What hope for Zimbabwe’s elections?

This week Robert Mugabe was causing a stir at the UN food summit in Rome. Meanwhile, Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader was detained by police for nine hours of his campaign trail. Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a splinter of the opposition MDC, was arrested for writing an editorial criticising the president. Many opposition rallies have been banned and scores of opposition activists arrested. The MDC claims that 65 of its supporters have been killed since March. Thousands have been severely injured and, according to some estimates, 25,000 people displaced. Harassment of the MDC campaign is destroying the party’s organization.

This week Robert Mugabe was causing a stir at the UN food summit in Rome. Meanwhile, Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader was detained by police for nine hours of his campaign trail. Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a splinter of the opposition MDC, was arrested for writing an editorial criticising the president. Many opposition rallies have been banned and scores of opposition activists arrested. The MDC claims that 65 of its supporters have been killed since March. Thousands have been severely injured and, according to some estimates, 25,000 people displaced. Harassment of the MDC campaign is destroying the party’s organization.

Former strongholds of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF which dared to switch to the opposition in March, have now been turned into no-go areas for the MDC.

Tsvangirai plans to visit Mashonaland, the ZANU-PF heartland, but with firearms and even radios forbidden his safety is in danger.

There is little hope that the run-off presidential election scheduled for June 27th will be peaceful let alone free or fair. The South African president’s attempts to mediate have failed.

Perhaps Mugabe’s loathsome approach will fuel determination to oust him. However, the practicalities of voting for all those who have fled their homes in the wake of the violence are likely to limit those present at the poling stations.

Observers from neighbouring countries deemed to be friendly by the government are expected to arrive in Zimbabwe today, but monitors, observers and journalists from the United Nations, the European Union or Western countries will not be let in.

Whatever the polls decide perhaps the only thing we can be certain about is that the President won’t go down without a fight.

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