the line. But in the final analysis it is only sustained effort over a number of years that will impact on our problems and make a difference to ordinary peoples daily lives. And that is all that counts, as a Kuwait official said to me once -- if we give aid, how much will hit the road?

The machinery of Zanu PF kept up the effort to frustrate the people right up to the line -- on Monday they refused to accredit some 200 foreign observers from international NGO's who arrived to watch the elections. On Tuesday they gave us a revised list of polling stations -- with many new mobile stations that will be difficult to monitor. Then they insisted that we appoint only one person per polling station to cover the poll -- an impossible task for one person as they have to watch the poll for a period from Friday evening through to the close of counting -- possibly 5 days later. Then they said that we had to put all our election agents through an examination -- personally. As we have about 9 000 people in this exercise, this is also an impossible requirement.

On Monday our team looking after the postal vote (we are entitled to scrutinize all applications) found a pile (10 000) of applications for one constituency -- Harare Central. The candidate was called and he came down with one of our volunteer lawyers. They looked at the applications and decided that they were not completed properly and should be rejected. They waited for 4 hours to see the Registrar General and then went home at 20,00 hrs. After waiting a further 2 hours on Tuesday morning they decided that an urgent application to the High Court was the only route open to them. This is now in train and we await the outcome. These ballot applications were all from the army and were clearly destined to try and prevent our candidate (a world renowned human rights activist) from winning.

And so it goes on -- every trick plus a few we have never seen. The observer missions are astounded at what they are witnessing -- their view of the process is that this could never be judged a free and fair election. So only an outcome that favors the opposition will attract recognition -- certainly on the international front. Less than that would, I am afraid, be recognised by our regional partners who are less concerned with the niceties. On Monday evening I tackled the ANC leader of the SA observer mission and he assured me that SA would do the "right thing". I am not so sure.

In the mean time the economy continues to melt down -- certain commentators are now saying that we were right to predict a 10 per cent decline in GDP this year. Our forecast of over 80 per cent inflation also looks about right for the year-end, as does our estimate of government expenditure and debt. Company closures are continuing and coupled with the down turn of the tourist sector and the farming industry, have resulted in over 200 000 job losses. This is 15 per cent of the total number of jobs in the economy and has removed the breadwinner from a million people who now face destitution. What a price to pay for one mans ego.

But people must not forget, this is not Mozambique or Zambia or Angola -- we can recover very fast if we put the right policies in place. We are a hard working and energetic bunch and have overcome many hurdles in the past. We have never had a government, which actually allowed us to exploit our potential and resources. This time, we hope, will be different and I am optimistic about this.

I will put out a note during the weekend to update you and then will let you have the first indication from the exit polls as soon as we have something -- so stand by your computers. To all of you who contributed to our urgent appeal for funds to help with the final hurdle -- thank you, I think we got enough in to meet our needs and that was a miracle in itself. It was quite amusing to see it coming in -- in shoe boxes and envelopes, cheques and bank drafts, many of them for small amounts. So encouraging seeing factory workers put their money into a pool and then management matching this and bringing it to the office. MDC is not a movement of the rich but of the poor in Zimbabwe -- we have very few wealthy in our ranks and the great majority of our funding has come from small people. That's the way it should be, that's where our heart is and hopefully will stay.

Eddie Cross
21st June 2000

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