COLUMN: Campaign spreads further turmoil

When a person is at sea, all water looks alike. That's when a person needs a compass. In Zimbabwe, the people have learned to follow their spiritual compass. Zimbabweans are seeing what Robert Mugabe and his henchmen are not seeing - a new leader who will expand their economic opportunities and provide political freedom for all the people of Zimbabwe.

The violence that has been perpetrated by ZANU P.F. to win presidential elections at all cost on March 9-10 does not break their fighting spirit. This shifting national mood is captured both in urban and rural areas.

As you travel from one corner of the country to the other, it feels like Afghanistan under the Taliban. About 44 days away from election day, Mugabe's ruling party is cobbling a blizzard of plans to shore up their waning support among the electorate.

ZANU.P.F. has rolled out $150 million in vote buying, spreading largess all over the rural areas. The beneficiaries are the aged, the windowed and the physically challenged who are eligible to vote. According to Zimbabwe's Independent Financial Gazette, elderly rural folk receive a living allowance of $500 Zimbabwean dollars (US $2) each a month, while orphans and physically challenged receive $250 a piece. (US $1)

Four elderly couples interviewed by the Financial Gazette in the eastern Province of Manicaland were surprised to receive money from government agents. They were told to vote ZANU P.F so that they can continue to receive the allowances.

To the frustration of the opposition party - Movement for Democratic Change - traditional chiefs are being asked by ZANU. P.F. leaders in rural districts to take a roll of households where individuals were paid to ensure they vote for Mugabe. This is a strategy that has been hatched up so as to garner votes for Mugabe among the rural folk where the ruling party leadership believes it still enjoys some modicum of support.

ZANU. P.F. has set up command centers to monitor rural peasants receiving farming inputs and food aid. Ruling party militias mount roadblocks on major roads and demand national identity cards from prospective young voters, which they confiscate so that on election day they will not vote. The ruling party authorities are aware that young people have turned their backs against the government. Out of paranoia, the government has resolved to disenfranchise the young people.

All along the political pressure cooker had been bulging at the sides, now it is almost ready to blow its lid, with the ZANU. P.F.-trained militias beating up people on highways traveling to their various walks of life for failing to produce ruling party membership cards. Such is the indignity Zimbabweans are subjected to, for the sake of ensuring a Mugabe victory on March 9 and 10. Producing a ZANU P.F. membership card guarantees any Zimbabwean security that cannot be guaranteed by Zimbabwean's state security agents.

The ZANU P.F card has become a prerequisite to secure services from government, especially for the rural folks. Only in Zimbabwe has the ZANU. P.F.-sponsored violence allowed to bore into the social fabric of people's daily lives. Because ordinary Zimbabweans will not attend ZANU P.F. rallies by choice, the state militias bulldoze people to the rallies, close their businesses and provide beer and food so as to soothe them.

Resentment is building as people fail to attend funerals, weddings or any social gatherings fearing ZANU. P.F militias. All these atrocities are committed under the watchful eye of the Zimbabwe police force, who privately say their professional hands are "tied" by the political heavy weights.

Zimbabweans are making a wrenching adjustment to this culture of violence. They are rallying behind the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), an opposition party about two and half years old. Mugabe has long political tentacles, for he has politicized every institution in Zimbabwe.

But, his fellow country people are aware of his brutal campaign strategy. He has tarnished his image and reputation before Zimbabweans. He now survives by a vaccine-strengthened immune system of his state agents he unleashes to unsuspecting, peace-loving and law-abiding citizens.

Write to Tafadzwa at


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