The Defeated Remain Defiant

HARARE: Before Zimbabwe's Presidential election earlier this month, I believed that if the election were not handled properly, there would be serious fallout in the country and throughout Southern Africa. Despite the shadows of war and terrorism, I called for a fair and free election. Zimbabwe's people did not get one. Instead, they got terrorism.

In the two years that led up to the Presidential vote, the people of Zimbabwe were subjected to severe intimidation, harassment and fear, all of which was carried out as part of a broader program of state-sponsored terrorism by Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). ZANU terrorism was conducted by rogue elements among the veterans of Zimbabwe's war of independence two decades ago, as well as by government militiamen and youths, all of whom were actively aided by the police.

This intimidation and violence meant that my party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) could not reach the electorate in large parts of the countryside. In addition, the government of President Mugabe, my opponent, effectively disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of urban voters, particularly in the capital city of Harare and in the city of Chitungwiza. Because of an inadequate number of polling stations, I believe that in Harare and Chitungwiza alone more than 360,000 people stood in a queue to vote but never gained the opportunity to cast their ballot.

My concerns about the legitimacy of the election results are further raised by interference by Mugabe's militia, whose members prevented the MDC from placing polling agents in 52% of rural polling stations. By the end of the voting, our party had no observers at 6 out of 10 rural stations. This effectively meant that Mugabe's supporters could have their way at these stations. We are compiling a comprehensive list of the polling stations where ZANU supporters had solitary control. In our investigations so far, a pattern has emerged even at this early stage: these polling stations recorded the highest number of voters for Mugabe.